Solid Project: 1959 MG MGA Coupe

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While for many people a convertible is the first thing that pops into their head when they hear the words “classic British sports car,” these same manufacturers did produce their share of coupe versions, of which this 1959 MG MGA is a perfect example. This car will require a full restoration, but from the comprehensive photos provided by the owner, it does seem to be a solid point from which to start. Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, the MG is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the opening bid at $3,300, but there hasn’t been any action on the car as yet.

The owner says that the body of the MG is straight and free of rust and filler. It certainly looks to be quite good, with no obvious problems or issues visible. Looking through the photos in the listing, it looks like the majority of the external badges and trim are present, although some items will probably require a trip to the plater to bring them back to life. One thing that doesn’t appear to be present is the rear window, so a replacement may need to be sourced.

The underside of the MGA also looks quite promising, with nothing more than a good coat of surface scaling present. To be honest, if I was undertaking a restoration on this car, I would probably treat it to a frame-off job, because it would be beneficial to the car in the long-term. As you can see, the exhaust isn’t currently fitted to the car. However, there is an exhaust sitting amongst the cache of parts included with the car, and it does appear to be new. What we don’t get a look at is the interior. It looks like the seats and dash are present, but their condition is unknown. We can see by the way that it’s hanging down that the headliner will need to be replaced.

According to the owner, the car is fitted with the correct engine. I’m not sure whether this means that it is the correct type of engine, or whether it’s the original engine. Regardless, it should be a 1,489cc engine that pumps out 72hp and sends its power to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. The owner doesn’t mention whether the car even runs, let alone drives. Even if the engine is in need of some work, that shouldn’t be a problem. These engines are one of the least complicated that you are ever likely to find, and even a rebuild is pretty straightforward. Jumping back to a previous point for a moment, looking at some of the surface corrosion that is present in the engine bay of the MGA makes me more certain than ever that a frame-off restoration would be a pretty wise move.

In 1959, a total of 6,812 MGAs were imported into the USA. Of this total, only 10% (663) were coupes, which makes them significantly rarer than the roadster versions. You would think that this relative rarity would equate to higher potential values for the coupe over the more common roadster, but if you did, you would be very wrong. On average, the value of a coupe version will be around 20% lower than an equivalent roadster. This means that while an immaculate MGA Roadster can set you back around $38,000, the equivalent in a Coupe will be pushed to top $30,000. This just proves that with classic cars, sometimes rarity doesn’t necessarily equate to higher values. However, if the final sale price isn’t too high, once restored, this MGA should grab its share of attention at the next Coffee & Cars.

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  1. Bruce

    I have owned a number of MGA’s over the years and the convertible is truly fun and both the coupe and convertible are some of the easiest cars to restore I have have ever been involved with. I would suggest that the new owner be one in a cooler climate (Seattle, Near The Great Lakes Or East Atlantic Coast.) These cars get warm in the summer. Not Totally melt you into butter warm but close enough.
    The most critical thing is the glass on these especially the rear glass which to my knowledge can be very hard to find and replace. Gaskets as well are difficult. They do look good from almost any angle and while low on power compared to modern cars they are perfect for back roads and as a grocery getter.

    In the winter time when I was in the boy scouts I delivered Christmas Trees in my convertible with the top down and only used the toneau on the way back. With the side curtains in place it was not as bad as you might think. Back of your ears get frosty but the rest is fine. A friend had a coupe that was warm all winter long at the same time so I have a basis for comparison.

    Color is much more critical on the coupes than the convertibles which look good in almost any color. Black or white are not good colors for coupes, gray is better but the right green or red is the best choice. As for paint colors MG at the time did not have continuous mixing of paint so there is a band of shades that are considered acceptable. I would certainly suggest a lighter color for the seats and black for the side panels and carpet. Again something about the interior heat during the summer.

    If you have a son or daughter this would be a near perfect father son/daughter project or even one for the whole family. Everybody has something that they can add to the restoration. I really hope this goes to such a family.

    Like 5
    • Joe White

      Thank you for the insight. I just pulled my fathers 1959 mga roadster out of my sisters barn where it has sat for about 30 years. Is the frame the same as the couple? I am trying to bring to life for our family on a budget and it would have to have part of the frame replaced under the door area and on the body around the hood opening. Wondering if I should consider a replacement frame? Thank you for your time.

      Like 0
  2. John

    There does seem to be a package marked back glass, 3 pcs. I believe this variant had a three piece rear window so there may be one HUGE hurdle solved if it is indeed the rear glass panel. I would think that it would be nearly impossible to source another of these. We had a little white Twin-Cam coupe in the family for a bit. It was an interesting car. It was not especially fun to drive, but it had some real charm at the various events it travelled to. The strange door “handle” mechanisms bit my fingers more than once. I hope it gets restored.

    Like 0
  3. Maestro1

    I think the car was Red to begin with, looking at the interior of the engine compartment, and I think the price is too high. It’s a $2000.00 car with as many parts as possible.

    Like 1
  4. TimM

    Needs some love but a good basic start!!!

    Like 1
    • Mark P

      $3,000 is a but rich, one is in Duluth now for $2,000 in about the same condition.

      Like 0

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