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MG MGA - 5-Speed Conversion: Options

I've been driving my 1958 MGA for a while and I am very interested in converting to a 5-speed transmission. The BBS Archive has several "5-speed conversion" threads that have been very helpful. However, some are quite dated.

I understand the Moss Motor conversion kit is probably the easiest to install, but I am also interested in other (less expensive) options, eg. 240sx 5-speed, ford sierra 5-speed, etc. Many of the website links shared in the archive are no longer available/correct.

Besides the Moss Motors conversion, what make/model, year 5-speed transmission will "easily" fit my 1500 MGA? Are they available on ebay?

Who are current 5-speed conversion suppliers/manufactures?

Any information would be most welcome!

Thanks in advance for your expertise!!

Gerard
gerard hutchinson

Get it direct from the manufacturer, it's much cheaper than from Moss

http://hi-gearengineering.co.uk/content/view/14/29/

Or there is a a new kit coming soon (May) from these guys

https://www.vitesse-ltd.com


Dominic Clancy

gearboxacross the site for Vitesse, and it was clearly aimed at MGB. but having a 3brg engine to put into the car, I thought I would be more than half way there.
So I emailed;
"I had a look at your conversion for the MGB, I am considering a 5 speed conversion for my MGA, it
rw mcintosh

Gerard, not sure if you saw all of the info on Barney's site for 5-speed converstions:

http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/gearbox/gt301.htm

By clicking the "forward" arrow at the bottom of each page, you'll see option after option for the A.

As for Vitesse, they did originally plan on having an MGA solution in hand last summer, but they postponed it as they were not happy with the original design and they continue to work on it; no ETA at present.
Nick Kopernik

Ross
I had similar lack of response from Vitesse. After several months, I did receive a reply. I emailed back, but no subsequent response.
I wouldnt hold your breath
Graham V

Hi Gerald,
I have two MGA';S fitted with the Hi gear 5 speed conversion kit and it is the best value mod I have done and totally transforms the car's driving. It is easy to fit and contains all necessary parts for the conversion. I have no connection with this company but would thoroughly the product.

Regards

David
D M SPEAK

I had an answer from Vitesse about a month ago that the MGA kit would be launched at MG-Live
Dominic Clancy

Hi David,

I went to the Hi Gear site and was very impressed. I requested more information yesterday but have not heard back. Is there a better way to contact the sales folks?
gerard hutchinson

As the former founder and 35 year owner of Japanese Specialists auto repair center I think waiting for the Vitesse/Mazda unit to become available would be a good idea. I understand the T5 is now out of production parts will naturally become more difficult to find. The Mazda transmission in this ad is new. The Mazda is less expensive and still in production. Time will tell.
New and still in production vs rebuilt and out of production, less cost and better quality. Seems an easy choice.
A little different but I have had a Mazda transmission in a MGA since 1988. It sits behind a 12a rotary and came from a RX7.
R J Brown

Gerard,

I have been driving my 1958 MGA 1500 since 1975, covering considerable distances in UK, Germany and France over these years. If anybody had suggested changing the original gearbox in the 'seventies and 'eighties, I would have been aghast, being something of a purist, unwilling to change the original specification of the MGA.

In 2015, after soliciting opinion on this forum, I asked Bob West to fit a Hi-Gear 5-speed gearbox, before joining the MGA 60th anniversary Land's End to John o'Groats tour. Hi-Gear founder Peter Gamble drove over from Derby to supervise the conversion himself, as my car was the second to be fitted with the upgraded version of the kit, with no change in situ of the engine.

Times and attitudes change, and I consider the decision to convert to the 5-speed, T-9 gearbox the best I have made in 42 years of owning the "White Lady."

I well remember in the '80s driving long distances through France to Germany, with high engine revs; now the 5th gear changes all that: higher cruising speeds, lower revs, less stress, all round a delight to drive.

Doug



Doug Wallace

Doug,

The first time I got my car up to 70 mph on the highway I knew I needed the 5-speed conversion! I am hoping a representative from Hi-Gear will reply to my emails soon!!
gerard hutchinson

Hi Gerard,
I have the Ford T9 5-speed gearbox fitted and it does improve the car quite considerably.
Cruising at 70 mph becomes much less frenetic and having synchro on 1st gear is a real bonus especially in traffic.

Surprisingly, I find that I still tend to cruise the car at 70 mph.

This is because you are buffetted by the airflow around the windscreen just a little bit too much when you drive much faster with the top down and driving for long periods at 80 mph plus becomes a little tedious. (this could also be because I tend to sit quite high in the car)

Cheers
Colyn
Colyn Firth

Colyn

You need the sportscreen! No real buffeting up to about 80.

