No Small Project… 1977 MG Midget

I am by far a British car enthusiast. My heartstrings get pulled at the sight of a forlorn MG or Triumph, and my mind tries to grasp a logical reason as to why I should or shouldn’t just walk away. To say it is a good thing my wife usually doesn’t let me go out of the house alone for fear of another “project” taking up space is indeed an understatement. However, the biggest reason that causes me to pause nowadays, is the asking prices people set for vehicles that just are not really worth it. Take this 1977 MG Midget up for sale in Maine, as found here on Craigslist. The seller is asking $1000 for the car, which may not seem like a huge sum, the reality is that as common as these Midgets are, something far better can be found for a little more money.

The seller is very short on description, so I assume they figure the pictures will do the talking. This particular example is a rubber bumper model, that while not as aesthetically pleasing as the steel bumper cars certainly the Midgets fared better than their MGB brothers. Speaking of bumpers, this one shows the usual greying dullness and sagging rubber that afflicts so many of these small sports cars. Replacements can be found, or steel bumper kits can be bought, however, they are quite expensive and body modifications need to be made in order to fit them. The paint on this Midget is worn and surface rust is showing through all over the body. Normal dents and dings are noticeable and the rear wheel arches look as though rust is setting in along the lower portions.

The trunk shows fairly solid at first glance. However, when the picture is enlarged, it appears that there is stagnant water lying on either side of the wheel wells. The condition of the rear trunk liner also exhibits the telltale sign of water damage, it is a real possibility that this car has been sitting outside uncovered or without a top for some time. The underside of the vehicle is a complete mystery and no mention of its condition is mentioned. Unfortunately the way these rust, it is imperative to take a good look to be sure the frame is usable, and that the floorboards are even there anymore. While there are no interior shots of the car, what can be seen on the profile pictures, is that the seats are missing and again, no mention of them are provided.

The 1500cc power plant is shown in what appears stock configuration. No word on whether it turns over is once again mentioned. The positive is that these are simple engines to fix, and parts are never a worry. In fact, just about every piece needed to restore these cars is available for reasonable prices. The question is, however, is this car worth the $1000 asking price when it will cost at least 10x that just to moderately restore it. Perhaps the seller will drop the price and a slow restoration could take place, or at worst you could have a decent parts cars. What are your thoughts?

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Comments

  1. AMCFAN

    At my local recycling center (I say recycling as that’s what we call it. They buy all types of metal and deal with industrial scrap like cardboard and plastic)

    They buy cars and trucks too. Not long ago someone hauled in three MG’s one a fastback with wires and two Midgets like the one above.I have in the past rescued a few but just no interest in the MG’s. The price would be right but the costs to just to get them operational would far outweigh their value. I believe they are gone now. If interested it would be best to buy a nice one.

    I remember as a kid my uncle bought a new 72 MG. Later my dad bought a new 74 Fiat Spider 124. The 74 Spider was unique for being the last chrome bumper model before the energy absorbing units. I remember their conversations well. The MG got about 20 mpg. Ran like a turd. Always having frequent issues kept my uncle down. Parts were expensive.

    The Fiat at the time was a superior car over the MG. The fit and finish and how it ran and looked. Just like an Italian sports car. My dad never had the issues my uncle had. He hung onto it long after my uncle gave up on the MG. Dad ended up selling it to a friend. Wasn’t too long afterward Fiat exited the US. Talk about selling at the right time! He still talks about it though.

    Not interested in revisiting the past although the Fiat is still attractive to me. If wanting a little sports car I would buy a Miata. The Japanese simply perfected it!

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  2. Howard A

    I have a buddy that had a Midget like this, Jeez, we had a lot of fun with that car. This a great way to get into a British sports car. Tons of parts around, little anemic on a highway, I mean, like the 80 mph madness, but for little drives on 2 lanes, a barrel of fun. It will do 60, no problem. Once, my buddy took an entrance ramp too fast, and spun the car sideways and killed the motor. It’s a miracle nobody came around that ramp until he got it going again. That wasn’t too much fun, but I was told, you’ll rarely roll one of these, just spin out, and we sure did. Check underneath on these, terrible rusters, especially if they sat outside, and lose the corny bumper. I see the air pump is froze, typical. I pulled all that junk off my MGB. I remember when the pump froze on mine( breaking the belt),all of a sudden, it stopped backfiring between shifts and idled properly. If I had the space,I’d jump on this.
    And I’m not targeting you, AMCFAN, but I respectfully disagree, the Fiat , I feel, was not superior to ANY British roadster. Again, your results may vary, but I had a friend that worked at a Fiat dealer in the late ’70’s, and the #1 car in the repair bays(and lined up outside)was the Fiat 124. I had great luck with my MGB.

