Ready To Go: 1956 MG MGA Roadster

UPDATE 5/13/2020 – We just heard from the seller of this MGA and the winner of the auction backed out, so they have relisted this beautiful car here on eBay! Be sure to take another look at it and cast your high bid.

FROM 5/2/2020 – When the cover was slipped off the MGA for the first time at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show, the car caused an immediate sensation. It marked a turning point in styling from MG because never had the company produced a car that was so low, so svelte, and so aerodynamic. Built between 1955 and 1962, it also marked, at that point, the model with the longest production run in the company’s history. The seller of this 1956 model is offering it on behalf of its current owner, an individual who has treated the MGA to a major refurbishment during the 13-years that he has owned it. This British classic is located in San Carlos, California, and has been listed for sale here on Barn Finds classifieds.

The MGA is a striking looking car, and one of its great attractions is the fact that it is not a trailer queen that the next owner would be afraid to drive for fear of it receiving chips or marks in that beautiful Orient Red paint. The current owner has treated the car to a full refurbishment under his stewardship, and this included a repaint using a 2-step process. The paint still holds a nice shine, although the seller does note that it carries a few chips, and the paint does also have a couple of bubbles. However, none of this has cracked the paint surface, so addressing these should be fairly easy. The driver’s door doesn’t quite line up, but it is said to close and latch easily. There could be a couple of reasons for this. It could be something as simple as an adjustment issue and could be easy to address. It could also be the result of the body being removed from the frame at some point, and the body itself not being adequately braced during this process. This can allow the shell to twist slightly and can result in alignment issues. It isn’t actually a major problem, and it is something that can be lived with provided the door closes well enough for the weather seal to perform its role properly. If it is too bad, then dust and moisture can find its way past the seal, but if there have been no signs of trouble up to this point, then it would seem that it is all okay. The rest of the panels align well, while the chrome, trim, and the glass, all seem to be in extremely nice condition. The seller notes that the vehicle’s chassis shows some wear, and while it does carry some surface corrosion, it still appears to be structurally solid. The timber floors are also showing some minor cracking, but I think that it will be quite a few years before they deteriorate to the point where replacement will be a consideration. The MGA rolls on a set of Daytona 60-spoke wheels. These wheels and the tires have only accumulated 3,000 miles since they were fitted, and the wheels have been powder-coated for added protection. The soft-top and tonneau are both finished in matching tan material, and they, along with the side screens, are in excellent order. The material is tight and free of any rips or issues, while the attaching clips are all in good order. The color of the top and tonneau is one of the reasons why I have referred to the MGA as being refurbished rather than restored. With the car finished in its current shade of Red, both of those items would originally have been made from black material. I don’t mind this variation though, because I think that it looks quite classy.

One of the major changes that allowed the MGA to be far sleeker than its predecessor, the MG TF, was what resided under the hood. The XPAG engine was consigned to the pages of history, and in its place, the MGA was fitted with BMC’s B-Series 4-cylinder engine. With a significantly shorter engine now set to occupy the engine bay, this afforded the designers the opportunity to create a body with a far lower hood line. Looking under the hood of this MGA brings us to the major reason why I refer to this as being a refurbishment, and not a restoration. The engine bay should house a B-Series 4-cylinder engine with a capacity of 1,489cc, and a power output of 68hp. There is still a B-Series engine there, but this one has a capacity of 1,798cc and started its life bolted into an MGB. Even in standard form, this engine should produce at least 95hp, and this would provide the MGA with a welcome performance boost. What isn’t clear is just which transmission is bolted behind that engine. It is obviously a manual, but whether it is a regular 4-speed, or whether it is one of the versions equipped with overdrive, isn’t stated. However, the seller is very approachable and would be more than happy to answer any questions that potential buyers might have in this area. The carburetors that are bolted to this engine have recently been rebuilt, and the addition of an upgraded starter motor means that the engine kicks into life very easily. There is a minor oil leak from the bottom of the engine, but the emphasis here will need to be on the word “minor.” This is a very common occurrence and is not something that would require immediate attention unless the new owner is worried about the oil staining the floor in their garage. Still, a drip pan in the appropriate spot should help to avoid that problem. The seller states that the MG drives nicely and that there are no signs of any squeaks or rattles. Included in the sale is a fair collection of documentation, including invoices from the refurbishment process, along with service records for the period that the car has been under the stewardship of its current owner.

