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I was looking at the prospect of buying a 1958 MGA project car with no California title from an unknown seller who was located overseas. Sounds pretty dodgy. So, I wanted to do my homework. There are a number of numbers stamped on various places of the MGA. The most important in most jurisdictions are the chassis number and sometimes the engine number. The chassis number is equivalent to the VIN on a modern car – but is not in the standardized format of today, not as long as a modern VIN and will not turn-up on most vehicle databases like a modern VIN will.

CHASSIS NUMBERS (From Large Plate on Horizontal Portion of Bulkhead By Heater – Also Sometimes Found Stamped on Chassis Crossmember Beneath Carpet in Cockpit)

MGA chassis numbers include an alphanumeric prefix that provides various vehicle specs followed by a serial number, for example HDR43 (prefix) 12345 (serial number). Cars that are painted the same and destined for the same market and are 1500’s can share the same prefix, but the Push-rod and Twin-Cam engined cars had distinct chassis number ranges, the push-rod cars had numbers from 10101 to 109070, the Twin-Cam’s from 501 to 2611.

Location of the MGA Vehicle Identification (Chassis Number Plate) on a MGA 1500.

MGA 1500

H for MGA model D (roadster) or M (coupe)

A – Black
C – Red
D – Glacier Blue on roadsters; Mineral Blue on coupes
E – Green early cars only
K – Orient Red from 1956 onward
L – Glacier Blue on roadsters from 1956 onward
R – Old English White
T – Tyrolite / Island or Ash Green from 1956 onward
H – Primer or CKD finish )   ,,

1 RHD home market (UK)
2 RHD export
3 LHD export
4 LHD North American Export
5 RHD CKD Export
6 LHD CKD Export

Paint Type
3 Cellulose (lacquer)
5 Primer or CKD finish 

1500 Example HDA43 12345

MGA 1600 & 1600 Mark II

G for MG car, H, for engine size between 1400 and 1999cc, N for roadster, D for coupe

L, ( if found ) for left-hand drive ( or blank for right-hand drive )
2, ( if found ) for 1600 Mark 2 model  

Example 1600 GHDL 123456

MGA Twincam

Y always for MGA Twincam model, D for roadster,
M for coupe


1 RHD – home market
2 RHD – export
3 LHD – export (including North American cars)
H5 RHD – CKD ( South African cars )
H6 LHD – CKD ( Dutch, Mexican cars )

ENGINE CODES ON ENGINE PLATE This aluminum plate is often missing

15 or 16 (1500 or 1600 cc Engine) G (MG Engine) B (1500) A (1600) C 1622) or B (Twin Cam) U (Centre Change Shifter) H (High Compression) 12345 (Serial Number)

MGA Engine Number Plate Location.


MGA 1500 from chassis number 10101 to 61603,  BP15GB or 15GB_U_H (engine no. 101 to 51767 ) from chassis number 61504 to 68850, 15GD_U_H (engine no.101 to 7816 )

MGA 1600 from chassis number 68851 to 100351, 16GA_U or 16GAU_H

MGA 1600 Mark II from chassis number 100352 to 109070, 16GC_U_H or 16GC_U_L

MGA Twin-Cam from chassis number 501 to 2272, 16GB_U
(the letter U was replaced by Da if a close ratio gearbox was fitted)

Factory Replacement Engines

Apparently replacement engines would have a part number stamped on the metal plate instead of the typical engine number. From what I understnad, these replacement part numbers changed in format with engine type and timing of replacement.

BODY NUMBERS (From Plate on Bulkhead)

MGA Body Number Plate mounted on bulkhead.

MGA 1500

Numbers ran from 20001 to approximately 79000

MGA 1600

Numbers ran from 101 to 40600 (preceded by the letter B )

MGA Twin-Cam

The series 61000, 68000 and 76000 were used on the 1500 style cars, the B1000 series was used on the 1600 style cars.

From chassis number 501 to ~770 have bodies 61000 – 61999
From chassis number ~770 to ~1030 have bodies 68000 – 68999
From chassis number ~1301 to 2192 have bodies 76000 – 76999
From chassis number 2193 to 2611 have bodies B1000 – B1999

Data from: MGA of Holland Register and Styles, D.G. 1995. MGA: The Complete Story. Crowood Press.

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