Launched in September 1955, the MGA was the first of the modern sports MGs. The chassis, engine, and gearbox were all new, as was the smooth, Le Mans-inspired bodywork. Compared to its predecessor—the TF, which still sported old-fashioned running boards—the MGA was positively futuristic.
Buyers thought so too, and being cheaper than its nearest rivals, the Triumph TR3 and Austin Healey 100, helped MG sell 13,000 cars in the first year of the MGA’s production. The company’s small factory at Abingdon, near Oxford, England, managed to export a staggering 81,000 MGAs to America. The car also earned an enviable reputation in competition, with the Twin Cam being the most powerful of the MGA engines.
The slippery, wind-evading shape of the MGA was created for racing at Le Mans —an early prototype achieved 116 mph (187 km/h). Production MGAs were very similar and the smooth hood and sloping fenders aid both top speed and fuel consumption.
The chromed, shroud-panel vents at the front were for engine bay ventilation.
MGAs had a separate chassis, with the body bolted on top. The bodies were welded, painted, and trimmed at Morris Bodies in Coventry and then transported to Abingdon for the final fitting of mechanical equipment.
Perforated steel wheels were standard.
Door skins, hood, and trunk were light alloy.
The tough B-Series, push-rod engine went well and lasted forever. A heater unit in front of the bulkhead was an optional extra. The 1600 model pushed out 80 bhp and featured front-disc brakes.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL MGA (1955–62)
BODY STYLE Two-door sports coupe.
ENGINES Four-cylinder 1489cc, 1588cc, 1622cc (Twin Cam).
POWER OUTPUT 72 bhp, 80 bhp, 85 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Front: independent; Rear: leaf-spring.
BRAKES Rear drums, front discs. All discs on De Luxe and Twin Cam.
MAXIMUM SPEED 100 mph (161 km/h); 113 mph (181 km/h) (Twin Cam)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 15 sec (13.3 sec, Twin Cam)
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 47 sec (41 sec, Twin Cam)
A.F.C. 20–25 mpg (7–8.8 km/l)