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MG MGA - Got my MGA!

I had the MGA delivered this morning...came overnight all the way from NC.
Well, this is a preliminary report as I have not had too much time to play around with it:

Drove it from where the trailer left it to my garag for 1/2mile in town, and it drives good. steering wheel is actually quite big in real life, so not too hard. clutch indeed slips if you drop the clutch in too fast while in 1st gear - as expected. But then went up 10floors up the ramp in my garage no problem. In terms of the drive and the engine I did not find any mayor problems. Engine started straight away with a bit of choke.
The old owned told me he did a carburetor tune-up, but I believe the engine can run smoother. Maybe it was not very warm, probably it will smooth out when warm.

I was not able to take it in a test drive cos I still don't have the paperwork nor licence plate.

The guy was nice enough an he loaded the car with all the spare parts he had lying around an a pot of the red paint, so I can touch it up.
With the car I got;
- Alternator kit
- Old generator (since he changed it - apparently it is still not charging the battery as it should, he mentioned something about it only giving 4volt instead of 9volts...I have the impression he was not too knowledgeable.
- Nice breatheable cover
- Sidecurtains with pouch
- lots of gromets and gaskets, including bits and pieces
- the clutch repair kit (clutch disk, pressure plate, and another piece

One think I was confused about is the ragtop frame. I thought you could normally take it off, but I believe the guy has welded it onto the body... might have to think about cutting it off at some point. Is this standard practice?

I performed a quick inspection of the underside and the frame is in very good condition, and no visible rust apart from some surface rust in some small areas.

My biggest disappointment is the sills, as usual it is an area that will need work. The owner previous to the last owner did a half job, and rivetted a sheet of galvanise steel over the inner sill wall (i guess to cover the rust), and in some parts it seems like he injected that sell inflating isolating foam...

I have taken some pictures so you can give me your opinion. I am hoping I don't need to fix this immediately, but I guess it will depend on the severity.

I also found some wood wedges between the frame and the body, according to the ex-owner his son put this there to remove a squeak! Looks suspicious to me.

The boot door does not open properly and the top lip catches with the body, hence the paint has chipped off. I support this is just a hinge adjustment issue.

Also the master cylinder, even if new (1year old) is showing some surface rust, so I need to see how to go about treating it and then protecting it. The ex-owner doesn't even know what brake fluid he was using.
I could be me, but I feel that brake pedal is a bit soft...I am guessing that the could be some air in the brake lines. I will try to purge during the weekend.

The tacometer is not working, and the ex-owner said that it is the cable in the transmission that does not stay fitted well, if you push it in, it will work but will not stay.
Also the Speedometer is jumping around a bit. According to the ex-owner this is to do with the cable that should be changed. He supplied me an extra cable to change it.

I had a quick look at the electric harnessed and to me they are a bit messy and in many cases there are some loose cables going no-where. I saw that in the front (where the front grill is) and under the dash.
I will need to investigate if this is how it should be or not.

This is all for now. I will continue the report after the weekend inspection.
Btw the person in the picture is my wife, who helped me to clean the car a bit!

Take care,
G Ramos

It is not clear whether the alternator or a second generator has been fitted, in any case it should be charging at about 14 volts.
You say that the ragtop frame is welded in position. Does this mean that the frame will not fold back behind the seats?
It obviously needs a complete sill job.
With those wood wedges, does it have the packing strips fitted between the body and the frame?
How many loose wires does it have behind the grille? There should be unused wires there for the optional fog light.
The tachometer cable does not go to the transmission, it fits into the engine block in the right hand rear corner.

M F Anderson

HI Gonzalo

not wishing to be the bringer of bad tidings but that does not look like a very good car.

seems to me that someone has been underneath the car with black pitch and simply painted it over the top of any rust or whatever. in the areas you can see there is a lot of rot (sills)

Both the boot and the engine compartment have been covered in black paint why?

Why is the piping between the body panels red? has it been sprayed when the car had a fresh coat?

Unless I am not seeing the car correctly everything about it suggests bodge?

I hope I am totally wrong.

