Lilliputian Project: 1970 MG Midget

Way back in 1726, Jonathan Swift wrote the book “Gulliver’s Travels.”  It was a satire of the many books written by explorers at the time, all telling more spectacular tales than the last.  In one part of the book the main character ends up shipwrecked and washed up on an island filled with people about six inches tall.  If you’ve ever tried getting into an Austin Healey Sprite or MG Midget like this 1970 model for sale on craigslist in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, I am sure you had your Gulliver moment.  Once inside they are roomy enough, but the climb in makes you feel like a giant in a Lilliputian world.  The good news is that this project car that reader T.J. tipped us to is selling for just $1,000.  Does the small price make this small car more enticing?

The MG Midget can trace its roots back to the beloved Austin Healey Sprite.  Bugeye was the nickname given to the first generation of these cars.   The exposed headlights gave the front end the unmistakable look of a cute frog.  Donald Healey designed the car to be an inexpensive entry level sports car and he succeeded far beyond his hopes.  He made the car inexpensive by making it smaller, using off the shelf components when possible, and by taking away any excess features.  It was as pure a sports car as you could get.

It was that purity that drove the first restyle of the car.  Customers wanted a more conventional car with such creature comforts as roll up windows in contrast to the Sprite’s side curtains.  This change was a double-edged sword.  The restyled car was very popular, but the naked charm of the original was long gone.  To this day the Bugeye is the most coveted version, usually selling for far more than later Sprites.  The same can be said for the basically badge engineered version MG that came to be called the Midget.

While the Austin Healey brand slid by the wayside during the British automobile industry’s ill-fated consolidation, the diminutive MG Midget soldiered on until 1979.  A number of changes happened along the way.  Some were to ease production and use parts already in production with other cars.  Other changes were to make the car more luxurious, although that term may be a little ambitious here.  All of these features bolted to the same basic body structure that had a production life that stretched from the Midget’s 1961 introduction until the last car came off the line eighteen years later.

With that history in mind, some may look at this partially disassembled 1970 Midget as a very small glass half full.  However, let’s look at the possible plusses that this car brings to the table.  First off, parts from other years usually bolt right thus allowing you to make the car your own.  Also, this car is from the more desirable chrome bumper era.  It also was built just before MG briefly rounded the rear wheel openings in 1971.  While this made the car arguably better looking, it also had the ill effect of reducing the structural rigidity of the rear end in the case of an accident.  MG rectified this in 1975 due to US crash standards.

Another huge plus is that with the car being partially disassembled the problem rust areas of the floor, door sills, and trunk are all exposed.  While grainy craigslist pictures should never be used as evidence in a court of law, what we can see looks great.  This appears to be a solid, if small, car.  Adding to the positives is the beautiful burgundy finish on the car.  The ad states that the car was stripped for painting, and we can see that the finish certainly looks good enough to be used without a costly re-painting.  Have you looked at the price of a paint job lately?

Obviously, there is much more work to be done.  Everything not attached to the car is currently residing in multiple boxes and we have no idea what condition these pieces are in.  If the rest of the car is any clue, then they should be in very useable condition.  The seller even tells us that the motor ran great until a wire to the fuel pump got cut while they were stripping the car for painting.  I While I believe these cars came with mechanical fuel pumps, an electric one could have been added later to enhance reliability.

MG Midgets are a great bargain for someone who wants a back to the basics sports car.  These are very small cars that are hard to climb into.  However, they are a very rewarding car to drive and enjoy.  There is nothing like going fast in a small car, especially if you paid a small price for the experience.

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Might have already sold as posting has been deleted. Either way, great basis for a continued rebuild. Note: electric fuel pumps came on the 1098 and 1275 engines up to switching to Spitfire engines in ’75 where they used the manual pumps Triumph engines had originally.

    Like 5
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Ad’s been deleted.That gives me optimism,as I might be
    putting up my ’74 for sale in the near future.

    Like 7
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Nice car angliagt.

      Like 5
  3. Boatman Member

    I’ve owned dozens of cars, and never have I had one break down as much as my ’67 Midget did. Still a fun car to restore and drive.

    Like 2
  4. kyle pellegrino

    Restomod with Miata underpinnings would be cool as hell

    Like 3
    • Lee

      No! It’s a cool car the way it is. I had one, and it was a fun car to drive. This one seems to be in good condition. I’d pay $5k for it. Too bad it was pulled.

      Like 4
  5. Bruce

    My 69 Midget is the best car I have ever owned. But also the one I worked on the most. Something was always breaking down. Not the most reliable wiring for instance. And my fuel pump was electric…yet even though replaced twice, never seemed to work just right. But the clicking and sudden whooshing sound was very important every time I tried to start it…..

  6. Gerard Frederick

    The kack of reliability was the Achilles heel of the entire British car and motorcycle industry. Stuff most people don´t even know a car has broke, it was sometimes nightmarish. I bought a 1962 Midget off the showroom floor at Wolff MG-Volvo in Sebring Fl., (I think it was Sebring) drove it to Chuicago to visit my girlfriend and from there to Ft. Irwin in Ca. I enjoyed the trip immensely.. Once in Ca however electrical things began to go wrong and every nut and bolt had to be tightened at least every 2 weeks. Changing the transmission oil was an impossibility and the carburator floats developed pin hols every 3 months or so.

    Like 1
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    My Midget has actually been very reliable.

    Like 1
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Mine too. Not one mechanical problem in 30 years of ownership, except once it went thru a ‘reluctant to start’ period – mechanic fixed that, and thus it has been a complete gem 98% of the time.

      • Gerard Frederick

        WOW, I must have been snake-bit.

  8. M johnston

    .My midget has been very dependable.

  9. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel_Cadillac_Diva Member

    I had a ’72 Midget off the showroom floor. Harvest gold, black top and interior. Fun car to drive, but not as a daily driver. I was almost run over by a taxi driver in Manhattan, NY.
    Sitting in traffic day after day at exhaust port level will kill ya. I also hated the manual choke. Kept forgetting to push it back in.

  10. grant

    Midgets are easy to get into! Step in wide and drop. Getting out is another thing lol. My buddy and I road tripped my ’76 Midget from St. Helens Oregon to Hoover dam and back a couple months ago. 2457 miles round trip, and no major issues. Can’t wait to do it again.

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