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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

THE MGA -part I

THE MGA -part I

Dad's dream 
Inspired from Scott P's car show posts
From "I Used To Be Stupid!"

My Dad always wanted an MG.  The MG (for you young people) was a classy British two seat sports car which was produced from the 1920’s until 1980.  Dad never got his MG.  The car was really too impractical for a man with three young boys.

Christmas of 1955 Mom went along with a cruel trick which Chris and Jim devised.  They bought a kit of a small (six inch) model of the classic 1955 MG TF sports car.  Hints were dropped that Dad was getting something special this Christmas.  Christmas day there were presents under the tree for everyone but Dad (his real presents remained hidden). 

When the Christmas present carnage was over everyone had a pile of stuff except Dad.  He had only a card.  Inside the card Mom had written, “You will find your present in the garage”.  I know that Dad being a practical man did not really expect to be getting a car.  I don’t think Mom could have possibly made such purchase without my father knowing.  However, I think the little boy that was still in Dad somehow hoped for that Christmas Miracle that all little boy’s hope for.

We all proceeded to the garage, and Dad opened the door to find the model MG TF in the middle of the otherwise empty space.  Jim gleefully screamed out, “oh no!  It shrank!”  Chris followed, “I knew we should have had it Sanforized!”

There was much laughing at the joke, and Dad took it well, but the disappointment in his eyes was perceivable.  The joke became part of Hagy lore.  It made Dad want his MG even more.

In 1962 I obtained my driver’s license.  Of course I wanted a car of my own and I did have $200 to spend.  $200 would not get you much of a car, but I was the beneficiary of Dad’s burning desire to own an MG.

We shopped for his classic MG TF, but they were all too expensive, and generally need some restoration.  We did find a 1958 MGA. 

The MGA was the first MG to go from the classic boxy design to a sleek roadster look.  It cost $800, but Dad wanted this car as much as I did, and he covered the extra $600.

This MGA beauty was powder blue.  It had genuine wide white sidewall tires on genuine wire spoke rims with racing style knock-off hubs.   A Knock-off was a hub which you wacked with a special hammer, and it would spin off and on for quick racing style tire changes.  The car had a leather soft top, and a leather tonneau cover to keep out the rain.  It needed some work, but it was sweet!

You opened the door to the MGA by reaching inside the door and pulling a cord.  The turn signal was a switch on the dash board.  The radio for some unknown reason tuned from left to right starting with AM 1500 to AM 55.  The car had hard plastic windows which slid into the door when they were not stored in the trunk.  The trunk was just big enough to hold the two hard plastic windows.

Dad and a young Cranky in the MGA


Dad drove the car some, but he had trouble getting in and out of it so it became mostly my car.  When I was in the MGA I was HOT!!  Well I thought I was.  I drove the car the summer of 1963, and until fall 1964.  Freshmen at Lafayette could not have a car on campus.

In the spring after my freshman year in college, the MGA started to run badly.  She sputtered and backfired and had little pickup.  She had a cracked engine head.  I do not pretend to know anything about engines either now or then, so I rely on Wikipedia to explain:

In an internal combustion engine, the cylinder head (often informally abbreviated to just head) sits above the cylinders on top of the cylinder block. It consists of a platform containing the poppet valves, spark plugs and usually part of the combustion chamber. In a flathead engine, the mechanical parts of the valve train are all contained within the block, and the head is essentially a flat plate of metal bolted to the top of the cylinder bank with a head gasket in between; this simplicity leads to ease of manufacture and repair, and accounts for the flathead engine's early success in production automobiles

A new MGA head and the installation was going to cost over $500.
Tomorrow part II -
Torque Wrench? I don't need no stinkin torque wrench! 


  1. at least you got to have it so your dad could have a taste, too.

  2. Your brothers' joke and you got the car. That's a great joke in itself.

  3. And then what happened???

  4. I've never lusted after any particular car but our son will explode if he never gets a chance at owning a Delorean.

  5. Awww....I feel sorry for your dad. I'd kill (almost) to have a nice MGA today, much less an MG TF. In my dreams, maybe. :)


  6. In college, I dated a guy with a dark green MG like this one:

    Let's just say the car was the most exciting thing about him.

  7. In the late 1950's a friend of mine had an MG....I don't know which model....probably the good one.
    I hated her...mostly from envy and lust. Never did get to own one or even ride in one. They were adorable.......
    I got even by owning a 1966 classic Mustang for more than 20 years. One of the few cars I have truly loved.

    Glad you made it possi9ble for your dad to have half his dream.

  8. my husband just got a new car...everyone ooing and aweing...I do not care even a little bit about a me it represents one more thing to keep clean.

  9. I don't remember it having a leather tonneau cover! Those heads cracked all the time and were easily repaired with chain-lock screws!