MGA: THE COMPLETE STORY, David G. Styles, Crowood Press, Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 2HR England 1995.
192 pp., Hard-bound
ISBN 1 85223 909 3
The title says complete, and to suggest that this treatment were anything less would be an affront to the author. Yet, just as it is possible to assemble a film from the cutting room floor, some of these contents seem to have been found in that manner. There are charts and tables from period road tests, a few lovely color plates of restored cars, many black and white photos of historic racers, and scenes from the sacred factory at Abingdon. Many of these old photos appear to be copies of screened half-tones from print media sources. It seems that a text of this calibre and thoroughness could have at least sourced the archives for first generation photos.
The pictures are interesting nonetheless. For example, there are photos of the factory special lakebed racers developed during the 1950s to assault various international land speed records at the Booneville Salt Flats in Utah. (Just imagine 254 mph in a MG-based lakebed racer!) We find photos of early twin-cam engines and a wistful image of a covey of 1500cc roadsters huddled under their tonneau covers awaiting shipment to the U.S. One of the featured cars, an impeccably restored red mkII coupe found on the dust jacket and in the color section, also happens to grace the cover of Malcolm Green's MGA RESTORATION, the subject of our last review. I wonder how that happened?
Dr. Styles' thoroughness of research is evident in every page of text as he repeats well-known historic facts about the MGA, but also seasons his report by recounting the political aspects of why the factory pursued certain programs and not others. These aspects of BMC history may or may not be old news in England, but on this side of the pond (U.S.A.), at least for me, they were something of a revelation. Near the end of the book there is an interesting but sometimes distracting chapter on the MGA's adversary models from other makers.
Do you need this book on your MG shelf? It depends. If you want to know just about everything concerning the development of this beloved MG model then, by all means, go for it. If you are seeking hard-boiled technical data and how-to information, you will probably want to look elsewhere. At $34.00 U.S., I thought the price of admission was a little steep. I imagine most MGA aficionados will enjoy Dr. Styles' effort and it might be just the thing for the long winter evenings ahead when many of us won't be able to get the cars out to enjoy them. Perhaps, if you are really good, St. Nick will leave a copy in your stocking come Christmas and you can judge for yourself.
Standard disclaimers apply.
Respecfully submitted by David F. Darby.
Hercules Wilderness, Missouri, USA
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