At this month’s meeting Paul Mogensen briefly described the series of events leading to the display of his 1958 MGA outside the dining room. It included diagnosing and rectifying a small fuel leak at the fuel tank, rectifying the RHR brake drum dragging and readjustment of the rear brake drum shoes and handbrake cable. Paul went on to mention that he also discovered at mid-afternoon Thursday, that his vehicle’s Club Permit had expired. So in an eleventh hour bid, he rang Mark Mckibbin believing that the other Committee officers would not be available and he had to try and get the paperwork signed.
Mark called by late in the afternoon and with signed paperwork Paul dashed down to VicRoads. At 4.15pm in Warragul, VicRoads unduly advised him that the application for the MGA and another vehicle could not be accepted, as Mark was not an authorised signatory. Bummer! The lesson learned here is to know which vehicle is due for renewal and when.
However, there is more than one way to get a vehicle from Point A to Point B .
With Plan A scuttled, Plan B was engaged which involved getting the car trailer ready and with help from Paul’s wife Helen who came home early from work with the tow vehicle, the MGA was eventually transported to the Warragul Country Club.
Paul briefly explained that the design of the MGA came about back in 1951 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Phillips’ MG TD Le Mans car. A prototype was built but there was a problem with the body sitting too high on the TD chassis, so the chassis was modified, widened, etc and the floor installed at the bottom of the chassis enabling the body to sit lower in the frame.
However, the design was turned down by the Chairman at the time, Leonard Lord, as he had only 2 weeks before, signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce cars for him.
As time went on and with falling sales of MGs Leonard Lord had a change of heart. The MGA was so different to traditional MG models PA PB TA TB TC TD TF, it was called the MGA and went into production in 1955.
A new engine came into being with the MGA, called the B series. It replaced the older XPAG units allowing a lower bonnet line than the tradional T series cars. The MGA had no exterior door boot or bonnet handles adding further to its streamlined shape .
Whilst a step up from its predecessor the MG TF, the MGA is no rocket ship. Weighing some 940kg with an engine displacement of 1500 cc when first released, it had a deathly 68 bhp – soon to become 72 bhp. Acceleration tests report a blistering time of 0-60mph in 16 seconds and a top speed of 97.8 mph. Economy was around 26.7 mpg. This compares with the later 1622cc MGA twin cam engine which recorded 0-60 mph time of 9.1 secs, a top speed of 113 mph and 27.6mpg. Production figures for 1958 roadsters were recorded at 368 for the UK market, 349 for the export market and 509 for CKD markets totalling some 14,811 units all up including exports to the USA and Europe. Paul explained that the MGs of the era, being 1920’s pushrod engines, do not have stellar performance, but that’s not what driving them is about. For him, it’s about the driver involvement and being partial to roadsters, it’s about engagement of things outside the vehicle that you notice so much more. It’s the landscape when driving, the smells, the view from the cockpit and the rorty engine and exhaust note. Paul mentioned the price back in the day of a new MGA being around $2700 and an E type Jaguar was around $6400 – knowing what we do now, we would have opted for a shed full of E types
One thing Paul didn’t get to mention was how we are happy to pay $1 for a potato cake at the local fish and chip takeaway, when he used to get them for 2 cents each or 5 for 10 cents. A pie was 8 cents when he was a schoolboy in 1968 and it’s now approx $4, but we would not be happy to pay $100-120k for an MGA, yet E-Type Jaguars are now changing hands at auction regularly in the $180-200k plus bracket. Ah! capitalism is truly alive.
Thank you to Keith Trotter for the photos in the gallery below.