However my car is not perfect but it did not cost me anything. :) and has no rot.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

Gonzalo, I disagree with Bob and I still think you've got a decent car for the price you paid. I wouldn't worry about the body initially except for the front wing - I bet there are not many MGA enthusiasts who haven't had problems with the sills. I would get the clutch seen to first and the the big wing dent and if you suspect the wiring give it a good going over which may not involve you in any expense. But take care with the wiring as a fault can lead to a disastrous fire - I nearly had one on mine.
As for the hood post a picture of where the frame should bolt to the body with three screws each side just behind the seats. The hood frame stays in place on the car and just stows away with the hood at the back when not needed.

You seem to have plenty of space there to do the clutch providing you can get a hoist up in the lift !

When you've done this you'll be able to enjoy it in the upcoming sunny weather.....................................Mike
m.j. moore

I wish you the best with your car. I would suggest that you find someone in your area that knows MGA's and can assist you in what you need to do to the car. Contact the MGA Register and they can assist you in finding the closest chapter of the club. I don't know what you paid for it but it can be a fun driver.

David Honness

Hi Gonzalo , For the price you paid the condition is what you would expect. The only loose wire I can see under the dash is the radio aerial.The sills do look pretty poor as does the paint work but that is all part of the challenge for you to get it looking right and enjoy driving it. A full body off restoration can wait until you have more time, money , skills and space. cheers Cam
Cam Cunningham

Thanks guys for your comment.
The generator in the car currently is a new one. As I said, I got the old one in the box and also a brand new Voltage regulator.
I guess the dilema amongst purist is whether to go for the Alternator + negative ground mod.

I agree partially with Bob, regarding some of the work. Indeed, in some areas the work was 'bodged'.
I got a big stack of documentation and bills dating back to 1996, and it shows the 2 previous owners before the last one. One of them in Iowa. They all bought a bunch of parts from Moss, Victoria British and little British company.
I have the impression that one of they guys who owned it was the one who bodged the job, the others did quite legitimate restoration.

I believe I got what I payed for ($10K), and the sills will be an interesting challenge for me. I cannot appreciate yet the extent of the damage, but I guess I must assume the worse. I guess I will wait still a couple of years before I start a full restoration. I need to address some other basic things first. Many parts of the trim aren't properly fitted...

Regarding the paint, it is in poor condition, I agree. Also the inside of the fenders, boot and hood are painted with a rough black paint.

One of the disk rotors has a big groove. The ex-owner said that probably someone before him too the pads too far in their life.

I should be getting together with some local MGA guys in the coming weeks so they should be able to give me a good idea of things I need to be doing.

BTW the piping between the body panels is Black. I does look like it was taken apart for spraying. Now that was over 10years ago.

About the ragtop, the frame support is welded to the car frame, but it still allows the top to fold. I just had the impression you could take it all off if not needed during the summer to get more space in the back behind the seat.

I am going to check the wiring over the weekend. Indeed the lose cable in the front could be for the fog lamp. I saw also a loose cable going to the tachometer...
Also I would need to re-protect the wires on the underside since the plastic braiding that goes over the loom is damaged in areas, so the cables are exposed (still with the covering -so no live wires)

We'll see how it goes. Seems a bit daunting initially but I will take it a step at a time! ; )
G Ramos

You are correct. The top should be attached to the body of the car with 3 screws on each side.
Keith Lowman

As I had written earlier. The car starts out new. Gradually gets old and rusty. Somebody "restores" it. Depending on the quality of the work we hope it again approaches new. Cycle starts again.
In the case of this car the restorer could have done a better job and it has rusted quite a bit since then.
The sooner the car gets a complete frame off total rust removal type of restoration the easier that restoration will be.
That said there is no pressing or dangerous reasons to start that type of work immediatly. Learn about your car. Enjoy it for what it is. Study, prepare, learn, save up. When you are ready and have the time and resources do it right.
For now study Eclectic Motors website before that resource goes away. Read about Barneys rust repairs from 2 years ago. Make freinds in the MGA community and see how it is done.
At some point you will understand why there are some, like me, who own multiple MGAs. They get in your blood. Since my first car in 1975, the white coupe below, I have owned 7. I have had a "current" restoration project going since 1986. During this period I have completed 4 restoration, 3 are pictured below, and am about to finish #5, a 58 coupe.
The quickest project was the white roadster it took less than a year start to finish. The most time spent is the current coupe My son started it at age 14 in 1993. I WILL finish it this year.

