MG aficionados and its loyal customer base may have been disappointed by the arrival of the MGA at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1955, which no longer carried the perpendicular pre-war look of the company's sports cars but embraced a modern, streamlined appearance. It was curvaceous, stylish, and attractive, and fitted with a modern BMC 'B-Series' engine that had recently debuted in the new Magnette saloon. The damage the MGA might have done among MG's loyal followers was more than compensated by its approval from a new core of enthusiasts, with more than 13,000 examples sold during its first full year of production in 1956, far exceeding the entire production achieved over a four year period with the TF. By the time production of the MGA came to an end in July of 1962, a total of 101,081 examples (all variants) were built. Most MGA examples were exported with the home market receiving just 5,868 units. The MGA was so different than MG's previous models, that it was called the MGA, the 'first of a new line,' as stated by contemporary advertising.

The Roadster body style was joined by a closed-in version, the MGA coupe, after only a year in production. The coupe was very different in concept from the open-topped car with many refinements found on saloons of the day including wind-up windows, a unique semi-wraparound wraparound front windscreen, and a three-piece wraparound rear screen. Lockable door handles (with exterior door handles) were fitted making the car secure. The coupe weighed approximately 100 pounds more than the roadster, and had a pressed-steel roof that was welded to the body.

Prior to the arrival of the coupe, MG had begun offering a detachable fiberglass hardtop with sliding side windows which made it possible for MGs to run as Grand Touring cars in certain competitive events. Even before the factory version, aftermarket hardtops were available for the MGA which increased their all-weather usability.

Both the coupe and roadster rested on a 94-inch wheelbase and had a length of 156 inches and a width of 58 inches. The new chassis was much different than its predecessor, with wider placed side members and the floor attached to the bottom (instead of the top) of the frame sections. It used body-on-frame construction with an independent suspension comprised of coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels were available and placed in front of the Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. The steering was via a rack and pinion setup.

The 1,489cc straight-4 'B Series' engine breathed through twin H4 type SU carburetors and initially developed 68 horsepower, but soon uprated to 72 bhp. It was backed by a four-speed gearbox which sent the power to the rear wheels. Zero-to-sixty mph was accomplished in 16 seconds, per period road tests, and the top speed was achieved just shy of 100 mph, at 97.8 mph.

The MG MGA with the 1,489cc engine, known as the MGA 1500, was built from 1955 to 1959.

The MG MGA Twin-Cam
A high-compression version of the MGA arrived in 1958, and was known as the 'Twin-Cam.' The dual-overhead-camshaft B-Series engine had aluminum cylinder heads and initially a 9.9:1 compression ratio, later lowered to 8.3:1. The engine was notorious for issues, due to burnt oil and detonation. The lower-compression setup helped, but by the time it was applied, the damage had been done and the Twin-Cam had earned a poor reputation. To cope with the more potent engine, Dunlop disc brakes were placed at all four corners, concealed behind Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels. These wheels were unique to the Twin-Cam and 'DeLuxe' MGA 1600 and 1600 MK roadsters. 'Twin-Cam' logos rested near the vent aside the bonnet and vents were near the rear wheels.

The engine had chain-drive dual overhead camshafts, cross-flow induction, an aluminum cylinder head with 1.75-inch dual SU carburetors, and produced 108 horsepower at 6,700 RPM.

Production of the Twin-Cam continued through April of 1960 with as many as 2,111 units built. The Twin Cam listed for $3,110 in roadster form, while the coupe sold for $3,329 at West Coast ports-of-entry. It was never intended for volume production but rather was built to satisfy requests for a higher performance model for serious competition.

The MG 1600 and 1600 De-Luxe
A larger displacement, 1,588cc engine brought about a new model designation, the 'MGA 1600.' The new engine arrived in May of 1959 and offered nearly 80 horsepower, and came with disc brakes at the front and drums in the rear. The styling remained unchanged from the '1500' variant, albeit with 1600 badging on the cowl and boot, amber or white front turn indicators, and separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear.

The De Luxe versions had four-wheel disc brakes and wheels which had been used on the Twin Cam. Just twelve examples were coupes and seventy were roadsters.

The MG MGA Mark II and Mark II De Luxe
The engine powering the 1961 MGA displaced 1,622cc via an enlarged 76.2 mm (up from 75.4 mm) bore, had larger valves, and updates to its combustion chambers. The increased performance of the 90 horsepower engine was complemented by a higher rear axle ratio of 4:1, better suited for high-speed highway driving. Again, the styling remained true to its original design, with an inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps horizontally placed below the deck lid among the few visual changes.

Production of the Mark II version lasted from 1960 to 1962 with 521 coupes and 8,198 roadsters built during that time.

by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2022

Related Reading : MG MGA History

The MGA began production in 1955. The styling and mechanics were different from previous MG models. The public had been given hints of its new design during the 1951 Le-Mans 24 Hour endurance race. The car was driven by George Phillips and was actually a TD Midget with body modifications. The XPAG engine that had power many previous MGs was replaced by a new power plant. This 1489 cc four-cylinder,....
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1957 Vehicle Profiles

1957 MG MGA vehicle information

Chassis Num: GHL 27720

1957 MG MGA vehicle information

Chassis Num: HDA43/28764
Engine Num: BP15GB18854

1957 MG MGA vehicle information

Chassis Num: 4460
Engine Num: 4579

1957 MG MGA vehicle information

Chassis Num: HDR43/29793
Engine Num: P156B 19973

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