MG’s new MGA first saw the light of day in 1955 and was a huge breath of fresh air for the Abingdon marque.
Until then, MG design had been distinctly pre-war – the 1954 TF’s parentage being easily traced back to the 1936 MGTA, complete with separate mudguards and running-boards. Falling sales of the increasing outdated MG meant that the MGA design, based on a 1951 Le Mans contender built for privateer George Phillips on an MGTD chassis and already turned down once by autocratic BMC boss Leonard Lord, was resurrected to ensure the future of the marque.
The streamlined Phillips Le Mans TD body that was to morph into the MGA, suffered from a high driving position, a legacy of the donor car’s antiquated chassis design, so new running gear was also essential. Along with the new chassis, the corporate BMC 1500cc B-series engine was used for the car. It was referred to in contemporary advertising as “the first of a new line” – hence the name MGA as BMC brought their everyman’s sports car ahead by two decades in one fell swoop.
Three MGA prototypes were entered for the 1955 Le Mans race and these cars, which were very close to what the production model would be, did extremely well, recording 12th and 17th placings. The third crashed out of the race, injuring its driver, Dick Jacobs. These results gave MG’s sales department plenty to work on as the model was made ready for its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor show in September of the same year. Over a subsequent seven-year model life, in excess of 100,000 MGAs were built with the majority being exported, a mere 5869 units being sold on the UK domestic market.
Anything but ordinary
In 2009, Warwick Duell was looking for a car and when a green 1956 MGA with tan leather seats was advertised at Waimak Classic Cars in Rangiora, he took the plunge and bought what seemed to be just an ordinary MGA – albeit one of the rarer RHD versions…
To read this and other articles on the Classic Driver website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site. If you are already a paid up member, please log in, using the Log In link in the menu at the top of the page.