‘Body-off’, nut-and-bolt restoration during 1999-2000
Summer-ready, runs and drives very well.
Worlds away from the MG TF 1500 Midget it replaced, the MGA is the car that ushered the MG Car Company into the latter half of the 20th century and represented a complete styling break from MG's earlier sports car iterations.
Lower, wider and therefore more stable, the MGA's bodywork was based largely on that of a one-off MG TD specially built by the MG factory at the request of racing privateer George Phillips for the 1951 Le Mans 24-hour race.
This, plus the fact that three prototype MGAs were raced at Le Mans in 1955 – with two of them finishing in the top 20, meant the diminutive MGA arrived to market with a proven racing pedigree, adding credence to the phrase ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’.
Announced in September 1955, the MGA made its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show two months later. A total of 101,081 cars were produced by the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of which were exported (just under 5,900 MGA’s were sold in the UK).
For its MkII model introduced in 1961, the engine size was increased to 1622cc by boring out the cylinders by a further 0.8mm, revising the cylinder head with larger valves and re-engineering the combustion chambers.
Brake horsepower was increased to a dizzy 90 assisted by a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps mounted horizontally below the boot lid were the most obvious visual changes. A total of 8,198 Mark II Roadsters were built before production ended in July, 1962.
‘Road & Track’ magazine reviewed the MGA 1600 Mark II in their September 1961 issue, recording an estimated top speed of 105 mph and a 0-60 acceleration of 12.8 seconds.
DSL 388 has led a rather chequered life since its original manufacture in 1962. Unfortunately, that date is unknown as this car was discovered rusting away in a barn and was in a very sad state. However, during 1999 - 2000, the car underwent a full, body-off restoration and received its second ‘original’ UK registration on 15th May, 2000.
Its current, highly presentable condition some 22 years later suggests that both of the car’s previous owners loved and cherished it. The current owner acquired the car in August, 2015 and after several years had decided that this grand dame needs to make way for an exciting new addition to what is an evolving collection of classic cars.
For the past several years, the car has been dry-stored when not in use and driven under dry conditions whenever taken out. but has a full tonneau cover, the complete framework for a soft top will accompany the sale, which will require covering at some point in the future.
The current keeper has never wet-driven the car during his ownership.
Accompanying the sale of this iconic MGA Roadster will be two sets of keys, the V5C registered in the current keeper’s name and an expansive file of recent and past service, spares and maintenance paperwork undertaken since its second UK registration, following the rebuild.
The interior also received extensive attention during the car’s restoration and is expertly finished. The dials are original and appear to work, as do all the electrics and switchgear
The two seats are presented in period green leather, as are the doors cards and full-width dashboard. The carpets remain in very good condition and the tidy boot contains the fifth full-sized spare wheel.
Sections of the leather around the door cut-outs holes appear to be coming away, but it would be a simple matter to re-adhere them.
Twenty-two years on from its rebuild, the condition of the exterior of this MGA Roadster matches that of the interior and is indicative of the love and care afforded the car by its two keepers since its restoration. The light lenses are clear and show no hint of fogging that may sometimes be associated with a car of this age.
There are two blemishes on the bodywork as seen in the pictures, but the front and rear bumpers are in remarkable condition and blemish-free. The wheels show no scuffs or evidence of being ‘curbed’ and again, are in outstanding condition.
The brightwork around the car – and there is much of it on a car of this vintage – is in exceptional condition, none of which has a scratch or mark to its surface. A cursory glance down each flank of the car shows no evidence of damage and even the front bumper, valance and number plate, for all their vulnerability, remain blemish free.
Driving to, from and at the photo location, the MGA was frequently repositioned to obtain the best of the available light at this time of year. The car started first and every time and settled into an appreciative burble that can only emanate from an ageing, but well-maintained four-pot.
The four-speed manual gearbox connected smoothly and the clutch engaged with no drama, requiring just the gentlest of revs to get underway.
The custodian reports the car to be in very good mechanical condition with steering, brakes, engine, drivetrain and running gear performing as well as their respective and highly-skilled engineers intended sixty years ago.
The engine bay is very tidy and clean and, like the immediately visible parts of this MGA Roadster, the underside and sills of the car present in good order with a degree of natural oxidation that may reasonably be expected on a car of this age and mileage.
Who doesn’t love a convertible? True roofless aficionados know there are many reasons for having one on your driveway but, bragging rights aside, most are sensory.
Exposed as you are to nature’s elements, there is a the heightened sense of motion, the rush of passing scenery, the fragrance of fresh, open air as dappled shade flickers over your anti-bug goggles. Bliss!
In the all-too-brief time the writer spent in and around the car, it was easy to comprehend the passion that continues unabated for true British vintage motoring. There is little reason to doubt that DSL 388 will serve its new owner well for many years to come.
G’won, because you’re here, pop on a cheeky bid…you know you want to!
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1962 MGA 1600 MkII Roadster
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