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MG MGA - 60's memories

(note: every MGA I've owned has been a 1500)

Looking at some cars on the net this morning brought back some memories from the 60's:

Mark II taillights - I was always envious and wanted those on my 1500, but who could afford such a frivolous change?

Mark II grille - Same as above.

Sun visors - For years, I drove 20 miles south from Baltimore to Ft Meade at 3:00 in the afternoon five days a week to work the Evening shift. Even with sunglasses, it was a rare event when I didn't have one hand up blocking the sun.
Dennis Suski

...and in the winter, one hand had to both clear the mist off the inside of the windscreen as well as block the sun!
Ken Doris

Ah, the 60's. Still living at home, drove my '56 1500 to college every day. In winter you often not only cleaned snow off the windshield but also the seats. Side curtains don't seal very well. On frigid mornings sometimes had to warm the oil pan then use starter fluid to get her cranked up. Went part of one winter with no wipers after the motor failed. Just reach around and wipe with a rag to keep a clean spot!
Ah, the joys of youth!
G T Foster


I remember it well. My car was an old Morris Oxford (scaled up Morris Minor). It had trafficator arms in the door pillar. The number of times one would stick out and, unwittingly when I got out of the car, I would walk straight into it and shear it off. The heater did not work well so I used to wipe a raw potato over the inside of the screen to prevent it misting up. No windscreen washers in those days either. Like you, I used to keep a paraffin stove under the sump to warm the oil prior to cranking her up, usually on the handle as the battery was shot. The SU pump was in the engine bay and would frequently ice up. I was forever having to give it a thump to get it going. Best part was the leather bench seat in the front (column gear change). Great for entertaining the girlfriend(s). The number of times after flying my mate and I would be out for the evening with our girlfriends, them in the back and myself and mine in the front..........!

Steve Gyles

My wife, Melon, was the primary driver of the A our first winter after getting married in 1969. She soon learned to park the car near work on the closest hill, as the batteries would often wear down cranking over (and over) and she would resort to opening the door, sticking her foot out and pushing the car down the hill for a couple of more tries popping the clutch in 2nd gear. Amazingly, most of the time it worked!
- Ken
Ken Doris

Steve, no wonder your windscreen kept fogging up with all that parking activity!
Must say, I tried that trick with a raw potato. All I ended up with was a foggy windscreen, smeared with potato gunk.
Phillip Hughes

Four gallons of petrol for 1 and we still ran out of petrol but a pint of mild was only one shilling and eight pence
J H Cole

I had a 1967 GTO with the 335 HP 400 engine in those days. I can reminder bitching about gas prices when "ethyl" would go over $.30 a gallon. I just thought about the lovely bias ply tires of those days. Beer was usually around $.89-.99 a six pack, so a friday night wasn't too expensive. Another time.
Bill Haglan

Had an early '60's Volkswagen "Beetle" when I got out of college in 1969. No heater, with a long commute in Chicago winters to get to work. I had to have an ice scraper to clear ice off the INSIDE of the windshield while driving. Sold it after 2 years and bought a '67 Corvette. Didn't learn my lesson though, bought a '76 MGB a few years later and drove it year round. At least it had a heater, never got stuck in the snow, but required attention many nights in the garage during winters.
G Goeppner

Dad bought our MGA in '59, I learned to maintain it and keep it running. I bought it from Dad in '68 paid for it for years of after school jobs, and have had it ever since. I was quite a geek in high school, even with the MG along with a bug eye Sprite, Mini, and a TR3, all junkers until we went through them and got them cleaned up and working. The girls liked the cars, and me, especially in the red MGA! The salvation of this geek was the Central Kentucky Region chapter of the SCCA (Lexington, KY. Good solid people, great mechanical and otherwise learning opportunities, organized activities, lots of cool cars! We rebuilt and modified the MG for gymkhanas, "blueprinted" the engine, painted it twice, went to TR6 wire wheels and Pirelli tires, MBG exhaust manifold etc. It still has the second laquer paint, TR6 wheels new Pirellies and exhaust. The SCCA kept me out of trouble, taught me how to drive and behave in public, and gave me many friends for most of my life. We tend to remember the good times and that is good, the '60s made for good memories.
Russ Carnes

Hi Steve,you'll appreciate this.May '65 used to go overnight non-stop(apart from fuel at 4s 10p gallon) Speke(Liverpool) to Feltwell in the middle of Norfolk on an AJS 250.No car licence at that stage but could drive having learnt as a staff cadet at 635 Gliding School Burtonwood.Driving my mates Hillman Minx convertible,stopped at Lakenheath level crossing all posh with the hood down, and who should come up behind us but our Flight Commander(aaaarrrgh ,sh*t).Graduated onto a Frogeye Sprite.Going from Speke late one evening back to South Cerney Jan '67,only got as far as Warrington--dual carriageway--Minor 1000 cuts right across my path to inside lane,then after about 300 yds does a 90 degs right in front of me.I reckon his back axle was about 2 ft wide after I hit him.After re-build swapped, in mid '67, Frogeye for MGA at Syerston.Stunning Alamo Beige.Did have a chance of a coupe but chose the soft top.So not totally daft.
MR Blencowe

Off at college I double dated in the MGA coupe a couple of times. Not every one in the dorm had a car. Do able for a date but none of Steves "hot" parking. My legs on the left, my dates arms around both boys shoulders and her legs to the right. His date on his lap. Careful gear shifting for sure.
R J Brown

And the crank,

I'm guessing I am near to the record for using the crank. I would go through months at a time while saving up money to replace the battery.
Dennis Suski

Dennis, et al., In Michigan, I had to turn the crank while my friend pulled on the starter and worked the choke to get it running on very cold mornings. Then it was a freezing ride to work of about 30 miles each way. I always thought the crank was a good idea of MGA to provide, but then I looked around at all the Detroit iron there and realized those cars actually worked well without one:) They also had heaters that worked. Something was wrong with the picture, but I always said I was having more fun.
Harley Johansen


It seems I should know you. It was 65 that I went through South Cerney, buying my first car (the Morris Oxford) in the adjacent town of Cirencester. I bought that car from savings out of my 6 weekly pay as an officer cadet! I too went Syerston (66 - 67) then the fast jet route to Lightnings.

