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MGA Book Review

Subject: MGA Book Review
From: (David F. Darby)
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1996 22:38:56 PST
MGA Book Review
MGA: THE COMPLETE STORY, David G. Styles, Crowood Press, Ramsbury,
Marlborough, Wiltshire, 1995.
ISBN 1 85223 909 3
192 pp., Hard bound
$33.95 U.S.

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 saltbed 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 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, 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 and you can
judge for yourself.

Standard disclaimers apply...

Respectfully submitted,

David F. Darby
Hercules Wilderness, Missouri USA

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