Sitting Since ’80: 1958 MGA Roadster

You can’t help but think that deciding to sell this 1958 MGA must have been a tough decision for the owner. Not only is the car part of his late mother’s estate, but it is the car that he drove to his high school graduation in 1978. Such emotional attachments can be hard to break, but he has decided to take the plunge. The MGA is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, and listed for sale here on eBay.

The MGA was last inspected in 1980, so it may well have been sitting since then. There are some rust issues to deal with on the car, but what we can see doesn’t appear to be a deal-breaker. Of course, we can’t see the condition of the frame, but given the owner’s claim that it has been stored in a garage for more than 40 years, there is some cause for optimism. This is a car that is going to require a complete restoration, and while there is a fairly ready supply of parts available through a variety of different suppliers, it is not going to be a particularly cheap job. Having said that, these aren’t a terribly complicated car, and a lot of work could be carried out in a home workshop, so that would minimize a lot of the potential labor costs.

Under the hood are the 4-cylinder 1,500cc engine and 4-speed manual transmission. The owner says that the car doesn’t run, but that the engine turns freely. He is including a second engine in the sale, but the condition of that is questionable, as it is frozen. Once again, the engine in an MGA is not a complex piece of equipment, and if a rebuild is required, it shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s worth remembering at this point that while the restoration costs may be starting to mount up in your head, you simply can’t buy a really good, restored MGA for much under $30,000. So there is a real possibility that this could be a viable project, especially if you can complete a lot of the basic work yourself.

A life spent in a garage may have protected the MGA from the worst that the elements could potentially throw at the car, but it hasn’t protected it from Mickey Mouse and friends. Apparently, rodents have had a great old time with the seats, but given the fact that this is another area of the car that will require restoration, that’s probably not a great problem. The beauty of cars like the MGA and its brethren is that there are numerous suppliers that can supply every piece of upholstery and padding for these cars, and they can be installed by your average person.

I am the first to admit that there is a lot of work involved in restoring this MGA, and just how viable that would be will depend on the state of the frame of the car. If it is solid, then this could be a viable project. The owner has set a BIN price of $6,500 for the car, but the option is there to make an offer. At the time of writing, there are 47 people watching the car on eBay, so I won’t be in the least bit surprised if it does sell.

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  1. Eric Z

    So the car is actually a 1500, but the engine in the car is a 1600, so the engine would be changed and the 1500 is the engine that comes with it. The frame seems to be pretty good, but repairing it wouldn’t be a big problem anyway. If you’re interested, just google Eclectic Motorworks.

  2. h5mind

    If the four fenders are in usable shape that’s a boon because they were unique to each car and even brand new ones will have to be nipped and tucked to fit properly. Many people install the later MGB 5 bolt main engines for reliability. I suspect if the drive train and suspension had been originally designed as sporty as the body lines, these cars would be even more valuable today.

  3. Cobra Steve

    Absolutely classic lines. British roadsters, even with their so-called problems, usually brought on by bozos who fail to read shop manuals (translation: GIVE ME A LARGER HAMMER!), are so unique! I, for one, have had wonderful luck with British iron by performing my own maintenance for 43 years, including clutch replacements, brakes, engine rebuilding, etc. No more or no less reliable than other cars I have owned.

  4. pat gill

    the difference between a 1500cc and a 1600cc is a rebore to around plus 60thou, the rest is the same, the 1622cc has different spaced bores but the same head gasket as a 1600 (1588cc) many different head castings but they all fit, I fitted an 1800cc 5 bearing MGB engine and a 3 synchro overdrive MGB gearbox, a very easy conversion, the later 4 synchro gearbox would be much harder to fit, great cars,

    • Paul T Root

      The tag on the spare engine is the 1500. So maybe the original?

  5. Will Owen Member

    I helped Jim, a friend, remove an MGA from the garage it had occupied for several years. The garage was at another friend’s old home in Paris, TN, and the car was pretty much rust-free. Although the top was basically rags, Jim remembered that they had bought a new one and stored it in the trunk. Yes, the top was in an almost-new-looking box; the only blemish was … a mouse-sized hole straight through the middle! We opened it up and took out the top, which when unfolded was perfect, except for the series of holes running back to front. As you might guess, the boot was awash in mouse droppings and nesting materials, though the seats were surprisingly untouched.

    An old friend of mine bought the car, I think for about $1500, and got it running well enough to have plenty of fun with it. But I don’t think he ever bothered getting a top, since any typical ’50s English build-a-top is just useless in a sudden Tennessee summer downpour, what we’d call a “frog strangler”, unless it’s up already.

    These are sweet little cars, but I never felt like I fit into them even as well as I do in a Spridget; I think it’s the body-on-frame structure that compromises my comfort. It looks like it’s worth the BIN; if I were in the market I’d be thinking about it. Assuming I could get Better Half to sign off on it, fat chance …

    • Little Cars

      @Will Owen are you still in Tennessee? You are spot-on about the TN summer downpours. And don’t get me started about rodents here…I had a new MG carpet kit in the box and excellent top boot in my trunk destroyed by their little chewing exercises. And it’s always a small hole in a very exposed area! Cheers!

      • Will Owen Member

        Some family and lots of friends still in/around Nashville, but I’ve been out in Pasadena CA since mid-2000. We do visit once or twice a year. My brother has been there since the mid-’60s; my son was born there in ’74 and is still there, married with two daughters.

        It was one of those “frog-stranglers” that cemented my fondness for electric windows, after I was caught one day in my ’60 Falcon with all four down, and on a new expressway with lots of traffic and no shoulders!

  6. Camaro Joe

    I’m about 40 miles south of Erie PA, so I could get a look at this one if anybody is interested. Not that Erie PA is really fun in the winter . . . . . Outside of Tri-Five and 60’s Chevys my only other area of expertise is 65 Plymouth “B” bodies. But I have a jack and a pick hammer to look for frame rust.

    I also have a couple friends (both retired engineers) who own old British sports cars, so I could drag people along who know something about MG’s if you’re really interested. Another retired hot rodder friend has a tilt bed truck, he’s very reasonable and very careful, but he probably won’t go beyond the Cleveland/Buffalo/Pittsburgh areas.

    Let me know on here if you need anything.

  7. Blinkster

    I bought a 55 MGA for $15.00 (believe it or not – but true.) Seized engine cost me $55.00 at a wreckers (yo almost 1,800cc.) changed jets and ignition/clutch/brakes/fluids a tad of electrical work and had a vehicle that I drove 100 miles 6 days a week for4 1/2 years , oops forgot tires and found a hardtop for $300.00. the extra oomph and small goodies gave me a vehicle that cruised the QE2 at 80MPH+. My mentor was a BMC ex mechanic.


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