MGA Sports Car


The MGA only had a seven year life from 1955-1962 (it replaced the MG T-Series) with just over 100,000 being built. Unlike the later MGB the MGA still used a separate chassis and body, but still had the B-series engine installed.

An early MGA 1500 (1489cc) had 68 bhp but was soon upgraded to 72 bhp which gave a top speed around 98 mph with 0-60 mph in 16 seconds. Under 60,000 of this model in convertible and coupe were built between 1955 and 1959.

In 1958 a high-performance version was released with a new twin-cam engine giving an impressive 108 bhp, pretty stunning for its day in such a cheap car. The aluminium twin cam head was fitted to a 1588cc block but unfortunately soon developed a reputation for being tempremental. This led to only 2,111 being built in a two year life before it was dropped. The problems have all being solved these days and the twin-cam is much sought after on the classic car market, pushing up prices.


Top speed and 0-60 mph

The Motor, a UK car magazine, got 113 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in 9.1 seconds in 1958 with just under 28 (imperial) mpg fuel consumption. The car cost £1,283. To put that in perspective, two years later another of the big-name motoring magazines in Britain, Autocar, got 150 mph from the new Jaguar 3.8 E-type (Jaguar XKE in America) with 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds at a cost of £2,160. (Jaguar also later confessed that this car wasn't a standard model but had a lightened body and extra tuning - 140 mph and 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds was closer for a standard car.)

In 1959 the standard MGA engine was increased to 1588cc but with a normal cast iron ohv cylinder-head. Power was up to 78 bhp and The Motor got a 96 mph top speed with 0-60 mph in 13.3 seconds. There were over 31,000 of this model made in 1959 and 1960 before the Mkll MGA was released with the engine now taken out to 1622cc.

Less than 9,000 of the MGA Mkll were built before production ended in 1962 but many see it as the optimum model. With 90 bhp it was the quickest 'normal' model without the lack of reliability of the twin-cam.

1958 MGA
1958 MGA
1961 MGA
1961 MGA

Elvis Presley's MGA

Even Elvis Presley owned a red MGA 1600 Mkl roadster, the one that appeared in Blue Hawaii. And in 1957 a 27 year-old Stirling Moss drove an MG EX181 specifically built for record-breaking and fitted with a 1489cc B-series block with a twin-cam head and Shorrock supercharger to give almost 300 bhp broke five international records:

  • the flying kilometre, at 245.64 mph
  • the mile, at 245.11 mph
  • the five kilometre, at 243.08
  • the five mile, at 235.69 mph
  • the ten kilometre, at 224.70 mph

the speed was calculated using an average from two runs in opposite directions.

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