I have the 1800/T9/3.9 combo. Lovely for long straight drives. Bit high geared (no pun intended) for Surrey Hills type driving.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I was talking to a purist the other day who advised against a 5 speed . I dont agree and would love it if I could justify it but I do such a low mileage. But he mentioned to me that I could get the same "5th gear benefit" by changing the diff.
I appreciate the 5 speed guys on here won't agree, but would you say there is any sense in that as a half way measure, bearing in mind I probably only do maybe 1,000 miles per annum.
Graham
Graham V

Graham
fitting a 3.9 diff with a std 4 speed box will give you the more long legged cruising but it will make 3rd gear pretty high.
You may find that you are not able to use 3rd gear very much on steep hills but it will be great for overtaking on motorways etc.
It kind of depends on where you intend to drive your car the most.

The advantage of using the T9 5-speed box with the standard 4.3 diff is that the first four gear ratios are virtually identical to the std MGA box but then you also have the overdriven 5th gear for cruising.

So if you feel like having a "Purist" day you can just pretend you don't have a 5th gear for 24 hours 😁.

Colyn

Colyn Firth

Hi Colyn,

Thanks for the reply

Yes I would definitely prefer a 5 speed, but my thinking is the box and conversion kit won't give me much change out of 2k - and with my mileage being so low......
Need to find one going cheap!

G

Graham V

Listening to all the above I think I should stage a bit of devils advocate defense for staying standard.

1) Originality/historical point. Would you fit a Sierra engine? If no I would not be happy going for the gearbox just because you can't see it.

2) One argument I would have previously accepted was that I was used to 5 speed box on my day to day car and it was frustrating not having the same number of gears. Yes I do at times try to change up from 4th on the A. But this is no longer valid as my day to day cars have long gone 6 speed.

3) The only other driver of my car is my car mad 33 year old son in law who insuring him for the A was his 30th birthday present. His younger person view is interesting he says surely you would NEVER do that change as using the standard gearbox is a lot of the character and appeal of driving this nearly 60 year old car. He likes the challenge of the a box, and would say if you do this you may as well buy an MX5.


Personally one of the main arguments of 'motorway driving' doesn't really apply to me as I now do very little of it despite living very near to the M90 just north of the Forth Bridges. I almost always always head north on the great ordinary road available in the nort of Scotland and may well do 300 miles in a day. In my early 30k mile/year pre 70mph limit days I used to drive to London for weekend averaging the high 80s on the motorway bits and I suppose just accepted the revs as normal.

As I say at the start there is some of the devils advocate in this and my driving is a different profile to many others. Incidentally my most common motorway driving is a quick thrash up the M90 to exercise the engine at higher revs so a 5 speed box would rather defeat this objective!

Would I go 5 speed if my box failed? Good question, but I do have a spare original box so changing to this would be my first and rather cheaper move.

In some ways the point above that I find the strongest is that of a driver a lot younger than many of us. If he was spending this amount of money he would vote for going wire wheels for somewhat less. I am in 2 minds here.

Just showing there is an alternative view.

Paul




Paul Dean

Paul

This always causes a dilemma as a car gets older and attracts the 'historic' or 'vintage' tag. In its youth I think the car was always a prime candidate for modifications. In fact I think we would be surprised to find many truly original cars these days. Sure many will still have the original spec engine and other parts on board but are they the originals or exchange units from the 60s and 70s? Bit like the original W G Grace cricket bat in the MCC museum, it's only had about 5 replacement blades and perhaps the occasional handle.

Let us also not forget that the original MGs were standard Morris saloons that Kimber took straight from the production line; transported them across to his works and waved his magic wand over them.

I rebuilt my newly acquired wreck of an MGA in 1996. I started to restore it back to original spec with about 4000 (guess) of new parts. Not original then but correct spec. However, when it came to colour I diverged when Bob West said to me to paint it what colour would give me the most enjoyment. I guess that started me off down the line of personal enjoyment and my car is now very non original spec. Am I the slightest bit worried? No. I did not acquire it as an investment; I built it to have fun. Am I worried about its value when I eventually let it go? Not in the slightest. Entirely up to the potential buyer. If he does not like it he can walk away. If an originality addict wants to take it on that fine by me. Most of the parts are there. The rest are obtainable.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Interesting arguments raised by Paul in his devil's advocacy. And Steve's response also makes good sense.
Surely there is no right or wrong. If you enjoy originality take that route, if you enjoy the car with modifications, then do that.
We're a long time dead, so we should just enjoy our lovely cars.

Graham

PS Steve, I like your tale about WG Grace's bat - reminds me of Trigger's broom in Only Fools and Horses. Had the same broom for 40 years, changed the head and changed the pole many times, but that same broom has remained with him from the start.
Graham V

I can see where you are coming from Paul and if I had a very original matching numbers car I would probably be reluctant to change it.

