MGExp

MGA Forum

Help Find My Dad's MGA

Moss Motors
AutoShrine Sponsor
AutoShrine Sponsor
AutoShrine Sponsor
AutoShrine Sponsor

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Hello everyone!

Sorry, I didn't know this was going to be so long until I was done writing it, but please read it if you have the time. I need your help.

In May of 2015 my dad passed away after a tough battle with melanoma. I have been missing him a great deal lately and recently began the unenviable task of searching for his first car (a "brand new" MGA Convertible). First, I will give you what details I do know. Then I'll give you the bad news, and finish up with a few questions.

Here is what I do know.
-For Christmas in 1959, my father received a "Brand New" MGA Convertible from my grandparents.
-Black with Black/Grey Convertible Top
-Red leather interior
-Wire spoke rims
-White wall tires with matching spare tire
-AM/FM Radio
-I'm not sure if a heater was an option, but it had one.
-The car was originally registered and titled in Rock Island, Illinois in December of 1959.
-My dad began dating my mother two months later in February of 1960. They married a year and a half later in September of 1961.
-In November of 1961 they found out that my mother was pregnant with my brother and traded the MGA in on a new Chevrolet Biscayne at the Chevrolet dealer in Rock Island, Illinois (Economy Motors).

Now the bad news:
-I don't have any paperwork (VIN, Serial or license plate numbers).
-I've tried to find anything about the dealership the MGA was purchased from, but I'm getting conflicting stories about whether or not there was an MG dealership in the Quad Cities (Davenport, IA, Rock Island, IL, Moline, IL, and Bettendorf, IA) at the time. My mother recalls the dealership being in Davenport, IA, but I spoke with Robert Kirk dba Kirks Auto Refitters in Davenport, IA. who specializes in old British cars. He doesn't recall an MG dealership in the Quad Cities until 1968.
-I spoke with the insurance company in Rock Island, IL who would have insured the MGA, their records don't go back that far.
-The dealership the MGA was traded in at in 1961 has changed hands three times since then and has no records either.
-I have tried to get info from the DMV in Illinois, but their records only go back to 1973 and without a VIN # they can't see if the car is still around.

Now a few questions of my own. If an MGA was purchased new and registered in December of 1959:

-What would the manufactured date of the MGA most likely be?
-How long did these vehicles sit on a dealers lot before being purchased or were they mostly ordered then delivered?
-Would it most likely be a 1500 or 1600?
-Would it be most likely be a 1959 or 1960 model year MGA?
-What would be the first five characters of the VIN # be (HDA43/GNA43)?
-What is the range of the last five characters of the VIN # that I should be looking for (61100-82892)?
-Does anyone have a list of the MG Dealers in the United States that existed in 1959?
-Does anyone know of a Black MGA with Red Leather Interior originally registered and titled in December of 1959 in Illinois?

I'm sure many of you have gone on this same trek that took months, years or even possibly never finding the car you were searching for, but how hard can it be to find 1 of probably 23 Black MGA's that were registered in Illinois in 1959 and 1 of 2 registered in December of 1959! I'm about to find out!

Any help or words of advise you can give will be greatly appreciated!

Best regards,
Jay

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
bobs77vet Avatar
bobs77vet bob K.
northern Va, VA, USA   USA
sorry for your loss, my made in june/ july 57 coupe was titled as a 58.

good luck on your search

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Thank you for the information Bob!

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
RedDuck Avatar
RedDuck Gold Member Richard P.
Jacksonville, FL, USA   USA
Jay,
here is a list of dealers and distributors for MG's in the United States in 1971. This is from the MGA Guru (a wealth of knowledge). It may help but you sure are looking for a "needle in a haystack".

http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/history/hs104.htm#illinois

Good luck with the hunt.
Richard

bikermga Avatar
bikermga Peter Tilbury
Surrey, BC, Canada   CAN
Jay,

A car registered late 59, could have been made in 58 or 59. It will probably be a 1500 model, as the 1600 was not made until May 59. Definitely not a 60 model.

HDA43/ are the correct VIN letters for a 1500 model. In January 59 the VIN numbers were 61117, but in May 59 the first 1600 had VIN number 68851. For a 1600 the VIN letters would be GHNL/.

