Tire Kicking: 1976 MG Midget

1976-mg-midget

This is a new feature idea that we would like to give a shot. We are going to go out and look at cars that are listed for sale here locally and give you our opinion of them. “Tire kicking” may be frowned upon in our circle, but we will try to keep it to cars that we are actually interested in buying or that we think could find a buyer here on the site. We figure that it will provide a good opportunity to talk about what to look for when buying a classic car and heck, it might even be fun. Please let us know what you think.

1976-mg-midget-side

Our first “Tire Kicking” feature is this 1976 MG Midget. I heard about this car from my sister-in-law. It is owned by her father who took it as payment about a decade ago from somebody who owed him money. He drove it for a while, but circumstances pushed it to the backyard. And there it sat for a decade. Leaves blew in and the grand kids poked holes in the top. Once a bundle of back road fun, this British roadster may now be destined for the scrapheap. Rubber bumper MGs may not be my favorite sports car, but I took pity on it and went to take a look.

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The owner wasn’t excited to give me his asking price though because he was worried that after dragging it home, I might become enraged at him for selling me a money pit. At least he was honest and realistic. I assured him that no back biting would ensue as long as he didn’t get mad at me for making a low offer. After pulling the blue tarp back and brushing some of the wet leaves off the car, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be a quick fix. The rust did look minimal, but it was still going to take a lot to get this low buck beater back on the road.

Fearing that it would cost more than it would be worth in the end, I reluctantly made an offer of $500. He didn’t seem offended in the least bit by my low ball. After talking a little more he finally gave up the silence and stated that $1,500 was what he was hoping to get. I told him that I would think about it. Well, I have thought about it and I think my offer wasn’t all that bad. This car has been stored outside in the elements for many years. The tarp has held in moisture so there is no telling how much rust is working its way to the surface. The top is trashed, the interior is shot, and the mechanical condition of the car is unknown (the engine does still have oil in it though and seems to turn freely). Hagerty values a #4 car at $2,500, but this one has a long ways to go before it’s anywhere near a #4.

1976-mg-midget-rear

With that said, I still hope someone saves this poor Midget. It’s currently teetering right there between being a good project and being too far gone to save. A few more years out there in the wind and rain and there won’t be much worth saving. In its current state though, some elbow grease and a Moss catalog could get it back on the road. The whole process will be painful and you probably won’t come out ahead financially, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you saved a classic British roadster. It’s best that someone else saves this one though because we don’t want any family rifts if it does turn out to be a lemon…

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Comments

  1. Doyler

    Does it come with a leaf blower?

    • Jesse Staff

      It should! The nasty things had worked their way down into the lips of the hood and trunk and turned to mud. Luckily, all that grim hasn’t been sitting there long enough to cause major rust problems (that we could see anyway), but it won’t be long before this Midget starts to return to the elements. Next time we do a “tire kicking” feature we will be sure to take more photos!

    • Ralph Cozart

      That looks like one I got here in Myrtle Beach for $500. Two years of work and about $4000 in new parts and I drove it to work today. Too bad it isn’t worth as much as I have in it, but it is really fun to drive. Parts are easy to get from Moss and Victoria British.

      Like 1
  2. sunbeamdon

    It’d be nuts to buy this one; leaf it for the squirrels

    Like 1
  3. Leo

    So here is my niche area as i have owned, bought, and parted out a lot of sprites and midget. My offer on this car would probably land in the $250.00 – $500.00 dollar area. It would all depend on a closer examination.

  4. Maestro1 Member

    My sense is the investment in the car doesn’t matter if it will be kept for a while.
    As long as the owner is not in this Hobby for the money he’ll be fine. It’s about the rescue, and the joy of ownership thereafter.

    Like 2
    • Jesse Staff

      Well said Maestro!

      • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

        Ditto, Jesse ! I bought my MGB in 1977 ? Nothing fantastic for $1,500.00. I bought it for the experience not the payout. Had it for 10 years, had the softtop on the car maybe twice. Maybe drove it sporadically in the winters with a factory hardtop. Does everything have revolve around money ?!

    • Horse Radish

      Wow, like a true, a REAL car enthusiast ??.

      • Woodie Man

        @HorseRadish

        lol

  5. DT

    Where else ya gonna get 3 windshield wipers for that kinda money?

  6. Patrick McC.

    Gosh, I hope someone saves it. I know it’s a rubber bumper model but those can be a more affordable way for people to own a British roadster. It even looks like most of that paint can buff out. I think I over payed on my “Not Even a Tarp: 1964 Midget” but golly, it was worth it!

  7. jim s

    yes i like the idea of BF going out looking at vehicles and posting the results with a lot of good photos. as for this car, go back with cash in hand and a trailer, the sell would be wise to take an offer. glad it is not close. great find on the midget and idea.

