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Affordable Project: 1959 MG MGA Roadster

Hiding in this workshop is one of the most affordable project cars that you are likely to find on the market today. This 1959 MGA is a traditional British sports car that has fallen on hard times, although it is a solid vehicle that would make a rewarding restoration project. If you have always wanted to tackle a classic like this but have found the price of entry to be too high, this little gem might be exactly what you are looking for. Located in Quincy, Illinois, you will find the MGA listed for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. You can take this beauty away by handing the owner a mere $1,700.

At first glance, things might look daunting with this MGA. However, the news with this classic remains pretty positive. It appears that all of the panels that have been removed from the vehicle are present, and they are generally in good condition. The passenger side front fender has some damage, but the remaining pieces look free from significant problems. The body carries a consistent coating of surface corrosion, but I can’t spot any penetrating rust in any of the panels or the trunk pan. I don’t think that there’s any doubt that the buyer will be tackling this as a frame-off restoration, and that will provide an opportunity to have everything media blasted to eliminate the corrosion. The wire wheels look surprisingly good, and it would be interesting to see how they would respond to some intensive cleaning. The remaining exterior trim appears to be missing, but sourcing replacement pieces is surprisingly easy through companies like Moss Motors.

Probably the best bit of news that we get with this MGA is when we take a look underneath it. The frame, like the exterior, wears a coating of surface corrosion. However, there is no penetrating rust. That means that the vehicle is structurally sound. Once it has been completely dismantled, subjecting the frame to a dose of media blasting would leave it as a prime candidate for powder-coating or applying a product like POR-15. Either way, it would present nicely and should last for decades before it will require any further attention.

It appears that the MG’s drivetrain is complete, which means that the vehicle should be home to a 1,489cc 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. When in good health, that little four should be capable of producing 72hp. With that figure on board, the MG should be capable of covering the ¼ mile in 19.8 seconds. That might not sound that impressive, but these are a deceptive vehicle. Because you find yourself so close to Planet Earth, speeds tend to feel significantly faster than the speedometer indicates. It makes for an exhilarating and satisfying driving experience for the next owner. The owner doesn’t indicate the relative health of the engine, but here rests one of the great strengths of these classics. The engineering is elegantly simple, and even if the engine needs a refresh, a competent person should be able to tackle this task themselves in a home workshop. At the end of the day, these are ordinary push-rod engines with no quirks that could trap someone in a situation like this. If you are the sort of person who enjoys a hands-on experience, this is an ideal candidate. There is no interior trim to speak of, but once again, parts to return the interior to its former glory are readily available, and they tend to be pretty affordable.

Some people will dismiss the idea of tackling a project build because the initial outlay for a likely candidate can be prohibitive. This 1959 MGA removes that potential obstacle from the equation because they simply don’t come much more affordable than this. It will take a lot of work before this classic British sports car graces our streets once again, but at least the buyer will be commencing the process with a structurally sound candidate. Restoring it would be rewarding, and when it’s complete, the owner could look back at these photos and feel a sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. That can never be a bad thing.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Car is good, price even better. Got a similar looking project in our garage right now. Great project.

    Like 5
  2. Larry

    I forgot to mention that the seats, guages and taillights are included

    Like 3
  3. MattR

    I’d love to take the one on. I saw a nice unrestored MGA in my neighborhood yesterday and snapped this pic.

    Like 4
  4. Carnut

    If you went out and purchased the Worlds finest MGA your talking under $100k and believe me that would be a better buy then this.. body and paint would cost you at least $30-40k then leather interior $20k.. wilton wool.. chrome another $10k .. engine at least $10k balanced blue printed 20 over (they run great when sorted) .. clutch braking electrical another $5000.. and new rubber glass and incidentals.. oh plus 5-8yrs of your life dealing with broken promises..

    Like 1
    • Larry

      You must be plating that in gold. How do I know? I had one frame off restored for less than $30,000 only it was a 51 MGTD Roadster. Check it out

      Like 9
    • Larry

      I also have a nice presentable 1960 MGA 1600 Roadster

      Like 2
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Identical to our ’53 Larry. Beautiful car!

    Like 0
  6. dogwater

    Sorry Carnut Its not going to take100k to put this car on the road we restored one for a customer he had about 40k in it. Gee

    Like 0
  7. Larry
  8. Larry


    Like 0

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