1960 MG A 1600 Mk1View vehicle description
MG is known for its fun-to-drive sports cars, and the MG A was instrumental in helping the brand with its image. The car, launched keeping in mind the export markets (mainly the US) and the need for something sporty, hasn’t lost an iota of its ethos, after seven decades. While MG as a carmaker might have had its priorities changed, the MG A is still the car it originally was: simple, fun, reliable, and beautiful.
MG needed a new sporty car, but the organisational hurdles didn’t let it arrive until the mid-50s. But when it did, there was no turning back. Because not only did MG have a car that felt and drove like an MG, it also looked marvellous. And its success didn’t just stop there, the MG A was fielded in Le Mans while a specially prepped model was even sent to the Bonneville Salt Flats for a speed run. Both outings turned out to be successful. Much like the MG A, which in total sold more than 100,000 units globally.
A lot of its success was from across the Atlantic, where the buyers’ love affair with British sports cars was booming. And MG knew it had what it takes to prove the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” wrong. Well, you could, with the MG A.
But one doesn’t have to cross the Atlantic to enjoy the ownership of the MG A, especially when decent examples are available in its domestic market. For instance, this 1960 MG A 1600 can be a good choice if you’re looking at owning a well-restored example. The vendor mentions that about £30,000 worth of work has been done in order to make the car reach its current state.
As you may be able to enjoy in the photo gallery below, the car is complemented by a huge bunch of paperwork. This includes old service records, invoices, MoT certificates, etc. It’s even got the original Driver’s Handbook, photos from when the restoration was going on, and even the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate, which verifies the car was made in May 1960.
It has 13 former keepers (excluding the vendor), is still on the original registration, is ULEZ exempt, and it has an MoT certificate valid till late September 2021. The current odometer reading is a little over 10,000 miles, which can be verified with MoT/DVLA data. You can read more about it in the history section below.
On the Outside
Coming from the MG T series of cars, the MG A marks a shift in design, and in its final production form, it looked nothing short of stunning — the same can be said about this 1960 example. While appreciating the smooth aerodynamic body of the MG A, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was based on MG designer Syd Enever’s streamlined Le Mans prototype.
Old English White tends to make cars look better, and this MG A is a clear example. It was originally specced with wire wheels, and as can be seen, it has retained that style. A little more than six decades later, the MG A 1600 still looks as arresting as it must’ve when the car was presented to the public and the press. The credit for its current state goes to an extensive restoration that was carried out in the noughties.
This may not be straight out of a museum, but its exterior condition suggests that it’s pretty close. There are no signs of damage, even on the rather nice matching (with the interior) hood. Most chrome bits (including the badges that differentiate this from the earlier model) are in impeccable shape, the wheels are pristine, and the paint is devoid of marks, although a closer look does reveal some imperfections. Some of the screws and the rubber seals can look better, too.
On the Inside
If someone doesn’t like the exterior, the car’s interior won’t make a huge lot of difference to their opinion, but it’s bound to cement one’s liking, that’s for sure. The dashboard might be busier than some cars from the era, but it’s bound to make you take a peek, especially if the hood’s not fitted. It’s as if the leather interior finished in red/burgundy has made full use of contrast created by the subdued (in comparison) Old English White paint.
A large portion of real estate in this two-seater cabin is enjoyed by the steering wheel. The seats and leather on the dashboard and door cards all appear to be in good shape. The black carpet only looks slightly tired and worn in the driver’s footwell, but it’s alright elsewhere. Most of the aforementioned don’t show obvious signs of age, even considering the restoration was carried out more than a decade ago.
The MG A’s arrival was during testing times for the company; the budgets were low and they were running out of ways to make money. And sharing components between brands was common, so it’s no surprise that the MG A was launched with an Austin B Series engine. The 1.5-litre unit made 67 or so bhp, initially. To offer more power, MG briefly launched the MG A with a Twin Cam engine, managing a massive increase in power, but it was a complex power plant and MG realised that. Eventually, the MG A 1600 was launched. It was closer to the MG A 1500 in terms of appearance, with only a few changes on the outside signifying that this was a newer model.
Apart from the increase in power and slightly better performance, the 1600 also benefited from a vital component that MG had introduced on the Twin Cam model: front disc brakes. Other bits like the rack and pinion steering, live rear axle, etc. continued. Propelling a car that weighs substantially less than a tonne (at nearly 900 kg) wouldn’t have been a huge issue for the 1588 cc engine (of this 1600 Mk1). The manual gearbox had four forward gears, and the top speed was said to be just under a hundred miles per power.
The engine on this particular example stands out and makes the engine bay look lively. But visually, it’s not perfect; you will find signs of rust and wear, even without having to take a closer look. The underside does reveal some instances of corrosion, too. It’s not serious, and the MoT record can confirm that. And as far as driving goes, the vendor mentions that this MG A drives perfectly with no faults.
Registered in 1960, the 1960 MG A was specced with wire wheels. As said earlier, the included paperwork also has a certificate verifying the car’s spec. The invoices suggest that it underwent some work in the mid-nineties before a thorough restoration was carried out in the noughties, as mentioned by the vendor. He adds that before the restoration, the car’s mileage was around 80,000 miles. After the restoration, which is when the speedometer was most likely replaced, it has done another 10,000 miles or so.
It has a valid MoT certificate till September 2021, and it cleared without advisories. It’s had a mixed record when it comes to cleared MoT tests, but it hasn’t failed due to drastic mechanical issues or corrosion. The mileage record also states that it hasn’t been used much since its restoration: only about 10,000 miles in two decades.
What We Think
Only 10,000 miles in the last two decades isn’t a lot. And maybe now it’s your turn to add some miles because the MG A was made to be driven. This example has had a thorough restoration, and it doesn’t appear to be in need of immediate work, either. Let us also not forget that it has its appearance working largely in its favour. Be it the exterior paint or the refreshed interior, it hasn’t aged much in the last decade. At an estimated £22,000 - £30,000, this 1960 MG A 1600 looks like a good genuine example that while not museum quality will offer an experience close to that of the original.
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