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MG MGA - First MGA Experiences

As things are very quiet here is non technical thread inspired by Steve's mention of Donald Campell's death in the Endeavour thread.

My first actual ride in an MGA was immediately after that sad day in 1967. I had been climbing in the Lake District and was hitching back to Leeds on the A65. An MGA Coupe stopped and I piled into the already rather A with my ruck sack. It turned out the driver was a friend of the Campbell family and was returning from their house at Coniston only a few days after Campbell's accident. Quite interesting but sad conversation followed . Another interesting point is she was the landlady of a country pub in Wharfedale that was unique in being the only pub owned by the Church of England.

Any other in testing first MGA experiences?

Paul Dean


I remember that day (Wednesday 4 January 1967) very well, a mixture of elation and then tragedy. I had that afternoon successfully flown my final handling test in a Jet Provost to qualify for my 'Wings'. I arrived in the Mess for a few beers only to see the crash on the TV news.

My first experience with an MGA was the preceding year. A fellow student had a white Coupe and I had a few trips. He got airborne one morning with his instructor and as he broke cloud in the climb over Nottingham he collided with the station formation team coming out of a loop during a practice. Three pilots ejected, including himself. They were carted off to hospital. While there his Coupe was stolen. It was later found destroyed at the bottom of a cliff near Scarborough.

Steve Gyles

My first memory of sighting an MGA was in the summer of 1960 when I was on holiday with my parents in Devon. A white roadster was in the hotel car park - it looked fantastic - and it had my name on it (yes a twin cam) and I vowed I would one day have one - if I couldn't have a Jag that is. So here I am now with an MGA - but couldn't afford the twin cam --- or the Jag!
Cam Cunningham

In about 1984, as a young University student, I bought A Bugeye Sprite with money I inherited from my Grandfather.

Each day going to lectures I walked past an MGA. I put a note on the car, offering to buy it.

Never heard from the owner... took me 30 years to actually buy one.
A Bowie

Grew up in a little Surrey village.

Lots of classics around heading to Brooklands and Goodwood before they were the ‘thing’. The other cars on the road then are now considered Modern Classics!

Was about 8 when I saw (and heard) a D-Type in the village. Then heading out at speed to zip along country roads. Fell in love and decided then and there, a D type was the car for me.

With age, and wanting something more affordable (and a little less practical) the equally curvaceous lines of an MGA called my name.

So about 20something years later. I treated my girlfriend (now wife) to a long birthday weekend away in Dumfries and hired red 1600 MGA coupe.

We visited Dumfries again 2 years latter at the start of our honeymoon. This time in our own black 1500 MGA Coupe, TheOldLady.
M Elliott

The first time I drove an MGA was the day I bought one. It was dropped off in my driveway but a transporter, so there I was alone with our new car. Very exciting. I got in, tried to release the hand brake and couldn't do it. I figured the mechanism had failed somehow because no matter how hard I pressed the button and pulled, it wouldn't release. So I started tapping the button with a mallet as I pulled. Still wouldn't release. About to give up and start dismantling the car to fix it, I sat there thinking, with my hand on the lever, gave it a couple tugs in frustration and guess what happened? Ok great, now I can at least drive the car, just don't engage the brake. Later, I tried to set the brake in the garage and now it wouldn't work at all, no ratchet. Pull up, let go and it falls down again. Surely the mechanism has broken apart. I tried pressing the button in various positions and in one of them it suddenly grabbed. So I tugged back to see if it would keep grabbing but no, it released. Wait, let me try that again...

Yep, that's the moment when the light bulb lit over my head. And I haven't wanted a car without a "proper" hand brake since that day.
Steve Simmons

Back in the mid-1950's my family was stationed on the island of Okinawa (south of Japan). I was around 10 years old and visiting the hobby shop at Naha Airbase. Out on the ramp there were three red MGA's (brand New!).
The local BMC dealer was allowing airmen to use the cars to run a slalom course against time (and probably hoping to sell them). There were other sports cars there as well - bugeyes, etc. I never did go into the hobby shop that day. How cool to be so close to "race cars"!
After returning to the states, a friend bought a '56 and let me drive it to the park for our high school "Senior Skip Day". I knew it was the same as those cars on the airbase and was, therefore, awesomely fast. The first turn into the park was tighter than I was prepared for so we swapped ends and rolled backwards perfectly aligned into a parking space, as if I had planned that spectacular arrival! All smoke and screaming of tires!!!
I was on my way! The talk of the school.

At any rate, two weeks after graduation I was the proud owner of a Chariot Red 1958 MGA, the first of 3 I would own into the 1970's. It was my first car and I am now restoring a '57 roadster which will be my last car. To me, there has not been a more beautifully designed auto made.

