With almost 100 years in the auto world, MG is often credited for raising the global profile of British sports cars and cementing it with a series of incredible cars. In 1945, it launched the MG TC, which started the American fascination for British sports cars. The overseas popularity of MG cars dovetailed perfectly with the post-WWII austerity measures of the British government. Steel supply was prioritised for export purposes, and MG’s growing reputation in racetracks combined to establish MG as a serious sports car maker.
A global phenomenon
The T-type cars continued till 1955, with MG TD and TF Midgets. But as the fifties dawned, time was ripe for a new look. Fortunately, MG went a few gears ahead and designed cars that were not only new by past standards but ones that remain stunningly beautiful even by current tastes. Launched in 1955, the MG MGA was the perfect amalgamation of looks and performance. It showcased its power at the 1955 Le Mans 24 hour race and many more professional racing events after that. With almost 95,000 MGAs exported from Britain, it soon became a phenomenon globally.
Bursting into the scene
Although recalled today as a 1600 cc car, MGA had a 1.5-litre engine at the time of its launch. In terms of specifications, the MGA had a 1498 cc in-line water-cooled engine. The power output was 68 bhp at 500 RPM but improved to 72 bhp in later cars. The MGA was launched at GBP 595, keeping in with the trend of the ‘affordable British sports car’ theme of the time.
It featured an independent front suspension and a rack and pinion steering that combined comfort with superior handling for its times. Its high-door line added to the comfort, which also meant that the occupants got a higher ride from the top of the chassis.
With aluminium skinning its doors, boots and bonnet, the MGA maintained a low weight. This, along with its aerodynamic design, ensured that it had a top speed of 98 mph. MGA got rid of much of the scuttle shake that haunted all open-top separate-chassis roadsters. And as a two-seater roadster should, it came with a delightfully raspy roar.
The MGA offered a very modern and sleek look combined with a precise steering and a softer gear change. Overall, in 1955, the MGA was what sports car enthusiasts were looking for – a new definition in design, powerful performance, speed and, of course, looks.
A 1500 cc coupe model of MGA followed the launch of the roadster model in 1956. The twin-cam roadsters and couple models were launched in 1958, although the original models continued till the following year. In 1959, MG launched the final version of the MGA – 1600cc Mk I MGAs. It boasted an increased maximum power of 78 bhp at 5500 RPM and had a top speed of 101 mph.
The 1600 Mk II MGA roadster and coupe models ensured that MGA crossed the 1,00,000 sales figure comfortably before being replaced by the MG MGB. By the spring of 1962, MGA had become the best-selling sports car of all time in the world. Notably, only 5% of these cars were sold domestically, and over 80% were shipped to the admiring Americans.
To this day, the MGA continues to be bought and sold in the pre-owned car market. With the bulk of them resting in American garages, MGA enthusiasts from the world over continue to import them and enjoy the experience of driving this one-time bestseller. The latest MG Cyberstar Roadster can be seen as a glorious continuation of the MG roadster legacy, of which MG MGA remains an integral part.