By 1968 I was still an inexperienced driver, but flying a Mach 2 fighter! Someone had told me to 'power out of slides'. In the winter of 68, I lost the back end on snow so, steering into the slide, I hit the throttle and proceeded to do 2 x 360s, ending up going backwards into a ditch! End of that car.

Steve Gyles

Ah the 60s - they say if you remember them then you weren't really there!
Well here's my one MG memory - me with my '61 midget on Ainsdale beach in 1968. I took the front bumper off not long after doing a 360 spin through a hedge. Needless to say the floor eventually fell out due to salt corrosion!!

Cam Cunningham

Today when we look out the window we are viewing the cutting edge of technology, the grass is green and the sky is blue (if you are an optimist). Nothing has changed. It was exactly the same in the 60s. Probably even more so. The world was just coming out of post war austerity and life was full of colour and optimism with Kennedy going for a man on the moon by the end of the decade. It was a fantastic period.

The trouble is that when we now look back through archive film it appears all in drab black and white. Period dramas such as Heart Beat over here in the UK portray an almost Victorian way of life to the one I experienced.

May be that is life and part of growing old. I wonder what you younger ones will say about 2010 in 2060 - if the world still exists!

Steve Gyles

Thanks for the memories, Steve. I was in Europe in the early 60s as a "military brat". Quite eye opening to an American just beginning your teenage years and learning, first hand and personally, that all the American point of view of WWII wasn't exactly the truth. The effect it had on real people turned me into an anti-Vietnam college kid and a lifelong liberal regarding international conflicts.

I saw my first MGA in about 1961. One of my high school teachers had a gold one, probably a '61 from what I recall of the tail lights. I was fascinated with its low to the ground, sleek styling. In 1967, I needed a cheap car and found a yellow 1958 MGA for $200. It was a blast to drive and I was initiated into almost every MG "fix" on these boards. I later found a 1957 almost totally rusted out for $50, but it had a near new top and side curtains. The 58 had neither and, as a bonus, the 57 had nice wire wheels and good Michelins. Rather than doing it the easy way, I took the 58 body off, totally repainted it yellow (primrose yellow when I bought it) and dropped it on the 57 chassis. Along the way, I made friends with another MGA enthusiast attempting a V8 conversion with a 62 1600cc engine that hadn't even been started since a complete rebuild, thus, a new engine. While doing all this work in a rickety garage behind my apartment (2nd floor of an old house near the university) someone found and got away with most of the chrome from both cars so I had no grill or front bumper and a not so good back bumper. It actually looked quite wicked. I won several SCCA trophies in various events and, best of all, those memories of summer nights with the top down, moonlight and the twisting roads of the Missouri Ozarks with the sound of a Stebro exhaust behind me are still very clear.

I sold it in 1972 for $250. I owned a few MGBs in later years and now have an 80 LE, but nothing quite so much fun as that MGA.
Rick Penland


This thread prompt me to find my single solitary MGA picture from 1965. I was making $80/month in the Army.

I also found two 1969 pictures of my 67 E-Type (note: I made a little more in my civilian job)

Dennis Suski

I've really changed a lot in 45 years..apparently, from Roadsters to Coupes

Dennis Suski

Just remembered that my first car was not a Morris Oxford. It was in fact a circa late 40s/early 50s car. I wish I still had it. Can anyone identify it for me.


Steve Gyles

Steve Gyles wrote:

"out for the evening with our girlfriends, them in the back and myself and mine in the front..........!"

Caption for the above picture!
Neil McGurk

I'm guessing this car is a Buick based on the front end and hood line.
Michael Moder

Some of you have seen this before, but I thought I throw it in just for fun. Taken sometime in the late 60's or early 70's - me removing a malfunctioning fuel pump while a Vermont state trooper (smoking a pipe while fuel fumes abound!) tells me I'm not in a proper area to perform roadside repairs.

- Ken

Ken Doris


I imagine your arm was already sore from tapping the fuel pump with a screwdriver for the last 50 miles. (not that any of us ever had to do that)
Dennis Suski


Nice pic. Of course, during '60s, not yet ISO standard procedures describing how to do it safely?
Impossible to do that on the roadside by now.

Guy - your are right, today I would receive a fine or jail time if I did that. The Trooper back then could care less that I had spilled raw gasoline on the pavement. Today they would consider that a "toxic dump" and arrest me!

And Dennis - yes, you are right about the tapping on the pump to nurse it along. Just before that picture was taken we had driven for quite a while doing just that!

- Ken
Ken Doris

There was a documentary film on last night about the Warner Brothers. Jack Warner at one time was in a car crash while driving an Alfa Romero. In the film it looked as though the car was an MGA. has anyone else seen this?
M Gannon

This thread was discussed between 19/02/2010 and 09/03/2010

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