Cheap Toyota-Powered 1964 MG Midget

A friend of mine used to own an MG Midget. He called it his “roller skate” because they were about the same size. Great Britain’s MG built the little Midget sports car between 1961-79 across four generations of essentially the same 2-seater. The later ones were easier to distinguish because of the big rubber bumpers they had to wear in the U.S. The seller has a fairly solid looking 1964 Midget MkI that gained a Toyota motor and transmission at some point. It’s not yet a runner, but we’re told it could be a driver with some work. It’s located along with a parts car in Olympia, Washington and available here on craigslist where both can be had for $1,900. Thanks, David R!

The MG Midget began as a re-badged version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. While the Midget name had been used before, it now only differed from the Sprite in grille design, improved interior trim, better instruments, and external polished trim. It was powered by an 1100 cc inline-4 which was good for 56 hp. It was only about 30 inches longer than the more recent Smart Car that was made by Daimler. For reasons unknown, the original engine and transmission in the seller’s Midget were replaced by a Toyota 2T-C and T-50 5-speed combination.

Toyota’s T series family of inline-4 engines were built between 1970-85. They started with a pushrod overhead valve (OHV) design and later became performance-oriented twin cam (DOHC) variants. Not knowing anything further about the transplanted motor in the seller’s car, we can only speculate about displacement and output. A popular choice would have been a 1600 cc version, good for 102 hp, which would have almost doubled that of the original Midget motor.

The body on this Midget looks good considering their history for rust. There is one small place in the right front fender that may have bondo and primer, but the chrome, glass, and convertible top look good. The interior may not be complete as the photos don’t seem to show any seats. We’re told the Toyota engine and tranny are all hooked up and that it does turn over, but an exhaust manifold and radiator are needed, and possibly a gas tank as we see an open hole where the filler is supposed to be. The seller believes it won’t take much to get this one back on the road and offers a package deal including a parts car, both having clean titles. Hagerty pegs a Midget in Fair condition to be worth $3,000, so this looks like it could be a bargain.

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Comments

  1. Chinga-Trailer

    In the first photo, there’s an interesting little gray car to the side of this MG. Anyone know what it is?

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Late model Crosley Hot Shot.

    Like 6
    • Little_Cars

      With a TON of body filler, apparently to reposition the headlights to the edge of the front fenders from inboard near the hood.

      Like 1
    • Elanguy

      bobhess is right, though it surprised me, https://barnfinds.com/ran-parked-1950-crosley-hot-shot/

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        Wow, that wavy, (presume plexi or Lexan) windshield and awful dip to the front fenders really sets this Hot Shot apart. Evidently it didn’t sell in 2017. Same limited number of photos back then too if this is the same person offering the Midget.

  3. Chinga-Trailer

    The little gray car actually looks like a Zeta Lightburn to me, but I’m not sure there are any in USA.

    Like 1
  4. Larry

    So the defining thing about this car is the Toyota engine transplant. Yet zero photos of it. Some sellers sure don’t know how to sell.

    Like 9
    • ADM

      This seems to be the latest thing, not showing the engine, along with having a right front tire, as your main picture.

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        ADM — Someone has fooled with your screen settings. All photos show the whole car. The order of the photos has also been manipulated. We are all seeing more than the right front tire. Agree about the engine bay, or lack of engine bay, photo.

  5. grant

    This car has been for sale in Olympia for a long, long time. Price dropping steadily.

    Like 1
  6. Howard A Member

    Such a shame, someone would think so little of the MG drivetrain to feel the need to replace it. I suppose the Toyota is okay, just seems like a lot of reworking for not a lot of gain. These “sliding window” Sprigets are very rare, and this was the last year before rollup windows. People do some strange things, I swear. Boo-hiss on the Toyo transplant.

    Like 2
  7. Dave

    For the reliability of the Toyota swap…Bravo! For dumping the MG lump…Bravo! For no pix of swap…Boo-hiss. For Howard A in ANY context…Boo-hiss!

    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks for the kind words. Pardon me for being a purist. Just for the record, I was ripping on the swap, not any one person in particular.

      Like 6
      • Dave

        Then buy it yourself and return it to “purity”. Boo-hiss to Howard A’s constantly negative comments. Bravo to the person who performed a swap that hopefully will enhance the power of this woefully underpowered Rollerblade.

