MGA rescued after 20 years buried beneath rubbish
Chassis 190 RTJ lay, unloved, beneath a pile of rubbish, for perhaps 20 years, maybe more, no one’s sure. The Iris Blue MGA roadster was lost inside a debris-filled double garage, near Shaftesbury in Dorset, U.K. A 1960 model, its plugs had lost their spark, the pistons hadn’t stretched their con rods, the tires were shot, and the seats were sagging beneath the weight of the junk dumped on them. For decades it was crying out to be saved, but nobody heard its call.
In January, its luck changed. Auctioneer Charterhouse was instructed by the executor of a will to visit the associated cottage property and carry out a valuation for probate. There the neglected MGA was be discovered.
Richard Bromell, director of Charterhouse, takes up the story. “It was always my dream as a schoolboy to go around the countryside looking for classic and vintage cars which have been locked away for years,” says Bromell. “Today, although it rarely happens, there are still discoveries to be made such as this beautiful MG, although it took a long time to dig it out of the garage.”
Photographs show the MGA half-buried beneath a pile of wood, plastic, cables and general household waste. “To give you an idea of the environment we encountered, it normally takes the team we use two days to go through a property and check and sort everything within. This one took us 10 days,” Bromell tells Hagerty.
It’s a crying shame, given the later, 1600 model enjoyed a reputation for being the most complete variant of the MGA range.
That’s not how it always was, though. When the car first arrived at its home, some 50 years ago, it was widely loved. So much so that in the 1980s, the MGA roadster was treated to a restoration at the property, with photographs from the time documenting the step-by-step refresh. The car passed through the hands of three owners, all from the same family, who over time all lived at the same, 16th-century, thatched-roof cottage.
Over the past couple of decades, however, circumstances changed and the car was parked. It was not removed until the team from Charterhouse were instructed to visit the property.
“The car would seem to have been bodily restored, and then wheeled back into the garage for work to the engine, and perhaps it all got too much or life got in the way, and there it stayed, unfinished,” says Bromell. “With the engine reassembled, it would make a nice Sunday driver, the perfect car to pop out in the morning and pick up the papers, eggs and bacon, and it would get plenty of attention along the way.”
Bromell adds that the mileage of the car can’t be verified, but a host of paperwork and accompanying photographs document much of its life and later, unfinished restoration.
Now it’s ready to leave its place of slumber and find a new home. Charterhouse is estimating a sale price of £8000–£12,000 ($11,100–$16,700), when the MGA goes to online auction on April 11, at the planned venue of the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset.
The MGA was launched at the Earl’s Court Show in October 1955. Given that a concours-quality, condition #1, 1960 MGA 1600 roadster is valued at an average of £44,000 ($62,000, versus $41,000 in the U.S. market), but it would no doubt take serious investment to get this car in such a state. Still, it’s a compelling survivor story, and for that alone this garage-find MGA is likely to attract interest.