2016 Shannons Melbourne Autumn Classic Auction

1955 MG ZA Magnette Saloon




Engine In-line 4-cylinder, 1800cc (see text)
Gearbox 4-speed manual
Body Work Saloon
Colour Maroon
Interior Red
Trim Leather
Wheels Wire-spoked
Brakes Discs/drums (see text)


This lot is no longer available

Introduced as a replacement for the slow selling and outdated YB saloon, MG’s new ZA Magnette, designed by Gerald Palmer, shared its basic monocoque platform with the Wolseley 4/44 although the two were quite different in many key areas. Unlike its sibling, which made do with the older Nuffield engine from the YB, the Magnette was powered by BMC’s new B-series engine, transmission and hypoid back axle. Aimed at the family man still looking for a car with a sporting edge, the Magnette was an attractive, modern design with an equally well turned out interior, the metal facia painted to resemble wood and complemented by a well stocked instrument cluster. Palmer, whose resume included the Jowett Javelin, was clearly influenced by Italian styling trends with the Magnette and managed to neatly integrate a sloping MG radiator into the sleek bodyshell. Equipped with twin SU carburettors, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine turned out 60 horsepower at 4600rpm, giving a maximum speed of 80 mph, while the combination of an independent front end, with coil springs and wishbones, plus rack and pinion steering, ensured excellent roadholding as well. Efficient Lockheed hydraulically-operated drum brakes were fitted to both front and rear wheels. Officially launched at the 1953 Earls Court Motor Show, production didn’t begin until March 1954 and despite early qualms from traditionalists, the new MG was soon outselling its predecessor by a factor of ten to one. Indeed, just over 18,000 were made before the slightly revamped ZB was introduced in October 1956, making the ZA Magnette a commercial success. The press gave the car a positive reception, John Bolster writing for Autosport in 1958 said ‘…the Magnette has now been developed to a point where it is, without any doubt, the best of the BMC range.’ 

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