The MGA With An Attitude
How to READ BETWEEN THE LINES of a Car For Sale ad - BUY-111

This page is posted to advise you to always be skeptical when reading an ad for a car for sale. Pictures don't lie, but they don't always tell the whole truth either. A judicious choice of pictures can show the good stuff while not mentioning the bad stuff, which might mislead an unknowing prospect into a bad case of wishful thinking. The following ad recently appeared on the internet. I use this one as an example because it is representative of a very common type (condition) of car for sale and the techniques used in advertising. Names have been changed or deleted to protect the guilty. Otherwise the ad is reproduced here as accurately as possible, including the images being displayed with incorrect aspect ratio (about 10% short on height). Clicking on the images will give you the larger image with correct aspect ratio. Following the ad are notes describing what the ad may and may not be telling you.

[ begin emulated internet advertisement ]
 MG A 1600 Mk II, 1962 $28,000 
MG A 1600 Mk II

MG A 1600 Mk II, ......absolutely rust free Texas car, excellent body and paint, really show quality exterior and interior.

Excellent original 90hp 1622cc Mk II engine...150 psi compression in every cylinder, no smoke, 65 psi oil pressure when warm, perfect running. Excellent trans and back axle, runs, drives, steers, handles, and stops like brand new.

New top, excellent side curtains, new tan tonneau, all new interior, mostly new chrome, excellent wiring........the list goes on and on.

A very rare original (note in photo: Morris Radiator) factory oil cooler. Wind wings, wing mirrors, new seat belts, badge bar, the list goes on and on. Doesn't miss a beat.

New: calipers, brake drums, master cylinder, hydraulic lines, shoes and pads, mostly new or rebuilt electrics, all gauges work, carpeted trunk, new chrome luggage rack, freshly rebuilt SU carbs, new fuel pump and fuel lines..........

With a top speed of around 105mph, excellent brakes, crisp steering handling, and sensational (for its era) ride, the MGA makes an ideal touring, 'round the neighborhood classic sports car. Reliable, easy to service, hard to imagine a better all round classic (hence me owning one...a red/beige interior Mk II with wire wheels!). I love my MGA. As will the next owner of this car.

The Xxxx Xxxxxx Company is not responsible for typos or other technical or factual errors contained in these or any other advertisements. This includes, but is not limited to, quoted price, information on condition or specification, history, or other details.

[ end emulated internet advertisement ]

Translation of the ad - What they may be saying:
MG A 1600 Mk II, ...... Texas car, totally baked out in the sun, had to re-do exterior paint and cosmetic re-trimming, no visible rust (as long as you don't open the bonnet or look underneath), show quality exterior and interior (please don't look underneath). We like to stretch the truth a little about the original not-rebuilt 87 HP engine and 103 mph top speed. Good compression, runs well, no smoke that you could see in the rear view mirror when driving, good oil pressure at road speed (but we won't mention oil pressure at hot idle or how much oil it drips). Doesn't grind too much shifting to 2nd gear, nothing falling apart in the suspension, and the brakes work (but the sway bar may be missing).
A very rare original (note in photo: Morris Radiator) factory oil cooler (so the only thing we can guarantee is that it is 45 years old and maybe doesn't leak as long as you don't tighten the pressure cap). Wind wings, wing mirrors, seat belts, badge bar, and some more options you don't need.

Enough replacement brake parts to make it stop, functional stuff works, carpeted trunk (but we're not showing you any spare wheel or tire or tools), factory style optional luggage rack and optional 60-spoke painted wire wheels (condition of splined hubs unknown). Had to put seals in the carbs to stop fuel dripping, and the DPO replaced the fuel pump because he didn't know how to clean the points.....

Blah blah blah sales hype, buy quick it before you look too close.

(And in very small print):   Don't believe anything you read in this ad, because we hereby disclaim everything we post so we can legally lie about everything.

And then what they didn't say:
We hope you like the period style of the far forward wing mirrors with field of view so small as to be nearly useless. Extended pedestal on the heavy aftermarket day/night rear view mirror so you can see over the luggage rack (as long as you don't put anything on the luggage rack, and we're not talking about how much the long stem mirror shakes). We're not sure why the DPO put the funny blind spot mirror inboard of the grab handle on the driver side. We hope you like the style of the dress-up badge bar enough to forgive the fact that it can be an expensive grille crusher if anyone ever taps the front bumper. We hope you don't try to fit the aftermarket style side curtains (that we left in the boot to make it look like there's more space behind the seats) and find out the wind wing brackets interfere with seal at the front.

Not sure if the undersized AM-FM pushbutton radio works, but we leave the manual antenna up to make you think it does. We like the NAMGAR grille badge and window sticker, and the NAMGAR dash plate looks impressive on the fresh vinyl dash cover (even if you don't have any reason to belong to NAMGAR). The accessory MG crested walnut shift knob gives a good grip to help crush the iffy 2nd gear synchro. The accessory MG logo floor mats are nice to cover worn spots in the carpet during a car show. The fire extinguisher is included because we have no faith in the integrity of the electrical wiring of unknown age. The driver's handbook in the door pocket is cute for show, as long as you don't need the space for something else. We hope you don't mind the 1500 style side curtain retaining knobs on the 1600 type car. We're not sure why the screen washer bottle is only half full, because the push-pump knob is stuck and won't come back out. We installed the sill plates because we had a few bucks left in the budget and it was the last item available on the accessories list.

Sorry about the poor condition of the engine bay, but after spending all his money on the exterior repaint and cosmetic trim the DPO refused to pay for under bonnet cleaning and painting. We know the cheap P-clip and end clamps are missing from the big air hose, but we hope you don't know there are supposed to be two more 4" air hoses ahead of the radiator mount panel. The rubber MGB oil filler cap was cheaper than the correct plated steel cap, and you should ignore the kink in the rocker cover vent hose because he was also too cheap to buy the correct molded hose. Pay no mind to the incorrect replacement fuel hoses, but the in-line fuel filter is there to keep any more crap from the rusty gas tank from getting into the carbs again.

We haven't posted any pictures from underneath, because we hope you don't look underneath and realize the body hasn't been off the frame in 45 years, or that there is a complete cover of rust powder on everything underneath so you can't even tell the original paint color (even though we know it's black under the bonnet). We trust you will only drive this car in the desert, because any humidity would make short work of whatever bare sheet metal the tin worm hasn't already removed underneath. There should be a pair of 6-volt batteries, but we haven't looked because we don't want to have to lie to you if it has a single 12-volt and only two thirds of one battery carrier rack.

Did we mention this one is priced for a quick sale (if only this repaint and cosmetic trim can convince you this car is restored)? It should be a nice ten-footer for at least five years, as long as you never let it get wet.

Back to my comments:
It is what it is, body never off the frame so not fully restored or painted underneath. This is a dealer, so don't expect a good price. If you like it for a good daily driver, and you don't care that the body will need to be restored sometime not too many years hence, then it might be just what you're looking for.

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