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Well, I knew the 1958 MGA ran strong and drove. However, much work would be needed to get it up to usable shape – and looking like a proper MGA in terms of trim, chrome etc. The other big issue was the boot and engine compartment. Neither the inside of the boot lid or the bonnet had been painted when the body was done. These had been sprayed with flat black. In addition the tail light plinths needed painting. The dash was a faded red painT with some extra holes here and there and obviously needed repair and repainting. Worst of all, the engine compartment had not been repainted and was frankly a mess of old original paint, overspray, grease and dirt.

1958 MGA engine compartment at time of purchase. Not exactly concours…

Now there are a few different ways to proceed. One would be to figure the car was only going to be a ‘driver’ and aesthetics such as the state of the engine compartment would not matter so long as the mechanicals were all rebuilt as needed and solid. One could look at the engine compartment and boot lid and bonnet as having patina related to the long history of the car. The next option is to clean and tidy things as much as possible. Echo the insides of the bonnet and use flat black paint on the various interior surfaces, Maybe respray the valve cover and a few other bits and pieces. Finally – you can go all out and correctly repaint the engine compartment and bonnet, repaint the engine and other bits and pieces, get all new fasteners and other hardware and bring the engine compartment up to the excellent state of the exterior body and the new interior trim. That is a lot of work and often would require pulling the engine… I was definitely hemming and hawing on how to proceed.

Then two things happened that compelled my choice. First, my friend Steve Simmons and his wife Linda came by with his incredibly beautiful cream MGA to see my new purchase. Steve is a true MG guru and has a number of the cars – ranging from TC’s to various sorts of MGB’s. A great couple – with an admirable collection and shop. Well, as we chatted he lifted the bonnet on his MGA so I could look at a few details in the engine compartment and I was dazzled by the beauty of his well kept engine and compartment… In addition, when I mentioned the potential of a flat black cosmetic approach – the look of dismay on Steve’s face told me I had to go all in on my engine compartment with a full strip and respray… Around the same time – COVID-19 hit, which meant working at home, no travel and a lot of time on my hands on weekends. The following articles document the process of taking the engine compartment to near-concours level while all he same time going over all the mechanicals.

Steve, Linda and part of their collection. Note the gorgeous white MGA. After a peek at its gleaming engine compartment I was convinced to tackle mine with a full respray.
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