JR Alexander

In high school 1962, a friend of mine came to our house to show off his first car, a 1956 MGA roadster in BRG. We went for a ride, top down, then opened the hood (bonnet) etc. This was my introduction to British sports cars. After I drove it I was very impressed with the rack and pinion steering, the non American features ie: amber directional signals, hydraulic clutch action, twin SU carburetors, full instrumentation. I want one!!! Mom nixed it. Oh well.

Fast forward to July 2001. My wife and I got a phone call from the UK to tell us a long time friend dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Three weeks later our 1979 MGB roadster was dropped off at the house.

No regrets.. I'm not missing out on anything!!!

Cheers Mates

79 MGB
gary hansen

I bought my first MGA in 1965. I had just re-enlisted in the Navy and the $1445 reenlistment bonus was burning a hole in my pocket. I went to the dealer in San Jose, CA to see what as available and he had a 1960 Old English White MGA and a blue Austin Healey. The Healey was $100 more and even though it looked more brutish and masculine I could use the $100 more than I needed "the look". Shortly after I bought the "A" I was given orders to Danang, Vietnam so I drove it across the USA and left it with my sister to drive. She wrecked it, had it re-bodied and sold it for $500. I always wanted another but didn't get one until a couple of years ago when I bought the 1960 coupe.
Gene Gillam

In the late 60's the first car I drove was 58 OEW MGA. In an inner city high school of over 1,200 students, my A was lost in a sea of Ramblers, Chevy's and Dodges; only other foreign car I remember seeing on campus was a VW Bug. Needless to say many of my fellow students were unimpressed with the A. Commentary like its a "pregnant roller skate" and "shouldn't it be in the trunk of another car as a spare" were not uncommon. Several members of my football team tried to get into the car and failed due to their size; there was a lot of ribbing. But I never had one problem with the car, summer or winter, and it took me far and wide during my high school years; lots of good memories. I had to part with it when I went away to school, but its memory brought me back to my second A and I've had this car now for over 36 years.
Nick Kopernik

I was lucky enough as a youth to grow up with a father with a busy workshop, I saw many MGAs come and go, and got to ride in, and later drive several.
The most memorable were a (unique to Australia colour) Guan Green 1500 with tan interior, just cause it looked so unusual, and a white Mk II that belonged to a professor of Philosophy at Sydney University. Professor Molnar was always smoking his pipe, would stop mid-sentence to relight his pipe, and then resume his sentence as if he'd not stopped. His car was the first and only I'd seen with scuff plates on the door trim front lower quarter. Prof. Molnar obsessed over his MGA. When the engine started to get a little tired, my father was amazed that Prof Molnar insisted in a brand new 1622 engine being installed rather than having the original engine rebuilt. The extracted and still quite good original engine then sat under one of my father's work benches for a couple of years before finding its way into one of my university mate's MGA 1500 for a handy upgrade.
Speaking of my mate's red 1500, we were coming home from one of Sydney's northern beaches after surfing all day only to discover we didn't have 20 cents left between us to pay the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Eventually by exploring every nook and cranny on the MGA's floor between uni notes, old half-eaten sandwiches and various other articles we were able to scrape together the 20 cents for the toll.
T Aczel

Growing up in Dundee, our family knew sisters Gertie & Trixie Thomson, daughters of Frank Thomson. Both Frank and his father James Thomson had illustrious careers in architecture and engineering, helping to shape the city of Dundee. I believe a new avenue is being named Thomson Avenue.

Gertie and Trixie, both unmarried, had the habit of taking younger people 'under their wing.' They did this with my brother and I as teenagers. When a young dashing Malaysian doctor, Dr Samad, came to work at the Dundee Royal Infirmiry, Trixie decided to take this young good-looking doctor under her wing.

One day Trixie invited my brother Gordon and me to meet Dr Samad at the sisters' home. Outside their house was parked a sleek white 2-seater sports car: beautiful! This charming young doctor wasted no time inviting us youngsters to join him for a run in his white MGA, all together in the front. I was about 11 or 12, so it must have been about 1961. However, it was not long before Dr Samad upgraded himself to an E-type Jaguar!

Forward 10 years to 1971 and I found a summer job in the US on a building site in Richmond, Virginia. Round the back of our boss Lewis Coombes' yard lay a broken down MGA, long unused. I think that was when I decided an MGA had to come my way, which it did 4 years later, "The White Lady".

Our old friend Beatrice [Trixie] Thomson passed away on 26 November 2015, aged 96, her funeral service being held at Logie & St. John's Church, Dundee, designed by her father, with my brother reading the Eulogy.

