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MG MGA. A New Era in Abingdon (1955-1962)

MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)

For years, MG was also known for its T-Series models. That was an illustrious series of roadsters that helped determine the image of the manufacturer from Abingdon. However, the post-war period inspired Albert Sydney (Syd) Enever to think about a new house style. In 1951 he designed a streamlined body for the MG TD Le Mans version of George Philips. The authentic running boards and the protruding fenders disappeared, replaced by a smooth-lined pontoon body. The Le Mans TD became the inspiration for an all-new MG model: the MG MGA, which was built from 1955 to 1962 in Abingdon in Britain and Enfield in Australia. He left behind a beautiful legacy sixty years ago.

Breaking with traditional design


With the new design, Syd Enever broke with the traditional lines of the MG T-Series. Moreover, Leonard Lord - a real Austin man and the big boss of BMC - initially saw little leg in the (future) MG MGA design. The MG TF and MG TF 1500 Midget originally came from the TA, which was introduced in 1936. There was less and less demand for it, also because the design of the TF in the fifties was no longer up to date. Syd Enever therefore kicked off the new MG sports car generation.

Completely new

Syd Enever's work resulted in a completely new and extremely beautifully designed MG MGA. The new sports car from Abingdon would succeed the MG TF and the TF 1500 Midget. It was mainly characterized by its low construction and the resulting low seating position. The undercarriage was completely new. The roadster received a suspension with wishbones and coil springs at the front. The rear suspension consisted of a combination of semi-elliptic leaf springs and a rigid rear axle. The MGA also got four drum brakes. It became a real British sports car, which made its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Year of act: 1955

Debut with 1488 cc engine

The MG MGA had a body-on-frame construction. The new sports car from Abingdon debuted as 1500. The front-mounted BMC B-Series engine had a displacement of 1489 cc. Initially, it delivered a power of 68 hp. The MGA 1500 was good for a top speed of 155 kilometers per hour. Later the power was increased to 72 hp. The 1500 engine was reliable and also found its way to the MG A Coupe, which became the closed brother of the roadster in 1956. The 1500 was produced for four years: a total of 58.750 MG MGA units ran off the production line with this engine, before it was followed in 1959 by the models with an engine enlarged to 1.588: the MG MGA 1600. But first came the sporty brother of the MG MGA 1500: the Twin-Cam.

The arrival of the Twin Cam

In 1958 the MG MGA Twin Cam debuted. This got a 1.588 cc B-Series engine. This was specially adapted for the Twin Cam by Harry Weslake to sporty specifications. For example, it got two overhead camshafts. Initially, the sporty engine in the Twin Cam generated 107 hp. Thanks to a slightly lower compression ratio and further technological refinements, that power went up to 100 hp. The MG MGA Twin Cam had four disc brakes all around. The performance of the Twin Cam was also impressive. Less appealing to the imagination was the reliability of the sportiest MGA, which was always recognizable by the closed wheels without a wheel cover and with hub locks. The Twin-Cam was not available with wire wheels.

Technical difficulties

Technical difficulties with the Twin Cam put the good name of MG under pressure. There were many problems with the wrong valve timing combined with the expensive camshafts. This was especially the case with the initial 107 hp version. The technical malheur was partly responsible for the fact that the end of the Twin Cam was heralded in 1960 - after 2.111 copies were built. However, the performance was impressive for its time: The fastest version reached a top of 180 kilometers per hour and accelerated to “one hundred” in 9,1 seconds. It is the most valuable MGA today. In addition, the technical problems of then with this type are now largely history.

1588 cc without Twin Cam

As mentioned, Morris Garages launched the MGA 1959 in 1600 as the successor to the 1955 debutant. This also got the B-series engine with a capacity of 1.588 cc, but without the construction of the double overhead camshafts from the Twin Cam. This larger engine was not the only change compared to the MGA 1500. Because the MG MGA with an increased displacement and a power of 78 k performed better than its predecessor, the mounting of two disc brakes at the front was necessary. However, the British kept the rear drum brakes.

1600 version, two gear levels

There weren't many changes compared to its predecessor anyway. You could see the difference in the placement of the lighting. For the rest, the characteristic exterior was left completely intact. The 1961 version built until 31.501 in an edition of 1.600 was available in two trim levels: the standard version and the De Luxe. The latter was characterized by special wheels that were locked centrally and disc brakes all round. The luxury version was created because MG had spare parts after taking the Twin Cam out of production.

On to the end with the latest changes

After 31.501 copies of the MGA 1.600 came the Mark II. Adjustments were barely visible optically. The Mark II got an engine enlarged to 1.622 cc, and a different rear axle. The latter modification led to improved handling and more possibilities to get the power of the 90 hp engine well on the asphalt. The Mark II was again available in two versions, and it was still 1961 times off the production line from 1962 to 8.719. In 1962 the very beautiful MG MGA was replaced by a new and illustrious MG: the MG MGB, also signed by Syd Enever.

MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)
MG MGA. A New Era (1955-1962)

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  1. My father had a driving school in Amsterdam and bought, as one of the first in the Netherlands, an MG A. He gave driving lessons in it. Unbelievable, of course, he sometimes spent 1 hours a day giving driving lessons in this beautiful sports car. Due to a new law in the Netherlands that at least 12 people had to be able to sit in a car, the party was unfortunately over. Roelvink driving school. Willemsparkweg 3 Amsterdam. Long ago meanwhile.

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