1955 MG Magnette ZA Sports Saloon
A unusual 5-speed MG Classic, with many up-to-date features.

We are again fortunate in acquiring yet another of these iconic British cars but this one retains the classic look on the outside whilst enjoying many modern conveniences on the inside, maybe not a car for the marque purist but nonetheless making it a very comfortable family saloon, show car or would make a knock out a classic wedding car.

Acquired by the last owner as a project 10 years ago, who commissioned Cotswold Classic Car Restorations to professionally renovate the car and seamlessly integrate the modern amenities. In the history file is a set of photographs detailing the work in progress. In addition to the bodywork repairs the car was fitted with a new modern interior, with cream leather (ex Rover 75) seats, doorcards and carpets to tone, new-style velour headlining, renovated woodwork. The underbody shell was also extensively reinforced with new metal plates and then underseal protected.

The MG was further modernised by mating the MG ‘B’ series engine to a Hi-Gear 5-speed (Ford Type-9) all synchromesh gearbox, a very popular conversion with Magnettes and MGA’s, fitted to make motorway driving more relaxed. Also Negative Earth conversion, bumpers replaced with stainless steel items (cost £735), new hubcaps, tyres, generator to up-rated alternator conversion, flashing indicators in addition to semaphores. Comfortable tilt/reclining front leather seats with headrests and rear central armrest, Additional brake lightbar in rear window. Seatbelts fitted to all seats. Modern water temperature gauge for improved accuracy. Carpeted boot.

All lighting was replaced with new items, The front indicators are a clear lens/orange bulb setup in the place where the sidelights should be – and the headlights are Lucas P700 7″ Sealed Beam Halogen Conversion H4 Headlights with an integral sidelight.

The engine is a standard 1500cc B-Series with the following work carried out during last owner‘s tenure:- New ring set, conrod bearings, new gaskets, carbs rebuilt with SU refurb kit, radiator recore, new fan, new battery, new fuel pump and lots, lots more besides.

Modern stereo fitted with electric aerial and remote CD Autochanger in the boot. The head unit is from an MGF and the CD Autochanger is from a Land Rover Discovery.

He estimates some £12,000 was spent by him, restoring and maintaining the car, but would probably cost a lot more today to replicate the same restorative works.

The MG has recently benefited from a £1,700 refresher bodyjob which included 2-tone paint scheme in Olde English White over BMC Maroon. A very driveable and attractive car but will let the accompanying pictures speak for themselves.

This MG Magnette was first registered in April 1955 by University Motors London and it still on its original number plate, the car is offered with a large history file, containing an original handbook, workshop manual CD, restoration photographs, past MOTs, sundry invoices, etc. Modern jack and tools. Also MG car badges, eagle mascot (original dummy rad cap still available) and an MG Owner’s Club cap for the new owner.

Supplied with MOT to November, 2019, although now exempt from such things.

Car is located in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. To view and try this one-off automotive beauty, call/text John on 07909 231414. Car based in Lytham St Annes, Lancs but can arrange transport for £1 pr/mile (one way only charged).

Technical History

The Magnette ZA was announced on 15 October 1953 and debuted at the 1953 London Motor Show. Deliveries started in March 1954. Production continued until 1956, when 18,076 had been built. It was the first monocoque car to bear the MG badge.

Built alongside the MG Sportscar range, the evocative sweeping lines of the Magnette were designed by Gerald Palmer, designer of the Jowett Javelin. It was the first appearance of the new four cylinder 1.5 L (1489 cc) B-Series I4 engine with twin 1¼ inch SU carburettors delivering 60 bhp (45 kW) driving the rear wheels through BMC’s new four speed manual gearbox, with synchromesh on the top three ratios.

Suspension was independent at the front, using coil springs, and had a live axle with half elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The steering was by rack and pinion. Hydraulically operated Lockheed 10 in (254 mm) drum brakes were fitted to front and rear wheels. When leaving the factory, the Magnette ZA originally fitted the recently developed belted textile-braced, radial-ply Pirelli Cinturato 165HR14 tyres (CA67).