The North American MGA Register (www.NAMGAR.com) was started 41 years ago (1975) but their records probably go back further than that. However, without a clue to the complete VIN number, it will be difficult for them to provide any helpful info. Once you have either an engine or a VIN number, then you can get a Heritage Certificate from BMIHT in the UK as they have records of all MGAs shipped from the factory. You can order this online.

Your best hope is to hear back from the second owner when they bought the car from the Chev dealer in 1961.

Best of luck.

Peter.

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Thanks you Peter for the information and good wishes. Who would ever thought it would be so difficult to find any information about one of literally just a handful of cars imported from over the pond!

Danbgt Avatar
Danbgt Dan Suter
Rochester, NY, USA   USA
Jay,
Just a few more ideas and/or pieces of information:
Your statement about the grey convertible top (combined with the black paint and red leather interior) strongly suggest that this was a '1600' model as the earlier 1500 model came with black top in that color combination.

Other articles and stories from original owners have combined to show that it was often 4-5 months between date of manufacture of an MGA and when it arrived or was sold at a dealership. So, a Dec '59 purchase can seemingly align with the manufacture of a '1600' model which as Peter noted above started in May, '59. Peter is also correct in noting the '1600' VIN for a North American spec MGA starting with GHNL/ (and then a number >68851). You can box in your VIN range between the introduction date of the model and VINs produced up until the purchase date (which, granted, is thousands of MGAs).

I looked up the 1959-62 MG dealers in my region by going to our local library and looking in old yellow page books. The ads and listings depicted the Authorized Dealers. In our area, I learned there were (2) authorized and a further single dealer, about 20 miles further, that was run by the brother of one of the first two that did not appear to be an authorized MG dealer.

Do you have any family photos of the car showing anything distinctive? (unusual location for a radio aerial, badge bar, unusual option like a grab rail on the dashboard, unusual badge or decal, distinctive small dent in fender, valence, or bumper--anything that would set THIS car apart?

I think you said you were unable to find the VIN. Are there any other boxes or folders of records around in the family - auto insurance, registration documents, old files of repair bills, etc. hiding in old desk drawers, etc.? Finding that VIN is really your best hope of conclusively finding and confirming the car.

Another path might be to contact any MG or British car clubs in the area. Our own MGCC Centre (Western NY) dates back to 1958 and there are a number of great old photos of MGs at the start of rallies, and at gymkanas, etc. I'm pretty sure I found a picture of my own MGA Twin Cam as it is the only white one I have been able to trace from the region. Not conclusive, but possibly the same one. The photo was from behind and it had a dealer advertising perimeter plate around the NYS lisc plate.

Good luck!
Best regards,
Dan

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
MGARuss Avatar
MGARuss Silver Member Russ Sharples
East Windsor, NJ, USA   USA
1960 MG MGA 1600 "Bonnie"
1993 Mazda MX-5 "Bombita"
In reply to # 3393757 by Danbgt Other articles and stories from original owners have combined to show that it was often 4-5 months between date of manufacture of an MGA and when it arrived or was sold at a dealership. So, a Dec '59 purchase can seemingly align with the manufacture of a '1600' model which as Peter noted above started in May, '59. Peter is also correct in noting the '1600' VIN for a North American spec MGA starting with GHNL/ (and then a number >68851). You can box in your VIN range between the introduction date of the model and VINs produced up until the purchase date (which, granted, is thousands of MGAs).

Jay, my 1960 MGA 1600 was built in December 16-17 of 1959 and shipped out on the 18th and has VIN GHNL 82000 so that is one end of your range. Both NAMGAR (www.namgar.com) and the MGA Register Holland (http://www.mgaregister.nl/) maintain a database of MGAs that have survived. As you can see, they produced about 14,000 cars in the 7 months from May to December so they were producing about 2000 a month, most of which came to the USA.

Redhawk1689 Avatar
Redhawk1689 Gold Member Steven Stockham
Salina, KS, USA   USA
1958 MG MGA 1500 "Belle"
My first MGA was a black 1500 that was manufactured in December of 1958 but was registered as a "59 1500 with the VIN # HDA43/61090. Do you have any family pictures?? I'm not talking about pictures of the car but maybe there might be some of the family with the car in the background? If you could identify between it being a 1500 or a 1600, that would help a bunch!

