Classiest Barn in Town: 1961 MGA

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

It’s appropriate that this classic MGA is parked next to a gorgeous period motor boat – the two look good together, don’t they? However, it would appear the boat has seen more use recently given the level of dust on the MGA. The seller has set the reserve shockingly low, as the car has already cleared its must-sell-at price. Bidding is just over $5K and you can see the car here on eBay, or visit it in Fairfield, Connecticut. 

This MGA was found in a barn in my neck of the woods, near Hartford, Connecticut (OK, a little farther away than “neck of the woods” would imply, but it’s a two-hour drive – tops) where it was slumbering for 30 years. My pals over at Oxford Motorcars race these MGAs almost exclusively, and similar to the seller’s plans to convert it to LeMans spec, there’s endless ways to tweak these to your personal tastes. However, look at those lines – why would you mess with that?

The seller notes there is rust in the “typical spots,” but as a matching numbers car, it is worthy of restoration. MGAs always confuse me because tatty ones trade for peanuts, while fully restored examples sell for serious money. There’s no real middle ground with these, which is why I’d be tempted to restore this one mechanically at first and live with the rest. As you can see, the interior really isn’t that bad and you won’t be fearful of contracting a disease if you use it as-is.

The seller says the floors are in decent shape with only minor rust spots. The engine is free with good compression, and “…the motor spins while engaged in all gears.” So, overall, this MGA looks like a highly original example in an excellent color combination that can be driven as-is while you decide how far to take the restoration. The reasonable asking price makes this one even more appealing, but I’m not sure if I like the car or the boat better. Which would you choose?

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Comments

  1. crazyhawk

    Here’s why you shouldn’t care what others think. I had a 58 mga when I was 21. I sold it because in my little hometown in Ohio, when I drove it, people would yell “buy American” or make comments about my sexual preference. That was 1984.Wish I would’ve ignored them and kept it. Lesson learned.




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    • sir mike

      Must have been a UAW town,Know what you went through.




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  2. Bill

    I always thought this was one of the best looking of the British offerings.




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  3. Rich

    The boat. Definitely the boat. It’s a Cris Craft.




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  4. Gearheadengineering

    Rust spots in the floors?

    I thought these all had wooden floors.

    Nice car. Looks like a great starting point. I would probably just clean it up and get it running and reliable. It’s very close to me too. Must resist, must resist…

    – John




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    • Arthur Brown

      I watched as a fellow student getter and restored one in the parking lot of the dormitory using the student lend-a-tool closet while in college. Yess the floors were plywood, 3/4 or 1″ I don’t remember, And yes. he re-wired the whole thing and upgraded to a single 12v battery.




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      • Derek

        I believe the floors were 1/2 inch plywood and held up pretty well but they tended to absorb water where they were supported against the steel chassis and caused the chassis to rot out at that point. The trunk floor was steel.




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  5. Henri Pedersen

    The boat is more an item for me, having 2 MG already, but I miss my old wooden boat.




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  6. Had Two

    MGA’s were cheap to buy for years, while Austin Healey prices were going through the roof. Whelp, some discovered that MGA’s and Healey’s have similar lines. MGA prices began climbing. They are relatively easy to work on and parts are available. Great fun to drive. Hope someone snaps this one up and restores it.




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  7. Cary Dice

    And don’t worry about the two 6-volt batteries. Just use the crank! I did for almost a year in college.




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    • KEN TILLY

      or just fit one 12-volt battery!




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    • Seth KARPEN

      Had a 56 mga and had to start it with the crank once, was that hard to do




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  8. Robert G Thomas

    Last MG before the unibody construction. Thanks to Syd Enever for the timeless design.




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  9. Del

    Another classic with no dust cover.

    People just do not have a clue




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  10. Steve Feld

    Paid $450 for one just like this one in 1982–the good old days.




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  11. RNR

    A fraternity brother started to “fix up” (the term in wide usage before “restoration” was in vogue) a MGA behind the House in the early ’70’s. He took it apart and started taking off the old paint – more paint than I ever saw on a car in my life. That’s as far as he got – car was soon hauled away for junk.

    Then there was the time we pitched an engine from an Austin Healy 3000 into the dumpster during a House clean up work party……..




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  12. Jazzguitarist54 Member

    I don’t think that is the correct steering wheel




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  13. pat gill

    MGA’s are great, bought a 1960 1600 mk1 for £100.00 in 1973 and home restored it, drove it from north London UK to Athens Greece in September 1975 for our honeymoon, had only driven it for 50 miles when we left on the camping trip,we had never driven in europe no cell phones back then and no credit card, we were young and fearless, the old car never missed a beat, should have kept it,
    oh I did, waiting for a second restoration,




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  14. Derek

    Back in “the day”, late 1960s and thru the ’70s in New England, it seemed like ratty old MGAs were in just about every barn, shed, or back yard and I bought as many as I could in the $20 to $100 range. I stopped keeping count at 150 of them which included no less than 8 twin cams. Some I used for parts or sold for parts and some I fixed up a bit and re-sold for whatever I could get to keep me in beer and hot dogs.
    In New England, they just about always had a rotted-out exhaust system which was a one piece affair ($9 dollars and change from Foreign Auto Part as I recall) that ran from the manifold, included the muffler, and went all the way to the tail pipe that hung just below the rear bumper on the driver’s side. The large-ish muffler that sat under the trunk floor next to the gas tank always, I thought, made the car much too quiet so, after installation, I used to take my 45 caliber Colt revolver and fire three or four shots right thru the trunk floor, thru the muffler, and into the ground, (being careful to avoid the gas tank), in my back yard which did wonders for the exhaust note, not to mention keeping the neighbors on their toes. For years after those days, whenever I saw an MGA at a car show, I would have to open the trunk lid and look for repaired bullet holes just to see if it was one of my old cars. I found quite a few.

    Homework: Everyone reading this who owns an MGA, go right out, examine your trunk floor very carefully, and if you find anything, leave a comment here and let me know. Thanks.




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  15. Had Two

    Good story! Thanks




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  16. Beatnik Bedouin

    I used to work on MGs when I was still living in L.A. Most were well-worn (to be polite) MGAs of various years and models.

    In 1990, I was visiting my hometown and my brother tells me he’s scored a ’60 MGA 1600 Deluxe roadster and asked me to have a look at it. It had been in one of his customer’s garages for years and I was tasked with getting it running…

    …which took me about an hour to fire it up and get the carbs synched…

    The next day, he produced kits for all the hydraulics, which I sorted with the help of my then 11 year-old nephew. After freshening up the fluids, we took it for a test drive. The damned thing was probably the best MGA I ever had anything to do with!

    He turned it for a today profit, which was the plan.

    BTW, MGA’s with replacement engines, i.e. not matching numbers was pretty common, as far as the ones I worked on, anyway.




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  17. Pete

    That MG looks to be a great starting point. Not to eaten up and pretty close to original. I don’t even think the price is to bad as the bidding has gotten over 6k. Still reasonable if it doesn’t go to much higher. As far as the steering wheel I think it might be a period after market improvement kinda thing. I remember when I had my Spitfire I had considered getting one, But at $125 bucks that was pretty steep back then. LOL. I hope it ends up with someone who will love and enjoy it.




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  18. Peter

    These cars were never highly rated when they came out but in retrospect they have very nice and simple styling. My brother had a Healey 3000 at the time, and thought the MGA was rubbish.




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  19. KEN TILLY

    In comparison to the Healey 3000 they were rubbish.




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  20. Peter

    Automotive snobbery at that time, perhaps ( :




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