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MG MGA - Best post-war MG roadster - The Great Debate?

A lot of you will have seen the ratings given to post-war MG roadsters in the July 09 edition of Classic & Sports Car magazine (summary attached).
They obviously got it wrong not having the MGA on top - what is your opinion?

Mike Ellsmore

I think the MGA should have scored higher on parts availability, definitely ease of maintenance and rust resistance. Where I think the MGA falls down is in everyday use, I wouldn't feel happy leaving one parked up in a street for a long period or overnight. Sadly, the MGA comes from a time when you could do that! Other than the security issue (which probably doesn't apply to a Coupe) the MGA wins with the MGB a close second.
Lindsay Sampford

I don't agree with the MGB higher score for ease of maintenance. On the later MGB you get into exhaust gas recirculation, PCV valves, anti run on plumbing, air injection plumbing, temperature compensating SU's, water heated choke (Strombergs only).
You soon wish you were working on an MGA.

M F Anderson

Not a comprehensive list. They have omitted the TD and TF, both of which had considerable changes to the TC which, to all intents and purposes, was a prewar design pushed into immediate production at the war's end. Other than that, I concur with Lindsay's comments.

(ex TC owner)
Steve Gyles

I did my own comparison and added the TD and TF and corrected a few other items to bring the MGA to the top of list! Shouldn't get too many complaints from this BBS, but not sure about the wider MG community!

Mike Ellsmore

Hey - they got the 'good looks' bit right! Best looking damn car MG ever produced. Whoever thought an MGB was easier to work on never replaced a castle section. I've had my 'A' 35 years, and despite also owning a hoard of Spridgets (and a few 'B's) simply wouldn't swap it for anything.
A S Duff

I also look after a B for a friend . The A is MUCH easier to work on (try changing a master cylinder on a B - even worse than an A). Even though many of the B bits are fundamentally the same, they are always more complicated for the same function, and the car doesn't drive or handle any better for it. The only thing going for the B is that there is a little bit more room in the engine bay, but it's really not a lot more.

I will however say (as a former B owner) that the B is a much more practical car for daily use, especially the GT. The Roadster is also much more weathertight than an A.
dominic clancy

I agree with Lindsay and Mike, I have a TF as well as a MGA . From viewed from certain angles the TF is “prettier” than the A; but the MGA is a much better car to both drive and work on.
David werblow

I have 3 of the cars tested/evaluated (MGA midget MGF) and I would struggle to choose which one is overall best

One item not mentioned on the test but I find very much a consideration is the ease of the hood. (top to some here) The MGA hood is a complete nighmare, and often dictates which car I use for a particular event/journey.

I think when it was on the design board someone decided to have a joke and made the worst soft top known to mankind.

I think the parts score is reasonable based upon the fact that by comparison MGA parts are a bit expensive.

Apart from that there is very little wrong with the MGA
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

I don't care about the hood on an MGA - I only install it for shows since the weather's so perfect here. The MGA is in my opinion the most beautiful post-war MG, hands down. But I'd much rather work on my BGT than my MGA - lots more room. I can never do anything on the A without getting some sort of minor scrape, bruise, or cut. And there's no question the BGT is much more practical. Try putting a load of groceries in an MGA :-). And since my BGT is an early one, there isn't all that pollution control and wiring complexity. So I'd rate the MGA first, the BGT second. No experience with MGFs, alas.
Mark Lambert

Bob, don't you find that the heavier the rain is the harder the hood is to erect! And then there is that fiddle with the seat belts.....leave the hood down and just drive faster!
Lindsay Sampford

The MGB seems to score most of its advantage as a daily driver and I've have to agree with that. As much as I love my MGA, it could definitely benefit from several more inches of leg room, and the MGB provides that. I'd never consider taking my MGA on a long freeway trip, but I drove my MGB from Tacoma to Palm Springs and back (albeit when I was 19) and except for a cracked exhaust valve and a stripped wheel hub, it was a pleasant trip. :-)
David Breneman

Gentlemen - If you are comparing roadsters like the thread title says, the MGB, MGC, MG RV8 and the MGF/TF don't belong in the list, they are all convertibles, not roadsters (by definition, roadsters do not have wind up windows). Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

Well, according to most of the definitions for "roadster" I can find, even the MGA isn't a roadster!

Pronunciation: (rôd'stur), [key]
1. an early automobile having an open body, a single seat for two or three persons, and a large trunk or a rumble seat.