But if I was going to regularly drive the car on long distance tours, then I think I would probably still be tempted to fit a 5-speed box to help with the long straight bits. I would though definitely mothball the original gearbox bits to make certain they stayed with the car.

Fortunately my car came as a stripped down race car so it was an easy decision to make my car like it is now.

I can though definitely say that I have brought my car very much back nearer to original set up than it was when I got it. :-)

I do have both a standard MGA engine and gearbox stashed away in the garage to go with the car if I ever part with it. (They will probably have to shoot me for that to happen!)

But the car is fantastic as I have it set up now and I love how it drives.

So I think I will leave it to the NDO to decide whether or not to fit them.

Cheers

Colyn

Colyn

(just seen Grahams response and I think he has hit the nail on the head!)
Colyn Firth

Steve,

Would you really contemplate selling?

Doug
Doug Wallace

By the way I had intended to finish my 'devils advocacy' with a line saying what Graham says. That is what you do with the car is up to the owner.

I suppose my car philosophy is to have a high original MGA parts content although I am rather footloose within the MGA range. My most extreme is to have 'bored out 1622 engine', better known as a 3 bearing MGB engine, which does improve the driving experience in a way that the 5 speed may do for motorway driving I don't do much of that.

Enjoy which ever way you go.

Paul
Paul Dean

Doug

If the kids did not want it, then yes. But I am not at the end of the windy road yet.

Steve
Steve Gyles

From what Steve has said at times I am about the same age, and similarly investment to me is a non issue but for somewhat different reasons. Having bought the 2 cars that became my current one for 100 and 250 sterling, and since spent around 10k over 48 years, I just enjoy it. At a rally a while ago I got fed up 2 slow Twin Cams who I think were slightly miffed and one of the owners said there cars were too valuable to drive fast despite causing a queue!

Paul
Paul Dean

I think I will probably keep my original gearbox in case I want to go back to original specs and also because I'm a little sentimental. However I must admit I'm really looking forward to 70 mph and being able to hear myself think!! lol...

In other news ... can some one help me get in touch with these guys (http://hi-gearengineering.co.uk/content/view/14/29/) I've left a couple emails requesting additional product information and shipping costs with no reply. I'm in the US so "calling" is not that simple. Please help!
gerard hutchinson

Found the answer from Vitesse:

"We gave new product priority to our V8 MGB kit which we are glad to say is
selling very well.

This in turn slowed work on the MGA. However we expect to be able to
a prototype up to a car by the end of February with a view to launching at
MG Live in early June."

Apparently it's not using a standard MX5 gearbox, but a custom casing that uses the innards of an MX5 gearbox.
Dominic Clancy

Gerard,

Hi-Gear is kind of a cottage industry run by Peter Gamble and his wife...at least to my understanding. I've always called from the States and talked to him...I'm not sure he does email that much.

Short story...I had bought a 5-speed kit from him for my MGTC about 5 years ago just to have one around when I finally got around to swapping it in. After I installed several years later it made a lot of noise upon deceleration so I called Peter and told him the problem. He asked me to check several things, including the differential and to get back to him with the result. There was some wear in the differential so I had it replaced but the noise didn't go away when I decelerated so I called Peter again and he agreed to send me another transmission and arrange pickup of the one I had. Yes, I had to pay for the freight back, but after having had the transmission sitting on the shelf for at least 3 years thought that was a small price to pay to get a new transmission.

What other company would stand behind their product like that?

Gene
Gene Gillam

Thanks for the insight Gene. I suppose I'll have to breakdown and make the international call.
gerard hutchinson

By the way, this is the exact same kit that Moss sells without the Moss markup. You will end up paying a bit for import taxes but it's negligible considering...you'll still save close to $1000 over the Moss price.
Eugene Gillam

Gerard: Give Bruce Woodson a call-
(804) 266-7828. He is keeping kits and parts available in Virginia. Mercer and Woodson Automotive. Writes tech stuff for NAMGAR. Dan
momsauto

Why settle for only 5 speeds?

I prefer an early MG OD box with six speeds.
Bill Spohn

Does anyone have experience with the Anglo Parts 5 speed conversion kit?
https://www.angloparts.com/en/catalogues/part/254351/020.251

gerard hutchinson

Gerard,

I imagine Anglo is just reselling the Hi-Gear kit.

Gene
Eugene Gillam

Yes - Hi gear is just Peter and his wife and neither are great fans of the internet - I usually either call or fax them - they are sometimes away and there is NO backup staff.

Noise in the gearbox is something I have experienced before - I used the same reconditioning firm that Peter uses and just occasionally I have had to send a box back because of the noise.
Chris at Octarine Services

Hi Dominic
thanks for info on Vitesse, pity they can reply/email potential customers and keep them up to speed, can't think that us MGA owners have overwhelmed them with requests.
rw mcintosh

This thread was discussed between 02/03/2017 and 14/03/2017

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