  8. jimbosidecar

    I like the idea of searching out locally for sale cars and posting them here. My 2 cents…

  9. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    As a Triumph guy, that’s a Spitfire engine/tranny donor (JUST KIDDING, I like MG’s too…). Very few of the Midgets had overdrive (look for a toggle switch on the shift knob) but if it does, that’s well over your asking price right there. Just make sure you fit! The damage to my knees from seeing how short you can make a Spitfire has meant that getting in/out of Spridgets is a real issue for me now…

    • Stewart

      No midgets ever had overdrive! However some have been modified to have it fitted, the transmission tunnel needs to be widened and the crossmember cut out to get it in

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks, Stewart–I had seen a few with it, thought they came that way! :-)

  10. james g

    Well we could all just buy an Alfa Romeo right?
    Alfa runs in my blood

  11. alan

    Those hubcaps seal the deal.

  12. Horse Radish

    To stay with the theme:

    Don’t kick the tires too hard.
    I don’t think they can take too much of a beating anymore !

    BTW here in CA this would not sell, first year of smog cars.

  13. Julian

    In the UK you can get a bumper conversion kit to get back to chrome – or no bumpers.

    This was the best Midget model with wind up windows, better windscreen, better heating etc. A pity to see it scrapped.

  14. jim s

    try showing this 1978 midget ( ebay # 221675792680 ) with a BIN of $1650 to the seller.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Nice car/easier project, that is for sure. Sold with an accepted offer. Makes this BF subject look very bad by comparison…..

  15. Scott Allison

    I agree.. this little jewel needs to be saved!
    1500.00 isn’t to bad of a starting price… get him down to 1100.00.
    I just wish I could fit my 6’3″ 230lb body into one of these!
    Putting one of the chrome bumper conversion kits into it would make all the difference.

  16. stuart

    The idea of highlighting local cars is great, I feel like I’ve already benefited from that as I live in Raleigh, NC and apparently one of your contributors is from the area as you frequently show local cars. Of course its kind of a car dude hazard, much better to be tempted at a distance from a Barn Find from Bozeman, Montana than just down the road!!! Keep up the great work!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Stuart, that’s me…I just moved from south of Garner to Fuquay-Varina. :-)

  17. erikj

    I love the idea, This will be good to see what pops up.jessie how do I upload picks to your site . I live in Washington and can provide lots of neat stuff. you should have my email and send it there. I just bought a 66, aloha camper from a x body guy he has like ten garages full of cars and trucks he collected and fixed for years and its all for sale. He says he has a 426 hemi up in a loft. gona see it this weekend. erikj

    • jim s

      please do send photos and details. thanks

  18. John

    I like it.

    I’m with Maestro1. This is one of those cars that never, even when brand new, made any sense at all. But still, millions of us have owned and loved them. I’d buy this one in a heartbeat if I could figure out how to get it to Florida without spending more than the purchase price. I bet there wasn’t another new car anywhere in the world in 1978 that still used kingpins in the front suspension.

  19. RoughDiamond

    Searching out local cars and posting them here helps to educate the Barn Find Community as a whole and it’s great that you are willing to undertake that challenge. I think as long as you are up front with the seller(s) as you have been in this instance, there’s no reason for the seller to be upset. My guess is when you told the seller you would think about it, you either called him back or went back to let him know of your decision. I certainly hope so. If had a nickel for every “let me think about it and I’ll call you back or let you know” I wouldn’t be quite as poor as I am now.

    • Jesse Staff

      Yep, I called him back to let him know that I wasn’t willing to pay $1,500 for it, but that I would like to feature it here on the site to see if anyone else would. He was happy with that plan. So, if anyone really is interested here, I have a feeling he would take a grand for it.

  20. Woodie Man

    Great idea with the Tire Kicker feature. Keep the cars “old”

    Maybe it’s my age but the Midget seems kind of new! Personally I think the in laws valuation is a bit high. Then again I guess he doesnt think a car should run for 1500.00! But I do.

  21. Alan (Michigan)

    Circa 1978 or 79,

    Living in a neighborhood on the E side of Dayton, OH, mixed houses and apartment buildings from the 40’s, 50’s….

    Halloween, a neighbor across the street was pissed off to come out in the morning and find that kids had rolled his Midget, which was parked on the street, up onto its’ right side on the grassnext to the curb. I’d have been PO’d too! Fortunately, it appeared as though the damage was minimal. Several of us helped him put it back on the wheels. Guess the vandals could not resist, as it was pumpkin orange.

    He was the second owner of the car, said it had one unique feature, that the Original Owner had promised that he did not do: The nameplate letters low behind the front wheels were installed to read “MIGDET”. A factory worker’s joke? We’ll never know……

    My brother had a ’67 Sprite. Fun car for a college kid.

  22. Larry

    It would be worth more if the hubcaps were thrown away.

  23. cory

    ive bought a lot of mgs, and I think $500 is right on the money. if it were running, driving and stopping maybe $1500. this would have to be a buyer that really wanted this particular year and was willing to throw money at it blindly. the 75-76 were some of the least desirable.

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