        Like 3
  8. James Miller

    This car looks exactly like my first MG, I had a ’63 Midget. It’s the car that took me off the rails. How much fun one could have in a car whilst under the speed limit! Mine had the 1098 cc motor, my later one, (’68 Sprite) with a 1275 cc, could and did shear rear axel shafts under abusive conditions. Without axel upgrades, this one would be sitting stranded a lot with the power upgrade of the Toyota.

    Like 2
  9. PairsNPaint

    I agree – Bravo on the swap. Back in the late ’70’s I started a swap in my Midget with a 1608 FIAT DOHC and 5-speed from a rusted out 124. Figured that 100% more horsepower and 50% more torque would be a good combo. Alas, I never got to finish it.

    I had a friend that did finish a swap into his ’67 Sprite with a Mazda RX-3 Wankel. I swear that thing could leap tall buildings in a single bound!

    Like 3
  10. steve

    toyota drive train in an Englis car equals RAPE

    Like 1
    • James Miller

      Last year, at the Contours de Elegance, there was a Datson Fairlady of a vintage from before they were imported. It’s hood was up and there resided a ‘A’ series BMC engine. Japanese manufactures were using British stuff while getting their act together.

      • Bryan Cohn

        James the Nissan pushrod engines used in the Fairlady/Datsun 1600 and Datsun/Nissan A-Series pushrod engine were copies of BMC’s A-Series engine. That is why the Datsun 5 speed conversion on a Midget/Sprite was rather easy, the gearbox was sized based on the Nissan engine that was based on the BMC engine. That is why the BMC engine looked at home in the Fairlady you saw.

        Like 2
  11. Maestro1 Member

    Howard is entitled to his opinion and it’s always good to hear from him.
    I never thought of a Toyota conversion in this car; maybe it’s a good idea but frankly I would of gone for the larger British version. If I was serious about one of these I’d wait for one with roll up windows.
    Thank you for this.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, Maestro, it’s okay, just another FB thug, and typical for a non-member. We “members” treat each other better than that here. I’m not arguing the reliability factor of an Asian swap, it’s just there’s a certain charm with these, that is lost in a swap of this nature. And yes, that “charm” may include adjusting the points or valves. Nothing sacred anymore, and just like people like “Dave”, just have to get used to it, I suppose, or turn off the machine altogether.

      Like 3
      • Dave

        Triggered! Lol! “Howard A” is the consummate chef. He can dish it out but he can’t take it. You do, however, fit the alternate definition of “Member”.

  12. Gerard Frederick

    I have seen a lot of cans of worms, but this one seems to almost take the cake. I love the Midget, I love the reliability of the Toyota and I wish the future owner all the luck in the world. He´ll need it.

    Like 2
  13. steve sammut Member

    I hate when a seller states “it won’t take much to get it on the road”. Then get it on the road. It will sell easier and probably quicker.

    I owned a 69 Midget. Fun car to drive, but yes, woefully underpowered. I also owned a 72 Toyota Carina (no miss print…look it up) that had that 2TC engine in it. Not only did it move the Carina nicely, it had 200K on the odo when I sold it. I put in a Corolla 5 speed trans. The car hummed on the freeway.

    Someone needs to help the owner write an ad, along with how to take pictures that might entice an buyer. Seems simple enough, eh?

    Like 1
  14. bobhess bobhess Member

    FYI, Putting the late model Midget 806 axles or available after market competition axles in these early cars solves all those breakage problems. Have a set of 806s in our primary race car and even with more than double the horsepower and years of racing (since 1998) they are still in the car.

    Like 3
  15. V12MECH

    Couldn’t care less about toygit , that is a zeta . Must be the only one in U.S.

  16. Leo

    Had a Alpine when I was young, (25,26) blown head gasket. So wanted to stuff a v/8 in that car. Ended up selling with a blown head gasket. Life was way to fun back then with my 56 already running. Sure would like to have this car. I like the body style, kinda boxy. I believe the cost of getting it from where it is to Fl. would be the cost of fixing the car, thus not making it affordable for me. Otherwise yeah!

    Like 1
  17. Gerard Frederick

    The Datsun Fairlady was the best ¨british¨ sports car ever built.

    Like 1

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