The MGA With An Attitude

At 11:14 AM 2/16/2011 -0600, Robert J. Guinness wrote:
"Is it me, or are the prices for MGAs climbing significantly. If so, why (other than that they are great cars)"?

Here we go again, and this time I will stick some dollar values on the reply. This question is always fun. In the late 60's MGAs were orphans. Very nice cars 6 to 12 years old with low mileage had a book value of $400. In 1977 it pained me some to have to pay $800 for a high mileage restoreable car (but I still have it). I had spent $10,000 on it by the time I got it restored in 1986. A nice show car was worth that much by then, but a somewhat tatty driver car was about $1500 and parts car were still $500 or less.

The first real kicker was when MGBs went out of production in 1980, and the cars became collectable vintage rather than old used cars. Just about the same time the MGA passed the MGB in resale value, and they have both been going up pretty steady since (faster for the MGA). I saw my first $25K MGA show car in 2002, but on the same day I turned down the offer of three parts cars (two of them restoreable) for $1500 total.

The next kicker for collectable cars in general was the 9-11-01 "incident". Seems like a lot of people suddenly decided that life was short, and it was time to get on with the car hobby project they had been putting off for so many years. Car prices and restoration businesses went up dramatically for some years to follow. Economic recession stepped on things enough to make the whole scenario go flat for a few years (although prices did not go down). Finally in the past year or so things have picked up again, and people are "asking" record prices (but maybe not getting it just yet).

The "better" part of the collector market these days starts with cars that can keep up with modern expressway speeds, and were built in large enough quantity that anyone who wants one can have one. It pretty much ends with 1980, after which "modern" cars have huge quantities of plastic and electronics, loose value rapidly, and will be extraordinarily difficult to restore or even maintain in roadable condition much beyond 10 years. That makes the bulk of the collector market between 1950-1980, the heyday of MGA and MGB. MGA is privileged to be rather special, because it is plentiful enough to be available, just rare enough to have good market value, still in the earlier "classic" body style (one of the beauties in that regard), relatively easy to restore with reasonably priced parts in good supply. What more could you ask for a collector car?

At 08:04 PM 2/16/2011 +0000, Ed on Comcast (whichever Ed that was, wrote:
"Because they are such rust buckets that supplies, at least in the Rust Belt, have diminished far more than demand has increased".

That's the general idea, but just a little bit reversed. Supplies aren't that short yet. There are plenty of MGA available on eBay every day in drivable or restoreable condition (some already restored), and still plenty of non-restoreable parts cars for donors. Demand has increased somewhat in recent years. As the value of complete cars has increased to a certain level, it becomes more attractive to put money into them for restoration. This pulls the entire market up by its own boot straps.

I seem inclined to attach (or record) prices to these things every 10 years or so, and I haven't done it for a while, so here goes. Less than complete parts cars are now $1000 or more. Mostly complete and restoreable "barn find" cars are now $1500-$3000, sometimes $5000 if very little rust. Driver cars from tatty to decent 50-footers are $6000-$9000. Nice presentable daily drivers are in the $10K-$15K range. A "body-on" restoration (never painted underneath) may be $15K-$20K (if it's not too old since restoration). An older "body-off" restoration (all properly done but with some years and miles on it) may be $20K-$25K. Fairly new full body-off restoration cars will be $25K-$40K depending on quality and time since "new". If you are a checkbook mechanic and pay someone else to restore one, then add 50%.

In relative terms, starting with the basic 1500 model add 10% for a 1600; add 20% for a 1600-Mk-II; add 30% for any "Deluxe" model. Subtract about 15% for a Coupe in any model (real bargains). A Twin Cam car without a twin cam engine is worth about the same as a "Deluxe". Add $10K for a complete twin cam engine (restoreable not broken) with or without a car attached. By now you likely know where restored Twin Cam prices are going, like $40K-$55K. Occasional "special exceptions" for any model could be slightly higher. A precious few cars with special historical significance can double the value.

A new Miata will cost about $25K and will depreciate dramatically with age. For about the same price you can buy a very nice MGA that is still appreciating in value. This sounds like a pretty good deal to me, even for a daily driver car. Yes they are going up in price, but it seems completely reasonable to me (for the time being), and anyone who wants one can still buy one. Fully restored trailer queen show cars are always special and demand special prices, but that's a different world from daily driver cars.

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