A Century of Cars: 6. Corgi MGA Sports Car
The design dates back to 1952 when MG
created a streamlined body for George Philips' TD Le Mans car. The
problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver
because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis
was designed with the side members further apart and the floor
attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A
prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. Lord
turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed
a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks
before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change
of mind and the car was brought back. As it was so different from
the older MG models it was called the MGA, the "first of a new line"
to quote the contemporary advertising.
It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 "B series" engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4 speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion and was not power assisted. The car was available with either wire spoked or steel disc road wheels
BMC sold 101,081 units, the vast majority of which were exported with only 5869 cars sold on the home market, the highest export percentage of any British car.
The MGA was such a sexy looking car - of course when I was a kid it just looked old-fashioned next to the MGB but viewing both models in hindsight this is such a better looking car with finely balanced and sculpted detail.
They were made here in Abingdon where I live now, British Leyland in their wisdom closed down the factory in the 1980s and threw away all that heritage and pride which had gone into producing cars like this. Of course by the time Rover Cars had realised their mistake it was too late and the marque is now gone for good.
Still we have a drive through MacDonalds and posh new Police station where the factory used to be so it's not a total loss….