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I had been in touch with the owner of the MGA using the messaging provided by Craigslist. I assumed he was local. He gave me the contact info for the owner of the shop where the car was. It was a local import shop that largely worked on German cars from the last few decades. I called the owner and he seemed a little put out. He told me he wanted the MGA moved. It had been there for some time and had to go. He said he was tired of spending time showing it to people when no one had bought it, often because they could not strike a deal with the owner. Anyway, I let him know this was not my first rodeo and if I wanted the car I would strike a deal, pick it up with a trailer and it would be out of his hair. He agreed and I headed right over. At this point I was not quite sure if i was seriously interested in another project or not.

The 1958 MGA as found for sale in the corner of a local auto repair shop. It had been there for years.

The MGA was clearly a restoration project that someone had poured money into for stuff like a good paint job, new chrome, leather interior, brakes etc. On the other hand, it had clearly sat in the back of the shop for a long time and thinks like the hoses, brake cylinders, master cylinder, clutch slave etc. would have to be replaced as the rubber was likely no good from time and lack of use. The engine compartment was a mess with a half-hearted attempt to install a new wiring harness. The body exterior and door interiors had been pained – but not the engine compartment. The car appeared to originally have been black and was now red. The faded red on on the dash suggested it had a red interior originally. Black paint with a red interior was a common factory combination for the MGA.

Interior of the 1958 MGA restoration project as found. Dull red pain on dash is likely original. The MGA appears to have originally had a red interior.

After carefully going over the car, what really appealed to me is that is was absolutely rust free and straight. There were no bodges, piled on body-filler etc. Mechanicals are easy – dealing with a rusty and poorly refinished body and frame was a non-starter. I was feeling nostalgic – thinking about my teenage years with my first MGA. The car came with some boxes of parts and looking at it like a great big model to be put together, I had that attraction to a ‘sick-puppy’ that I knew I could make whole. Finally, I figured I could make some money on this car if I ever decided to sell as the body was so darn good.

Engine compartment of the 1958 MGA restoration project. Car appears to have originally been painted black.

I made sure to take pictures of the vehicle identification plate located near the heater. The ID plate looked original and I wanted to run the numbers. I was sorry to see the engine had lost its aluminum ID plate. The body ID plate was still in place. For this there are some good online resources. Some resources for investigating MGA identities – MGA year built, MGA paint schemes, MGA chassis numbers, MGA engine numbers and MGA body numbers include –

https://mgaguru.com/mgtech/buying/buy101.htm

http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/restore/rt107.htm

http://www.namgar.com/articles/article/mga_history/mga_chassis_vin_engine_body_number/

https://mgaregister.com/indentification_detail.html

https://www.mg-cars.org.uk/MGA/mgadate.html

The serial number was correct for a North American model roadster of 1957-58 vintage. As I suspected – the chassis number indicated the car was originally painted black. It had been built in 1957 for the North American market and sold as a 1958 model year.

Under all the dust and oil the MGA identification plate comes clean and gives up the chassis number.

Despite not knowing what condition the engine and tranny were in I decided to make a serious offer. I came in quite low – well below $10,000. The owner countered via email, I countered back and we had a deal. I expected to meet him, exchange cash for a bill of sale and California title and trailer the car to my shop. Then the owner told me he was not in California, but had moved to Europe. Of course, my scam warning system activated inside my head…

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