Asking Price: $19,500 USD
Seller: Private Party
Original Selling Price: £600
Engine: 1500cc 4-Cylinder OHV
Max Power: 64hp
PROS: This looks to be a very well restored example of a model rarely seen.
CONS: It looks as if few corners were cut in the restoration to save money. There is limited parts availability for body and interior pieces.
The MG Magnette is somewhat of an unheard of British car, especially these days. They produced thousands of them for the worldwide market, but the Magnette always took a back seat to the MG sports cars. It’s quite a shame as they are actually fantastic and stylish cars. This was MG’s flagship saloon model, featuring full leather interiors and a beautiful wood veneer dashboard. We see very fewer of them these days and even fewer well restored cars, which in our book makes them even cooler.
This particular MG Magnette is a 1959 ZB Varitone model and appears to be fully restored from the ground up. It’s currently being sold by a private party in North Carolina. Right off the bat, we have to say this looks to be a very nice car and the owner certainly has more money in the restoration than they’re going to get out of it. Luckily, a lot of parts are available through companies like Moss Motor, as the share many of the same mechanical components as their sportier cousins, the MGA and MGB. Unfortunately when it comes to body parts and interior pieces, you’re pretty much out of luck as no one is supplying these components.
As usual, you want to pay very close attention to rust and body damage. This car is now over fifty years old, so who knows where it’s been or what it’s been through. These cars tend to rust in the sills, floors, trunk floor, and frame sections. Look very closely at these areas and get the car on a lift for a thorough inspection. If repairs have been made, make sure they are done correctly and no fiberglass has been used. I cannot emphasize enough: RUST, RUST, and RUST. It’s the common culprit that brings ,most of these cars to their knees.
As mentioned above, these cars are mechanically very similar to an MGA or MGB, so no big deal here, but do give it a good looking over. The last thing you want to do is buy a car and end up with a bad engine or transmission. I always like to give the car a compression test just to verify the cylinders are all about the same PSI. Don’t get too stuck on a particular compression reading like 160psi, but look for uniform readings on all four cylinders. Also, be aware of the tell-tale signs of a cracked cylinder. Make sure to check near the distributor for any water stains or leakage from the cylinder head. The transmission will typically be noisy in first gear, but should be quiet in the other three. Make sure it’s quiet, nice and smooth, and doesn’t pop out of gear.
When it comes to restoring a Magnette, one of the most expensive elements is the interior. As I mentioned, they feature some beautiful wood and leather. This particular car looks like it’s been done well, or at least far better than most. The upholstery is all fully restored and looks nice, but appears to have been done in vinyl. Typically, this would be a huge red flag for me, but that said there are so few of these on the road, it’s great to see one looking this good. Much like the interior, the wood doesn’t appear to be perfect, but it still looks great.
Overall, these are cool cars that are just nowhere to be seen these days. If you want to stand out from the crowd and bring a unique offering to a show, this car might be right up your alley.
Happy motoring and hope to see you on the road! Remember to visit us at British Car Classifieds – the global online marketplace dedicated exclusively to buying and selling British automobiles.