Prairie Project: 1958 MGA

Proof positive that there are treasures to be found amid the corn and soybeans of the American Midwest, this 1958 MGA is located in Dieterich, Illinois– just a stone’s throw from where I-57 and I-70 cross in Effingham. Advertised here on Facebook Marketplace, the asking price for this project is $12,000, though the current owner seems to be open to trades and offers.

While the MGA’s predecessors were the ones that first showed Americans the joys of cars built only for joys, the ponton styling of the MGA brought the concept firmly into the postwar era. The car was initially powered by a 1489cc four cylinder fed by a pair of SU H4 carburetors, eventually making 72hp. This staggering amount of power was delivered to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission with synchro on the top three gears. Steering was rack-and-pinion, as it had been on MG sports cars since the TC. A less laudable holdover was the braking system, which remained drums all the way around for years after other manufacturers had adopted discs up front.

The whole package was fantastically popular, especially on the international market. Between its introduction in 1955 and the advent of the 1600 model in 1959, 52,478 roadsters rolled off the line at Abingdon, with over 40,000 of these destined for North America. Better than popular, the car was agile and quick, racking up several notable successes in SCCA competition. This despite a top speed of just under 98 mph and acceleration that, while not unusual for its time and weight class, would be considered a little underwhelming today.

This example is prettily finished in cream, and though it would need work to meet the standards of the manicured-lawn crowd, looks to be a very good starting point for a restoration. While we don’t have any pictures of the underside of the car, what can be seen looks promising, with only a tiny amount of visible surface rust. Only one picture gives a good view of a rocker, but both this and the dogleg look solid– these are are often the first areas to go on the MGA. In fact, it might not take much at all to put this back on the road. It’s an appealing prospect: as spring approaches, it might just be time to enjoy some sunshine and the determined buzz of an inline-four.

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    The amount of corrosion on the instruments and areas of the engine compartment tell me two things: needs a complete look at the underneath and there is a lot of expensive work to be done before this car hits the road. In good condition these are fun cars and this one could be too but the going in price is a bit high for what still needs to be done to it.

    Like 9
    • Richard Martin

      I agree with your comments Bob – particularly the one about the price. On the plus side, the body seems to be pretty straight although that would clearly need to be verified with an inspection.
      Andy’s comments in the main text about disc brakes is a little unfair – they were standard about a year after this car was born and about 10 years earlier than they appeared on American cars.

      Like 3
      • carsntrucks

        Crosley had 4 wheel disc brakes in 1949.

  2. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    The 1962 MKII grill was the red flag that led me to believe that a close inspection was necessary.

    Like 13
  3. scott m

    About 1970 got to drive one of these for 6 months while a friend was on active duty. Bucket list would be a coupe, but I’d have to budget for more garage space lol

    Like 2
  4. Nick

    My dad gave me a 59 red A. Bought it from a elderly Chinese gentleman who won it in a China-Town drawing. (We lived in San Francisco Ca.) was the only way to get me out of my ‘35 Ford with mechanical-brakes.

  5. matt

    I would mention Bob that the rust on the chrome on the instruments is a bit ordinary.
    I had a 58 and a 60 MGA and I can’t say how many times I left the top down without the tonneau in place, or drove in the rain with the tonneau zipped partway and only the passenger side covered.
    When driving in the rain and another car passed in the opposite lane – the wind would blow water in right between the top bow and the windshield. Side curtains were another source of getting wet when driving.
    But you could be right, maybe there is more to it. Fortunately, if the frame and brackets are in good order, the floors are plywood, I replaced mine

    Like 7
  6. matt

    I would mention Bob that the rust on the chrome on the instruments is a bit ordinary.
    I had a 58 and a 60 MGA and I can’t say how many times I left the top down without the tonneau in place, or drove in the rain with the tonneau zipped partway and only the passenger side covered.
    When driving in the rain and another car passed in the opposite lane – the wind would blow water in right between the top bow and the windshield. Side curtains were another source of getting wet when driving.
    But you could be right, maybe there is more to it. Fortunately, if the frame and brackets are in good order, the floors are plywood, I replaced mine

    Like 1
  7. Jeff Quintrall

    A friend was fool enough to let me drive his MGA solo. I thought I was Fangio, and put in a four wheel drift on a downhill curving road. This things could handle!

    Like 3
  8. Gerhart C Becker

    I bought a ’56 mga when I was 15 . Worked in 2 gas stations after school to buy and refurbish it. What a blast! I put 6:70 x 15 tires on it and drove in blizzards, doing donuts . This was my first taste of freedom! 😏Same time I bought and built a ’60 Triumph Bonneville , first chopper around. Same thing. Rode it in blizzards drunk.😂Wheelies every time I took off😇.A real ahole but what 15 y/o do you know that isn’t? 🤔😁

  9. menko

    When I was a senior in high school, I had an after school part time job. One afternoon my crazy coworker drives up in a clapped out MGA and offers me a chance to take it for a spin around the block. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to compare it to my MG1100, so I grabbed the keys. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until he jumped out that it had no seats. He was sitting on a wooden milk box!

    I got in anyway and had to hold on tight to the steering wheel to keep myself upright and to prevent falling back while clutching, braking, and accelerating.

    That was one of the most memorable drives around the block I have ever had.

    Like 4

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