R J Brown

Hi Gonzalo,

I think you got a great deal for the money. It looks like to me a red car should have red piping; kinda bad people have to go and put a fellas new car down. I have 3 times as much in my TD and it is still in pieces so be happy you got something you can drive and enjoy. If I were you I would make sure the mechanicals and electricals where safe and then drive it till the wheels fall off then worry about restoring it.


Richard Taylor

Hi Gonzalo,

I hope you get a great deal of enjoyment out of your car and I wish you all the best.

P Parmenter

Your car is another work in progress, and you should enjoy the work as you do it. I am happy for you that you can drive the car as you work on it, none of my cars are roadworthy, or even engine worthy. the car looks good, but as stated, there are a few glaring repairs needed. As you said, you will take it one step at a time, and I am sure that you will find it not so large a job as it appears today.
Good luck, and welcome to MGAs.
Mike Parker

It's like Christmas! Nice car for the money. You could have spent more and still had to do the same amount of work for a restoration, if that is what you want to do. you know you will have to do something with the clutch. Not mentioned yet is whether the slipping was caused by the slave cylinder. Had this on a Spit I bought MANY years ago. Bought the car for $200 knowing that I needed to put a clutch and slave in it.

Fix the clutch then drive your car and learn about it before you decide how much more you want to do and how long you want the car to be out of service. Restorations take a long time.

Chuck Schaefer

ignore the slightly off comments by Bob above ....he is wrong. You have a good car for $10000. Fix the clutch and the other obvious ones and get out driving. I personnally would get at the rust exposed areas with a good rust converter paint to limit any further toothrot... but otherwise ...go for it!!!..and get around to the bigger jobs when you want in the future. You will never stop working on the car and that is part of the pleasure....
I bought mine in 1989 for A$14000 and did not do a body off job until 2000....but forever tinkling with it. Hope your wife understands that there is now a third party in the household.
Neil Ferguson


The tachometer and speedometer are not a big deal to repair it, check if the nuts that fix the cable to the meters are not loose, years ago I had the same problem with the speedo.
It is not usual to remove the top frame, but it is not usual to weld the frame to the body, probably this will be a easy repair, but nothing to worry now.

R Garcia

My comments were simply how the car looks to me and I am sorry if it looks like I described, It was not meant to be insultive and certainly is not.
Let me give a better comment.
I think the car is brilliant and simply sit back enjoy the car for the next 10 years! There you go happy now?

At least I do not complain when some one advertises an MGA on E bay with a 1600 master cylinder on a 1500 car yet everything else on the car is perfect. We really do have some strange people on here. Please tell me how you all know what is under the black underseal? and someone has gone to an awful lot of trouble to put black mush under the dashboard, a simple question why?

Does the price of the car change its condition?

Of course not, here is mine I got it for next to nothing but that did not make it a great runner :)

Good luck Gonzalo as I said in my original post my car is far from perfect and was in a terrible state when I bought it, the only point I tried to make is do not fool yourself, every car ever sold was hiding something and the new buyer needs to understand quickly what they have purchased. I really hope my observations prove to be incorrect. However even if they prove to be spot on, with a lot of desire and help from some of the wonderful people here you will enjoy the car far more than some one else who might simply go out spend 30000 bucks on a prestine example.

Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

I suggest you go to, and send an email with details of the car to John Drake, the Registrar. He might have this car in the Register and could give you some history on it. If it is not registered, you can do that on line.
Your fun is about to begin.

The piping between the wings (fenders) and the body should always be grey, no matter what the car colour (color)is.
Cheers, Peter.
P. Tilbury

Thanks for the support an comments appreciate it. This weekend I will go through the car properly and assess the condition.

By the way the serial nos. are as follows;

Car no; GHNL 81816
Engine No; 16GA-U 13110.

Seem like it is the correct engine for the car year.

What does the Car no. make it?
I have not managed to get a copy of Clausager's book yet!.

Take care,
G Ramos

Congratulations, Gonzalo! You'll undoubtedly be as happy with your new mistress as most of us have been with ours. The following is from Clausager:

H Engine between 1400 & 1999cc
N Roadster
L Left-hand drive

81816 belongs to a push-rod 1600 manufactured after May 1959 and (just) before January 1960.

Finally, 16GA-U 13110 is attached to a MGA 1600 engine.


