Significant MG: 1958 MG Magnette

When the original MG Magnette ZA was released for public sale in 1954, it marked a significant milestone in the history of the marque, as it was the first car wearing the MG badge that was of monocoque construction. The ZA-Series was superseded in 1956 by the ZB-Series, and our feature car is from this second series. You will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist. Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, it is offered for sale with a clean title. The owner has not set a price on the MG, but is willing to accept calls and will consider offers. I have to thank Barn Finder Roger for locating this classic for us.

The owner states that the car will require a total restoration, but on the surface, it looks reasonably promising. There are a number of dents and dings on the car, but rust appears to be minimal. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the underside of the car, and the seller doesn’t give away a lot of information about the condition in this area. This is unfortunate, as being a monocoque car, it is important that it is either rust-free underneath or as close to it as possible. It looks like there might be a small amount of rust in the bottoms of the quarter panels, but it doesn’t look to be too extensive.

The interior looks to be complete, but the best word that I can think of to describe it is tired. The leather on the seats is pretty battered and will need to be replaced on the front seats, although the rear seat actually looks pretty good. The upholstery on the door trims looks like it could probably be revived with a bit of work. The most crucial components are the timber dash and door caps. These look a bit rough, but I think that they could all be restored. The only optional interior item available on the Magnette at this time was a radio, and it appears that the original owner didn’t tick that box on the order form.

When the Magnette was launched, it was the first car to carry the 1,489cc B-Series engine. For the Magnette ZB, this engine produced 64hp and gave the car a top speed of 86mph. This engine doesn’t run, and we can’t be sure that it turns freely. However, the B-Series engine was a common fitment to a number of BMC cars, so sourcing parts won’t be difficult if a rebuild is required. The engine delivered its power via a 4-speed manual transmission, and this appears to still be present.

The MG Magnette is one of those cars that doesn’t come on the market terribly often in the USA. There were 18,524 of the ZB Series built in total, so they are not a particularly common car. As far as values go, for many years they were probably one of the least sought after of the MG brand, but that trend has started to change in recent years. In 2007, you could buy a reasonable example of the Magnette for around $5,700. Today the same car will bring $11,300. It appears that people are beginning to realize that this car holds some significance in the history of MG.

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  1. Gage

    I want to be a a barn finder. That sounds awesome!

  2. Francisco

    If a car ad is lacking a price, I don’t bother to read it. In most cases, it’s the first thing car shoppers want to know, followed by the mileage.

  3. Gloin

    Neat little car, I didn’t know MG made sedans

    • That AMC Guy

      They still do. (At least the Chinese company that owns the MG name does.)

    • Chinga-Trailer

      You’ve never seen an MG 1100? They were almost common 50 years ago in southern California.

      • Concinnity

        Two door or four door. Two tone paint was common.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    I ain’t buying no stinkin’ Chinese MG. Or Volvo.

    • Wolfgang Gullich

      Chinese ownership of Volvo has been the best thing for that company after Ford squandered them. Geely has given them carte blanche to do whatever they want so long as they’re profitable…I for one have no problem with this.

  5. hatofpork

    These MG Magnettes were the sports sedans of their day. I believe there is some rallying history. Rust is a biggie so tread lightly!

  6. Steve

    One of the things I really liked about the Magnette was the half Octagonal dashboard, taking its cue from the MG badge.

  7. RicK

    These were $50 cars in the late sixties that you just about couldn’t give away even in running condition

  8. Allen Member

    Wonderful cars with incredible potential from very modest mods. I’d grab it if I had room for another one. Contact me at bachldrs (at) Comcast (dot) net if you’d like to join our Z Magnette Group of North America.


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