MG Magnette ZA and ZB (1953 – 1958) Review

MG Magnette ZA and ZB (1953 – 1958) At A Glance


+Handsome styling, known B-Series engine and running gear

-Sportier to look at than to drive

With the Nuffield Group now part of the British Motor Corporation, the pre-War policy of badge engineering took on new heights. Bedfellows since the pre-War era, MGs and Wolseleys tended to be closely related, and this practice continued to gain momentum within the new company. However, the Magnette ZA closed the gap even further by using the bodywork from the Wolseley 4/44, even if it was attractive thanks to its fluted MG grille, and other accoutrements. The ZA was also the first MG to be powered by the venerable BMC B-Series - a significant moment because that engine would go on to power the MGA and MGB.

The ZA received an uprated platform, with rack-and-pinion steering and improved suspension, and 60bhp (45kW) meant it accelerated as well as it handled. Despite being the sportier offering, there was still an agreeable amount of wood and leather used in the interior. A more powerful ZB variant replaced the ZA in 1956 and was offered with optional Varitone two-colour paintwork and a wraparound rear screen. A few cars also appeared with manumatic semi-automatic transmission – a novel but not hugely effective attempt at creating a clutchless manual set-up that was years ahead of its time.

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Ask Honest John

Am I being targeted by an overpayment scam?

"I have provisionally sold my MG Magnette online. After several days, I received a check paid in Euros for more than the asking price of the car. When I questioned the buyer, he said the overpayment was for transport. I have no address for the buyer (only email). Should I be concerned? "
The overpayment will make sense if you are incurring extra costs to transport the car (and agreed on these expenses with the buyer). But the lack of details about the buyer is a big red flag - you should have their name, address and telephone number. Overpayments can be innocent or part of a scam. Usually, when it comes to fraud, the buyer will overpay for a car and then ask for you to repay the extra money. This will be requested via a 'wired' transfer by a third-party company. In the event of a scam, the buyer will cancel the cheque after you've made the transfer and keep the 'overpayment' money and vanish (there is little recourse with wire payments). If the overpayment is valid (and covers agreed additional expenses) then pay the cheque into your account and keep the car until the funds have been cleared. If the overpayment is not valid, get the buyer's details and return the cheque. You can then ask the buyer to send you another cheque for the correct amount. If they refuse or try to pressure you into accepting more money than agreed, cancel the deal.
Answered by Dan Powell

My classic car has been stored for 20 years - what oil should I flush the engine with?

"I have a 1958 MG ZB Magnette, which I'm putting back on the road after 20 years of storage. I've removed and cleaned out the sump and was considering running it for perhaps 100-200 miles on probably a 20w-50 oil, then use flushing oil to clean the engine out. Afterwards, I'll fill it with a permanent oil for normal use. Do you agree with this procedure, and what oils would you recommend?"
Has the engine been rebuilt? If so, it will have assembly lubricant already in it - modern cars often require a thinner oil for the first couple of hundred miles or so, but 20w-50 will be fine for an engine of this vintage. Once you've covered a few hundred miles, change the oil and filter. You can of course use a flushing oil - but you may find that just flushing it through with 20w-50 does just as good a job.
Answered by Keith Moody
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