The automotive world is full of hyperbole, and the words “all new” are often bandied about with only a side glance given to the truth. Not so with the 1956 MGA. In fact, it would be difficult to find another instance in which a new car model was so completely different from its predecessors.
The MGA was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the fall of 1955 as a 1956 model. It was a two-seat sports car with an advanced aerodynamic body, featuring front fenders with the fender line sweeping gracefully past the doors and flowing into the rear fenders. The hood and front fascia sloped downward, integrally joining with the front fenders. The trunk (or boot, if you prefer) lid sloped down following the fender line to the rear bumper. All in all it was a thoroughly contemporary look that shared nothing with previous MGs. It was dubbed the ‘A’ because MG believed it to be the first of a new line that was totally different than any other MG.
The MGA replaced the MG T-series that started back in 1936 with the MG TA. The T-series design, which changed little over the years, featured an upright grille, separate fenders and hood, with free-standing headlights and a rear that was defined by an exposed fuel tank. The design was updated with the MG TF by slightly slanting the grille to the rear and mounting the headlights to the front fenders and hood.
The MGA had the new B-series 1,498 cc, 4-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors that produced 68 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. A four-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on the top three gears was the only transmission available.
MG continued the use of separate body and frame construction, with the A having a steel body and aluminum door skins, trunk lid and hood. Not all of their construction techniques were state-of-the-art, however – the floorboards were made from painted 3/8-inch plywood.
MG sold 13,394 As in 1956, a huge increase over the 3,400 MG TFs sold in 1955. Produced with continuing upgrades until 1962, the MGA was a fun, reliable sports car that introduced many to the real pleasures of driving.
Photo by Spanish Coches