Restore your MG’S performance and preserve its good looks
How to keep your MG Magnette in fine fettle.
The handsome ZA was introduced in 1953. It was the first MG with unitary construction, the first car to sport a B-series engine and it incorporated many modern features, including independent front suspension, telescopic shock absorbers and rack-andpinion steering. The ZB was launched in 1957 with different chrome trim, a higher final drive ratio and more power thanks to higher compression and larger carburettors. Track down a manual or handbook for exact specifications that apply to your model.
Parts and supports
The Magnette Register of the MG Car Club (magnette.org) provides a wealth of support and information. All parts required for servicing and maintenance are readily available from specialists, and many are shared with other MG and BMC models. Most Magnette-specific parts, including panels, are in good supply at sensible prices.
What’s it like to work on?
A longitudinal engine and gearbox plus rearwheel drive ensure that most aspects of looking after these MGS are straightforward. The ultra-conventional overhead valve 1489cc B-series engine is simple to work on and engine bay access is reasonably good. The distributor’s mounted awkwardly low – but servicing it isn’t too difficult. No special tools are needed for maintenance tasks.
Wheels and tyres
The wheels have small holes that align with those in the brake drums for adjustment. Make sure you fit them in the right position. Check the tyres regularly for wear, damage and deterioration. MG recommended 24psi front and 26psi rear for the original 5.50 x 15in crossplies. Add 4psi for radials.
This also applies to…
The Magnette’s Wolseley 4/44 sibling was powered by a 1.25-litre MG XPAW engine, but many other components are the same or very similar. Many of the engine and transmission aspects of this guide apply to the MGA, plus Austin Cambridges and Morris Cowley/oxford Models of the Fifties.
Thanks to John Copleston of Phoenix Classics for expert advice (01202 622808, phoenix-classics.co.uk) and Bruce Greaves owner of the lovely ZB in our photographs.
Clonking? A clonking from the front on uneven surfaces is often an indication of up-and-down movement of the hub/ stub-axle assembly on the kingpin. Check as detailed in Step Two. Washers and wipers The windscreen washers are operated by engine vacuum, though many have been upgraded to electric systems. Make sure the system is airtight and functioning. Check the condition of the wiper blades, too. Fasteners Ensure that all nuts and bolts – including the wheel nuts – are tight and in good condition.