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MG MGA - Spax or original lever-arm?

I have only owned my A for a few months and it came with a Spax conversion on the rear. I find the ride very hard and a bump in the road is my dentist's best friend as it does its best to remove my teeth. Ok, seriously, I can cope but my wife as passenger really finds it hard.

I have played around with the settings but it doesn't seem to take the harshness out of the ride. The installation is text book so nothing out of the ordinary there.

What is of interest to me is to know whether this is how A's generally ride or whether the Spax set up has reduced the compliance. Would putting lever-arms back sort it out? Interested to hear owners' views.

The previous owner originally had levers but replaced them when they leaked. His view is that the ride was similar but perhaps the backroads around Kent have more potholes. Not a problem on major roads - they are much smoother and it handles well with this set-up.
Returning the car to levers is not an cheap fix and might well be a waste of time.

It is very harsh in comparison with my Frog.
Graeme Williams

I would say its your springs, not the shocks.

G, if you are at the Dering on Sunday we can go out in mine which is standard.
d brenchley

David: "Dering"? Is that a club meet?
Graeme Williams

my car also came with the telescopic rear shocks conversion too,I dont think they are Spax but they are adjustable.

I run them with the adjuster screws backed off completely to make them as soft as possible, otherwise the ride is extremely hard.

According to Bob West, a road car handles and rides perfectly ok with lever arm shocks on the rear. I suppose we would have seen lots of front telescopic shocks conversion kits being made for the A if it made the car any better.

I think that you can still get uprated competition valves for the lever arms if you want to uprate them.

My car has shorter front springs and lowering blocks on the rears to lower the car but this has given the car a very hard ride and I am looking at ways of improving this.
I think my set up is aimed at track days and racing and whilst I do love the look of the lowered car, I am gradually coming around to the idea that standard springing and shocks probably work better for a road-going MGA.

c firth

Dering Arms Pluckley - Sunday pub meet.
d brenchley

Mog: "standard" springs

Colyn: Something which occurred to me this morning was to check tyre pressures against the suggestion in the hand book. They were 25 front, 27 rear which is somewhat higher than the handbook suggests. Those pressures are suggested for "long high speed use" and I'm looking for "back lanes". I dropped the pressures to 20/22 and have covered 130 miles today on a mixture of A, B and unclassified roads. That has definitely reduced the effects of the lumps: more like 3" brick with a 45 deg leading edge rather than a 3" vertical edge! No broken teeth and the satnav only fell of the bracket once!
Definite improvement.
Graeme Williams

The 'A' with its its solid tube back axle benefits from a soft rear end achieved with older leaf springs that have settled and standard lever arm shock absorbers. If the back gets to stiff it will loose traction.

Front end benefits from a slightly stiffer spring rating of around 500-550lb and uprated shock absorbers. Most cornering benefits are achieved with a decent anti-roll bar rather than telescopic shock absorbers.

With modern tyres 28 Front 24 rear at cold is a good compromise.
John Bray


MGA rear suspension is pretty solid. You could try just disconnecting them briefly and see if it then feels softer. It woudn't be too bad briefly as there is a lot of natural shock absorption in leaf springs anyway. I a am only suggesting this as a diagnostic tool not a solution before you consider replacing them.


Paul Dean


Don't forget those handbook tyre pressures were for cross ply. I tend to run 27 all round.

Steve Gyles

Steve: I had forgotten that! Do you think radials call for an extra 5 psi or thereabouts?
At the moment the ride comfort on poor roads is acceptable. If I go back up to 26psi it gets really jolting again.
Graeme Williams


I'm running Spax adjustables too, currently with the settings on the lowest but Ive also interleaved my leaf springs with PTFE type liners.

Ride quality is pretty good for a 60 year old design.

Chris Bond

Did you try stiffer settings Chris? Presumably that made the ride less acceptable because if it was better you would be running it stiffer. What tyre pressures?
Graeme Williams

This thread was discussed between 07/08/2015 and 12/08/2015

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