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
Blueosprey90 Avatar
Blueosprey90 Jeff Sienkiewicz
New Milford, CT, USA   USA
It's only 55 years ago!

Motor vehicle property tax records maintained by the Town or County - probably in the state archives at the State library if they exist at all.

May possibly give you a lead on the body or chassis number.

***

I have no idea where my car came from. All I know is that it was bought for its twin cam engine (since blown up), sold as a roller in 1992 and converted by my immediate predecessor into a "race" car. I can't find the chassis number - obliterated - nor the original the engine number. All I have is the body number.

***

But my friend, I recommend this: Instead of searching in vain for your father's lost car, go out and find yourself a nicely restored MGA and buy it. Forget the cost. Forget the impracticality. Just treat it with kindness. And every time you let its legs out, you will feel the same joy that your dad (and mom) felt. And then, whatever you do, never let it go.


(And if that fails, buy yourself a Miata - the epitome of the perfect Japanese-British sports car.) smileys with beer

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Thanks, Dan Suter for the info and ideas. From the data I've read so far and pictures that I've seen it would appear that about 6-8% of all 1959 MGA's were black, and one could make an argument that about 4-6% of MGA's were Black with Red Interior, and even fewer if they had a grey top. I am quickly narrowing the possibilities from thousands or even hundreds down to dozens quite possibly even a handful or two.

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Thanks, Russ Sharples. I wasn't sure what anyone thought the average time it took for an MGA to start the manufacturing process until it reached the dealers lot. I kinda figured it wasn't like the 6-8 weeks it is today, but also didn't know if it wasn't more like 6-8 months back then. The other day I had a guy tell me sometimes MG's could/would hang around on a dealers lot for months and months and even for a year before being purchased and titled. I'm not sure that would have been the case with 1959 MGA's tho. It sounds like they were a pretty hot selling car at that time and BMC couldn't get them out the door fast enough.

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Sorry Steve Stockham. No photos of the car at all. Any photos that were taken were most likely lost or missed placed in moves. Plus my family had a track record for new cars every couple of years for decades. From the 70's to the mid 2000's my father had over a dozen Chevy Suburban's alone. I can also name at least a half a dozen cars between the MGA and his reign of terror with the Suburban's. LOL!

jgravitt Avatar
jgravitt Jay Gravitt
Beloit, WI, USA   USA
1959 MG MGA 1500 "Mildred “Millie”"
Yes Jeff. I know it's been over 55 years! LOL!

I wasn't born until 1968 and didn't even hear about the MGA's existence until I was a teenager in the 80's. Therefore, I never gave the car much thought. I've always said that the first classic car I would get would be from 1968, but an MGA would be much closer to my heart. Other than the fact that they are way cooler than anything from 1968.

Thanks for the tip about county tax records. That's a great idea!

I'm gonna give the search for my dad's MGA awhile before jumping ship. It's not really a money thing. I could probably be happy with grabbing another MGA as long as I know it was like his. But man!!! How cool would it be to sit behind the wheel of your dad's MGA that took you mom out on their first date 55 years ago!!!

BTW. I'm 6' 4" and would never fit into a Miata, let alone stoop that low! LOL! No offence to any Miata lovers out there.

MGARuss Avatar
MGARuss Silver Member Russ Sharples
East Windsor, NJ, USA   USA
1960 MG MGA 1600 "Bonnie"
1993 Mazda MX-5 "Bombita"
In reply to # 3394263 by jgravitt BTW. I'm 6' 4" and would never fit into a Miata, let alone stoop that low! LOL! No offence to any Miata lovers out there.

Jay - I'm 6'5" and have a 1993 Miata. I have driven it hundreds of miles comfortably. Unfortunately I don't fit in the B/C/D generation Miatas - I can't get my knees under the dash. The dash on the NA model is just right.

I also fit well in the MGA and have driven it 20K miles. Its one of the most comfortable cars I have to drive. Good luck with your search. At least we can be sure you are not looking for my car!

Russ

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <

To add your reply, or post your own questions




Registration is FREE and takes less than a minute!


Having trouble posting or changing forum settings?
Read the Forum Help (FAQ) or contact the webmaster