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MG MGA - MGA body panels

just would like to know about front and rear side body panels, made out of fiberglass or steel?
H Cachalia

Hi
All the original MGA body panels are from steel.
Regards, Nikolai
Nikolai Skliadnev

any idea where to start the restoration of body work to original steel. where to get panels from etc.
H Cachalia

HC

Word of caution: door panels, hood and trunk are aluminium skinned.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Hi HC

This is a big subject and one that will court various opinions.

IMO the original bodies were hand made and therefore everyone of them is different.

Not understanding this many owners complain that they have bought body poanels that do not fit. Of course they dont because dimensions vary from car to car. That said new panels ought to be close but I have to agree that some are so far out they are a joke.

You are far better off trying to repair the panels already on your car than buy replacements. Better to buy a repair panel than a complete replacement.

Major suppliers have most panels and repair sections including B and G and Moss Europe ETC.

It is also worth trying a small company in the UK called "Sportscar Metalworks" This company does very little else except fabricates metalwork for MGAs

Finally if your skills are limited perhaps you could find a local artisan to repair the panels of your original body could pay huge dividends.
Bob Turbo Midget England

Trunk Steve?

I know the question was from Africa but?
Bob Turbo Midget England

The most common supplier for replacement body panels is probably Moss. Check their on line catalog. http://www.moss-europe.co.uk/Browse/ComponentMenuProducts.aspx?WebCatalogID=46&PlateTypeID=1
Complete panels are quite expensive, most restorers use patch panels or source used panels from other enthusiasts.
A lot of repair panels can be formed yourself from sheet stock. There are a lot of excellent photos of such repairs on the Eclectic Motor Works web site's MGA section. http://www.eclecticmotorworks.com/
B Young

Commonly known as "Metal Mickey".

http://www.sportscarmetalworks.com/

Like Bob says, repair panels are rarely as precise as the original tooling, but can usually be made to fit.
However getting the parts to fit is one thing, getting all the panel gaps and alignment right is where the real skill comes in. That makes all the difference when the car is finished.
Neil McGurk

Bob

Just trying to be international.

Bonnet and boot then!

Steve
Steve Gyles

I think Bob is on the right track.

My OPINION is a little different. The history books indicate the panels were pressed in press tools. However, it is likely that there was enough variation in the parts that the body builders might sort through several components to find the combination giving the best fit for the car they were building. Probably they might have applied a bit of "english" to fine tune the fit of the parts being installed.

All of this goes to say that the best fitting parts are probably going to be the ones BMC originally installed on the car. Most restorers try to salvage as many original panels as possible, and fit patch panels, etc where necessary.

Almost every old MGA will have rotted sills and rockers. Be very aware that there is an error in the rocker sold by Moss and almost everybody else. They are about 3/8" too tall. I believe they should fit better slightly modified, and I think one company sells the modified rocker.

I replaced rockers and sills off the chassis. If I had it to do over again, I would fit the modified rocker, and do the rockers and sills with the body still on the chassis for best fit. My car fits probably better than most, but is less than perfect. I've got to hand it to those who have achieved perfect door fit.

Hope this helps!

Safety Fast!

JMG
John Greenlee

So is it true that the worst possible spare panels to get are genuine factory items as these were the ones they could not get to fit in the factory?
Malcolm Asquith

There is a much repeated storey about the MGA production line and it may bear repeating once more here about the fitting of wings. The panel fitters on the assembly line had various wings parked ready for fitting and these were divided up into small, medium and large categories. If one wing appeared either too small or too large they would merely take it off and choose a different one. This seems an eminently pragmatic (and hence very English) response to the fitting of a hand built wing. Urban myth or what?
J H Cole

I had my MGA body rebuilt using the original panels & replacement parts from metal mickey & found him to be helpfull & very knoledgeable & the result is very pleasing with very good gaps all round , i am not saying that you dont have to fettle M/Ms parts because you do, so it comes down to the man that you choose to do the job , check out his work & if poss find a guy who loves the MGA as much as you do & with luck you will have a car to be proud off ,good luck

Colin Daly , Branscombe Devon
c daly

HC, I guess most people with an MGA have done some bodywork on the car even if it is only the sill replacement. If you decide to get someone else to do this for you then it's unlikely to break the bank.