The interior of the MG certainly has the “wow” factor and is finished in tan leather. Once again, this does mark a slight variation on the MG’s original specifications, as with the car wearing Orient Red paint, the interior trim would have been finished in either red or black. The upholstery looks to be in beautiful condition, with little more than some minor stretching of the leather on the driver’s seat. The carpet is also in extremely nice condition, while the timber dash looks close to perfect. Even the wheel appears to be free from any wear issues, and given the fact that the MG has only accumulated around 2,000 miles over the past 13-years, the interior condition is really not surprising. There is little for the next owner to do but be prepared to slide behind the wheel and to hit the open road.

This 1956 MGA is a wonderful looking car, and classic British sports cars have been going through something of a renaissance in recent years. Today it can be very difficult to find a respectable example for under $28,000, while pristine cars will easily top $40,000. This one isn’t 100% original, but the upgrades that have been made should make it a very enjoyable car to own and drive. If I close my eyes, I can vividly picture myself heading down some country road on a sunny day with the wind in my hair. That sounds like a tempting proposition, and that is the sort of opportunity that awaits the next lucky owner of this great British classic.


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  1. Francisco

    Nice car. Something’s missing in the description, though. Oh yeah, the price! That can only mean one thing; if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Every good car salesman knows that the two most important things a potential buyer wants to know are the price and the mileage. And the seller couldn’t even be clear on the latter. When I see an ad like this, I always pass.

    Like 14
  2. TB

    Simply stunning.

  3. ken tilly UK Member

    Everything a buyer might like to know about this MG,except the asking price.

    Like 4
  4. kenn

    But there is a ‘phone number in the listing so you can actually pick up the phone and -gasp! – ask the price.

    Like 3
  5. William Bussler

    I have the twin to this car. Same engine, same color, same dashboard, same color, same year. The only difference is my interior is black.

    They are FUN!

    Like 3
  6. dogwater

    We are restoring a 1956 MG for a customer he claimed it will worth 50k???

    Like 1
  7. Tom Smith

    This is one of the few British cars of the era that can accomodate drivers over 5′-8″ tall

    Like 2
  8. ken tilly UK Member

    Shouldn’t have to do that if you are the seller, after all the whole idea is to SELL the vehicle, not play mind games. Apart from which, although I live in UK I like to keep in touch with what happens with car prices of classic cars around the world. That’s one of the reasons that I follow this great Barn Finds site.

    Like 3
  9. Willowen Member

    I love the looks of wire wheels, but not so much the reality of them. The standard 48-spoke ones are heavier than the stock disks and much less rigid; the 60-spokes are stiffer, but ungodly heavy, and more unsprung weight is the last thing this car needs. The MGA of my dreams runs with the lovely Dunlop knock-off disks that came on the Twin Cam cars, and on the post-twin cam 1600s using the leftover chassis, whose name I am forgetting. But even the regular bolt-ons give better driving results than any wires.

    • tiger66

      That would be the MGA Deluxe. Twin Cam chassis, pushrod engine.

      I’ve owned two MGAs, both with wires. If I ever bought another, I would skip the wires.

      Like 1
  10. William Bussler

    Willowen, I’ve been driving my MGA for 52 years on wire wheels. For the first ten or so years it was on 48 spokes. Then I got up the cash to buy four new Dunlop 60 spoke wheels. The car is a pleasure to drive, especially with 1800 engine. I don’t race it so honestly any additional unsprung weight is not noticeable.

    • Willowen Member

      William Bussler, where we notice unsprung weight is on the kind of road bumps with some sharpness to them. Badly weathered blacktop, even shallow potholes can get a heavy wheel airborne long enough to be challenging. A good smooth race-track can be navigated fairly quickly with little suspension deflection at all; it’s your typical Los Angeles street or poorly-maintained country road that can cause trouble.

      My 60-spoke car was a Daimler SP250 that I had the use of for about a year. It was pretty bad on “stutter bumps”, but when I regretted them most was when I had a flat half a mile from a service station and had to manhandle that thing all the way there and (THANKS, Mr. station man) all the way back. So maybe I have some non-scientific reasons for my attitude …

  11. Tim

    I would agree that listing a sale price is a reasonable expectation, why wouldn’t you?

    Like 1
    • tiger66

      This car is on eBay in a current auction with reserve not met. Listing the price here would be the same as revealing the reserve, no?

      Like 2
  12. tiger66

    The MGB engine is a good upgrade, but the car appears to still have drum brakes all around. If so, going to the front discs that started with the MGA 1600s would be another mod to consider.

    Like 1
  13. Kenn

    What was the price agreed upon by the buyer who backed out?

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