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    • Klharper

      Sorry Howard, but as a PE and a mechanic the MG does not hold a candle to the Fiat. I have owned both as well as Triumph, and the Italians designed and built a much better low cost sports car than the Brits. Not even close.
      Unfortunately this one is probably just a parts car

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      • Howard A

        Now come on, not even close? I appreciate your passion for Fiats, heck, millions of Europeans can’t be wrong( unless they’re still doing the WW2 thing). I grant you this, the motor is certainly better than the old pushrod motor, transmissions, little things, door handles, window cranks, gauges, shocks that come apart, and had none of those issues with my MGB, really, I put over 250K on that MG, and you can drive what you want, but I wouldn’t touch a Fiat with a ten foot pole. And since I mentioned the WW2 thing, it was the Brits mechanical engineering that helped win the war. Can’t argue that and I personally thank them.

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      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Come on Howard. I’m a big Brit fan and owner, how do you even compare an MG engine that is just this side of agricultural, and an old design with very limited future possibilities to Fiat’s twin cam?

        I had a twin cam MG, eventually sorted it out but even that had forward design issues.

        The rust issues of the Fiat, along with panel procurement and fit, dwarf the MG issues though.

        Bouncing Betty’s aside, British engineering wasn’t that helpful……….

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      • Howard A

        If you read the post, I mentioned the engine was more advanced, but I wouldn’t give you a nickel for the rest of it. ( clearly people aren’t reading these posts, as someone should be agreeing with me by now). You say agricultural like it’s a bad thing. Talk to me when your twin cam belt breaks, sending your precious Fiat motor to the promised land and the MG chugs by. And another thing, does the airplane “Spitfire” mean anything? Sorry, Ross, usually I like your posts, but you shook up my soda on this one.

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      • Howard A

        I apologize, Ross, I kind of singled you out there, we visit the same sites, so the last thing I want is an enemy. People like certain cars for certain reasons, and we’ll have to leave it at that. Let’s save our bickering for a Fiat thread, :)
        I comment on cars I only have experience with, and had terrible experiences with Fiats, I can’t recall one good one( except maybe the Fiat Dino) but if you like them, that’s fine. There’s nothing you or anyone else could say, that would change my mind on Fiats, just like I can talk all day of the merits of the British, and probably not convince you either. Peace,,,oh, btw, I believe the “Bouncing Betty” was a German invention.

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  3. Ben T. Spanner

    What parts are there? As a previous owner of more than 20 British cars, and 2 Fiats; they all go bad in the same places. My friend had an MG repair shop for decades, the remaining good spare parts were some doors and deck lids. The rest were worn out or rusted out.
    This vehicle has a shot body and an emission control Spitfire motor of unknown condition. (The late Midgets used a 1500 Triumph Spitfire motor, as the 1275 could not be enlarged to make up for power loss from the poorly designed emission controls.) If you want a Midget get an metal bumper example with a 1275. As always, buy the most rust free you can afford. Safety Fast. (MG motto)

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  4. Gordon

    As a one-time owner of a 71′ Midget and a 74′ MGB , I would always pick a MG over a FIAT. Simply because a FIAT mainly appealed to the ladies. That being said I would. like to throw a vote to my “favorite ” Foreign car that I also owned in that time period which was, this should start something, a 1972 Renault R-12. Not a convertible but a front wheel drive 4 dr r speed whicb was really fun car to drive and had plenty og speed with the Lotus engine. And…

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  5. angliagt

    I don’t get why this was posted here.A rusty rb Midget?
    I have a cb ’74 Midget,& love these cars,but don’t think this one
    warrants posting here.

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  6. Howard A

    Back to the Midgie, I know how that deck lid got bent. That trunk stay up thing, sometimes wouldn’t release, and people tried closing it anyway, bending the trunk lid.

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  7. Boatman Member

    I restored a ’67 Midget back in ’78. I’ve owned 100’s of cars, and that MG is the only one I had to fix every time I drove it!

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  8. Little Cars

    I have the British car virus pretty bad these days. Always carry a small tool kit and spares when we take our cars out for a drive. I’ve only been stuck once and was able to do a fuel pump swap along the roadside and was back to smiling in thirty minutes.

    This Midget should be a giveaway car. I have been offered and purchased far better for far less money. There has been a similar grade rubber bumper 1500 Midget on the local Craigslist for over 6 years with a seller who will not budge off of his $600 ask. It will just degrade into the earth before being used for anything but a few pieces of trim.

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