Restoring MGAs is a Labor of Love
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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