By on January 20, 2012

The 72 MG Midget beckoned to me from Craigslist like an opened pack of Oreos grinning from the cupboard. I ignored the wisdom of all my gearhead buddies, insisting the little yellow car would be different; it would not leak, not rust, and be as reliable as a nail.

Of course, it isn’t, it’s British. It stranded me six times, the lights don’t work and it usually requires help to start. That is life with an MG Midget.

But I was right. It is different.

You learn things with an MG, and not just “Never have an MG for a daily.”

You learn that most pickups are just too big. Not just Excursions and Escalades. In the Midwest, there is a preponderance of quad cabs heavy-duty pickups. You stare right at their lugs in the little car. Sure, it’s amusing at stop lights, but unsettling on the highway. I have developed a newfound dislike of 20-inch wheels.

You learn that a frown is impossible while driving, unless it is raining. In that case, the top is up and no one can see you.  Even then, you are probably laughing like a mad hatter.  At least that is what I did during record rainfall, flash-flooding and road closures last spring. That morning, I took the only vehicle at my disposal on my 33-mile journey to work.

Two of the highways were under water and impassable, resulting in a commute in an ill suited vehicle for twice my normal drive.

You learn that old British cars are terrible in the rain. You knew this, but you cannot embrace it until you have lived it.

The top is merely a suggestion, electrics are useless and it hydroplanes on any body of water bigger than a sponge.

Approaching a road underneath 2 feet of flowing water, I remembered this. I may be crazy, but I ain’t quite that stupid. As I waited for the traffic in the opposing lane to pass before I would execute my U turn, the aforementioned oversized truck rolled up behind me, unable to grasp my reluctance to pilot 49 inch-tall car into newly formed urban rapids. So the laughing may actually be a result of a mental condition, brought upon by some form of Chinese water torture while driving, or a pre-existing condition that led to the purchase to begin with.

You learn that MGs require commitment, and a Midget requires dedication just to enter the car. As a 40 year-old, 6-foot male, it does require some warm-up stretching to enter the vehicle, especially if the top is up.

You learn not to leave the top up because the charging system sucks.  The top prevents you from bump starting it.  The best hope is to push, leap in it Jackie Chan-style and pop the clutch. Ideally, this fires the motor and you race into the sunset in a plume of oil smoke, almost overcoming the embarrassment of the ordeal. This procedure doesn’t apply if you have friends, but they will soon abandon you.

Not because the car is heavy at 1600 pounds, but because they will be known as the guys or gals, (yes, it happened) who always push that dorky little car. Unless it is an extreme case, you are better off just pushing the thing yourself.

You learn to talk to strangers. There will be plenty of them. You have to be nuts, but you cannot be an introvert. At barely longer than a Suburban’s wheelbase, the height of a computer desk, and the width of a college cheerleader, an MG gets attention. You cannot fill it, wash it, or leave a restaurant without a comment. Miata owners wave, strapped-in children point excitedly and retirees nod knowingly.  If I wasn’t happily married I could parlay this little devil into several dinner dates. Cheap dinners at that, because an MG at a drive-in s much more fun than a minivan. Except when you don’t have a room and need a Minivan.

You learn that while this car makes you young, explaining it can make you old. Two twenty something’s stopped to compliment the car as I folded into it. “Cool car, what is it?” I smiled, “It’s a Midget.” They stared as blankly as they would at a typewriter. “An MG Midget.” I furthered. Nothing. I ended with “It’s an old British car.” They smiled and drove off. It was disappointing. Both were of drinking age. Also, I really could have used the help pushing. So if you hate feeling old, don’t buy an obscure little car that was born when you started walking.

Finally, you learn that aside from getting a daily driving lesson, none of this changes your perspective; it’s just where you take it and how much extra to build into the itinerary. With a more reliable vehicle in the stable, it has seen reduced usage, and as the leaves turn and the sun sets earlier, it will be spending more time in the garage. But maybe by spring, I can chase down that short in the headlight circuit.

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50 Comments on “My Life With A Midget...”


  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Great story! As the owner of a ’74 (more or less) Triumph Spitfire for almost 18 years much of it is strangely familiar. At a fat 6’2″, I have stopped even attempting to get in or out with the top up, which like your car is largely theoretical in its ability to keep water out. Small boys are attracted to it, most women are not. Only old guys know what it is. And a Spitfire is even lower than a Midget, you look UP at hubcaps. You forgot to add that kids on tricycles can outrun it in a drag race!

    But my car is utterly reliable. Starts every time, all the electrics work, all the time. My tip, replace all the Lucas connectors in the whole car with new ones. No plume of oil smoke. Of course it leaks, it’s British! Took a little work to get it that way, but after the first year of fettling, it has been great!

