Stored Dry For 33 Years: 1969 MG Midget

As my first car was this car’s twin (’69 Sprite) when I saw this beauty come up in our finds I knew I wanted to be the one to write it up. The little MG has just been reawakened from a 33-year slumber in a garage and is being sold after having been purchased from its second owner. The car is located in Carthage, New York and is being offered for sale here on eBay, where 50 bids have only taken it up to $1,525 as I write. It seems like there will be a bargain to be had unless bidding skyrockets at the end of the auction, as there’s no reserve.

So let’s look this little car over. There’s scant information provided by the seller, but they do point out the rust around the rear wheel openings. This is a common spot for rust on Midgets and, to be honest, is not that difficult to repair. The rest of the car looks solid and apart from missing one tiny piece of the waistline trim on the driver’s side door post seems complete. And the British Racing Green paint is so iconic!

Although the top has shrunk somewhat, the rear window is clear enough to use, especially after using some Novus polish on it (unsolicited, uncompensated endorsement, the stuff really does work on the soft windows). You can get some here on eBay. The 1969 Midgets still featured the low bumpers, which while stylish, are almost useless against a typical American car of the time (or any current vehicle). There’s a reason those tailights were readily available at the time through JC Whitney; I replaced several. Trivia time: that licence plate light assembly was used on AC Cobras!

Another spot for rust common on these cars is the very front of the hood, and it looks like that may be a minor issue with this car. Again, it’s repairable, but a bit of a pain as it’s boxed in underneath. There used to be patch panels available for that front hood lip, but a quick search found suppliers don’t list it any more or are out of stock at the moment. However, a complete reproduction hood is available for less than $650 here if you don’t want to take a crack at repairing it yourself.

What’s it like to drive one of these very basic sports cars? Imagine a go-kart with good looks. It’s about as difficult to get into as any car I’ve ever owned, especially pulling your legs around that A-pillar to get in and out. But once you are there, everything falls to hand easily. The 1275 cc A-Series engine this one should have is a very willing partner in whatever racing fantasies you want to have as you nip around the block. Brakes are good for the day and handling is also. Of course, there are plenty of “hop up” parts available where you can turn a Midget into a real corner carver, but I think you lose the charm somewhat that way. Another thing to consider is the limitations if you keep the original wire wheels; while specialists still exist (and I highly recommend these folks for those of you on the East coast) you can only put so much tire under there without making modifications. Besides, would you rather drift through a corner at 45 miles per hour feeling like you’re doing 80, or really try to do 80 and risk the wrath of the local police?

We’re told the engine turns over freely and that it was stored with ample antifreeze to keep anything from cracking. If I didn’t have so many projects already I’d be contemplating heading up to tow it home behind our new Roadmaster. Instead, I’ll have to live vicariously through one of you. Just make sure you try the fit on before purchase!

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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Jack points on the rockers are gone. There aren’t any good jacking areas otherwise without damaging something. Would need to see underneath before I’d go after this one. If it’s solid it would be a good mild rebuild project.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Great catch, Bob, I should have noticed that too. Hmmm. I hope that’s not a sign of tons of filler applied!

  2. Gaspumpchas

    Bob And Jamie, correct, Carthage NY is in the rust belt and they get feet of snow up there, so you need to look er over good. Good luck.
    Stay safe and wash yer hands

  3. JohnfromSC

    In 1975 I bought a ’68 in BRC with a black top. Had 68K miles on it and everything already needed to be rebuilt. I learned how to pickle and braze, and fixed the rusted hood and other rust spots. Bought a 67 Sprite with a bad clutch and used it for parts car.

    Mine had headers on that 1275 that really livened it up. I learned many restoration skills on that car.

    My dad surprised me a couple of years into it and while I was on extended business travel, finished the body and repainted the entire car. I held on to it for another 15 years, until my wife convinced me it sat0 so low to other cars that it was death trap ( which they are).

    Besides the memories, I ultimately replaced it with a Jag XK150S and have been blessed to acquire some additional cars through 20 years.

    BTW, My 68 had different seats than these. Are these seats stock?

