5x Carrera Panamericana Entrant! 1959 MGA

No race in history was more dangerous or brutal than the original Carrera Panamericana, better known as the Mexican Road Race.  Starting at Mexico’s border with Guatemala and ending at the United States border, this five day event took place for the five years after the opening of the Pan-American Highway.  Always extracting a grisly toll, the racing was halted after the 1955 accident at Le Mans horrified the world.   A revived event, set up as a timed rally, has been held in its place for the last three decades.  The 1959 MGA you see here is a multi-time participant in the later event.  This rally prepared MGA is for sale on craigslist in Woodside, California for a very reasonable $17,000.  Considering it has raced in five of these events and finished in four of them, would this be the perfect car to start your rallying career in?  Thanks to Matt R. for the tip!

Before we go any further, we need to touch on the original Carrera Panamerican road race for a moment.  For those of you who haven’t read Smokey Yunick’s autobiography “Best Damn Garage In Town,” you have missed a real treat.  One of the chapters in the book covers his participation in this race.  To say it was wild would be a major understatement.  Mexico was about as you’d expect in the early fifties: lawless, corrupt, and dangerous.  From their accommodations before the race at a place called “Angel’s” to the sheer deadly nature of the race, Smokey has a way of putting you right there in the action.  Imagine a race of 3,000 miles over rough roads with no guardrails, sheer cliffs, crowds right up against the edge of he road at every turn, and Federales who were under order to shoot to kill anyone who stepped onto the race course.  They did just that too.

The race attracted amateurs, millionaires, hot rodders, NASCAR and Indy stars, and the best drivers that Europe had to offer.  Manufacturers such as Lincoln, Hudson, Lancia, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Ferrari among others fielded factory teams.  There were over 100 entries each year.  The race was brutal on race cars and deadly to both fans and competitors alike.  It was a bloody time for motorsports, but the Mexican Road Race was recognized even then for what it was: too much.

Thankfully, the modern rally version of the event is a lot tamer and more of a gentleman’s affair.  The length of the race and the grueling demands of covering such a long distance is still challenging though.  For this MGA to have competed five times and completed four of those races tells you that this is a very well sorted sports car.  Modified greatly from its original form, this MGA sports screens on the headlights, a roll bar, a tow hook, numerous instruments added to the usually spartan MGA dash, and the removal of the original windshield and bumpers.

It comes with a built-up MG twin cam engine.  However, the engine currently in the car is a more streetable 1800cc engine with a single Weber carburetor.  The car also has a 20 gallon gas tank that has a hidden four gallon tank built in it.  Maybe this is a cheater tank, or an emergency reserve.  The wheels were transplanted from an Aston Martin to increase the tire contact patch for better handling.  It also comes with a few extra engines and other parts to keep your new hobby going.

All and all, this is certainly a car you can have fun with.  Even if you don’t head south of the border for the next race, there are a number of rallies being held across the United States.  While you would likely miss the convertible top on occasion, at least this form of rallying is safer than the original Mexican Road Race.

Could you see yourself racing south of the border with this MGA?

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Comments

  1. KEEB

    aiy chihuaua !

    Like 3

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