A true roadster would have to be a car with a bench seat!
Lindsay Sampford

Sorry Mike the ranking system used by C and S Magazine is fatally flawed. I have owned a number of sports cars (convertible?, roadster? - who cares)and I would not rank any one of them based on things like parts availability, ease of maintenance, investment potential and rarity. Rarity often means the car was unsuccessful and few were produced. MG produced over 25,000 TD's, but only around 10,000 TF's because it was outdated and they could not sell it. The TF is consequently rarer than the TD - not a recommendation.

Sports cars should be ranked amongst other items, such as roadholding, on their enjoyment factor. Why else would anyone buy a sports car but for fun? Admittedly some people buy the Ferrari's Lambo's etc. not for fun but to show that they can afford one and then never drive them. Even modern sports cars are hardly practical for everyday use. Who cares if a car is difficult to work on if it gives you that adrenalin rush on the track or, like a well sorted T Type, is a joy to drive on a winding mountain road.

Design a ranking system that reflects what a sports car should aspire to and I will join the debate. The system used by C and S is better suited to trucks.

Aubrey Paverd

The A is the only one, Prettiest car ever, fun to drive. That's why I have 4.
R J Brown

I,m afraid the Ease of Maintenance figures are waay out. Consider TC's and TD's with their open guards/fenders giving access to brakes and suspension; the side lifting bonnets giving access to filters and electrics; and I note the A and B owners are quiet about battery access (very important for a hobby car).
Just my 2 cents AUS worth.

Matthew Magilton

I agree with Matthew, but again what has ease of maintenance got to do with a sports car. Try working on a Gull Wing Mercedes?

Mr Brown beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The A has feminine lines like the MGF. Bit of a hairdressers car if you ask me. Not my cup of tea - give me the square rigger every time. Poor brakes and slower than its contemporaries (Disc brakes on the 1955 TR3, TR3 0-60mph around 11 secs. 1956 MGA 0-60mph 15.6 secs)

A pretty car and fun to drive OK, but not the best. That I think belongs to the B and the sales figures support that - 500K B's as opposed to about 100K A's

Accept it guys those girly curves do not a sports car make!
Aubrey Paverd

Sorry guys...

The TC should definitely be on top of the list.

Without a doubt they have the most eye catching body style, we don't have to lean over and work in a hole to adjust carburetors (or anything else for that matter), they're amazingly comfortable to drive (except for the ache we always have in our cheek muscles after we get home), once they've been restored there's never a rust problem (we try not to drive in the rain), running costs are cheap (regular gas at $2.50 a gallon takes us anywhere we want to go).

My first sports car was an MGA back in 1966 and while I thought it was pretty I always wished it was an Austin Healy.
Gene Gillam

There really is no such thing as a ”best” MG, in my opinion. All post war MGs are well designed cars, so it all depends on what you want from your sports car.

Most people will agree that the MGA is the best looker. That the MGB is more practical, roomier and more useful for long runs. That the square riggers have a charm of their own. And that the TD and TF are technically superior to the TC, but does not look quite as good.

What few people seem to know is that for pure driving pleasure, the Midget beats all of them!

63 MGB
61 Midget
59 MGA coupe project
Once had a TA

Let's not forget that the TC, TD and TF were all officially Midgets too.

I loved my TC but I was for ever catching/cutting my hands on the bonnet opening handles and also around the scuttle/badge bar area when polishing.

I could never get my wife to drive in the car during the winter (good thing or not?!) as it had no heater. At least I had the exhaust pipe under my driver's position to keep the frost off my toes. Windows used to mist up in the rain, so I used to carry the famed half a raw potatoe as a demisting agent. A wipe over the inside kept the fogging at bay - pre war dodge.

It was certainly a good looker and always turned heads. Steering could be a bit of a wanderer unless set up precisely.

Best of all and, like a well used MGA, it had that wonderful old leather/oil aroma that you probably do not get in the later Midgets/MGBs and MGFs. I used to go into the garage frequently just to saviour the smell. Often I would leave the garage/utility/kitchen door open so that all inside could also enjoy that distinctive smell of old time motoring.

Steve Gyles


"Let's not forget that the TC, TD and TF were all officially Midgets too."

Good point. "Modern Midget", then. or Spridget, if you like :-)

Concerning the TC steering, someone once wrote "No TC ever went down a straight road in a straight line". Certainly my TA never did!

Love your description of the old leather/oil aroma. That also shows how personal and emotional this is, and why the "best" MG really is irrelevant.

