The MGA With An Attitude

I will start with one of my pet peeves about recent reproduction valve cover plates for MGA. Either the rivet holes are too small,or they are too far apart, or maybe both. This is a functional problem. When the plates are attached the rivet holes don't line up properly. This causes the plate to bow upward in the center leaving an annoying space underneath. The "fix" is to enlarge the holes slightly and test fit the parts with the rivets before actually setting the rivets for keeps. If you set one rivet before noticing this problem, you can run a drill bit through the second hole in assembly before installing the second rivet. Hope that the holes are not so far out of alignment that they end up too large and give problems for setting the rivets and sealing the holes to prevent oil leaks. If you set both rivets before you notice the problem, then grind the rivet tips flush inside the cover, punch them out, buy new rivets, and start over.

MG logo plate
Original red MG plate for MGA

MG logo plate
Photo shows original configuration MG logo plate on top, and aftermarket plate below. The "too small" holes are obvious at a glance. Notice also the thin character of the lines in the original logo compared to the thicker lines in the replacement part. Early MGA apparently had the red on aluminum plate. ZA/ZB Magnettes apparently had black plates originally (but some of those eventually fade into a sort of rusty brown color, never red). Later MGA (not sure of the cut date yet) and early MGB had black on aluminum (like the first picture above). Most current replacement parts are likely black (Moss Motors when available), but Scarborough Faire sells only red ones for MGA. There is a rumor that the thicker line black plate may be original to some mid production MGB (before sticker tags), but I haven't checked that yet.

In November 2010, Neil McGurk in Cumbria, UK reports, "The chassis number for my MkII with original black plate is 104982 making it a December 1961 production". Thomas Aczel in Kurrajong Hts, NSW, Australia, reports, "Likewise my 1965 Mk1 5 bearing MGB, which I've owned since it was four years old. It has always been a riveted-on metal badge, not a stick on label".

MG logo plate
Red plate from (c)86600, February 1960 production.
John Bender, car in family since new, plate still original.

The valve cover plates should be positioned with the "MG" plate on the right (ignition side), the patent plate on the left (carburetor side), and both should be readable from their respective sides of the car.

Below is the patents plate. These have been found in at least four different styles (so far). The first one shown here is full justified with two lines set to left at bottom, and notably thin line lettering. The second one is left justified, except for the "Weslake Patents" line, and has the bottom two lines of text combined into a single line. I am pretty sure that both of these are wrong, never original issue for any MGA. The third one is close but no cigar, as "WESLAKE" is mispelled (and the squared off ends are not right). A fourth type, which I think is original, is left justified with two lines of text at the bottom (hope to get a better picture sometime). All of these plates have smooth top surface, so appear to be photo screened and anodized aluminum.
Patent number plates
Patent number plate
Patent number plate

Here's a nice picture (right and below) from Christopher Wilson in NC, USA. He reports, "My Mk II 1622cc engine had a black plate on it. It has been replaced with a new red one. I still have the original and it isn't a faded black that appears red, it is really black".

Additionally this shows what must be the correct original style of patent plate with left justified text and two lines below the (centered) "Weslake Patents" line. After being removed, these plates are pictured below. If anyone has a confirmed original patent plate that does not look like this one, please let me know.

 : Patent number plates
Original valve cover plates, MGA 1600-MK-II

To add fuel to the fire, the plate below is known to be original from (c)86600, February 1960 production. John Bender, car in family since new. Notice specifically the all black background with thin white border line.
Original valve cover plates, MGA 1600 February 1960 production

The following plate is a recent reproduction from Classic Reproductions in the UK. It is, as far as I know, the must accurate reproduction of the original plate available.
Original style valve cover plate for MGA

Thank you for your comments -- Send e-mail to <Barney Gaylord>
© 2011-2014 Barney Gaylord -- Copyright and reprint information