Reader Submissions: Restoring MGAs is a Labor of Love

Restoring MGAs is a Labor of Love

By Petrolicious Productions
February 19, 2014

Owner and Photographer: Dr. José Ignacio Guerra Holguin 

Year, Make, and Model: 1959 and ’60 BMC MGA

Location: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Dr. José Ignacio Guerra H. gained an early appreciation for cars: he recalls his father buying and restoring a Ford Model T when José Ignacio was still a little boy. After that came an Austin Healey Sprite, Ford Model A and 1962 Buick Skylark. He liked the Buick most of all and it became his when he was about seventeen years old.

Over time, however, he went off to college, started his own life and sadly, his dad sold the car. He got married and was wrapping up his Orthodontics degree in 1999, when he came across a BMC MGA rotting in the back of an old mechanic’s shop in his hometown. He couldn’t see much of it, just a corner poking out from under assorted car parts, but he fell in love with it and bought it on the spot. Most of the forgotten MGA had to be replaced, sadly, only the main bodywork, chassis, and suspension stayed original but he learned a great deal from the project and drove it happily for a while. He liked the relatively low cost of entry and the fact the low cost of entry makes the MGA more accessible (not only from a financial perspective) than many of its contemporaries.

José also loves the car’s charming styling. The restoration was executed slowly and took just over two years to complete with a lot of help from online friends and experts as well as his wife’s never-ending support, “she said I was crazy, but she still loved me.” He also visited other MGA owners in the area and shot extensive photos of the smallest details and measurements to help with the restoration. He is a self-described perfectionist and used every reference at his disposal in order to fulfill his dream of refurbishing the car to a condition equal (some would say better than) to when the car left the Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK factory.

He wound up selling the car when a friend made an offer he couldn’t refuse. But his first MGA led him to look for others as he launched a sort of business/hobby restoring MGAs (eight total) in Ecuador and selling them abroad. José Ignacio proudly says that he, “learned a lot from that first MGA, the others were simpler jobs once I more-than-learned my lesson from the first.” While he might have looked for easier restorations after the first one, the results never waivered—he still strove for as-new condition with each little roadster and wanted to “make other people happy to have a nice MGA.”

As with many other sports car owners, José Ignacio loved driving his MGA along the coast and on empty roads where he could “feel the…unique communion between man and machine [that] sports cars, made by hand with bolts and nuts, still give us [and] the adrenaline and taste of adventure of the past.”

All of his MGAs have been sold, save one (it’s in San Rafael, California, if you’re interested), and he’s moved on to another type of car—the BMW 3.0CS. We can’t wait to see how they turn out and you can be sure that we’ll share them with you, once completed.

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Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant
10 years ago

Beautiful cars nicely done. I’m a little surprised however, that with the attention to detail mentioned in the article that went into the restorations, that both the black disc wheeled car and the white wire wheeled car are 1600 models but are sporting Mk II instrument panels and neither has the sill finishers on the rocker panels. The chrome speaker surround and vynide covered dashes were not available until the MK II was released except for on twin cam cars which neither of these are. Not unusual for MGA owners to make subtle changes to their cars between the different series of models and they appear to be well done, just not entirely original.
Just my little OCD rant, having lived with them for many years, they are wonderfully fun cars to own and enjoy.

john tolle
john tolle
10 years ago

I sent Yoav my email for you to contact.
Thanks and enjoy your ride(s) too.

Jose  Ignacio Guerra
Jose Ignacio Guerra
10 years ago

Thanks for the nice comments, I´m glad to share those with the Petrolicious community.

Nice weekend rides to everybody

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
10 years ago

Absolutely stunning cars and when they’re done up by a guy that seem so passionate, you can’t go wrong. Love both the colour combinations, but I’m actually leaning toward the black one. However, can’t say I blame him for moving on to a BMW 3.0 CS.

john tolle
john tolle
10 years ago

Beautiful. So how does one contact him on the one in San Rafael?

Yoav Gilad
10 years ago
Reply to  john tolle

Send me an email and I’ll put him in touch with you:

samir shirazi
10 years ago

Dustin Rittle agree with U, it was exactly on my mind when reading the article…[b] take the white with red interior please [/b]
I have found one in Tehran with a shinny condition I dont have any opinion about the value.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
10 years ago

I always love hearing stories like this its one reason i love coming to this site each and everyday. The passion of the restorer is very is very evident in the piece. I love the fact that he was around restoring cars then you just happen to find a diamond in the rough and a romance begins. Its really what the car hobby is all about. I have too say im a bit of a sucker for these old British sports car and the MGA is one of them. I must not be the only one since the majority of MGA were exported. Ill take the white with red interior please 😉

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