Like one of Norway´s best wine experts answered, when someone asked him what was the "right" red wine: "If you like it, it´s good!"



I got my TC steering sorted and it drove straight as a die. I seem to recall it was wedges under the axle beam and a modified cap with an inbuilt bearing on the Bishop Cam steering box.

Steve Gyles

hmmm lets think about it having driven al her is my "conclusion"

T types - only the tc and before look good but i can't afford them (yet)and they don't drive as good as the more modedrn ones.
not it

A- good looks, way to expensive, drive's verry nice no OD
not it

B- early pullhandle 3 bearing ones drive supurb and have OD actualy ideal but again to expensive
later ones do not drive as nice more of a big car feel, these are however affordable
not it

GT- ideal travel car but not the fun mobile.

Midget- cheap (A-series engine made until 1999 suply's cheap tuning and spares just some bodywork fitings ar slightly more expensive than the B ones)
Absolutly mad fun to drive
Verry comforable
it only lacks the OD

the later rubber bumper midgets and B's are not in my equasion because the added weigt and bigger ride height ruind the cars


1966 1380 midget "the rocket"
1973 BGT

Onno Könemann

The best MG?

Its my MG so I can go for a blast in it on sunny days like today!

[unreconstructed 'C' owner]

K Whitehead

What yours for?

Cheap fun, definitely MG Midget.
Looks and charm got to be MGTC.
Every day practicality (is not why you have a sports car) but no doubt MGF.
Value all round sports car MGB.
MGC and RV8 are modified MGB and everything they add can be achieved with an MGB (sorry for that generalisation)

But this is the MGA forum. I'll go for my "girly curved, pretty and fun to drive, AH wannabe" every time. (until I get an MGTC)
Neil McGurk

I gotta scream any time someone calls an A a wannabe Healey. "Lord" healey was so AFRAID of the MGA that he delayed its introduction and forced the mgtf on to an unsuspecting public. But true to reality MG went on to sell over 100,000 units while the "Truck" Healey tried to foist off as a sports car petered out and died with the Marque.
R J Brown

Spot on R.J. I wonder how upset Healey was when BMC decided to move the production of the Healey 100 6? to the MG factory Abingdon? I wish I had been a fly on the wall..
Then his beloved Frogeye Sprite was ordered to be built by MG also, upset? only a tad I suspect.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

What about keeping dry in the rain?

MGA - 40mph.
Midget - 50mph.
MGB - 50mph.
MGF - Don't know, but perhaps someone can enlighten me?

If you are being serious, then what about radical looks like an Arkley SS?

Why just a Roadster? There's no better 50's design than an MGA Coupe, and no better 60s design than an MGB GT (except a Jacobs Midget).

I love the look of an MGA, but I have got to be less than happy with he front grille. I love the look of an MGB, but again unhappiness creeps in, this ime with the back end.

All in all, an early MGB GT is the best looking post-war MG - but its... ummm... 6th on the list of ones that would put in my ultimate MG garage.

Nice debate... but no answer... beauty is in the eye of the beholder!


(Yorks, not Middx!!!)
JW Prewer


Not sure where you are coming from with the keeping dry in the rain figures. I find 60 to 70 mph very comfortable in the rain. Unless of course you are talking the minimum speeds to keep dry with the hood down!!


Steve Gyles

Is that the John Prewer who owned the iris blue MGB reg.No. AER 155B ?
Lindsay Sampford

Best ? Best looking - MGA. Best Fun - Midget. Best drive - MGBGTV8. Best engineering - MGF

R Walker

MGF the best engineering????
I would class it at the bottom of the list.
Blown head gaskets are common and an absolute pain.
See website:

M F Anderson

The 02/03 MGTF160 is by a long way the best...

Headgaskets aside (over blown in my opinion - pardon the pun) a very advanced design/engine/handling package that given a few more years and development would have ironed out perceived reliability issues.

Not all great MGs are the oil leaking, wheazing, rattly old bangers with spindly wheels and clunking splines from the early to mid 1900's....


A L C Mackew

I was refuelling yesterday and there was an MGF at the adjacent pump. The lady owner came over and said she preferred my car! We then got chatting. She said she was delighted with her car. She had only had it from new for a few days. It was one of the new Chinese-built models. I had a brief look at it. Seemed a decent build standard.

Steve Gyles

This thread was discussed between 06/09/2009 and 11/09/2009

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