The MGA With An Attitude
Parts That Are NOT BODY COLOR - PT-106

Please review the prior articles on painting. To be sure I don't miss anything, I will first list what parts of the MGA are painted body color, and then list other parts with their respective colors.

For all production MGA the body was painted a single color. The main body was painted outside and inside after being spot welded together, including front and rear bulkheads, boot floor, forward air pan and inner fenders. As such all visible surfaces were painted while the inside of hidden box sections were not painted. Fenders, doors, engine bonnet, boot lid, front valence, splash panels and battery cover were painted separately inside and out, all body color. For the 1600 Coupe, where the spare tire was stowed entirely aft of the rear bulkhead, there is a bulkhead mounted tire hold down bracket that is painted body color. All moving body panel hinges and latches were originally body color. Proprods and associated clips were black.

For the 1500 and 1600 roadsters (not Twin Cam or Coupe) the dash panel and radio blanking plate were painted body color. Wrinkle black radio plates are modern replacement parts, never original. For all Twin Cams and Coupes and "Duluxe" cars and all 1600-MK-II cars the dash and radio plate were originally left in dark brown primer, then covered on the visible side with vinyl cloth to match the interior color. When the dash was cloth covered the bottom edge of the dash was covered with stailness steel bright trim, and a chrome surround piece was added around the radio speaker opening. For all Coupes and "Duluxe" cars and all 1600-MK-II cars (not Twin Cams), the top body cowling between the dash and the windscreen was covered with the same vinyl cloth. When such cars had tan or beige interior the dash and cowling covering may have been a darker color to reduce glare.

Brackets less visible under the dash were painted black to match the chassis (and most often black or gray carpet). These include the four dash bottom brace brackets, the foot pedal assemblies and associated parts, the dipper switch bracket, the smaller bits on the bottom of the heater assembly, and the steering column outer tube.

The entire chassis was painted chassis black (flat black) including frame, tunnel, floorboards, bulkhead panel on front of goalpost, front frame externsion, sway bar and fittings (when fitted), all front suspension parts and steering gear, shock absorbers, brake drums (but not disk brake rotors), fuel tank, rear axle assembly (including the differential housing) and the propshaft. Leaf springs were painted in assembly with no paint in between the individual leaves. Shock absorbers were also originally painted black in assembly. Also black were the bumper brackets, and license plate brackets. Since paint tends to peel off of casually painted aluminum parts, the aluminum differential housing is often stripped clean and left as bare aluminum during restoration (and most concours judges don't seem to mind).

The gearbox assembly was left unpainted, as it is mostly cast aluminum. Cleaning with lacquer thinner or brake cleaner will make it look nice for a while. Certain chemical baths will make it still brighter for a while. Eventually the aluminum casting exposed to air and humidity will grow progressively more dull with a bit of aluminum oxide on the surface. A true MG enthusiast will appreciate the patina. A concours enthusiast may spend untold hours cleaning and polising the gearbox out of vanity (and in vain). The input shaft is left bare and may collect rust, but is hidden from site with the engine installed. The output flange on the 1600 type gearbox was originally unpainted, left to rust, but is commonly painted black during restoration. The clutch release arm and pushrod were likewise originally unpainted, but are commony painted black with restoration. Most replacement clutch pushrods will be zinc coated. The clutch slave cylinder will normally be bare aluminum like the gearbox.

The exhaust system was originally mild steel and would rust accordingly. Economy replacement exhaust systems are still available in bare mild steel. More durable systems are available in bare stainless steel. A number of specialty exhaust systems may be painted, at least for the rear muffler which may also have exhaust tips in chrome or a bright paint accent color (yuck). As a general rule the exhaust system usually doesn't get painted, because the operating heat can burn the paint off.

If you install exhaust headers (tubular extractors) they may be mild steel or stainless steel or chrome plated mild steel, or in some cases painted. The chrome headers may not stay bright, may possibly turn blue or dark gray in spots in the hottest areas of the tubing. Thicker (more expensive) chrome may hold up better in this respect. It is tempting to wrap the headers with insulating tape to surpress head in the engine bay. Chrome or stainless steel tubes may be likely to develop cracks from high stress heat cycling Mild steel tubes will be more tolerant of the harsh temperature swings and higher temperatures when insulated. If you have stainless headers I suppose you wouldn't want to wrap then anyway. "Hot Jet Coated" headers may hold up as well as or better than mild steel when wrapped.

Hand tools in the original traveling tool kit were most often left bare or given a black oxide coating (which may rust in high humidity conditions). Starting handles and jacks were different colors at different times of production. When in doubt, paint them black. Or, ....

At 07:47 PM 3/27/05 +1000, Garry Kemm wrote:
"The starting handle colour from my 1959 Twin Cam roadster is black, and from my 1960 pushrod Coupe is "orangey-red", same as the Shelley jack supplied with the car. Both starting handles have MOWOG stamped on the 'vertical' part of the handle in 3/16th inch letters."

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