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When the MGA arrived in 1955, it must have come as quite a shock to MG aficionados who had become used to the pre-war look of the company's sports cars. Even the revamped TF left nothing to doubt about its 1930's-style design. The MGA was a complete departure in styling for MG. Its beautiful streamlined body was right up to the minute in terms of appearance, and it was powered by a new engine, as MG had decided that the old XPAG unit had had its day. The MGA was powered by the much more modern B-series engine that had made its debut in the recently announced Magnette saloon.

The chassis for the MGA was a development of the TD Midget's unit, but with more widely spaced side rails to allow for a lower seating position to fit in the new sleek bodywork. This not only put the driver and passenger in a more sensible position in relation to the proportions and height of the body, but it had the added advantage of lowering the centre of gravity, thus improving the cornering ability of the car.


Other than a shortened, styled and widened version of the now familiar MG grille, there was very little about the MGA which bore the slightest resemblance to any of its predecessors. From the scuttle, the body fell in one constant curve to the radiator grille, blending into the full swept front wings on each side. The line of the front wings was taken back past the cockpit with its cutaway doors, to where it merged into the rear wings. These tapered almost to a point at the rear and were blended into the rear portion of the bodywork that curved down from the back edge of the cockpit.

A pancake-style bonnet provided access to the engine, and a separate boot for luggage was able to provide a reasonable amount of space despite the fact that the spare wheel was mounted to the boot floor.

A year after the original cars launch, a coupe version of the car was announced. It had a high curved roof line and a larger windscreen than the soft-top version of the car. The doors were fitted with wind-up windows and opening, hinged quarterlights, which made the car a very civilised sports car indeed!

There were also a number of other variants of the MGA which were produced through its lifetime.


The MG A Twin Cam

The MGA continued in these open and closed forms until 1958 when another high performance version was added to the range. This was the MGA Twin-Cam, which was essentially aimed at competition use rather than everyday road use. In appearance, there was very little to distinguish this car from the other standard MGA models, apart from its special centre-locking steel disc wheels. However, there was alot more to this car than met the eye.
The engine was a development of the B-series unit which was being used in the standard car. Essentially, the cylinder block and bottom end were strengthened B-series components, but the cylinder head was a new aluminium unit incorporating twin overhead camshafts. Twin SU carburettors were fitted as standard, giving a power output of around 110bhp which was sufficient to propel the Twin Cam to a maximum speed approaching 115mph. At the same time it slashed acceleration times by a considerable amount. With all this power available, it was considered that the old drum brakes inherited from the TD Midget were no longer up to the job, so they were dropped in favour of four-wheel disc brakes.


The MG A 1600

Shortly after the introduction of the MGA Twin Cam, the standard cars were given a 1588cc version of the standard pushrod version of the B-series engine, becoming the MGA 1600 in the process. They were also equipped with disc brakes on the front wheels, but continued with drums at the rear. The MGA 1600 continued to be offered in both open and coupe versions.

By 1959, Abingdon was hard at work producing nothing but sports cars, since the ZB Magnette had been dropped from the range, and the MGA was selling well and they were also busy producing the six cylinder Austin Healey. Furthermore they were about to go into production of a new small sports car called the Austin Healey Sprite, the future looked promising!