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MG Midget: Buying guide and review (1961-1979)

MG Midget: Buying guide and review (1961-1979) Classic and Performance Car
MG Midget Mk3 MG Midget Mk3
The truly affordable new sports car now seems to be a thing of the past, but there was a time when enthusiasts had their choice of cheap fun, exemplified by the Austin Healey Sprite and MG Midget. 
 
From the original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite launched in 1958 through to the final MG Midget 1500 made in 1979, these cars offered cash-strapped sportscar fans some fun on the cheap. And the good news is that they still do, because while many classics have shot up in value so only collectors can afford them, the ‘Spridgets’ generally remain eminently affordable. 
 
Ownership should be painless too; there’s a huge amount of new reproduction parts available, and what isn’t available can usually be be picked up second hand for very little money. Be careful when you are buying a project, as this can often work out more expensive in the long run. 
 

Which MG Midget to buy?

 
Skirting around the very first Austin-Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprites which pose a few different challenges, and are now substantially more expensive (read the full Frogeye Sprite buying guide here), there are a few different options open to suit various budgets. 
 
It is generally easiest to find a Triumph-engined Midget 1500, and this version is often regarded as the best all-round performer in standard form. As these were the last Midgets built (from 1974-1980), they are also generally slightly younger. 
 
The very first Midgets featured 948cc A-series power, and it’s these early models that carry the biggest premium in original condition. From 1962, the engine size increased to 1098cc, however all Mk1 models can be identified easily due to the fact that they feature no external door handles or locks (unless retro-fitted). Unless you are a collector, or specifically want an early example, the later A-series cars are much easier to find.
 
Mk2 and Mk3 models are also much more usable and practical than early cars, as well as being easier to look after and find spares for, and if you don’t like the rubber bumpers of the later cars offer the best compromise. Go for a later 1275cc car for a fun weekend toy.
 
There is of course a huge number of modified Midgets on the market, and these shouldn’t be discounted, especially if you’re looking for a lot of fun on a modest budget. Engine conversions are not uncommon, but obviously you need to use caution and avoid anything lashed up by an amateur at home. There are of course Midgets that have been prepared for track use – just be careful to make sure that all of the FIA paperwork is in order, if you want to go racing.
 

Performance and specs

 
Engine 1275cc, four-cylinder
Power 64bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 72lb ft @ 3000rpm
Top speed 94mph
0-60mph 14.0sec
Fuel consumption 34mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual 
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2032mm
Length 3495mm
Width 1394mm
Height 1235mm
Kerb weight 685 kg
 

Common problems 

 
• The biggest likely problem is a rotten monocoque. What looks like a good car may be full of filler, so take a magnet to check closely. 
 
• Rear spring mounting boxes are located in behind the seats; if these are structurally compromised a lot of welding may be required. 
 
• Next up, you should give the sills a good poke, and inspect the A posts for the dreaded tin-worm. If the gaps between each door and A-post/B-post are even, then everything is probably in good shape. 
 
• The battery tray traps water and quickly corrodes. Watch out for the brake and clutch master cylinder, which can leak brake fluid onto the surrounding bodywork, stripping the paint. 
 
• Rust can attack the boot floor where it’s welded to the rear panel, along with the footwells. 
 
• If the inner sills have rotted badly, repairs will be involved. Similarly, rear wheelarches and lower rear wings often rust, while tatty outer rear wheelarches suggest inner arches that are much worse. 
 
• Aside from the Midget 1500, all Spridgets got BMC’s A-Series engine which is renowned for oil leaks because of its scroll-type rear crank seal. 
 
• Expect noisy tappets and a rattly timing chain. Some people fit a Duplex assembly to quieten it down a bit. 
 
• The A-series can take a lot of abuse, but will need to be rebuilt often. Earlier 948cc engines can generally cover 40k miles before the bearing shells are renewed, while the 1275cc engine will eat its piston rings at around 70k miles. 
 
• A failed headgasket will generally display symptoms, so check for a mayonnaise-like substance in the oil filler cap. 1275cc engines suffer this the most. 
 
• Some cars are fitted with an aftermarket electric fuel pumps. These generally give little trouble, but returning it to the original mechanical system is cheap and easy. 
 
