Driver Quality 1959 MGA Roadster

The MGA is one of the best-looking, most versatile, user-friendly classics that an enthusiast could hope to own. Parts and technical support are plentiful, the cars are mechanically simple, and performance is more than adequate. Aluminum doors, bonnet, and boot lid add a touch of the exotic. Race fans can transform a stock MGA into a vintage racer in a few months, or if you want a long-legged touring car, go for an MGB motor transplant. Here on eBay is a 1959 MGA roadster bid to $10,800, reserve not met. This car can be driven away from its home in Omaha, Nebraska. The MGA first came to life in 1951, fully four years before the production car. Syd Enever designed the car on a TD chassis for George Phillips, an amateur racer. The car drew favorable press, but the narrow chassis limited its appeal for export to America. A redesign fixed that. The next obstacle was the existence of the Austin-Healey; corporate politics favored the Austin-Healey and it was only plunging sales of the MG TF that forced the MGA into production.

This car is fitted with a replacement 1588 cc in-line four-cylinder BMC B series motor kitted out with twin SU carburetors. Stock, this motor can generate 78 bhp, but performance is malleable. Larger carbs, headers, a Crane camshaft, and an MGB flywheel from a three-main engine (8 lbs lighter) are just a few of the many options to whet your horsepower ambition. Of course, the factory configuration is deadly reliable, and you’ll nick that a bit as you make modifications. The seller provides a video of the car running and mentions that the brakes – including the master cylinder – are new. The transmission is a four-speed manual with no synchro on first. This shot shows paint deterioration around the master cylinder (hey! fix that so long as you’re replacing that unit, dang it!) and the slight mismatch between the original Old English paint and the bright white repaint.

The interior is nice enough. I don’t care for the red piping on the seats, but it does match the steering wheel center (no, the horn is conveniently located in the center of the dash below the radio grille). This car has a radio blanking plate; radios would be dealer-installed (Radiomobile) or aftermarket. The seller reports that the heater actually blows hot air, all the gauges work, and the car comes with full weather equipment including new side curtains.

The underside is really spectacular for a driver. The chassis rails are clean, the floorboards are good (though I don’t like those extra holes), and the exhaust, while not brand new, is free of rust. I can forgive the car its small dents and dings; this is the money shot right here. The current price is a bargain but I’m sure it won’t stay put. Average cars should sell in the mid-teens. Anyone need an MGA for the upcoming driving season? Here it is.

Comments

  1. Maggy

    Not my cup of tea but this is really a neat little car with a great body style.. Cool to cruise it in nice weather .

    Like 3
  2. Yblocker

    My dad bought a new one in 58, whenever he pulled into a gas station, he’d tell the attendant to “fill it with oil, and check the gas”

    Like 6
  3. Jon

    Looks nice at first glance

    However Plywood underside, seriously.

    Not worth the money except a parts car in my opinion.

    • Craig

      Yes Jon, the floor boards are plywood from the factory. I used nice cabinet quality birch ply when I replaced the floor in my second 57 MGA. Keeps the heat away from your bum and easy to replace if you ever have to. You ought to try it!

      Like 5
    • Ed

      Parts car? Seriously??? Just think to yourself you don’t like it and move on.

      Like 14
    • Michael King

      While these replacements should have been painted or undercoated in black, wood floorboards were original to the MGA, a carryover from the T-series

      Like 8
    • Kelly Breen

      That is stock. They were built with wooden floors. Not all that uncommon ‘ back in the day”!

  4. Joe Haska

    I had a 57 exactly like this car , but no wire wheels. I thought I would really like it, I didn’t. Kept it a couple of months, and then bought a 34 Ford coupe, that I still have. Did not develop a love affair with British cars.

  5. Jack Quantrill

    In ‘59, a friend let me drive his. Put it into a four-wheel drift on a long bending turn. Thought I was Juan Manuel Fangio!

  6. ccasteel

    You do realize that the wood floors are how they came from the factory. This to me actually looks like a pretty clean driver.

    Like 1
  7. Doone

    Friend let me drive his in 65, almost flipped it coming out of a mild uphill turn.

  8. Phil Warner

    I have always thought that MG should have stopped with the A. The Bs just never appealed to me. Many folks like their Bs, but they don’t have the classic looks of the A.

  9. V12MECH

    Check body work thoroughly, give it a good road-test for any leaks or overheating, offer $15k, nice looking car. Could go a bit higher, but I think we will start to see more affordable prices for this type in the coming months, Alfas and E-types are still gold.

    Like 2
  10. Barry Ervin

    Back in the 60s I had a 61 Sprite (Bug-Eye). My older sister’s boyfriend had an MGA. I never rode in it but used to admire it when he’d come by. One time I sat in it and was amazed how much more cramped and small it felt inside compared to my little Sprite. I always craved a Healey 3000 or even a Triumph TR3 but I would love to have this MG today. I know my Kia Rio would run circles around it but it just looks so cool!

    Like 1
  11. Barry Ervin

    Maybe common on some British cars at one time, but the MGA was probably the last of them. In my almost 40 year career as an auto mechanic I never saw a car with wood floors, including my 61 Sprite and 64 Sunbeam. I thought my Dad’s 55 GMC pickup was archaic because it had a wood bed floor. On the other hand, I had to replace rusted out steel floors on several cars, and wood doesn’t rust and would be easier to replace I guess. Maybe that’s what I should have done on my 61 Ranchero and 66 Volvo?

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