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It’s funny how things come about sometimes. Buying my nice MGB roadster initiated my brother and I looking into all things MG related. Watching the market we identified it was a good time to buy. This MGA popped up in my local market and we bit the bullet and invested in joint ownership of this very cool classic.

Driving… It’s a truck load of MG joy to drive these cars. It really is a joy cruising down the road, very enjoyable. A standard MGA is not a performance car, maybe in its day but not by todays standards. It is more a car that is a delight to drive at a leisurely pace when it is not too hot or not too cold, a fresh morning or evening, a nice mild day time temperature or balmy summers evening, it is terribly English and terribly civilised, simply a delight, an experience to savour like nice food or fine wine.

Interior Space… To get in I slide in under the 14″ after marker steering wheel. I’m 6′ tall. Once in and under the wheel all is good with reasonable legroom and comfort. The steering wheel is close to my chest, it’s comfortable enough though and it doesn’t take long to get used to the driving position. Exiting is a reverse of getting in, I kind of slide back out with gentle assistance from the bracket supporting the windscreen.

The cockpit is quite small with plenty of room for 2 adults but not much else. As there are no window winding mechanisms the space in the doors become stowage room, handy for phones, garage remotes, water bottles, hat, beanie and the like. What I think is really cool is to reach into this space to pull the wire cable that opens the doors.

Space in the footwell is reasonable but the peddles are very close together. Driving in small soft shoes is a must. It didn’t take too long though to work out how to negotiate it, there’s a knack to it that I learned very quickly which I do without thinking now.

Rear stowage… There’s a stowage bag suspended in the rear shelf, very handy and it is designed to stow away the detachable side screens and other small flat items. The one in this car is original factory equipment.

Boot… There’s not a great deal of boot space with the 15″ spare wheel, jack, tools and sundry items.

Performance… Well, I think for a car that sold new in 1957, with English engineering much more dated than that, the B series engine having its origins in 1947, it gets through modern traffic quite well. There’s enough get up and boogie in the 1500 twin SU equipped pushrod engine to negotiate traffic and freeway conditions. This car is equipped with an upgraded radiator that keeps it running cool for light general running about and club duties.

Braking… The factory drum brakes on 1500 model cars are a little on the agricultural side. The stopping power of modern cars in traffic and freeway conditions made me quite nervous and got my heart racing. Visions of the precious MGA rear ending a Hyundai or whatever is not a good scenario to be contemplating in the traffic. The options, upgrade to a disc brake system found on the later 1600 model, and/or to install a brake booster system.

With some research and a chat to the MG repairer, the conclusion was that what many drivers are concerned about is often the “feel” of the brake peddle compared to a modern car. The MGA peddles being so close together, for me makes the whole action of operating the peddles slow and awkward which makes getting used to the “feel”  of the old school braking system that little bit harder to adjust to. It was decided to start with installing the after market brake booster with the option to go with discs later if needed.

As it turned out, the booster works fantastically. The brake pedal has a feel and touch more akin to what we are used to in modern cars, I also found the brakes a lot more responsive, to me it seems to speed up the response time, important because of the awkward and close proximity of those peddles. The car readily dives in the front end now, it’s easier to apply the brakes firmly which translates into confidence driving in traffic. Gone are the visions of rear ending a fellow road user with the precious MGA.

The cost in my opinion was very reasonable for the transformation it makes to confidently driving the car in modern traffic. It was a very cheap performance upgrade well worth doing. The MG repairer did a fantastic job of making it a neat and ascetic installation on the plate on the rear shelf in the engine compartment, it can be taken out and returned to factory specs easily and there are no additional and unnecessary holes in the bodywork.

Gear box… The MGA is a 4 speed, the early 1500 model has no synchro in 1st. I’ve found these boxes are quite tight and notchy when in good condition and a bit loose and sloppy when not. There’s not a lot of travel in the lever. There’s no spring loaded return on neutral like modern cars which means going through the gears requires physically moving it through the H pattern gate, for example from 2nd -3rd. Failure to do so will result in the usual protest. Doubling the clutch with a quick 2nd stab makes changes smoother. A gentle and patient pace going the gears rewards the driver with a nice experience which I learned pretty quickly. I love this pic of the 63 years of wear on the gear lever on this car.

Hand brake… It is said a picture tells a thousand words. Not so in this pic of the hand brake. What it doesn’t show is the way it operates, and I love the way this operates. It was designed for a quick release in an era where running to your car at the start line when weekend racing was common practice. It works opposite to our modern cars. Pulling the lever up and then clicking the button locks in the hand brake, but here’s the cool part, a gentle lift on the lever releases it for a fast release action and the lever falls to the floor.

Now why this is cool is because of the tight and awkward pedal spacing. When stopping in the traffic engaging the hand brake is quick and easy, knock it into neutral, my feet don’t have to fiddle with the awkward pedals, then anticipating when the lights go green I can be in gear, a light lift of the lever releases the handbrake and makes the whole action quick and easy, and I’m moving with the traffic. I’d love to have this in the MGB.

Upkeep… Classic cars though do need care, time, money and periodic repairs as they arise. They generally don’t however clock up a lot of miles so the upkeep is reasonable provided it is done on a regular basis. and insurance cost for this reason is very reasonable, cheaper than my regular car. Rego on club plates is very reasonable too which require membership in a qualifying car club.

So that’s a wrap up on a brief review of owning an MGA.

Happy trails.