From MGA!, MAY/JUNE 2012, VOLUME 37 / NO 5
As I turned my ticket stub in to the gatekeeper and passed through the turnstile, I couldn’t help but think how strange it was to spend $45 to see a handful of MGAs that I’ve seen before. But I certainly wasn’t alone in spending the money, as a huge crowd was already ahead of me. And there was a buzz of excitement in the air as car enthusiasts from all over the world hurried along the path in anticipation of seeing the pristine show cars.
Of course, it wasn’t just a chance to see MGAs either. There were Ferrari 250 GTOs, AC Cobras, the Tom Mix Cord, and some two hundred of the finest cars in North America. For this was the 2012 Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance. And yes, the factory prepared Sebring MGA racecars were part of the show, and what a display they made! Looking at the beautiful lineup of these cars among the many rare and unusual other show cars was quite a sight. And it made me realize, it had been a long road to get there.
Back in 1955, the MGA was introduced as “The First of a New Line” to replace the aging T-series MG. Indeed, it was a contemporary body design when compared to its predecessors. And while the MGA set new sales records during its seven-year run, it too began to show its age, and the MGA was replaced by the more practical MGB. The B was faster, more comfortable, and not so “fifties” looking. Thus, in the fall of 1962 the MGA simply became, an old car.
By the early seventies, the T-series had already become collectable, with dedicated clubs in place to ensure their preservation. MGBs were still in production, so parts were readily available from dealerships. But the MGA had become obsolete and an outsider. No clubs, no restoration parts, and in general….. no respect. Computers couldn’t take us to NAMGAR.com or mgaguru.com yet …. only serve us in Pong. As a result of no parts and no organized clubs, the cars deteriorated, prices plummeted, and many ended up on blocks or even worse…in the scrap yards. The MGA had hit bottom.
About that time, Mac Spears and a handful of enthusiasts in the Washington, D.C. area became determined that the MGA would not die in North America. They pled their case to the New England T Register, asking their Board to consider expanding to recognize the MGA. After politely declining such an expansion, the T Register suggested the MGA enthusiasts should start their own Registry. And so, in 1975, the North American MGA Register was formed to promote the restoration, preservation, and enjoyment of the MGA.
Soon, technical information was flowing, membership was increasing, and parts suppliers had begun to realize people were starting to take the MGA seriously. Previously unavailable restoration parts were in production again, and MGAs began to get a second chance.
It’s great now to see the MGA emerge as a car that has earned its way onto the top show fields. We’ve also had the pleasure of watching the Magnette grow up in recent years. Remember the awesome turnout at GT-35? And overseas, former NAMGAR member, Grant Howlett’s very original Magnette was just voted as one of the top five classic of the year!
And so, as I made my way through the crowd in Amelia Island, I found the proud owners of the Sebring MGAs sharing stories with onlookers. People with Ferrari shirts, Rolls Royce shirts, and just ordinary folks were all smiling and thoroughly enjoying seeing these MGAs amongst a sea of million dollar cars.
The MGA that had started life as a simple car, has emerged as one of the most popular British sports cars of all time. It has gained wide appeal for its smooth lines and classic cockpit feel. It is a car that truly has gone through an evolution to become more than it was when new. Stand tall MGA. You have arrived.
Commenting is not available for this article.