Assembly Project: 1950s MGA Roadster

I don’t know about you, but I get chafed with automobile listings that request “send me a good offer” as the asking price.  Last week it was this ’64 Dodge and now today, it is a 1950’s era MGA – the seller doesn’t disclose, or know, the model year! The Dodge had a lot going for it but the “make me an offer” request is disingenuous – the owner of a special car like that Dodge is sure to have a minimum in mind. In the case of this MGA, it’s more of a “really?” Whatever the case, let’s see if there is something here worth texting an offer…This MGA is located in Vallejo, California and is available, here on Facebook Marketplace for $1,234,567 – obviously a listing price place-holder (I hope).

Here’s the entirety of the ad, other than the send me an offer part, “Rolling shell, all parts are in boxes in my garage, new tranny and rebuilt engine“.  There are two pictures of the exterior and neither are very revealing.  It seems that most of the exterior parts are present and there is no indication of rot or serious crash damage but it’s hard to know with any certainty. As is the case with so many British cars of this era, rust is the sworn enemy and a close underside check is of paramount importance. The bumpers, grille, and lights appear to be OK though the passenger side headlight bezel is missing; perhaps it’s in the parts boxes. Obviously, the finish has seen better days – not sure what’s up with the bare or primed trunk lid.

As noted earlier, the seller doesn’t state or know, the model year of this MGA, they were produced between 1955 and 1962, so the engine should probably be a 68-72 HP, 1.5 liter, in-line, four-cylinder unit, connected to a four-speed manual transmission. The seller claims that the engine has been rebuilt but there is no specific detail beyond that. This sounds like a stalled project, and based on the lack of meaningful information, the nascent project probably stalled out on someone else other than the seller.

The interior is gutted – no idea if seats are included; something else in the parts box? The floors look OK, that is OK in the sense that they are not rusted through but the driver’s side is obscured with a replacement steering wheel and its wrapper. The instrument panel is intact, at least the switchgear and gauges are all in their respective instrument panel slots.

So, here you go, it’s an MGA assemble-it-yourself-project! Maybe all of the parts are present, maybe not; maybe the engine has been properly rebuilt, maybe not; maybe you can buy this car for a reasonable offer, maybe not. The one thing that I would like to know, at the very least, is what year is it? I’m thinking, based on stock MGA images, that it’s a pre ’60, any guesses?


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  1. Robert F Gressard

    The floors are plywood. The trunk floor is steel.

    Like 3
    • tompdx Member

      Plywood and rust proof!

      Like 2

    Without looking at the inner rockers or the frame where they meet the floors, assuming those are solid l would put that at a realistic price of $7.500. Subject to personal inspection.

  3. subsailor

    Plate is 1983 or later.

    • Steve R

      Early-90’s, I have a 1995 model year car still wearing its original plates, it starts with the number 3.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  4. Dr. Peter


    Like 1
    • RogerW

      based on the tail lights the year has to be 56-58 most likely….rust and this series car go together so rust issues would be number one consideration then then viability of the engine/trans…restoration would be more than one sorted and completed…sounds like it would just take up space in the buyers garage….

      Like 1
      • tompdx Member

        Could also be a ’59 … I had a ’59 that came with these same taillights. In ’60 the taillights had a small, circular lens above the lens on this car.

        Like 2
  5. RogerW

    based on the tail lights the year has to be 56-58 most likely….rust and this series car go together so rust issues would be number one consideration then then viability of the engine/trans…restoration would be more than one sorted and completed…sounds like it would just take up space in the buyers garage….

    Like 1
  6. Rich Henry

    I also feel it is 56-58 model year. Not sure what I would pay without a real inspection. I owned a 56 MGA along with a 51 & 53 TD

    Like 1
  7. Capt RD

    the seller wants to get rid of it? Pack up the parts and take the 1st Cash Offer that shows up with dollars in hand.
    Title clear? – no info there??

  8. Graham Line

    In the early ’80s I had a ’60 MGA that came out of the Riverside area and was remarkably rust-free. It’s possible. Filling in the parts that have been lost or misplaced seems like the major issue here.

    Like 1
  9. MikeH

    If the seller doesn’t know the year, chances are there is no title.

    Like 1
  10. Richard Martin

    MGA 1500s had different instrument markings in 56 and I believe the 1600s (which this isn’t) came out in 59. I am guessing that makes it a 57/58 and I am sort of leaning towards 58.
    The dashboard has been played around with as there are extra gauges and a few items not in their original locations – unfortunately the photos are anything but clear enough to give a better answer.

    • roger

      I was also leaning towards a 58 but included 56-58 for good measure….in numbers they made more in 58??? not sure

  11. Phil

    Definately an early MGA. I have a ’56 with a 3 main MGB (1800) motor and a MkII transmission. The MkII transmission has a flange output and the early cars had a yoke. The transmission here has a flange – so it’s probably not the original engine and trans. I could be a fun project, but it needs paint, and doing a proper paint job on an MGA is expensive. And who knows about rust on this one, as someone else pointed out. The wire wheels and spline drive hubs are worth at least a couple thousand if they are in good shape.

  12. Patrick

    Let’s just say that it is rust free. The engine looks like top end only, as the block isn’t painted. And let’s say it has the seats. So we are looking at at least a full paint job, as well as full interior kit, along with the cockpit rails. And install drivetrain and wire it up. Maybe all the hydraulics.
    So then you would have a clean, but not necessarily fully rebuilt, much less restored 56-59 1500, driver. That, based on recent sales in the observable markets might get you $15-28K.
    So this as it sits, in the best of circumstances is another $7-10K plus your own work, or paying someone (add another 10K).
    Thus if you own a trailer, and have a space to set this up and so on, you can’t offer much more than a couple of grand with any sense of getting out even. So then it would need to be what you want to own. And so the ideal is someone just looking to get into the hobby, and not having too much information like, well us.

  13. Lowell Peterson

    Restored a couple and worked on a few. Full resto can be north of $50k. And the good part? They are worth $30k so you can easily have $20k plus worth of fun with these. In boxes? $5k MAX!

    • Roger

      Lowell you are right on target…5k max…the seller should smile with that amount in his pocket….but really why be under water having to “buy fun”…pay the price for a good solid one done and turnkey! only other way is to own a resto shop and do it as a side job…”a labor of love” project….no turnaround profit in this one to be sure…

  14. Robert baime

    I’d say 1960; I had the exact car. Simple as a tractor so rebuild would be fun. Fenders have to be removed for repaint because separated by unpainted vinyl.

  15. Frank Farrell

    Is that motor correct? It looks a little tall to fit in that car.

  16. Matthew Bennett

    interested for sure. if available, please shoot me an email!

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