Cheap Sports Car: 1978 MG Midget

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This little gem should bring back some good memories to those of us who remember MGs running around all over the place in the 1970’s. Introduced in 1961 as a more expensive version of the Austin Healey “Bugeye” Sprite, the MG Midget was a low cost two seat sports car which turned out to be a good commuter car. This example is listed here on eBay at no reserve in Southern California and is currently bid to $978.  That is correct, it has not even reached $1,000.

Now before you get too excited, this car is a project. The interior is shredded and the dash is cracked. The car also has no brakes but does start and run. The exterior paint on the car appears to be faded and is showing signs of rust. Originally equipped with the most powerful engine put in a Midget, the 1,493 cc four cylinder engine produced 65 bulk horsepower and more torque than the prior generation Mk III Midget. Zero to sixty in this little wonder was around 12 seconds. After loading up the little engine with US emissions, the US version is said to produce only 50 horsepower.

MG Midgets were equipped with a Morris Marina 4 speed transmission and the car was capable of almost reaching 100 mph. With that said, these cars were built for fun not speed. The car is being sold by a California donation entity but the ad description has more legal wording than information about the car! The odometer shows 93,000 miles.

There were over 73,000 of the last generation of MG Midgets (1974-1980) produced before production ended in 1979. I had a friend in high school that had a MGB and I was surprised that I could fit in it but there was plenty of leg room. Who has some stories to share about their MG Midget experiences?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Might take a real expert on the later Midgets but the 1500 engines came out of the Spitfire with what I thought was the Spitfire transmissions. Grabbed a few of these for running gear parts for the race cars but the engine and transmissions all went to Spitfire guys. They had 3.9 and 3.7 rear gears and upgraded axles that made parting one out all worth while for racing.

    Like 4
  2. CCFisher

    Am I the only one who thinks that these look like they’re wearing fake mustaches?

    Like 3
  3. hatofpork

    One thing to look out for with the 1500 engine is the forward thrust bearing-they sometimes disintegrate with disastrous results (so I’ve read).

    Like 0
    • Arfwoof

      The thrust bearings aren’t held in by anything and when they wear, they have a habit of falling into the oil pan letting the crank drift back and forth. A good way to check, is to use a pry bar to see if the crank moves. I had one of these , and it rode much better than my Bugeye ( but wasn’t near as much fun).

      Like 1
  4. Mr.BZ

    I was 17 and living in Arkansas, and wanted a sports car so bad I couldn’t stand it. The Zs were out of my price range, so I was desperately jumping at every cheap option that came along. I forced my 6’3 frame into a 71(?) Midget one day and took a test drive. It was fun, but in a clunky, noisy extremely slow kind of way and I scratched it off my list. It took 2 marriages/divorces and 24 more years before i got my sports car, hope this one finds a good home!

    Like 4
    • Jerry

      What sports car did u buy after 24 years?
      How do u like it?

      Like 1
  5. Jcs

    Very cute but not a GS 455.

    Peace

    Like 0
    • KEVIN L HARPER

      Yes it doesn’t get frightened when it sees a curve in the road.

      Like 3
      • Donek

        Nice! :)

        Like 0
  6. Solosolo UK ken tilly UKMember

    Surely not a Spitfire engine and transmission for an MG “bobhess” as they were two different manufacturers, British Motor Corp. for Austin/Morris/MG etc. and Triumph Motors for Spitfire/TR 2’s/Stags etc.

    Like 0
    • KEVIN L HARPER

      It was all BL British Leyland by this point. The 1500cc engine is technically a Standard Triumph motor and used by both in the spit and midget

      Like 5
  7. bobhess bobhessMember

    Need to brush up on your history ken. Been working with these cars since the ’60s and presently race two Bugeye Sprites, one that’s been on the track since 1974. The long history of the British sports cars is almost more interesting than the cars themselves. We’re members of the Austin Healey Club of America and their monthly publication, Healey Marque Magazine, has been publishing the history of the British automobile over the past three years. The stuff that went on from about ’48 through the early ’80s is pretty exciting reading and covers the problems of mixing industry and politics and the final collapse of the British automobile industry itself.

    Like 5
  8. 200mph

    BMC merged into Triumph, creating “British Leyland”. Their Midget 1500 shares its engine with the Spitfire, and its trans with the Spit and the Austin Marina.
    The 1500 was not the most powerful engine ever in the Midget, that honor goes to the A-series 1275 of 1967.
    These are fun to drive but not fast, and all parts are available new or used. Those rubber bumpers are 120 pounds of “road hugging weight”, many owners ditch them and bolt on earlier fenders.
    Breakup value of this one is more than the amount bid.

    Like 3
  9. 200mph

    Now seeing it sold for $2185 with fees. No longer a bargain, but fair to all.

    Like 1
  10. Richard

    I listed after these as an 18 year old kid. I still find them attractive. Driving one has got to be fun.

    Like 0
    • Richard

      * lusted, not listed

      Like 1
    • Jerry

      Too slow…..my 2007 Pontiac Solstice manual with 177hp is fun….0-60 in 7 seconds is fast enough to be fun……imop of course.

      Like 0
  11. Dan

    Sold for $2000. Sweet!

    Like 0
  12. Little_Cars

    “stories to share about their MG Midget experiences?” Not a dang one, sorry. LOL If this sold above $2k, that’s about all the money for the last of the Midgets in this shape. I was gonna write that the shell might be worth the cost of admission being in California then saw the bubbling rust behind the rear fenders….fixable, but costly if done right. I’m glad the purchase price went to a charity. I would have bid if the car was several hundred miles closer to me.

    Like 1
  13. Christopher Gentry

    Wish I could something like that in Tennesse for around a grand. Be in my garage tomorrow morning.

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      Where in Tennessee are you Christopher Gentry? I’m in Summertown. Lots of similar Midgets and Bs still hiding around here for hundreds of dollars.

      Like 0
      • Jerry

        If u find any 69 or 70 AMXs for a couple hundred dollars let me know!! 😁
        I’ve owned over 75 cars but never a AMX!

        Like 0
      • Little_Cars

        Jerry, there’s a difference between the “throwaway” sports cars like MG Midget verses an AMX. Although there may be some hidden under brush in the rural area I live in. Bear in mind, the hundred dollar MGs I find are typically best suited to surround potted plants or left with their tops down in the middle of someone’s back yard.

        Like 0
  14. Kelly Breen

    I’m working on my Midget today…. Hopefully on the road this summer. They are a fun simple car.
    They are a LOT more expensive in Canada.

    Like 1
  15. Claudio

    I seriously dont see / understand why someone would put any energy on this underpowered carburated 4 speed boat anchor when miatas and mr2 and z3 are a dime a dozen for wayyy more bang for the $

    Like 1
    • Solosolo UK ken tilly UKMember

      I will take a Midget over a Miata, MR2 and a Z3 if they were all in the same condition any day. Your last statement says it all “MR2 and Z3 are a dime a dozen etc.” Sums up your modern cars in two seconds.

      Like 2
      • Jerry

        The Pontiac Solstice are getting pretty rare…..only made 4 years….I have a 2007 Red in excellent condition with 52,000 miles on it….5 speed manual 2.4 177hp….quick and fun to drive.
        I always thought the Solstice was the best looking roadster after the Ford Cobra.

        Like 0

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