Doug Wallace

Nice photo Doug. Waiting for the ferry to cross the Firth of Clyde with Marjorie's A in the background - Lejog Tour 2015!
Mike Ellsmore

My first drive in an an MGA was back in 1971 when I went to look at a 1960 fhc that was advertised for sale in the local newspaper.
I had just read about the exploits of SRX 210 at Le Man's in a classic car mag and the MGA had really caught my imagination.
I remember in the test drive thinking just how "vintage" it felt compared to my "modern" Hillman Imp that I was driving at the time! But I was an mga fan from that moment on.
I was into kayaking back then and so the fhc was the choice because my kayak fitted perfectly upside down on the coupe roof.

At 11 years old the car was bodywise, well past its best, under its new coat of paint it was rusting away and the inner sills had been cleverly fabricated using some scrap bed irons and some 3 X 2 timber.
I often wonder how so many UK MGAs managed to survive so long.

As to my first "experience" in an MGA, well perhaps this forum is not the place to discuss such things! :-)
c firth

Although I had read about and seen several MGA's during the 1960’s it wasn’t until I acquired my first Y type in 1972 and received Safety Fast and collected the early editions of Classic Cars that I began to appreciate the lines and simplicity of the 'A’. Although I had looked at a Coupe for a young lady before this which was an interesting experience though next to nothing to do with the mechanics and state of the car! I persuaded the lady in question that the engine was knackered and rattling like buggery and that perhaps it was not a good buy. My advice was reluctantly taken.

Many years late we owned a TA, which eventually became a fantastic car in our thirteen year ownership. I saw a beautiful wire wheeled MGA on a trade stand at MG Silverstone in 2011, though it was too expensive. However, I asked the dealer to value the TA, which he did and then mentioned that he had another A which had much done to it but needed finishing. I saw this car at his premises and decided that it was worth taking on and I sold the TA (which I still have some regrets about) as we also have a YT and purchased the 'A’ which was delivered with two tea chest’s full of parts. I also was able to purchase a set of chrome wires which set the car off beautifully. It took around a month to get the A properly sorted but it has been a dream to own and drive. Fitted with new engine (1622cc), 5 speed box, completely new brakes, pipes, pads etc (with silicon brake fluid) throughout, polarity changed and a 12 volt battery installed and re-wired, electric fan, oil cooler etc. I was able to recover the seats (with a kit provided), fit new carpets and internal trim (provided), fit new suspension bushes (provided) and get the car tested. The car had been restored by a Northern Ireland Garage owner between 1992 and 2006 and rebuilt chassis upwards with new panels etc and invoices for over £8k spent during this time on new body parts.

So at the end of August 2011 after taking it to be tested I drove an MGA for the first time – a stunning experience. Since then a new hood, with frame and side screens and fitted by Don Trimming in Birmingham, tonneau. The car was tuned and electronic ignition fitted by Peter Burgess and in April the windscreen was replaced and all the fittings rechromed by Ed Biddle in Malvern.

Verdict – an outstanding car with superb lines and real fun to drive. The only downside the lack of storage and I refuse to have a luggage rack fitted. So on tours we use the YT.

On the topic of Y’s Steve Simmons posted his vehicle profile and referred to the YB that he owns, along with a number of very delectable M.G’s. He notes under 'Interesting features’ that is the 'Youngest surviving Y-Type’. I’m sure that when you wrote this Steve that indeed it was (Registered: 01/01/1953 However, if you check on the International MG Y Type site you will see that there are several younger YB’s mentioned and that the youngest is YB 1550 (the very last YB) which was probably registered in August 1953.

Were you 'A’ owners aware that the front suspension fitted to the first Y Type in 1947 was continued through the TD’s, TF’s, MGA’s and the MGB’s with no doubt minor modifications. Remarkable when you think that Y Type was to have been introduced in 1940 had the war not intervened!

I attach a photo of my MGA and YT.

All the best

Jerry Birkbeck

Plus the YT

Jerry Birkbeck

Just how good is that YT Jerry! Such a rare car too, I bet there are very few of them left.

I bet the first time you drove your MGA it must have felt like being in a dragster!

c firth


Exactly! Hope you recognize this one?