  4. Pete

    lip of the hood has some rust too. Fairly common. Not as easily fixed as replacement rockers.

    I always jacked under the springs. You might need a 2×4 to raise the car and slide the jack under. The cross member in front was good jacking spot too.

  5. Pat

    So true on the bumpers. I was behind a GTO at a stop light. The girl driving it was new to a clutch and drifted back into me. Her bumper broke both of my turn light lenses….

  6. ccrvtt

    My sister had a ’64 BRG. Very fun car, teaches you how to drive a slow car quickly and makes you appreciate the (relative) power of the MGB. She did a valve job all by herself. I was impressed. Our mom and dad were not and soon bought her a much safer ’68 LeMans. Nice car which she promptly traded for ’68 VW bus. But I digress.

    My friend had a ’67 which soon developed a completely rotted rocker panel on one side. I helped him cut it off completely and screwed in a 2×8 cut to fit the curve of the fender. It was not the last time I used wood in my bodywork fixes but that’s a tale for another time. Suffice it to say there was not a great demand for my talents.

    I found the Midget enormously fun to drive and surprisingly roomy for my 6’3″ frame. The gearbox was a pleasure and very satisfying. A year or so ago we came upon a small caravan of LBCs on the interstate, headed by a Midget. It struck me how absolutely tiny they are especially compared to my C6. I don’t think I’d feel safe driving one any farther than a parking lot.

  7. Jay E.

    ” Besides, would you rather drift through a corner at 45 miles per hour feeling like you’re doing 80″

    No truer words about driving a Midget have ever been spoken!!!

    You would have to own and drive one to know this, and itr is the essence of what makes these cars fun.

  8. Bob Mck Member

    I always liked these. But my fat a– doesn’t fit in one very well. Should have gotten one when I was young and thin.

  9. John

    I can tell you from experience that its pretty easy to have a flat sheet welded over the rocker panels without touching the rotted metal underneath it. if its light gauge metal, it can easily be blended wit the existing cut lines. There’s something going on with the passenger side wheel arch, too. I’d also wonder why there are no photos of the driver’s side of the car. I’ve had four of these little buggers, a mostly 59 Bugeye, a 64 with side curtains, a 69 like this one, and a 70. Each generation was better than the last and none lost any sort of charm. I can’t tell you what it was like to put the top up on the Bugeye. It never had one. The 64 was merely horrible, the 69 and 70 were like heaven, but the tight-fitting top and roll-up windows seemed to make you drive them with the top up all the time. The others would go topless for weeks at a time. its up tp $2000 now. I wonder if the corona-virus check is coming soon???

  10. Will Owen Member

    Dear Bob: Two very large gentlemen in our neighborhood swapped their boring daily driver for a late safety-bumper Midget some years ago, and could be seen regularly happily riding around together until they moved away. If your rear bumper is any bigger than theirs you MIGHT have a problem …

    But one of my own memories was not of a Midget, but of the even more snug Bugeye Sprite, driven by a far-from-skinny USAF doctor on a 200+ mile journey in Alaska, with his wife, his young daughter and I all packed in together. Top down, of course! Yes, I was skinnier then …

  11. Angel Cadillac Diva

    @ Jamie Palmer
    You’re right about getting in and out of these things. When I had my ’72 Midget, I used to tell people, you don’t get out of it….. It gives birth to you.

  12. connbackroads

    I had a 70, a 73, and a 79 (Sun Runner) Midgets. The Sun Runner was very pretty, in aqua blue with silver stripes. I rebuilt the engine and trans in it, and rebuilt the engine in the 70. The 73 had round rear wheel wells, while the other two had the squarish ones. Never did figure out why some were round and others weren’t. The 70 and 73 had 1275’s, and the 79 had a 1500.

    In my teenage and early 20’s stupidity, I enjoyed parking the Midgets or Spitfires (I had two of those) underneath semi trailers that were left alone in the parking lots of stores called Caldors and Bradlees. Both of these stores disappeared a looong time ago.

    I’ve since found myself behind one of these or a Spitfire at an intersection while driving my F350 crew cab. I thank the Lord that I survived driving those legal (but very fun) go-karts. Great memories :-)

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