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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 cars for sale

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MG Midget
5900 18495 GBP
  • 1976 MG Midget

    POA POA

    First introduced in Monte-Carlo by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) on 20th May 1958 and intended as a low-cost model, the Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, which received a royalty payment from the manufacturers BMC. The low cost of £669 was achieved by using a mildly tuned version of the A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible. Manufactured at the MG sports car factory at Abingdon, it was not surprising that the success of the design would lead to an MG version, which was known as the Midget. The final version of the Austin Healey Sprite arrived in 1966, as the Mk IV. The new model now used a twin carburettor 1275cc version of the proven A-Series engine which it shared with other BMC models such as the Mini Cooper S. Another major improvement was the addition of a folding hood; previous models consisted of a separate hood cover and frame. In 1969, a 'British Leyland' makeover was applied to the Sprite, consisting of matt black paint on the sills, Rostyle wheels and a plastic front grill. In 1974, to meet US federal regulations, large black plastic bumpers were added to the front and rear and the ride height was increase

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
    Historics at Brooklands
  • 1970 MG MIdget

    £9,950 £9,950

    * Last keeper 10 years * Original colour * HeritageCertificate * Manufactured Late Dec 1968 * Delivered to University Motors April 1969 * Sway bar, heater, spoked wheels fitted as extras by University Motors * G-AN4/68337G - car / chassis number * 12 CE/DA-H/4232 engine number * Maniflow Exhaust and Manifold * WOSP Starter Motor * Electronic Ignition * Electronic Fuel Pump (SU) * Ominbob Panoramic Hard Top * Tonneau Cover * Soft Top (as new) * Original Lucas Spots * Original Fogs * Radio fitted * Mineral Blue * Undersealed and in good condition

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
  • MG Midget 1275

    POA POA

    An older professional restoration at great expense. Full history. Excellent paint and exceedingly sound. Full weather equipment. Drives as they should, a fun sporty open MG.

    For sale
  • 1970 MG Midget Mk. III

    POA POA

    We are delighted to offer this very well presented and pretty MG Midget that, upon close inspection, presents very well and demonstrates excellent panel shut lines with virtually unmarked paintwork. The standard continues throughout this small sports car with the undersides, interior and under bonnet areas matching its overall smart appearance. It was restored to a high standard in 2003, the works being carried out by AMV 3000 in Hampshire, with a documented cost in the region of £10,000. The quality of these works is still evident today. The MG further benefits from an un-leaded cylinder head conversion, telescopic shock absorber conversion on all four corners, chrome wire wheels, inertia seat belts, Mota-Lita steering wheel and a useful and easily fitted/removed hardtop that compliments the excellent soft top and tonneau cover. On a recent test, the 1275cc engine, with its twin SU carburettors, started easily and soon settled to an even idle. On the road, the little MG performed well and, importantly, the brakes brought the car to rest in a reassuring manner. This UK registered Midget is accompanied by a large file that includes the V5 registration document, old MoT test certific

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • MG Midget

    POA POA

    This mint MG Midget is fully restored, including heritage body shell. The car is as new and drives as such. All but a few MOTs from its first in 1976 to 2006 are with the car. Possibly the best on the market!

    For sale
  • ​1978 MG Midget

    $5,900(£4,573.09) $5,900(£4,573.09)

    Mostly original Glacier white paint still glistens reflecting its garage kept background & the over all appearance of this gently used little roadster defies its 28 years of age. exceptionally nice original interior features all working gauges, factory am-fm radio & heater. spare tire, jack & top boot. The car drives very nicely with no issues, recently consigned by long term owner & driven in over 100 miles away. Owner says time to sell and priced to move. $5,900.00

    For sale
  • MG Midget

    £13,995 £13,995

    MG K Series Midget 1968 We’ve all lusted after an MG Midget over the years. One of Britain’s great sports cars. Compact, yes. Good Looking, yes. Easy to maintain, Yes. 147BHP Yes! Sorry what was that 147BHP? Yes, this 1968 MG Midget was Frontline Developments demonstrator. Its fitted with a K Series 1.8 litre engine, uprated suspension, brakes, and has had a thorough sniff of serious performance enhancing attention. Finished in Traditional British Racing Green and fitted with Grey leather seats, this is one complete and utter head case of a Midget, but as it looks almost standard, makes the most ideal Q Car. This Car has a massive spec: 1.8 Rover K Series Engine 147BHP with Rolling Road Confirmation 260 Fast Road Cams Emerald ECU Aluminium Radiator 5 Speed Type 9 Gearbox Strengthened Chassis Frontline Adjustable Telescopic Shock Absorbers to Front Uprated Anti Roll bar Frontline Adjustable Telescopic Shock Absorbers to Rear Lowered Leaf Springs to Rear uprated to 340lb Anti Tramp Bars Rear Traction Control Links Polybushed all round Limited Slip Diff EN40 Nitrided Half Shafts Double Hub Bearing Kit Customer Made Aluminium Fuel Tank with Anti Slosh Baffles So what we’re talking here is one seriously sorted Midget. 0-60 is reputedly around 6.5 seconds, and it feels like it. But it feels so well sorted on the road. We like outrageous Midgets, but we’ve never EVER had anything like this. This car will be ideal for someone wanting an interesting track day car, or something for Sprints and Hillclimbs. Or better still just for blowing 911’s off on country roads. Nothing will stick with this Midget other than a well ridden motorbike travelling from A to B on country roads. Be in no doubt, Frontline make a seriously well sorted car, and this car is just that. It’s not possible to buy more fun anywhere right now wearing an MG badge for £13995. Go on, you know you want to!

    • Year: 1968
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • MG Midget

    £9,995 £9,995

    What can I say about MG Midgets. Great fun, easy to own, lots of fun, the list is endless. But here we have something a bit different. In fact this MG Midget, is not only special, but completely and utterly outrageous. The car was re-built with a new Heritage shell some time ago, and from the history file it looks like ait was restored from around 2002 to 2007. It was rebuilt in a stripped out form for racing and Hillclimbing. It’s fitted with uprated suspension and braking systems, but more importantly its fitted with a 1275cc Stage Two Engine. This engines comes complete with +40 Pistons Fast Road High Lift Cam Ported Head Oversized Valves. This Midget isn’t only stunning to look at, it’s an absolute blast to drive. I think it’s the quickest Midget we’ve ever had for sale. Are you looking for an MG Midget? Are you looking for something just a little bit different? Look no further this absolutely stunning car could be sat on your drive today for only £9995.

    • Year: 1967
    • Engine size: 1.3
    For sale
  • MG Midget

    £18,495 £18,495

    Here we have on offer a fabulous MG Midget FIA appendix 'K'Historic Racecar. FIA Bar code. Five races since total rebuild. 1098cc Webercarb 12G295 head Omega pistons Engine built by swiftune Close ratio straight cut gearbox Ray Davies Adjustable shockers etc. Ashley hardtop etc...... A competitive car used in the HRDC Historic racing championship and MGCC Ecurie GTS races. Ideal for MGCC /MGOC race meeting, Goodwood and most historic race meetings including gentleman racer events etc, or a great roadcar, outstanding condition Current V5C

    • Year: 1964
    • Mileage: 49600 mi
    • Engine size: 1.1
    For sale
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