Doug Wallace

Mike Ellsmore

Indeed they are pretty rare Colyn. Out of 904 known to have been manufactured nearly all were shipped to the Empire (that's Australia, Canada, Ceylon (Sri Lanka now), New Zealand, Rhodesia (Malawi), India, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore and a few to the US. it is estimated that just over 200 of these survive world wide. The majority are located in Australia and NZ but several have returned home over the last few years. Possibly around over 40 are up and running in the UK and there are a number being restored. So I guess that nearly 50 are probably in the UK but I cannot confirm that. I imported mine from New Hampshire in the US in late 2009. It has only had three owners since it was initially purchased in New York State in 1950. Originally pained black the car was then sold to the second keeper in mid 1952 by which time it had been completely repainted MG Red. This chap and his family kept the car until 1999 (the son having restored the car during the 1980's) and the next owner had the car for a further 10 years until I bought it. Other than having the bonnet and boot resprayed, the interior completely re-trimmed and the engine rebuilt in 2014 I have done little to it. I did have it fitted with electronic ignition (which has been a real boon) and the hood recovered (though I am still awaiting this following an unsatisfactory job by the trimmers. Very different from the MGA which is very quick so it’s like comparing chalk and cheese!


Jerry Birkbeck

My first drive was in the mid 60's before I even had a drivers license. Dad and I both had red 1500 roadsters,his modified with bigger tires,mine stock. We'd race around,crash into each other and sometimes even roll them over. Still own that VIP set with it's 2 MGA's,Lotus and Ferrari and kind of think it and my wife buying a new MGB in '79 contributed to me buying my Coupe in 1982
gary starr


Right on, Strathpeffer... a great hotel, and fantastic line-up of MGAs.


Doug Wallace

And 1 more...

Doug Wallace

As I started this thread I will bend the rules and add my second experience. While doing my Master at Birmingham University in 1968 there were 2 PhD students both called John Davies and both running MGA 1500 Coupes. When we all finished in September they were both selling the As. I drove the better one first. It had a servo fitted which was very scary to me in those days. As the better one was going to cost £250 I bought the worse one for £99.

Having just started work in London I drove back to Brum one Friday and picked up the A. I then carried on to our climbing hut in the A to Snowdonia where there was a meet for new members. At the pub on Saturday night I pinched the seat of a female fresher when she went to the loo, she wasn't happy when she returned but we are still together 46 years later. On the next day I took her out for a fast drive in the around Snowdonia and Anglesey. When she asked where the seat belt was she wasn't impressed to be told they were inthe boot.

We had many adventures in that banger of a A until it died in 1972 and I bought my current one for £250.

Paul Dean

My first MGA experience is my own car, purchased 25 years ago and driven for the first time last year.

After spending my 20's drag racing and street driving hot rods & US muscle cars, I settled down to the 2 'M's (marriage & mortgage).

Marriage came whilst on holiday down under and during that time I drove a friends MGB (which he'd shipped back from the UK) through the Sydney suburbs - and loved it!

Back home in the UK I decided to investigate buying a sports car 'project' and after some deliberation settled on a 1957 MGA roadster, as I preferred the beautiful swooping lines of the A over the B.

This was 1990 - at the peak of the last classic car boom and my meager budget would only run to a basket case, rolling chassis & bodyshell, with a seized engine - residing in the passenger footwell!

Fast forward 15 years, after house moves and all the required DIY, the project was languishing under a tarpaulin in the garden.

Decision time - sell it for what little I could get for it or finish it?

Having finally made the decision to finish what I'd started, my hot rod heritage affected the development of the rebuild. Which means now, 10 years later I'm now the proud owner of the 3.5 litre V8 powered MGA in the attached picture.

Although purists wont like it, I love it - as looks stunning (IMHO), performs perfectly in todays traffic, sounds great and handles superbly.

But I never have managed to drive a standard one - must put it on the bucket list!


Chris Bond

I had been aware of MGAs no more or less than any other car I saw driving around in my teens and early twenties.
It wasn't until I was beginning to enter the doorway of a hardware store in Sausalito, Calif. back in 1968 that I first decided that I'd like to get one some day. As I was turning the doorknob, I heard this vroom, vroom behind me and I turned around to see; it was Sterling Hayden pulling up & parking in a space in front of the hardware store (He used to live on his boat in Sausalito). We looked at each other for a second, and then I checked out what he was driving; an MGA. It was beat up as all hell & he looked scruffy and wild with a beard going this way and that. They made a perfect pair, and I couldn't help but admire the gestalt of it all. It was then that I realized the real beauty of the lines on the MGA & thought to myself, one of these days..
About 40 years later, I got one.
Rick deOlazarra

Mine has just always been there.

D Rawlins

Mine was four weeks ago when I bought my first MGA and looking forward to happy time together.
Jack New Forest

Hi this was my first MGA back in 1973/74 paid £250 for it,very rusty no boot floor used to put my gear on top of the fuel tank and hope it didn't fall out,didn't seem to matter back then, it's still on the road I think

cheers Gordon

G C Pugh

This thread was discussed between 12/01/2016 and 08/02/2016

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