• With the 1500 Midget, the crank, pistons and rings all regularly wear out. Rattles when starting up give the game away, as does oil-burning blue smoke. 
 
• If any Spridget’s gearbox is getting worn it’ll jump out of gear while on the road – rebuilding the gearbox isn’t especially costly. 
 

Model history

 
1958: Sprite MkI introduced with a 948cc engine. 
1961: Sprite MkII and MG Midget are launched. 
1962: A 1098cc A-Series engine replaces the 948cc edition. 
1964: Midget MkII and Sprite MkIII arrive, with more power, wind-up windows and revised dashboard. 
1966: The Midget MkIII and Sprite IV go on sale, with 1275cc engine and a folding roof. 
1969: There are now Rostyle wheels, black sills and slim-line bumpers. 
1971: Sprites now carry Austin badges, but the model dies in July; Midget gets round wheelarches in August. 
1972: An alternator is now fitted. 
1974: Midget 1500 arrives, with rubber bumpers, square wheelarches and all-synchro gearbox. 
1977: Headrests and inertia-reel seatbelts are now fitted. 
1978: Dual-circuit brakes are standardised. 
1979: The final Midget is built in November; the last 500 feature a black commemorative badge. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.ado13.com 
• www.sebringsprite.com 
• www.mgmidgets.net 
• www.austin-healey-club.com 
• www.austinhealeysprite.org 
• www.mgcars.org.uk/midgetspriteclub 
• www.mgownersclub.co.uk 
 

Summary and prices

 
Frogeyes are the most expensive models to buy, average cars starting at around £12,000. Mint examples will range from £15,000-£22,000. At the other end of the scale is the Midget 1500, which is the cheapest at around £4000 for a great usable example. Project cars can still be picked up for less than £1000, while a rough-and-ready car an be found from around £2000. All other Sprites and Midgets fit somewhere in between these two price points, with older cars generally more valuable than newer examples. 
 
It’s generally accepted that the later Triumph-engined Midget 1500 is a great all-rounder – due to being the best developed. As the cheapest model, they’re still a bit of a bargain, and shouldn’t be discounted. It’s also worth noting that although later Sprites are rarer, and look slightly better than the MG, they’re not actually valued any higher. 
 
There were many different tuned-up cars built in period, such as the Speedwell or Downton cars. Although they have a following, they aren't worth significantly more than standard cars. They're worth seeking out all the same though. Besides, if values of these cars ever start to climb significantly, it’s likely that these rarities will fetch more of a premium.
MG Midget Mk3 MG Midget Mk3
Last updated: 31st Aug 2016
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MG Midget
2795 32000 GBP
  • Lot 1173

    MG Midget

    £3,000 - £4,000 est. £3,000 - £4,000 est.
    Auction Date: 19 Nov 2017
    RESERVE PRICE
    Tennants Auctioneers
    • Year: 1979
    Auction Date: 19 Nov 2017
    £3,000 - £4,000 est. £3,000 - £4,000 est.
    Auction Date: 19 Nov 2017
    RESERVE PRICE
    Tennants Auctioneers
    +44(0)1969623780 View contact number
  • MG Midget MK 111

    POA POA

    £3750 First registered as PMJ 6M to Mrs M Hunter of Greenfield , Beds on the 1st May 1974, having been sold through Kennings of Bedford, from the small amount of documentation available, the Midget appears to have spent it’s life in Bedfordshire as confirmed by MOT’s on file from 1986 to 2016. The majority of the miles being covered in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. We would therefore believe the present indicated mileage of 52190 to be correct. Being a later production MK 111 Midget it has the later body style with rounded rear wheel arches. The Midget appears to have been off the road between 1994 and 2015 as according to the MOT records only 249 miles were covered in the intervening 21 years, with only 573 miles recorded from 1994 to date A low mileage two owner MG Midget which has evidently been partially restored in the last three years, with work being carried out to the floor and body work,at some stage a replacement engine has been fitted. It is in overall good condition, and could be improved upon by a new owner. The car has been resprayed in the original colour in recent years, there are some blemishes and small dents in the paintwork, the underside has had any necessar

    • Year: 1974
    • Mileage: 52190 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • MG Midget Cabriolet 1970

    €17,950(£0) €17,950(£0)

