Acquiring my 1958 MGA 1500 Roadster
I fell in love with the MGA roadster the first time I saw one as a ten year old boy. We were living on a farm near a small rural town of Quitman, Georgia in 1958. We were extremely poor, and barely surviving on what my parents could scrape together. My Uncle Lewis was returning from a tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force at Nelis AFB, Nevada located just outside Las Vegas. Understand, to us kids, especially the boys, Uncle Lewis was about the coolest guy in the world. He dressed very well, always well groomed and dashingly handsome. Needless to say the ladies went crazy over Uncle Lewis.
It was the summer of 1958 when Uncle Lewis shows up with a brand new 1958 MGA 1500 Roadster. It was “Old English” white with red leather interior and, wire wheels. Prior to this, I had only seen cars like this in the movies or the school Library and magazines. I had never seen a car with such beautiful flowing lines and aerodynamic styling. A car with just two seats, this was unbelievable! All the cars in town were mostly four door sedans, farm trucks etc.; rust heaps used for daily transportation. These cars had no styling. You never saw anyone have a car just for “sport” driving. We had a beat-up 1947 Chevy 1 ½ ton truck for transportation.
I believe Uncle Lewis purchased the MGA in Las Vegas or San Diego and drove it back to Georgia partly on the infamous Route 66. This was prior to the present day interstate highway system we take for granted today. Uncle Lewis took all the kids for a ride in this beautiful car. It was like being in the movies! I think ever female between 10 and 65 came from miles around just to make laps around the block to see Uncle Lewis’ and his gorgeous sports car. These events have remained in my memory over the past 55 years; admittedly, the sole reason I’ve wanted a MGA Roadster.
I had begun my search in earnest about two years ago, mostly searching on the internet and EBay as well as the Classic Car magazines. I had come close to purchasing two MGA’s and at each time had they bought out from under me. I had cooled down a bit from frustration and had slowed my search when my wife Linda called me to the computer one Sunday afternoon. It seems Linda had been secretly searching for an MGA herself. She had discovered an MGA 1500 being sold at an Estate auction in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia by Ahlers and Ogletree, a reputable auction house in Atlanta. I took a look at the listing and was favorably impressed. The estate auction was being held at Dante’s Down the Hatch; a restaurant in the center of Buckhead; I understand it was an “institution” in the Atlanta area. The restaurant owner had decided to call it quits after 50 years and decided to sell everything in the restaurant. The MGA was included in the auction as a consignment by a gentleman named Frank Lindaeur, a retired IBM employee and NAMGAR member who had owned it since 1966. Mr. Lindauer was the second owner in 55 years. Over the 47 years in his possession, Frank kept meticulous records on every part and each service performed on the car during his ownership. The car had all the original paperwork on the car with documented mileage of 47,250 miles.
Prior to the auction, I completed the necessary qualification and registration paperwork to bid over the phone. The auction began on a Saturday morning September 19, 2013. The MGA had a catalog number of 219, meaning it would not go up for bid until early Saturday afternoon around 1:30 PM. As the MGA came up, the auction company called me and asked if I still intended to bid on the MGA. I said yes and they began to auction it off. To my surprise, there was only one other bidder. To my bigger surprise, he wanted it as bad as I did! Ultimately I won the bid for $15,500, which was my absolute limit. Prior to the auction, I did my “homework”; I used the Hagerty value assessment as a guide for bidding. Later, when seeking insurance for the car, I purchased an “agreed to value” policy with Hagerty. Their assessment for the MGA was for $ 36,000.
Since bringing it home, I’ve had the original top replaced, installed a Russian Birch Dashboard, buffed out the paintwork. To the purest, I am probably doing all the wrong things, but it will be my “Driver” not a show Queen. I am attempting a complete rewire and I am trying to locate a reputable painter.
I am not disillusioned into believing that I will all of a sudden become this character I remembered my Uncle Lewis to be, however, I there are times when I can’t get rid of this huge boyish grin and have a seat, grasp the wheel, close my eyes and dream. It is amazing; some things have the strongest influences in one’s life