1960 MG A 1600View vehicle description
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The MGA is the prettiest mass-market sports car of the 20th century. Contentious? Well, owners of early Austin Healeys might argue, but we’d counter that the 100, fine-looking machine though it surely is, is a handsome beast, not a pretty one. Then there’s the odd Alfa Spider fan who might protest (Alfa owners need to be odd to withstand the stress of listening to their cars rusting at night). But we’re sticking by our statement.
The lithe looking MGA replaced the positively old fashioned looking MG TF in 1955. The American love affair with the marque had flourished when the UK’s post WW2 export drive had shipped thousands of MG TCs across the Atlantic, and the tax incentives to export remained in place in the mid 1950s. Hence, the Abingdon factory needed a new model in order to survive.
Despite its old fashioned looks, the MG TD of 1950 was a fairly advanced sports car. It had an independent front suspension with coil springs, rack and pinion steering, and a 1250cc OHV engine producing 57bhp at 5500rpm.
This was the basis on which MG’s Chief Designer, Syd Enver, built a streamlined body for the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours race. This car was given project designation EX176 and is typically referred to by its registration number UMG 400.
The Le Mans car proved to be so inspiring that two new chassis were created for a prototype future production car to replace the somewhat outdated MG TF, and one of those was developed into a full road-registered test car.
The TF’s replacement, the MGA, was an aerodynamic car with head turning modern looks and subtle engineering improvements that were just as fun to drive as its predecessors – it looked completely new but drove like a much improved, real MG.
The car made its debut in 1955 and was priced at £844 with taxes included. The first production cars were made as roadsters with the option of a detachable hard top.
However, BMC quickly introduced a fixed head coupé complete with wind-up windows and good weatherproofing.
To make the MGA’s debut an event sports car enthusiasts would sit up and take notice of, BMC built four cars for the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours. This group of vehicles were given the company designation EX182, and three competed in the race, with one crashing and the other two finishing in 12th and 17th places.
Prior to this, in August and September of 1954, a specially prepared streamlined record breaking car, EX179, was created and taken to Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States for a crack at several speed records. This car took no less than seven international records and 24 American National Class F records, including a 12-hour and others between 250km and 200km.
A total of 101,000 MGAs were built, with the vast majority going for export, while us poor old Brits got fewer than 6000 of them before the MGB replaced the car in 1962.
This lovely MG A 1600 rolled off the production line in Abingdon in 1960 with chassis number GHNL/91164. Since then, looking through the paperwork, the MG has been given a couple of restorations carried out from 1979 - 1980 and then some more work in the mid-1980s. It has been in the ownership of the vendor's late father since 1990, who was a keen MG enthusiast and not afraid to carry out any maintenance needed to keep the MG A in good order. It looks to have been given another small amount of restoration work in 2010, along with new suspension components and some refurbishment work to the SU carburettors and engine.
On the Outside
The MG A is in lovely condition and finished in what is thought to be very similar to British Racing Green. The car presents very well. Starting at the front, the chrome work has a bright finish with no corrosion. There are some age related scratches and a couple of minor dents. The grille has a very light amount of tarnishing in places but nothing that stands out too much. The lights and indicators are free from any splits or cracks, and the headlights appear to have good reflectors inside the lamps. Moving to the bonnet, this aligns well with an even panel gap around each side. The windscreen frame is in nice condition, with a good seal against the body and no noticeable scratches to the windscreen.
Looking down the shapely flanks of the MG A, the doors align well and have a matching panel gap on each side. There are some light scratches here and there, which have been touched in. There is a vinyl roof which is generally in a usable condition, although it has had a repair to the front with some tape. The plastic windows on the roof are clear and free from any splits. There are also some sliding side windows which detach from the doors. These do have some signs of age to the windows and also the rubber seals, but again very usable and useful should you get caught in the rain.
To the rear, and what a view! Curvy arches flow onto the boot, making the whole car just look right! The boot lid aligns like the other panels with an even gap. It looks like a luggage rack was fitted at some point, which has meant that the holes have been blanked off, but it also makes it easy to fit another for that quaint British sports car look. The light lenses are in good condition with no splits, and the bumper, like the front, has a bright finish with some age related scratches. The steel wheels have been finished in silver with a chrome hub cap. These all look in good order and are fitted with a matching set of Michelin tyres with a good amount of tread remaining.
On the Inside
Inside the MG A is just like stepping back to 1960. The dashboard is in excellent condition, finished in black, and there are no scuffs or damage to point out. The Jaeger instruments look to be in good order, with the odometer reading 5,598 kilometres. The switches have a small amount of wear to the lettering but are said to be working correctly. The four-spoke steering wheel is believed to be the original and in very good condition with minimal wear.
The seats are quite possibly the originals, but this is not confirmed. There is some patina to them, as you can see, but this just adds to the charm of the MG A. The door cards look to be in good condition with no signs of excessive wear. Under your feet, the carpets do have some wear, but just like the seats, these are an easy item to replace and quite readily available from several MG specialists.
Inside the boot is clean and tidy, with no areas of concern on the corrosion side. The spare steel wheel is present and fitted with a Michelin tyre.
Inside the engine bay of this 1960 MG A, the engine presents really well and has clearly been given an overhaul with a repainted block and original-looking rocker cover. The paperwork suggests it was in 2010 when the most recent work was carried out.
Looking around, there don’t appear to be any leaks of any description and the car is said to be running as you would expect. Some of the fuel hoses have been upgraded to braided, and a new set of spark plugs have been fitted to ensure it is ready to go with the first turn of the key.
The MG also benefits from having the optional Smiths heater fitted, taking the edge off those crisp autumn morning outings with the roof off.
There is a nice collection of previous invoices for restoration work and parts fitted, which date back to the late 1970s. In addition, the original MG A handbook is present, which completes the history file.
We know from the seller that his father was an enthusiastic owner who had cared for and maintained the MG for over 30 years, leaving it in a very usable condition.
What We Think
This is a fantastic opportunity to become the custodian of one of the greatest model MGs produced. It appears to have been well looked after over the years, receiving two restorations before settling with the vendor’s father for over 30 years.
A great British classic, which we estimate to fetch between CHF 20,000 - CHF 30,000.
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