    MG Midget 1970 Split Bumper, fully restored This is a 1970 MG Midget Split Bumper.The car was fully restored in Holland and is in excellent condition. A lot of pictures and invoices of the restoration are present. The 4 cyl engine was fully revised also. This MG drives great. Car has Holland title and mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any import taxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
    €17,950(£0) €17,950(£0)
  • MG MIDGET MK ll 1965

    £8,995 £8,995

    Finished in Tartan Red with contrasting black interior and white piping. Sold by ourselves some years ago and previously subject to a full repaint, including engine bay, boot and engine detail new interior and hood. Only covered four hundred miles and been very carefully and correctly stored since this refurbishment.;Recently tested, this stunning example is now ready for a new owner to use and have some fun!!

    • Mileage: 16768 mi
    • Engine size: 1.098
    For sale
    £8,995 £8,995
  • MG Midget Cabriolet 1972

    €14,950(£0) €14,950(£0)

    MG Midget cabriolet 1972 Teal Blue, wire wheels This ‘Round Wheel Arch’ MG Midget was delivered on August 28th 1972 and the car is in Holland since 1998. Here the car was restored by a MG fan and hobbyist. Both the in- and outside are in beautiful condition. The car has Teal Blue paint, combined with chrome wire wheels and a black leather interior, a very nice combination on this British classic car. The 4 cyl engine is connected to the 4 speed manual gearbox. This is a great car to drive thanks to the compactness and low weight. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1972
    For sale
    €14,950(£0) €14,950(£0)
  • 1971 MG Midget

    £5,750 £5,750

    GWY 220J was first registered on the 1st January 1971 and is finished in British Racing Green with Black upholstery and original Rostyle wheels. From correspondence in the history file we know the MG has been in the North of England since 1977. From 1977 to 1992 the MG was in Thirsk, North Yorkshire before being sold to a new owner in Leeds. During the late 1990's the MG was in Newcastle, later Sunderland, Cheshire and most recently one of our Yorkshire based regular customers. We know the MG was off the road for several years from 2005 but in 2010 when changing hands, the MG was treated to some mechanical re-commissioning work. We have receipts detailing various work to include fitting a lead free cylinder head, new water pump, new heater hoses and new ignition items. In 2012 the brakes were overhauled with new wheel cylinders and brake shoes and there are also invoices in 2013 for a new clutch, starter ring gear, spigot bushes, clevis pins, bolt and bush release arms and a new pedal box. Since the above work the MG has been covering relatively low mileage and has been continually improved. Having had the various mechanical re-commissioning work, in 2015 the MG was treated to a pr

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
    £5,750 £5,750
  • MG Midget MK III Roadster 1974

    €19,950(£0) €19,950(£0)

    MG Midget MK III Roadster 1974 fully restored Between 2016 and 2017 this MG Midget was fully restored. Originally this car was delivered in 1974 and in the meantime the car has a beautiful and fully new Damask Red paint. A beautiful combination with the chrome. Technics fully revised, a lot of invoices of this are present. Thanks to the complete restoration the Midget drives really great. The interior has new black leatherette and a beautiful original dashboard. This MG is ready for a lot of magnificent rides. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1974
    For sale
    €19,950(£0) €19,950(£0)
  • MG Midget M-Type '29

    €32,000(£0) €32,000(£0)

    Lowered price from €36.950 -> €32.000 In October of 1928, the M Type Midget was launched at the Motor Show at Olympia Motor Show in London. Even early on, it was easy to see that the 10-foot long, two-seater M Type would be successful, especially due to the immediate demand from the public. It wasn't until 1929 that the car finally went into full production, utilizing mainly Morris components with slight modifications. Since there wasn't enough time to allow for more individual components to be designed and manufactured, along with the pressure to get the car on show at Olympia was the reason for the similarity. The body of the M Type was light, and very simple, with a fabric construction on a wooden frame. Carbodies of Coventry fabricated the distinctive boat tail design separately and joined it with the chassis at the MG factory in Abingdon. The boat-tailed Midget was designed to compete with the Austin Seven sports models and other similar small sporting vehicles. A four cylinder unit with a two bearing crankshaft, the engine had an overhead camshaft driven through two sets of bevel gears and a vertical shaft. This shaft continued through the vertically mounted dynamo and double

    • Year: 1929
    For sale
    €32,000(£0) €32,000(£0)