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MG MGA - My first MG purchase : “the old lady” .

Evening to all.

Finally have a bit of time to write about my first MG purchase : the old lady . A wonderful 1958 MGA coupe, stunning in black, with shiny new wire wheels and as an added extra, thanks to a previous owner, a Webasto sunroof (circa 1978).

The last owner had undertaken major restoration (details below) of the body, thank you if your reading.

Replacement door skins were fabricated from 18-gauge aluminium, all other panels patched and originals kept. Other alterations are minor and few n far between; new headlamp units, the wheels, additional precautionary cut off and fuses and thats about it, or all that I know of !!!

So with all the work done, to enjoy the first year or two, its just the simple maintenance jobs that I need to attend to. My first question, what should I be doing? I have the drivers manual and all the other publications and have been looking over the service intervals and care tips but Im not sure where I should start or even if I should be following them, advice please.

Then secondly theres the windscreen, it is leaking on the passenger side top & bottom. Whats the best way to undertake a repair to make her waterproof. Do I consider replacing the rubbers or do I add some patching material for the time being as Ill not be out in the rain much, but living in Scotland you dont have much choice ! Today weve 100mph winds, horizontal rain and Icelandic volcanic ash, a fantastic summers day

Finally for now, I was looking through the usual books in order to identify my MGA but have come across a bit of an oddity. The ID number only has a two-letter prefix, not the three as usually indicated. However the number starts 15 (RHD home market, Primed). So do primed only finishes have a two-letter prefix or should there be a third, why would a UK customer want a primed only car?

Will be a writing more and asking lots of simple questions till Ive built up more confidence.

Many thanks to all, Matthew.

M Elliott

Well Matthew............. MORE PICS PLEASE..

Now I not realy a Coupe guy but in black she doese look very nice ..

well done and most of all ENJOY.. :0)
k klay

The old lady looks lovely. Congratulations.
No doubt those who know much better than me will be along soon with some good advice on where best to start.

Regarding the windscreen, if you want a quick short term fix, I used Loctite 595 to seal the windscreen of my son's car and it worked very well for several years.
Graham M V

Im glad you decided to take a chance and buy the coupe in spite of the sunroof Matthew, to be honest your car looks fantastic and if I had been looking for another coupe I would have bought yours in an instant.

As you cant be certain of the servicing history of the car I would just do the obvious things first (assuming that it is running ok)

Change engine oil and oil filter.

Drain the radiator and engine of coolant and replace with the correct amount of antifreeze (Bluecol AA is ok ) You can flush out the engine cooling passageways with a hose pipe whilst you are doing this.

Fit a new set of spark plugs, points and a condenser.
I always keep a set of old points, a condenser and a couple of working plugs in the car as spares.

You need to examine the braking system for leaks, rust or damage to the brake pipes. Its a bit of a pain but take the brake drums off and examine the shoes for wear and the cylinders to see if they leak or for seizure. master cylinders can leak also and so it is important to check here.

Check the carbs for leaks, sometimes the cork seals on the main jets leak and need replacing. You can check these by running your fingers under the lowest part of the carbs whilst the ignition is switched on to see if you get any fuel on them.
Also older rubber float chamber seals can swell up and leak when exposed to modern petrol and the fuel can drip onto the exhaust manifold which is not an ideal situation.

Everything else you can check at your leisure and fix as and when you you need to.

My coupe windscreen leaked in the same place as yours and I used sealer as a temp fix. I did attempt to remove the screen to fit new rubber seals a while later but my lack of knowledge and hamfistedness caused me to crack the screen, it is often a really tight fit.
So if you go that route I would recommend that you get an expert to fit it for you. It may cost you more but will probably work out less expensive in the long run.
With the screen out, be prepared to find some corrosion that needs fixing at the bottom outer edges of the screen.

Would love to see some more pictures of your car Matthew when you get the time to post them when the gales and volcanic dust allow.

I hope to be able to get to the Scottish MGA Day at the end of July and it would be great if we could meet up there.

Colyn Firth

That is an absolutely beautiful black coupe, sunroof aside. I hope it brings you great joy. I have a coupe and my concern about the windscreen leak is the fit of the rubber seal. I would remove the windscreen and inspect the windscreen lip on the body. If there is no evidence of deformation or damage I'd get a new seal. The seals are a bit fussy to install and it may have been damaged. It really shouldn't leak.
G T Foster


My very first car was a '60 coupe, she never let me down. Well ok, using the hand crank on cold winter's days did get a few looks.

A few things to add to Colyn's list - Electrics, go through the wiring loom looking for worn insulation, particularly the rear license wires, around the fuel pump and at the four corners (lights and grounding). The head light switch is carrying a high load so make sure it is in good condition. Also check the battery, starter and ground strap connections. Are there boots on the starter switch posts and hot side of the battery. Installing a battery cutoff switch is a good safety measure.

Has the PO done any non-standard modifications or repairs? If so check carefully for sub-standard work or other hazards. The fuel and electrical systems often seem to be patched together with bubble gum and bailing wire.

