Car Restoration Projects
‘Safety Fast’ was the MG company’s slogan from 1924, long before the right to use the iconic MG logo was sold to SAIC Motors, which now manufactures MG cars in China and Thailand. Before this transfer in 2005, MG Rover Group had been manufacturing MGs, following a line of successive British owners.
Kevin Cooper owns one of the ‘Real MGs’, manufactured in the original company’s plant at Abington in the UK, before the successive ownership transfers of the MG brand. His 1957 1500cc Mark 1 model was repainted from its original Old English White, sometime during its 65 year life, in MGA Mark 2 Nuremberg White.
Kevin desired an MGA since he first saw one during his early years in the UK.
The MGA was a break from tradition at Abington, as previous models were built using the time-honoured, so called ‘Square Rigger’ , metal panels over wooden frame style.
By 1953, sales of the wooden-framed MG TF were falling considerably, which brought about a: “Something must be done because we’re losing volume sales and our balance sheet is covered in red ink!” reaction at MG. That call to action became the motivating factor that management was forced to act on.
Another major factor influencing the new design was American’s discovery of British sports cars in the years after the Second World War. The car responsible for that was the MG TC of 1945-1949, followed by the independent front suspension TD and TF derivatives.
MG’s first modern, envelope-bodied sports car had its roots in a streamlined racing body for the MG TD that was designed by Syd Enever in 1951, for the Le Mans 24-hour race. MG engineers then developed a low-profile chassis to better suit the sleek coachwork and the gestation began.
The new car was to be the first of a modern, post-War breed of MG. Originally named the UA series, the new model was such a departure for the company that the letter ‘A’ designation was selected.
Excited sports car enthusiasts got an early look at the MGA at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, in June of 1955, shortly before its official launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September that year. It caused a sensation and the Americans embraced it, so the MGA continued MG’s dominance of the US sports car craze.
The new car did have some features originating from the Austin merger that created BMC. The MG T series XPAG engine was dropped and instead the MGA was fitted with an Austin B series in-line four cylinder of 1489cc capacity, breathing through twin 11/2-inch SU H4 carburettors and producing 68bhp. This was increased to 72bhp soon after production started.
This engine was the same as the one used in the badge-engineered, Wolseley-derived MG Magnette, with which the MGA shared many common parts.
This heritage maintained its appeal to Kevin Cooper, many years later, in Australia. He found the car when it was owned by a very attractive female teacher and both caught his eye. The teacher is now a distant memory, but he struck gold by purchasing his MGA in November 2019.
Initially sold new by a Sydney BMC dealer, this MGA spent its early days in Sydney and has been well travelled since. The next custodian was a Novocastrian during the 1970s and it travelled for some years around the Hunter Valley district.
In 1994 it crossed to the other side of Australia, having been sold to a new owner in Bunbury, Western Australia. Later, it was bought by a lady in Perth, who spent a large amount of money in repairs and maintenance during the following years.
It was then sold to a gentleman, who owned it only briefly, due to ill health and from whom Kevin acquired it.
“The car came with a mountain of receipts and well documented history,” Kevin said. “So, I knew it had been well maintained.
“In fact, when I added up just the invoices that the woman in Perth had totalled, it was around 10-grand.”
Kevin felt quite confident that the car certainly had been well looked after and would need nothing other than normal scheduled servicing.
“I just love the flowing lines of the Mk 1 ‘A’ and the exhilarating experience of open-top touring, with the wind in your hair at speed,” Kevin enthused.
Of course, that’s not forgetting Kevin’s partner Megan and their pup Ratty, who love to go for a cruise in the MG as well!