MGA  2006 DCoyote

MGA History

--> History
--> IRIS, 1960 MGA 1600 MK1 Roadster


In 1955, MG threw away its traditional sportscar mould and began producing an all new sleek little roadster, the MGA. The MGA was a breath of fresh air compared to the previous post-war MG cars that had really been restyled pre-war designs. The new car featured a modern, low-slung open roadster, although this was still mounted on a separate chassis and used detachable side screens on passenger doors, common practice on all open MG cars.

MG enthusiasts were given a hint of what was to come in 1951 when George Phillips drove a re-bodied TD Midget in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. The car, built for him by MG following his successes with his own TC, had been fitted with a lightweight two-seat racecar style body. It was a road-going version of the Phillips car, proposed to BMC in 1952 as a replacement for the TD Midget, but which had been turned down because of the corporation's decision to build the Austin-Healey 100. MG had gone as far as building a full prototype of the MGA by using TD running gear, the 1250 XPAG engine, a re-designed chassis, and the MGA bodywork.

When it eventually became clear that the TF Midget was a bit of a lame duck, and that it would have to be replaced, the new MG sports car was finally given the chance it deserved. The delay in production had one advantage in that it allowed MG to refine the design and install the much newer 1489cc four cylinder B-series engine and its transmission from the Magnette saloon.

Traditional MG fans were surprised by the car's modern looks to start with, but the MGA soon found plenty of eager buyers all around the world, particularly in the all-important US market. The MGA used the new BMC B-Series engine, in twin carb, 1489cc format that produced excellent performance (95mph) and plenty of scope for developing as a competition car.

The MGA sold well in this, its original "1500" form until 1959 when it received a more powerful 1600cc engine, bringing even more performance.

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Iris---original factory color—has been mostly restored and modified to handle freeway traffic. Though engine displacement and compression are stock, here are the changes:

Pretronix® electronic ignition. K&N® Filters with ram pipes inside. Engineered stainless steel header and exhaust. Rebuilt radiator with two rows of 5/8” MX core, 3/8” @ center – 16 fins per inch. Added fan shroud and oil cooler.

Speed Specialties in San Diego milled .040 off and flowed the head. All ports matched, MGB valves, guides and hardened seats. Bench tests show: Intake - 36% improvement. Exhaust - 39%. APT© head-studs replace originals. SU carbs rebuilt. New rocker arm assembly.

Front springs are 1” shorter than stock. New ¾” front sway bar. Rear ‘tube type’ shocks. Performance front disk brake pads – completely new silicone brake system.

Replaced four speed transmission with five speed fully syncromesh Ford Sierra® with a MGB clutch.

Iris has two windscreen options: a stock unit with new Stayfast© top and side curtains for inclement weather, or this chopped 6” high ¼” Lexan windscreen. (Honest, no bugs in our teeth.)

Iris took us on a 2,800 mile round trip in July 2003 to NAMGAR – GT-28 in Welches, Oregon. Not one mechanical problem. September 2004, we drove Iris to NAMGAR at the Glen, Watkins Glen, New York and back. A 6,800-mile trip of a lifetime.

Iris has won three trophies in San Diego car shows.

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Updated: January 8, 2015