Check the brake/clutch pedal to MC and clutch slave cylinder linkage for wear. The lever arm shocks may need topping off or rebuild. Are the steering rack gaiters in good condition, very likely the rack needs oil (not grease).

Pull the wheels and make sure the hub spines are in good shape. When the rear wheels are off look for any leaks around the axle seals. Dont forget to check the fluid levels in the differential and gear box. Inspect the prop shaft and u-joints for wear. You might find the rear transmission and/or pinion seals are leaking.

My coupe had so many holes that I didn't have to worry so much about how much water was leaking around the windscreen, I had to be careful not to drive through large puddles least I get sprayed though the holes in the floor boards.

Cheers, John
jjb Backman

Welcome Matthew - it's the first black coupe I have seen - and it certainly suits the colour - I have a black roadster. Have fun with your "Old lady"
Cam Cunningham


Nice car, and welcome to the forum.

I do not quite follow your car/chassis identification logic. As you say there are usually 3 letters. It is the third that defines the colour. So, if you only have 2 letters, where does the primer theory come from?

Can you tell us the full identification shown on the plate, then we can offer some thoughts.

Steve Gyles

Steve, I think Matthew is referring to the numbers. Clausager says the second number denotes type of paint 3=cellulose and 5 = Primer
Graham M V


Yes, I spotted that. It would seem strange to suddenly revert to 2 letters, especially as there is one 3rd letter that also addresses primer.

Until Matthew gives us his full identification we can only guess.

Steve Gyles

Thank you all for your advice, looks like I'll be busy the next month =)

Colin I do hope to make as many show / runs as I can this and the next few years. I take it’s an MGCC Caledonian event you’re referring, Glamis Extravaganza ?

Steve, as Graham suspects (correctly and thank you for advice re temporary fix to windscreen) I am referring to the numbers after the letter pre-fix, the old lady’s chassis plate number is HM 1548249 this I've interrupt as;

H – mga
M – coupe
- third letter is normally a color identifier
1 – rhd home market
5 – primed
...the rest equates to early 1958 that matches with the file and records that came with the car.

for completeness the Engine ID is GBUH 38804

GM - MG and engine type
U - centre gear change
H - high compression
...the rest pre FEB 1958 ?

Will get a photograph at the weekend and a heritage certificate from my other lady for my birthday (August).

Many thanks, Matthew
M Elliott

Is it too obvious to say that as it was shipped in primer, they wouldnt be able to list the colour identifier!
Graham M V


Thats the conclusion I've come too but was after advice from anyone else whom had a similar car and the possible reasons why it would come unpainted and in primer ?

Can only think of a dealer wanting it so they could paint to once an order was placed, or possibly a customer who wanted a non-standard colour.

M Elliott

I am still slightly intrigued as looking again at Clausager it appears you should still have the third letter. H to indicate primer finish. I am not sure how compliant the factory was though.
Graham M V

Matthew, the Scottish MGA Day is being held on 31st July and I believe is in the form of a run which starts at Baxters Kelty (post code KY40 JR )off the M60 junction 4.

I believe that this is the first such event in Scotland and it is indeed being run by the Caledonian Centre of the MGCC.

If it anywhere near as good as the similar MGA days I have attended in England, you just dont want to miss it. There will be a lot of MGAs there I would expect and I plan to travel up there and make a weekend of it.

I have met a number of the MGA owners from north of the border and to be honest, they are a great bunch of people who would love to meet you and see your car.

Let us all know how you get on with your car and we would love to see some more pics of it, especially the sunroof.


Colyn Firth

Graham: That was the point I was trying to make in my second post.

Matthew: Does the identification plate look original and, what does the V5C say? Is there a large gap after the HM where the 3rd letter could have been inserted? It will be interesting to see what the Heritage certificate says. If it is all as you believe, I think you have a unique identification for a home market car.

Any chance of a photo if the ID plate?

Steve Gyles

Steve, Yes sorry I missed that. But it is odd isn't it that they would have two separate indicators to show the same thing. Maybe that's why it was left blank.
Graham V

Steve / Graham
Thanks for the ideas, will photograph the plate this weekend but as far as I can remember there is a space for an additional letter and it’s well pitted and looks of age, though I know that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s original. 
Will look through the archive files the old lady came with and tonight to see what if anything is recorded.
Is unlikely that I’ll be able to persuade the other lady in my life (she’s young) for an early birthday present so the heritage certificate will only be along in August.
The Scottish MGA day / run is down in the diary as of this morning, along with an ever increasing schedule, I best get working on bits the now…
PS – Steve have may an old car magazines that you appear in, take it you’re not needing copies ?
M Elliott

I just checked out the MGA experience forum based in the USA and I chuckled when I read that one of our American friends said that he thought that your car should be classifed as a "COUPSTER". loved it!
Colyn Firth

This thread was discussed between 23/05/2011 and 25/05/2011

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