    Be careful though, it’s a slippery slope – you might find yourself with another little convertable in the garage with it, an Italian one – an Alfa Spider is a whole different kettle of fish. But the grins are just the same.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      As the long term owner of a ’72 MGB, I agree that these cars can be made reasonably reliable. Replacing all the Lucar connectors, as suggested, is a good first step. Cleaning all the ground points – some of which seem oddly chosen, is also a good idea. You might want to also consider adding headlight relays, and adding fuses for circuits that were originally unprotected.

      Once the electrical stuff is sorted, the rest of the car is reasonably reliable, except for the fact that water always comes in the top, and oil always comes out the bottom. I am amazed they would design something like this in a land where every third day is a rainy day.

      Great article though – it has been minus 30 here this week, this has me looking forward to Spring. Thank you!

  • avatar
    mzr

    Always kind of gets to me how different these cars can be. My dad had a ’69 MGB that he drove daily for years. I remember going to school in it, and driving to Grapevine Lake on the weekends. I had a ’80 Triumph TR7 that I drove through high school and up until I was 21 or so. The only thing that ever failed on it was the fog light switch. The MGB was so simple I don’t remember it being a lot of trouble, but that may have been being a kid and not really paying attention.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    An MG Midget is the auto equivalent of an adorable puppy.

    You can’t take them anywhere without embarrassing yourself.
    They attract attention with their lovable looks.
    Children and women find them adorable.
    You can’t get them to fetch.
    You can’t get them to go hunting.
    You can’t use them to buy anything larger than a six pack.
    They need constant attention.
    If you leave them in the garage they leave a puddle.
    When they want to lay around, you have to shove them to get them going.

    However, puppies grow up. MG Midgets don’t.

    The Midget I knew was fun for the summer months. It was undependable, required we always take along a tool box, and required I never wear flip-flops because you have to push start them all the time and hop in. Wherever it went, you had to figure out a Plan B to get home again. It was worse than backpacking because you can’t leave them behind when they don’t work.

    I am so glad I no longer have one around. It lost it’s fun after the billionth time it didn’t do it’s job.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Failure of a car to proceed at this age is a failing of the owner, not of the car. These cars are RIDICULOUSLY simple. It does not take a rocket scientist to make them reliable. The parts available now are often of better quality than they were 30-40 years ago, and the knowledge of what the issues are and how to fix them is readily available. There is no excuse for the car not starting first time, every time. My Spitfire starts first turn of the key after sitting all winter. Every year for 18 years. For years now I have spent one Saturday a year on maintenance. Change all the oil, bleed and adjust the brakes, clean the grounds, etc. I have had two things go wrong in the past 5 years or so – the water pump started leaking and was replaced (it was at least 18 years old) and the starter solenoid was replaced (it was possibly original).

      Yes, they leak. Engines and gearboxes with 1930′s levels of technology leak. They leaked in the ’30s too. Put a drip pan under it and keep the fluids topped up.

      The Italians DID figure out how to make tops that keep water out. And it has a great heater. Go figure. :-) Then again, I think you could have bought 2-3 Midgets or Spitfires for what an Alfa Spider cost new, and you can still buy 2-3 nice ones today for what a nice Spider costs now, so it is all relative.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        These cars are RIDICULOUSLY simple.

        Yes. So there is really no excuse for the car to be constantly failing.

        I would believe that after 18 years you have figured out how to maintain a Spitfire.

        That isn’t normally the set up with any car, let along a Midget. I imagine that if my buddy and I kept the Midget 18 years, we would also figure out it’s weak points and maintain it in order for it to become more reliable. Instead, the car was replaced.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I figured out what ailed the car the FIRST year or so I had it. It has been unfailingly reliable for 16-17 years now. Sure, stuff has had to be done to it, but it always starts and runs, and stops, and the lights work. I used to put 4-5K a year on it when it was my only convertible and I only had 2-3 cars. I have two convertibles at the moment and 5 cars, so it gets 1-1.5K a year now. But sitting is hard on cars too. I still drive it pretty much every day in the summer, I just don’t drive it as far as I used to.

        Major issues over the years:

        1. The big one – due to the previous owner installing an O/D gearbox and using the wrong bolts on the flywheel, the crankshaft broke. Took the opportunity to rebuild the engine for a little higher performance. .030 over piston, higher compression, the usual. Even with a broken crank, it still made it home making a funny noise. This was around the turn of the century.

        2. It has had one starter, one starter solenoid, and a waterpump in 18 years and 35K miles. Mind you it was 20 years old when I got it.

        3. SU carbs were rebuilt and rebushed 10-12 years ago or so.

        4. New electric cooling fan and relay way back when.

        5. Stainless exhaust soon after I bought it, which is still shiny.

        Mine does have the advantage of having SU carbs instead of the garbage single Stomburg that it would have come with new, and electronic ignition. Electronic ignition is so cheap, and adds so much the reliability of these cars that it is an absolute must have in my opinion.

