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MG MGA - Chassis Numbering


This is my first post and I start with a question. Were MGAs ever sent to USA in kit form for assembly there?
Is it possible to have a MGA 1500 with a GHNL type chassis number, would this occur during the changeover to use up stock.
Many thanks

B Bridgens

No on all counts.

There were MGAs shipped to Canada in Partially Knocked D0wn form, windscreen and wheel s removed and crated for safe (and more compact) shipping, reassembled on arrival.

Chassis number is a 5 or 6 digit number stamped on top of the frame cross member to right side of tunnel (often vanished) in front of seat. See here: It originated as the serial number for the welded frame and was then used as part of the Car No.

Car number includes the prefix letters and is stamped on the Car No. plate screwed to the heater shelf. See here:
Format of the car number changed with transition from 1500 to 1600 model. A car number beginning with GHNL is a mismatch for any MGA 1500. See here:

What is the rest of the car number (the serial number part) on your Car No. plate? The serial number is very closely related to the production date and car model. See here:
Barney Gaylord

Hi Barney

Thanks for that help and the links, they were very helpful.

B Bridgens


The reason I have asked this is because I have found an MGA 1500 with a chassis number GHNL69XXX. It is definately a 1500 ( as defined by lights and brightwork) yet it is registered in 1960. The chassis number is very early in the 1600 numbering sequence. May'59 saw # 68851 and January 1960 was # 82921. I was wondering if there was achange to the numbering system during changeover that resulted in the last 1500s being given the new numbering system. The car is of US origin.
Any help would be appreciated.

B Bridgens

As you correctly point out the ID belongs to a 1600 roadster. Regarding your car, the only change to brightwork is rear lights and front indicators. The biggest change is (of course engine and) disk brakes on the front. If it has front drums then my guess is that someone has stuck the identity of a later car on a 1500.

To avoid any issues down the road it might be easiest to upgrade any 1500 parts to 1600 so everything matches...
N McGurk

Hi Neil

Thanks for that advice. The brightwork I was refering to was the 1600 badge next to the bonnet grilles.

B Bridgens

>To avoid any issues down the road it might be easiest
>to upgrade any 1500 parts to 1600 so everything >matches...

That doesn't sound easy; that sounds like a major undertaking, plus it's perpetuating a fraud. Even if the plates have been switched, it is quite possible to recover the original chassis number off the frame, if it has not completely rusted away (there were only fragments left of my number that were still identifiable). You won't have the prefix, but if you can come up with the number off the frame, you might be able to get the rest by sending away for a Heritage certificate. And you can come up with a good guess as to what the prefix would have been if it can't be determined otherwise.

Once you have the correct number, you can get a new plate stamped. No, it won't be any more "original" to the car than the 1600 plate, but at least it will be accurate. Replacing the plate is 4 screws, as opposed to changing out all the 1600 brake stuff, engine, trim, lights, etc. Getting it straightened out with your country's licensing bureau may be another matter entirely, however. Good luck!
Del Rawlins

There were always some cars kept for the Works Dept and for engineering use. Most were eventually released for sale. This one might have been one, although for the life of me, I can't imagine how this 1600 numbering could have been done on a 1500 body.

Have you seen the chassis number in the frame yet and verified that it matches the Car number(screwed plate)? Does this car have the turn signal relay in the appropriate location? does it have 1500 or 1600 style front turn signals? Any indication that these have been changed? (they take different mounting holes.)Have you looked under the sides of the engine bay to see that the holes for a 1600 badge haven't been welded or bondo'ed up? Does the winscreen frame have the center latch?

If "everything" points to a true 1500 body and the chassis number matches the car number, it could be that the 1500 body was replaced on the 1600 frame and the car number swapped out later in life. It may, or may not be a fraud. The fact that you ahave a 1960 title means nothing, It was not uncommon back in those days to declare the year on the title as the year the car was sold. Having a car title with a 1 year mismatch is not uncommon. My '56 was titled as a '59!

You have been given the sage advice of many. Now it is time to go to the source and request a Heritage Certificate and get the final word.
Chuck Schaefer

"That doesn't sound easy; that sounds like a major undertaking, plus it's perpetuating a fraud."

Strictly speaking you are of course correct, but this is a 50 year old car that could like many others have already had every part replaced. I don't think anyone could prove fraud in the extremely unlikely event of wanting to try. As for the work, all the bits are readily available, and if there is restoration work to do anyway then it's simple.

Finding the original identity...? and then claiming ownership and the necessary paperwork... Well good luck with that route!

Of course if the chassis number on the frame is still legible, it's a start.

Has the car had much restoration work? The first thing to do is find out exactly what you have. See which model specific parts seem original and check for original colour under the dash etc. You can also get the heritage certificate to see what that gives.
N McGurk

Hi Guys

Many thanks for your thoughts. The car is in exceptional condition with regard to chassis and bodywork. There is a lot to do with the trim which is very untidy and brightwork will need replacing or rework, plus the body will need striping and paint. I have decided to purchase the car despite the mystery as it is a solid car at the right price and will certainly make a nice car after spending money on it. I will be getting the car transported in the next couple of weeks to my garage when the investigation will begin to try and trace the original number. Either way as a true numbered or a mis-numbered car it will join my collection to be enjoyed for what it is. I will keep you all posted with progress and when the car arrives I will get some pictures so you can all have a laugh. For the USA guys the car last resided in Colorado State beforte being shipped "home" to Europe.
Many thanks once again

B Bridgens

>Finding the original identity...? and then claiming
>ownership and the necessary paperwork... Well good luck
>with that route!

My MGA had the wrong car number on its title. When my father transferred it to me, I had the title corrected at the DMV. It was as simple as filling out one line on the application form, and the trooper came by and verified the chassis number (I think the number on the title was the engine number).

Now, the requirements of Barry's jurisdiction may be entirely different, but that doesn't mean that it's impossible, or a big deal. If he can recover the frame number and it's different from the number plate, it should be possible to get it corrected. It's certainly worthy of investigation before changing out a lot of parts in an attempt to create a configuration that may or may not be original. If the goal is to "upgrade" to 1600 brakes that's another matter.
Del Rawlins

This thread was discussed between 21/02/2012 and 22/02/2012

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