Ken Korey

Hey Neil (From Australia),

You were mentioning that I should sprat the rusty parts (mainly sils) with some anti-rust (you call it rust converter). I guess you want something that will stop the rot, but that can be removed relatively easily when I decide to do a full frame off restoration.

Could you or anyone else suggest an appropriate product that is readily available in the US? And also what is the best technique to do it?
Just spray in the general direction of rust? ; )
I guess it is difficult to get to the sills from under the car...
Let me know what your thoughts are.

BTW, looks like MGAGURU site is down since yesterday... : (

G Ramos

Go to any paint store and purchase a product called OSPHO. It is a green liquid that converts rust to Oxide. I have used it for over 40 years and have had good resulys. My garage is on a canal leading directly ot the Gulf of Mexico.

Gonzalo--there are many of the on the market ...some are gells/liquids you put on and then paint over and some are included in the paint.Best to use a brand recommended by US owners.
Like Sandy I live keep my car in an area exposed to the ocean ( the Pacific on the Southern Coast of NSW in Australia ...always a huge surf running and mist coming from it ). I have used both of above on my 1600 4 years ago and had lifting of paint, blistering etc. I also used converter paint on rusty surfaces in another great car I used to own ( a NSU Ro80 ..) back in 1982 and it was still good in 2007 when I sold the car.
The secret ( as with all coatings..) is surface this case get all the loose rust off with wirebrush etc ( incl toothbrush sized for some areas), get all grease and dust off the surface.
For hard to get at internal surfaces that cant be accessed for painting spray in WD40 or some other oily penetrating fluid....latter is far from perfect and good for only a limited time but it soaks down to steel and slows the rot .... and needs to be done every year ( before winter!!).
Enjoy your looks great. I have just had my new engine hoist delivered and will be disembowelling my car in the near future..using the great advice from this site.
Neil Ferguson


am curious as to which rust paint you would recommend- Im on Lake Macquarrie- not misty, just a few metres away from the water and most things in the shed rust fairly quickly here


M. Thompson...
Away from NSW, sea mist and MGA right now..back in about a week..and on return will dig into my pile of half used tins and bottles and advise.
Neil Ferguson

I like POR-15, can you get it in OZ?
David Werblow

I performed some rust removal today... wire brush and a product from Dupli-Color which turns rust into black primer.
I will let you know what the results look like.

I don't consider this as a permanent fix but more like a temporary patch-up so I can drive the hell out of it over the summer.

If I were to do it properly I realized it is a big job. I would had to take of all the underseal from the frame and take off all the surface rust as there are many areas where the underseal is peeling off and the rust comming out from underneath... ; (

G Ramos

You are right Gonzalo, it's a big job!

The underseal is from the last "patch-up". Removing all that is just a small part of it. From your pictures it looks like you get to do pretty much what Barney has documented on his site i.e. a body off sill replacement, with associated repairs.

I think you have got it just right for now though!
Neil McGurk

I will check regularly how the rust issue evolves.
For the moment I am concentrating on the more functional things.

I know you guys will be dissapointed with me, but I took the car to have the clutch changed to a mechanic....
Talking to the local club guys here no one really offer a hand to do the job and I believe it might be too big for me at this stage (considering my limited experience, tools and proper workshop).

Hopefully I will be able to do the next clutch change. ;)
Can't wait to get it back!
G Ramos

Just spoke to my mechanic who is working on the clutch at the moment. He found that there was oil leaking from the transmission which was drenching the clutch in oil - this is why it was slipping...
However the engine seals were not leaking and are fine.

So he is going to change the seals on the transmission and he said all should be well, so I should be able to pick it up tomorrow.

By the way, is this common problem on these transmissions? this it happen to any of you before? where you able to solve it easily? just curious.

G Ramos

Make sure the small drain hole at the bottom of the bell housing is not clogged up; there should be a loose pin in it to keep it open. Any oil drips from this point are a warning that engine oil is leaking from the front or gearbox oil from the back..........Mike
m.j. moore

Gonzalo, Beautiful wife, nice car! What more could a bloke (Aussie term) ask for? That was us thirty-odd years ago. Now over 70 but same wife (boring?) who hasn't changed much and the same two MGA's! They are old cars now, just take your time (trying to filter out the miracle "cures"!), it will be well worth it because you will get great enjoyment from them!
Barry Bahnisch

This thread was discussed between 18/02/2010 and 12/03/2010

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