Join Newsday's car culture discussion.
In the Garage: 1959 MGA
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1959 MGA owned by Mitchell Landress
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
With its sleek lines borrowed from LeMans race cars, the British MGA – sold from 1955 to 1962 -- was a radical departure from its predecessor, the TF. Today, this model is an affordable and coveted alternative to other British roadsters, such as Austin-Healeys and Jaguar XK-Es, which have been priced out of reach for some collectors. “What makes my MGA different and unique is that the color, ‘Glacier Blue,’ was used in 1959 only,” Landress says.
“I also have the factory competition aluminum hard top and that alone is a very rare option and extremely difficult to find in today's market.” Landress’ car has the 1,500cc engine and a four-speed manual transmission.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
“I have owned my MGA for approximately 20 years,” he says. “I purchased it because, as a student in high school, I owned an MGA, later sold it and always wanted another one since then.”
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“I found my MGA from a listing in Newsday in 1991,” Landress says. “It was owned by a gentleman in Port Washington. At the time, the car was painted ‘British Racing Green’ with black leather interior.”
“The car was used for the first three years in the condition I purchased it in,” he says. “Then it went through an 18-year painstaking, ground-up restoration. The whole chassis was taken off the body while the drive train was rebuilt. The restoration also included powder coating the chassis and drive shaft, along with exhaust manifold and brake drums, with ceramic glaze to withstand heat up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Since restoration was completed in late 2011, the car has been driven regularly and now has about 800 miles on it. The car was restored by friends of mine who are in the automotive industry.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Buy one that has already been fully restored,” Landress advises. “The price difference between buying one restored and restoring a car by yourself is very minimal, unless you are mechanically inclined.”
He estimates the current value at $35,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“My love for English sports cars began at the tender age of three when my father bought a 1960 Austin-Healey ‘Bugeye’ Sprite,” Landress says. “My MGA is an integral part of my family. We all waited very patiently during the long restoration process and it was, ironically, done the month our dog, Morris Garage, (named for my MGA) was put to sleep. Needless to say, this was a very emotional and exciting time to finally have my MGA back in my life. These past eight months with my MGA have been nothing but sheer bliss. There is nothing like taking my car out on a beautiful day and cruising around my neighborhood. It was certainly worth the 18-year wait.”