• A relic of a different time and just as enticing as it was back then, this 1959 MGA 1500 roadster is up for auction on Bring a Trailer.
• The car has a 72-hp 1.5-liter inline-four and a four-speed manual transmission, both of which have been rebuilt.
• With four days left to go before the auction’s end date of April 15, bidding is at $16,000.
The MGA runs deep in my family, and that’s why this 1959 MGA 1500, currently for sale on Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos—caught my eye. Some of my earliest memories are riding in my dad’s 1962 MGA Mark II, holding the shifter from where I sat in the passenger seat, with my dad’s hand over mine shifting gears that somehow always seemed to hurt a little. There were times we all had to stuff into the two seats with my mom holding my sister with my brother and I stuffed in the footwell. The car’s aluminum doors were soo soft that my dad never wanted anyone even leaning in looking at the interior close to the door, out of fear that their knee might dent the metal. Certainly not up to the standards of today, but come on: the car didn’t even have seatbelts and still doesn’t to this day. Let’s just say it was a different time.
My dad eventually sold the car to someone he worked with, but we ended up buying it back when my brother was about to turn 16. What a perfect first car to send your 16-year-old off in. Getting it to break the 100-mph barrier was always entertaining; of course that was based on the accuracy of the speedometer. We joke years later that our parents were clearly trying to get rid of us.
What was always shocking to me was how much fun the car was to drive with so little power. This example isn’t quite the rocket the Mk II was with its 90 horsepower, but the power-to-weight ratio and a more than capable chassis taught me early that power isn’t everything. These cars didn’t run at every local racetrack for no reason, and to this day these are still a popular choice in vintage racing.
Even in the late ’50s this car still must have seemed quite quirky, with no door handles and a pull cable you had to reach for inside the door pocket behind the plexiglass side curtains. The horn is mounted in the center of the dash with a speaker that was supposed to be powerful enough to hear anything out of it. From the choke cable and pull starter to the crank start rod mounted in the trunk just waiting for you to attempt using when the car has left you stranded. Center-mounted chrome knockoff hubs add to the racing heritage.
This example has the same wire wheels with chrome center locking hubs we had, which I find much more appealing than the stock wheels.
I know when my dad bought his, it was about the British styling and the racing pedigree. Really, what he wanted was the Jaguar E-type also sitting in the showroom, so I always felt this was a poor man’s version to some degree. We used to find it funny that the car was purchased for the same price as our lawnmower tractor in the 1980s, somewhere around $2000. The person who gets this one is going to pay a lot more. With the auction scheduled to end April 15, the high bid with four days to go is already at $16,000.
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