Straightforward Restoration: 1957 MGA Roadster

You have to admire a seller’s optimism when it comes to prescribing how much confidence you should have in taking it on. The listing says this MGA that’s been parked for 40 years in a shed represents a “straightforward” restoration opportunity, and while I wish I could agree, there’s some hope if his claims of being rust-free are valid. The MGA has been in his possession the whole time, a classic case of a restoration that never got off the ground. Find it here on craigslist for $8,500. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Gunter K. for the find.

If that’s British Racing Green paint, I don’t blame the seller for holding out hope that he’d someday get around to restoring this MGA back to good health. That color with a tan or dark brown leather interior makes for one heck of a compelling argument for keeping the flame alive that you might one day restore this car. However, there’s the other side of the coin that says it should have become obvious 20 years sooner that this restoration wasn’t going to come to fruition.

The other hurdle with this car is that MGAs are not hard to find. You can pick up a decent one for reasonable money without spending months looking for one. The seller’s car is complete and he claims that despite the rough appearances, the car is solid in all the right places and only has some light surface rust to contend with. The fenders, frame, rocker panels, and wheel wells are all said to be solid. The 1500cc engine is called “correct,” which may indicate it is numbers-matching.

The MGA for sure looks sad with its missing grill and years of dirt and dust in the paint. The good news is the seller further claims to have the “…gearbox, carburetor and intake set, driveshaft, generator, radiator, distributor and starter,” which really does seem to address much of the must-have mechanical bits. He doesn’t mention an interior, but given the way the MGA has been stored, any upholstery components are likely completely shot anyway. What do you think – does this forgotten MGA deserve a chance at rebirth for $8,500?


  1. Denny N. Member

    Looks like a $400 parts car to me.

    Like 7
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Chance is a good word to use on this one. There’s a chance of major rust being sunk in a dirt floor. There’s a good chance the engine is frozen and will need a complete rebuild. There is a good chance that nothing mechanical or electrical will function. There is a big chance at the present buy price that the new owner will be upside down before he/she gets the car home. There is a better chance finding an up and running car for less than restoring this one. I’d chance a buy at $2,500 max based on my experience at acquiring cars like this. (When I married my crew chief she was a book keeper. Kept me out of trouble many times on a car buy.)

    Like 10
  3. RayT Member

    If you want to think of it that way, EVERY restoration is “straightforward.” Disassemble car, fix what needs fixing, pound out the dents, paint what needs painting, find what’s missing, put it all back together, and Bob’s yer uncle!

    Oh, wait, we didn’t talk about money, which would be an essential unless you happen to be a very good welder, fabricator, machinist, parts chaser, painter, upholsterer and, yes, wrench. If so, you could pay the nut on this “A” and be happy with the result. For the rest of us, who likely lack some or all of those skills, this is wildly overpriced.

    I’d take bobhess’s advice and look for a runner, preferably one that doesn’t have Metal Dandruff to contend with. They’re out there.

    Like 10
  4. Michelle Rand Staff

    This car looks like it used to be Old English White, for what it’s worth. It is a parts car, most likely. I would make a visit with ‘start the car’ paraphenalia, and if it won’t start, offer a lot less. The $2500 suggested by bobhess sounds about right.

    Like 5
  5. DA

    It is sitting on dirt. How “solid” can it be? Solid rust?

    Like 7
  6. GitterDunn

    Hey, seller: pull that mess out of the barn, take the old tires and stuff out of it, and give it a wash before telling us it’s “solid” and has “no sign of rust damage”. Then take more pictures and put a more realistic price on it. Jeez.

    Like 8
  7. Ric

    Some very optimistic folks might look at it and think if they can just fix the rust it’ll be a straight forward restoration. They need to think of every single part subject to corrosion and degrading over time. From the wiring harness to the wire wheel splines. From the fuel system with its Swiss cheese fuel tank to the rotted frame to the seized motor, this is no easy task to take on. Always a shame to see a classic reduced to this.

    Like 5
  8. chrlsful

    it all changed w/the end in ’55, no? These looked positively ‘racy”. Still do ta me.
    My sister’s TD looks pre-war comparatively. Great to see european social, economic history thru cars…

    Like 1

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