Estate Sale: 1957 MGA 1500 Roadster

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The MGA delivers a high “smiles to miles” quotient, with its graceful shape, reasonable price, and simple mechanicals. The design of the car far preceded its production. It was first unveiled in 1951 as a race car built on an MG TD chassis (registration “UMG 400”), put together by Syn Enever, engineer at MG. Later, the design evolved into a practical road car, with the driver properly situated on the floor rather than perched above the car’s waistline in typical TD fashion. But by that time, British Motor Corporation CEO Leonard Lord was captivated by the Austin-Healey, which was receiving all the production resources BMC had to offer. The MGA was shelved. Finally, in 1955, BMC couldn’t withstand the decline in T-series sales, and the MGA was revived for the 1956 model year.  This example was acquired in 1963 by a veterinarian who has recently passed away; the car is now offered “to a good home” by his widow.

The first MGAs received BMC’s B-series 1489 cc in-line four-cylinder engine dressed with a pair of SU carburetors. This combination made about 68 hp, but shortly, the engine’s internals were improved to boost output to 72 hp. A four-speed manual gearbox brought power to the rear wheels. These cars were later referred to as the “1500”, but only retrospectively as the motor’s displacement increased. An ambitious owner could disassemble this engine bay for detailing (if I can do it, anyone can), and the results will be immensely gratifying. Meanwhile, the car’s current running condition is a mystery, except that the seller states that the “only known issue is the trunk will not open”, so I suppose we are to assume it runs.

From the photos provided, the interior appears workable, but heavy pixelation makes it difficult to discern the quality of the finishes. The owner installed an auxiliary gauge in the radio speaker grille – a logical alternative to sleeving another hole into the metal dash somewhere. A vintage “Radiomobile” brings tunes to the cabin – though I prefer listening to the drone of the engine. About that stubborn trunk lid: if the spare is not in the trunk it’s possible to crawl through from front to back and disassemble the trunk latch (ask me how I know). The convertible top, its frame, and the side curtains are not in evidence.

Red overspray coats the fuel tank, but rust is minimal. A close-up of the car’s rear body reveals poor-quality paint and a rusted bumper. The listing, here on eBay, mentions that the winning bidder can inspect the car in Arcanum, Ohio, and exercise a right of first refusal. We don’t see that too often! Bidding has reached $9100 and a reserve is still in play. While MGA prices have at best stagnated over the last several years, a decent driver should sell in the mid-teens, implying that the current bid is on the low side.

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Fred Veenschoten

    Original car with a paint job and vinyl seat covers. The poor quality photos hide the heavy orange peal in the paint but look closely at the light reflection in the paint and you can see it.

    Like 2
  2. The Other Chris

    The same seller has a white MG-TD for sale also (click see buyer’s other items in ebay).

    Like 2
  3. Mark RuggieroMember

    You’d have to see this in person to make the leap, but, finishes not withstanding, it’s a pretty straight looking ride. Did these ever come with wires? Steelies seem like a plus here.

    Like 0
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Yes painted wires were an option, but I prefer steel wheels too.

      Like 2
  4. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

    “ An ambitious owner could disassemble this engine bay for detailing (if I can do it, anyone can)..”
    Then you go on to tell us how to fix the trunk latch! Being a Nevada guy I’ll gamble that you know more about getting good machines back on the road than you’re letting on at times, and it’s another one of the reasons you’re appreciated-“if you talk the talk you’d best walk the walk or shut the hell up”.
    You obviously know your stuff, Michelle, so we’re listening when you talk the talk.

    Like 0
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      I get lucky sometimes…. and sometimes I don’t! But thanks, Nevada1/2rack!

      Like 0
  5. tompdx

    Bidding ended at $10,400, reserve unmet.

    Like 1
  6. Cdice

    My first car was a 10 year old 59 MGA that I bought from local MG dealer as it had sat, sans top or cover, on his lot for a while. The two 6-volt batteries that sit in hangers behind the seat were on their last legs. However, the A also came with a crank! Started it with that crank for the first year I had it.

    Like 2
  7. Al Dee

    The gauge he put in the middle of the speaker grille is where the horn button was on all MGA’s. I wonder where he relocated the horn button or maybe the car has no horn function. When I met my wife in ’70, she had a ’62 MGA MkII in black and except for it’s cool recessed grille and larger horizontal tail lights, I think it was identical to this ’57 model – from what I can see of it. Her MGA had plenty of power from its 1500 cc engine because of the car’s size – it was rather lightweight. We took it up into the mountains, and wow – it took the hairpin turns of the mountain highway with ease – faster than anything else on the road with us could. I was very impressed with it and wonder where it may be now.

    Like 2
  8. chrlsful

    all ways loved the tight chassy on these while simultaneously wishing for a lill higher rev-er. I see some put the lynx intake on for 4 Keihin carbs (w/a modern cam?), bet that lands the revs sought…

    Like 0
  9. Jeff FrazierMember

    Often times that “stuck” decklid on MGA cars is simply a matter of one person pulling cable and second person finding an opening and with atool(flathead screwdriver) will get the trunklid to lift

    Like 0
  10. Jeff FrazierMember

    Often times that “stuck” decklid on MGA cars is simply a matter of one person pulling cable and second person finding an opening and with atool(flathead screwdriver) will get the trunklid to lift

    Like 0
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Oh but it’s so fun to crawl in there….. you’re right, of course but beware, the trunk lid is aluminum so easily damaged

      Like 0
  11. Joe Haska

    I had a lapse in good judgement and bought a 57 MGA in about 1964, I paid about $1100 for it. Now this one is almost 11,000 dollars, I don’t know what that means if anything. I had the steering gear lock up on mine, fixed it and sold it. That was the last British car with my name on the title

    Like 0

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