The MGA With An Attitude
- Comments on the prior article

Ray, -- I have a question about your intention with this color choice. Your article starts out like you had some intention of duplicating one (or more) of the original colors for purpose of originality. By the end it appears you may have created an entirely new color or shade of BRG to please your personal pallet. Your perception of what is "correct" (for you) may be biased by site of some recent MGA repaints and a modern trend toward rich, deep lustrous colors with lots of shine and curb appeal.

The question is, was this new color definition intended to be the closest possible duplication of the paint on some factory racing car(s)? Or was it supposed to be a copy of some period production car color? Or maybe an "average" or general representation of the period trend in BGR across all marques (particularly MG cars)? Or is it supposed to be a modern enhancement to bring out the "best" (by modern perception) of what BRG "should be"?

I may sound petty or picky about such details, but someone recently observed that things posted on my web site often have a way of becoming widely perceived as "the" truth, even though some of it may be openly noted as speculation or opinion or "best information available". I would like to include posting of the proper perspective on this article so we don't end up creating out of thin air "the" original shade of BRG for MGA for all posterity.

Based on historical fact, there would have been a fairly wide variation in color and shade of BRG used on MGA "back in the day". If I had to paint an MGA BRG for concours show, I might grab a bucket of non-descript army olive drab (local army surplus store), mix in a pint or two of something like gloss black (whatever was handy) until the contents of the bucket looked sort of dark green. Then slap that on the car as is, one time only with no further color adjustment allowed, and tell the world this is an exact reproduction of original British Racing Green for MGA (fully expecting that no two cars would ever be the same color).

I haven't seen a sample of your color choice. I might ultimately like it very much, especially in 21st century daylight. But for historical accuracy my prescribed method of mixing the color might be more period correct than yours, maybe (and I've never done it before). All jolly good fun. I enjoy shining a light on the truth occasionally (often?).

In the end I'm with you, and it could be nice (fun and interesting) to perfectly document a single reproducible shade of ("Feeney") BRG that might become a defacto standard for modern MGA repaints. I will trust it is not ugly, but I have to reserve personal judgment on possible "desirability" of the color we might wish to call "proper" BRG until I see it on an MGA. Even then I might ask the opinion of some aging veteran of the sport more experienced than I. After all, I was about 10 years old in the heyday of MGA factory racing, and had never heard of an MGA at that time, so I have no personal memory of color of any BRG car before the paint was allowed to fade.


On 20 October 2006 at 06:42:53 UK time, Mick Anderson, Sydney NSW Australia wrote:
"There was an official MGA BRG. At Abingdon they painted Austin Healeys BRG and used that color to paint two MGA Twin Cams for sale to customers on special order. Also, BRG was a BMC factory color for MGA's built in Australia. The problem is that cars I have seen with the VIN plate showing BRG all seem to have been repainted at some time, possibly with a lighter version. I have a card from the paint supplier for Australian MGA's with a BRG "chip". However, when I scan it I get a result that looks like black."

On Posted 20 October 2006 at 09:18:27 UK time Ray Feeney wrote:
"Barney, -- Those are all good questions that you posed.

You are correct that trying to pick a BRG is complicated by the variability of what was done "back in the day". I do believe that there are two main families (or styles) of BRG. The MG type and the Jaguar type -- and they were very different. I used the formulas and the samples to get a spread of what I believe was covered by the MG type of BRG. I then compared the way the colors behaved in sunlight and calibrated my personal viewing adaptation (how it appeared to me) by spreading out a bunch of similarly prepared samples and looking at them across a variety of lighting conditions. So by this I mean cloudy days, bright sun, twilight, etc. and it was interesting to see what happened to the appearance. I attempted to create a color that was solidly in the spread of what I think the original family bracketed. And one that seemed (to me at least) to exhibit the desirable qualities of the assortment. I wouldn't call it an average, but perhaps more of an optimization based on the behavior of the current chemical composition. (I agree that today’s modern sensibilities do lean towards a flashier two-stage paint that is “wrong” and I was certainly not going for an updated look.) Also, I did not do much with the Jaguar type BRG colors other than to include the formulas since many people prefer that as their personal BRG preference. While the Jaguar type BRG can look good on the 50’s and 60’s era MGs, I think it feels out of place in some disturbing way that I can’t put my finger on.

My hope was that some other adventurous folks on this forum would have a quart of this formulation mixed up, give it a try on some sample material or junk parts, and report back their impressions.

I also included all the OEM codes and the PPG formula numbers for the common BRG choices that have been made in the past – in case anyone wants to compare. I did order the 44644 and the 43342 codes in several paint types other than DCC -- and from a couple of different vendors/manufacturers. Again, I just wanted a sanity check and a way to see if my “optimization” was about as good as I could get. In general, the lead free adaptations of these colors seem to vary wildly.

Although it would be an interesting experiment, I would respectfully suggest that a mixture of olive drab and gloss black that you might mix today would have very little in common with the process that might have been done post WWII -- unless your paints had the same pigments and the same base structure as the originals. Today’s paints may have stability and durability going for them, but the behavior of the colorants is substantially different.

The discouraging aspect that goes along with all this is that I have been informed that all automotive refinishing products are going to switch (by law) to a water based two-stage (color coat followed by a clear coat) system within two years. I can’t get a clear answer as to whether PPG DCC single stage paint will be exempt and still available for antique cars. It may be that all we can accomplish here is to create a new “target color” or reference that we will need to aim for with a totally new approach. If we are forced to use a water based, clear coat stabilized methodology for painting these cars, then the difference in look and feel will most likely be significant. I don’t think that ordering British Racing Green colors by the OEM codes is good enough even today -- with just the change in pigments. I expect that it will get even worse if the base chemistry changes that radically.

In many ways, this is similar to the discussion about the change in formulation of the motor oils. Just because Castrol 20W50 has worked well for 40 years doesn’t mean that one can obliviously use it going forward if the chemistry is now harmful to our cars. Just because a paint has the same code going forward doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have the same appearance as before. In fact, I don’t believe that it has the same appearance that it did 10 years ago – let alone 40 years ago.

And yes, you are correct in your assessment that there is a certain amount of educated guesswork involved in my suggested formulation. But I kept all the pigments the same except for substituting for the lead based yellow. The current yellow substitutes required using more -- as they are not as strong a yellow. This made the color too light which required backing down the white and adding more black.

All I can suggest is that some feedback from testing would be appreciated. No one should ever paint their car without testing and I am attempting to add another choice (that I think is more accurate) into the mix. My suggestion is to test with whatever one was going to try before I posted -- and also with this formulation. The users of this forum are not bashful, and we should get some interesting dialog.

Ray Feeney

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