However, when you start adding on top of the sill work 1. replacement or repair of the front and rear side panels 2. replacement,etc. of the A and B posts
3. repair of the inner wings 4. replacing rusted out parts of the boot floor 5. replacing a battered duct panel etc. etc. you are talking about serious money if it is done by a body shop.

If you have that amount of money then personally I would sell your car and buy one that has a better body.

If you are on a budget and fancy a challenge and are prepared to learn how to do MIG welding and especially panel beating and have got plenty (I mean years) of spare time then give it a go.

I have spent about 2000 on body panels for mine and about half of this with Mike Beakhouse (aka Metal Mickey). So far the only panels of Mike's that I haven't had to modify are the outer sills which appear to be perfect. Most of the panels I have had to perform drastic surgery on e.g removing spot welds, moving brackets, filling and welding up holes and redrilling them more accurately. Some of the panels were not finished off correctly, some had cut angles which were laughably off 90 degrees, etc. The inner sills on the two F frames I bought were too wide and I had to remove the five gussets, make new ones, reduce the sill width (no easy task) and reweld back the gussets. I also had to modify the B-posts on the F-frames.

So if you have a car which, like mine, requires an awful lot of bodywork then think very hard. I have very, very deep regrets that I did not decide to sell mine and buy one with a better body when I started my restoration many years ago.
The only good things to come out of it are that I can now MIG weld quite well and I'm a dab hand at shaping metal. But if it's a toss up between this and enjoying driving the car then guess what I would choose? .
Good luck ...............Mike
m.j. moore

Hello Mike,

Reading your thread here is giving me a serious sense of deja vue!

My endeavours to date (around 2 years) include a complete boot floor replacement panel(big mistake, as I should have repaired it, even thought it was rotten as pear), which when fitted and dropped over the chassis was too narrow. Then the rear valance repair panel which includes the bootlid seal/rain channel that was flat, not a convex curve as it should be. Also the corresponding closing panels repair sections were the wrong shape.

Moving forward to the front section, new footwell closing panels both sides, heater shelf and bulkhead panels all required replacement. Then at the nose a new rad duct panel and bonnet landing platform (both from Metal Mickey). The duct panel was a reasonable fit but the bonnet landing platform needed the ends removing and shortening to fit.

Now I'm 'enjoying' in the process of stitching the 2 halves together, starting on the nearside first and using repro inner sills and B post, but attempting salvage the A post. Like you I've found that the inner sill is to wide at the front and fouls the wings but it did not have any gussets so had to make them from scratch. The B post fit was poor and has required a lot of fettling too.

But as stated above, front wing fitment is very hit & miss. What I believed to be an OEM wing (bought from fleabay), nearly ended up cut in half and re-welded to make it fit, as it was an inch longer than it needed to be. But in the end I found that by cutting the seam weld by the headlight you can 'adjust' the length by pushing the nose mating flange backwards and rewelding. Then it was some heavy hammer work to get the top mating flange to align and still some 'build-up welding along the door edge to get the gap right.

As you say, you far better off spending more money on a better body but as mine is having a little more grunt in the horsepower dept, at least I can sleep sound in the knowledge that I've not tampered with a good one.

....and in any case what else would we do on winters evenings, when the temperature wont get above freezing, even with the heater on!!!!


Chris.
Chris Bond

The experience I had with my rebuild which Bob West did was that the new rear wings from Anglo Parts were easier to work with than restoring the old wings (front lower sections well rotted but otherwise sound) but that new front wings are not good to work with so try to use old ones. Interestingly Bob could not get one of my original front wings to fit again nicely so I have ended up with an ex Californian nearside wing and two new rear wings. There was a bit of trouble getting one of the shut faces to fit properly but was achieved in the end.
John Francis

I heard that MG kept various wing sizes for the old T-series cars. One of my front wings was one inch longer than the other, and its corresponding running board was one inch shorter! It obviously carried over to post-war production and the MGA. Jig tolerances were obviously a bit varied. I guess it all boiled down to individual chassis and body welding teams.

Closer to home, for me, the aviation industry at the time was not much better. The wing cord on the Comet aircraft could vary by up to 6 inches at the wing root. That was why BAE Systems ran into so much cost overruns when it started modifying the Nimrod aircraft (Comet 4-based) to the latest specification with new wings, engines and avionics. They measured one aircraft and assumed it would be the same for all 18. Wrong!!

