Stored Since 1970: 1958 MGA

The seller of this third-year production 1958 roadster says he bought the car out of the barn of the original owner with 37,000 miles on the clock. If an MGA restoration project is on your shopping list, then check out this auction here on eBay in Oxford, Connecticut where the current bid is just over $1,000.00 and the reserve is unmet.

The MGA was MG’s first completely enveloping bodied sports car when it was introduced in 1955, replacing the last of the “square rigger” T-series sports car whose roots could be traced back to the 1930s. MG purists harrumphed that it was no true sports cars since it was way too comfortable and it was missing its running boards. Or something along those lines.  MG would build the MGA through the 1962 model year when it was superseded by the MGB.

The car on auction looks like it is complete, even down to the auxiliary starting handle visible in the photo. The convertible frame is present although the soft top itself is long gone. Surface corrosion and some rust-through are visible in the photos provided and the seller mentions that the rockers or “sills” in British car parlance need to be replaced. That isn’t the easiest job to do, even for seasoned restorers, since keeping the body aligned during the process requires skill and patience.

Power is provided by a B-series four-cylinder pushrod engine with a displacement of 1500cc. Later MGAs would get capacity bumps of 1600cc and finally 1622cc. All MGAs had dual SU side draft carburetors which are visible in the engine photos, along with what may be the original air cleaner assemblies. The fresh oil on the spark plug holes help confirm the seller’s claim of a compression check.  The transmission is a four-speed manual with only the top three gears synchronized.

Photos of the interior show us what we expect to see in a car parked for 48 years. The leather upholstery is dried out and shredded in some places and the door trim is hanging loose. The dashboard looks like it is in reasonable condition with all of the gauges present and the key is in the starter switch, ready to go. I’m not sure what is going on with the two protrusions on the radio blanking plate in front of the passenger, but it does not appear to be a radio.

MGAs are not easy cars to restore, but they are appreciating in value as most side curtain-era British sports cars are doing. They do look great on the road and they are a lot of fun to drive as long as you remember to double clutch the downshift to first gear. The small trunk is mostly taken up with the spare tire, the top and side curtains don’t seal well and the ride is sports car firm. It sounds like a perfect weekend fun car to me. How about you?

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  1. Cary Dice

    First car was a well used 59 MGA. The dual 6v batteries went bad so I used the crank. Used to amaze people in the shopping center parking lot. Also, points went bad on fuel pump. Used a sawed-off broom handle through the battery box behind the seats to bang on it to get it running again. Have to get creative when you have no money to fix.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      I know the “bad points” encouragement technique on my Healey.

      Seat pan removed and a “paint roller cage” reached perfectly.

  2. Bob Hess Member

    Not going to be much left after the rust is removed.

  3. ccrvtt

    From “Montego Bay” by Bobby Bloom – “Vernon will meet me when the BOAC lands, Keys to the MG will be in his hands…”

    This could be the car he meant, if not a TF.

    Along with the Jaguar XK’s the MGA defined what a sports car should look like for us children of the ’50’s. The sweeping fender line, compact trunk, and the pancake hood all combined to indelibly print the image in our brains. While I dearly love the successor MGB, at the time it was hard to let go of the sheer rightness of the MGA’s design.

    This car deserves to be restored, rust or no. The buyer will most likely be upside down on the expense, but probably won’t care once it regains its former glory.

    • Joseph Eldritch

      As a former British auto restorer for many years, in the current market, the car, in the condition it is at this time, is barely worth restoring. I have bought, over the past three years, five MGAs, one in about the same condition as this one, two running and driving, but needing interior, paint, and some mechanical repairs, and all the hydraulics rebuilt, and two non-runners with stuck engines that had presentable interiors and decent original paint, but needed all the hydraulics also (British cars do not sit well for extended periods, brake and clutch hydraulics go to pot quickly with disuse). The one in similar condition to this one, was used for parts. I paid $700 for it. The running drivers, I paid $2200 for one (it had some very slight body damage), and $2550 for the other. Neither had any serious rust issues. I gave $3400 for one of the non-runners and $4200 for the other (it was a one owner, all paperwork, manuals, tools, excellent top and original side curtains with the bags. Currently, a very nice original unrestored MGA can bring near $30k. Restored examples, depending on the quality of the restoration, usually bring between $18 – $24k. The car in this ad, to properly restore the body alone, would be near $14k. There would be an extraordinary number of manhours needed just to smooth all the sheet metal, it appears to be badly pitted, and there is rustout and panels to be welded and patched in. Then there’s the frame, if the topside is this bad, the frame is likely to be worse, perhaps even unusable. The bumpers and grille are too badly damaged to be salvaged and would require replacement. This car would cost at least $28 – 32k to put it in show condition, based on what I can see. Well, good luck with it.

  4. SteveR

    Once again, a Barn Finds listing that appears after the auction has closed. This gets old after awhile.

  5. Chris from Cincinnati

    Hope somebody bought this one.
    Looks to me to be definitely restorable.
    The steel on those fenders and the body is very thick… there’s probably plenty of steel there and I didn’t see any rust through.
    Those rocker panels can be sourced, as can most parts from MOSS Motors.

    As long as the engine isn’t frozen .

    Before somebody buys it – I would put the car up on a rack and look at it from below and make sure that the frame isn’t rusted through.

    NOTE that the black floor in that car is rather thin plywood that is through bolted to flanges welded to the frame. They RUST… and the wood rots.

    GOOD LUCK! Hope she makes it back on the road!

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