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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
5750 32000 GBP
  • MG - Midget - 1973

    €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£10,476.50 - £13,619.45 est.) €11,500 - €14,950 est. (£10,476.50 - £13,619.45 est.)
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • MG MIDGET MK ll 1965

    £9,995 £9,995

    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
  • 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
  • MG Midget

    £12,990 £12,990

    Variant name:1300 ,Derivative:MK3 ,Variant: 1974 MG Midget 1.3 Litre 2 Door Sports Coupe We are extremely proud to be able to offer this immaculate 1974 MG Midget 1.3 Litre 2 Door Sport Convertible which is finished in Yellow with contrasting black leather upholstery which is a stunning colour combination in this classic range. No expense spared on this vehicles restoration which has been fully documented in detail with thousands of points worth of receipts, specification includes full black leather upholstery which includes seats and door card panels 13" Polished Chrome Wire Spoke Wheels, Polished Chrome Bumpers & Exterior Handles & Mirrors. Upgraded Alpine CD Stereo with USB & Aux In, Kenwood Speakers, Black Leather Tornaque Cover for Convertible roof, Aluminium & Wood Moto Lita Steering Wheel. This classic 1974 MG Midget has won numerous classic car show awards throughout its life viewing is essential as we are confident there is no better example available on the market that has been restored to such high standards so call us now for more information and to avoid disappointment as first to see will buy !

    • Year: 1974
    • Mileage: 79748 mi
    • 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
  • MG Midget M-Type '29

    €32,000(£29,152) €32,000(£29,152)

    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
  • 1969 MG Midget 1380 by Frontline

    £19,950 £19,950

    This was a very well restored Midget, a car that was enjoyed on sunny days and smiled at by passers by and enthusiasts alike. Then it went to FRONTLINE. They took the Midget to the very edge of what can be done, it is now a breathtakingly quick sports car that darts from point to point like little else. It's tuned engine encourages you to rev it while remaining very easy to use at low speed. The 5 speed gearbox gives it long legs so it can cruise comfortably at speed. This is truly the best of both worlds. The level of finish both inside and out is as high a quality as possible. You wont be smiling, you'll be grinning from ear to ear. Minilite 14" Wheels Limited slip differential Heated windscreen Front and rear disc brakes HID Lighting system Dashboard in piano black Nappa leather Alcantara Heated seats Supporting history £53,000 spent to create what is probably the best pro street Midget in the world.

    • Year: 1969
    For sale
  • MG Midget

    £7,994.99 £7,994.99

    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 £7995.

    • Year: 1967
    • Engine size: 1.3
    For sale
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