Steve
Steve Gyles

I bought a full set of wings and doors from an Arizona car and found that these front wings were both an inch longer than my originals. I was worried when I discovered this and also thought about cutting and bending near the headlamp but as I was replacing the front side panels I managed to make adjustments and what with compressing the wings a bit could lose the inch..............mike
m.j. moore

Chris, Where did you get your rear valance panel from? I had been thinking of getting one so I will know who to avoid. How did you cope with the lack of curvature along the back and isn't there an obvious gap either side of the boot lid?..............Cheers Mike
m.j. moore

I had to buy new front nose panel (grill opening and surround) and the panel at lower trunk that wraps around under the back. These came from Moss and both fit very well. I guess I was lucky. My car had obviously been hit often both front and rear.


Harley Johansen

Mike,

Honestly, I cant remember where I got the rear valance repair panel from, as these were all bought many years ago.

The A has been with me for a while - its a long story but basically after buying all the repair panels in the 90's the restoration got shelved for 10+ years.

To rectify the problem, I cut the rain channel through with a hacksaw at 1" intervals then clamped and plug welded each 1" section to the curved stiffening section (also replaced - this time with a Metal Mickey part), then carefully welded up the cuts and ground back. What a pain, but now have the correct curvature.

Sorry, but I didn't take any photos of this repair.

Chris.

Chris Bond

It was mentioned earlier that it was thought that the MGA production line had various wing sizes available.

I have just found an article in the MGCC Safety Fast magazine - July 1988, page 25, that has a column full of MGA trivia, most of which is common knowledge today since the publication of the likes of Clausager and the words of Wisdom in Barney's site. The article says that the "MGA production carried three sizes of wing".

Slightly off topic, but another snippet talks about the different disc wheel for the 1600. Barney has a lot of detail on wheel differences. However, the information in the article that I have not found in Barney's write-up is that one of the differences in the 1600 wheel was to make clearance for the brake callipers. Anyone care to comment if this is correct?

Steve
Steve Gyles

Clausager mentions the difference in wheels between the 1500 and 1600.

dan
Dan Smithers

Certainly it was always my understanding that the 1600 wheels were made to clear the calipers fitted to that car.

I think I even made mention to that fact on my restoration story?

I have the 1600 and came by some 1500 wheels that I tried on the car and they did in fact clear the calipers. Although you can see what is potentially the issue with the 1500 wheel.
Bob Turbo Midget England

1500 wheels do indeed fit on the 1600 with disc brakes. Surprised me the first time I saw it. The 1600 type have larger bowl shape in the center disc, and it is sometimes mentioned that it was done for better ventilation (but that part may be speculative). The more significant difference is not obvious at first glance. The 1600 wheel has one gauge thicker metal in the center disc for better strength, and one gauge thinner metal in the rim for lower weight. Result is a stronger wheel that weighs two pounds less, but may be slightly more susceptible to bending a rim if it hits a pothole of curb.

The simpler bowl shape may have been cheaper tooling and easier to stamp with the thicker metal. Also a change of styling for marketing. Having to make new tooling to stamp the new part, the change of styling would be free in the process. The new wheel was introduced at (c)63577 in February 1959. Optional Rimbellishers were discontinued at the same time, probably because they didn't fit the mew wheel.

The SPL for the 1500 model shows old and new part numbers with a special note to always use the later part number. That should mean the early type were no longer sold once the new ones were available. I can dig it, having personally cracked at least 8 of the earlier type wheels. You sometimes see a car with a mixed set. If you take the SPL as the guide, any 1500 wearing the later style wheels would be concours correct (just a little odd in appearance).
Barney Gaylord

You guys are spoiled into thinking that new fenders should be a simple bolt on proposition! I know the MGs aren't hand built, but there was always a lot of variation and when pressing dies wore out and were replaced things changed too. The running changes (like the new profile bonnet needed for the Twin Cams) made it all a bit confusing sometimes.

When I visited the Jensen factory, they had stacks of fender pressings that were unfinished as far as folded rear edges etc. They explained that the intention was that they all needed to be hand fitted anyway, so why prefinish them when then might then not fit properly. When you bought a replacement fender, it was really just a 'fender kit' that allowed you, with a lot of fettling (you had to be a good fettler, or know one) to achieve a satisfactory final product.

Sadly most of the so called body work going on now simply cosnists of unbolting panels and replacing them. Can't do that on the old British stuff, and the craftsmen we need are a dying breed.
Bill Spohn

This thread was discussed between 10/01/2011 and 14/01/2011

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