        Mine has quit on the road exactly once. I ran it out of gas one day and had to call AAA to bring me some. My own fault, gas gauge works perfectly. I did put a fair amount of work into the car the first couple years, and I bought a really GOOD one to start with, it was fairly expensive at $3K back then. You can’t buy a $500 beater and complain about the reliability or lack there of.

    • 0 avatar
      underachieva

      Mr Vanilla-
      Are you unemployed? attempting to become a ttac editor? or just a fourteen year old with a lot of free time and imagination? I can’t quite figure it out.
      Keep up the good work. You’ve owned an impressively wide array of cars.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Asking that someone “open the kimono” cuts both ways.

        We would all be shocked by what we did reveal.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        Thank you.
        What is best is that I have had a chance to live with a wide array of cars, without having to own most of them. I think it is because I have always sought out opportunities to experience a wide array of vehicles and have been employed by organizations with ties to the Industry so that I could take advantage of those opportunities.

        Like nearly all TTAC posters, I like cars a lot. All my life.

        You are the second person recently asking if I am 14 years of age. No. I have, but no longer. I certainly couldn’t have done these postings.

        Lot of free time? No. This doesn’t take much time, actually.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    As a mechanic possessing the ability to mix and match any component on nearly any car as I please, I could probably make one of these a reliable daily driver.

    I would imagine that would remove a lot of it’s “character” and probably make it less “fun” however.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    death trap

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I admire your attitude and can identify with the warped love of that thing. About 15 years ago, in a fit of temporary insanity, I bought a 75 Spitfire. I rationalized that all the “bad” parts had obviously been replaced over the years. (Wrong!)
    When it ran it was roller-coaster fun. When it didn’t, it provided a nice workout and a chance to meet sympathetic people who had also made similar mistakes.
    The most common, unfixable, problem I remember was hot starts. After a while I gave up on the idea of shutting the engine off while fueling up.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    my buddy had a champagne colored midget in high school in the mid-80s (car was a ’74 I think). Senior year – one Friday, liquid lunch that continued into a party at friend’s house whose parents were on vacation – we went out to steal a gas cap since his was stolen. We hit the road with another MG (this was a white MGB) that knew where the target MG cap could be found. My buddy was in no condition and we quickly lost track of the other guys. After a few minutes of driving like a dick I convinced (threatened, cajoled) him to head back to the party – With Aerosmith Draw the Line cranking he sped through a neighborhood, tires lost grip and we slammed into the back of a parked Firebird. Hard. MG accordianed to about half its size – yet he still got it started and back to the party where the police found the car and him about 20 minutes later trying to drive it home). He spent a few days in jail since his old man wouldnt bail him out and I have a scar on my forehead. He kept the car in his parent’s horse corral for about 20 years. Always planned on fixing it but never touched it.
    One day somewhere aroung 2005 he meets me in Manhattan for a few beers after work (my work – he has never really worked except handling properties for his family) and he insists on paying. Slaps $60 on the bar and tells me those are the 3 $20 bills the scrap guy gave him for the Midget. It was only appropriate that we drink it away. He has a beautiful BMW M-Coupe now. Never drives it.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    A friend wanted to get busy with this girl who had a green 74 MG. Whenever it would break down she would call him and in turn he would call me, since he knew nothing about cars.

    Once it was raining like hell and it wouldn’t start. Points were shot and the condenser was bad. She sat inside waiting for action while I tried to get the points adjusted. Grimy little engine had oil leaking everywhere.

    I told him he should find another skirt that drove a Honda instead.

    The Mazda Miata owes a large part of it’s success to these vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      Hence the Mazda’s success. I offers all the upsides of the Midget,the B and the A, without the drawbacks. I’ve owned an A, and own a Miata. A scooter takes the upsides of the MG convertibles, and the Miata, and turns it up a notch.

      This is the only thing in the world that I know is true. Everything else about the world and the universe may be a lie.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Went to high school with a friend who owned a ’72 Midget. He was an electrical prodigy (reminds me of “Nitro” from Down Periscope) and after being stranded one too many times he pulled every spawn of Lucas from the car and completely rewired it from stem to stern. He couldn’t resist installing a row of switches that would shut off the tail and brakes lights independently of the rest of the car.

    The other major flaw was the clutch disc. With two big guys riding in the car and Dave’s aggressive shifting, it rarely last 3 months. The repair procedure entailed him getting up on Saturday and unhooking the motor from everything. By then I would have driven over in time to put one foot in the engine compartment and then lift the motor out using a Mark I lifting apparatus: my hands and arms. I would pivot and drop the tiny motor on the bench and then crack open a beer while he cleaned out the fragments of disc and installed the new one. My second beer would follow reinstall.

    He ended up selling the Midget when he joined the Air Force as a radar tech.

  • avatar
    jdevault

    Good writing.

  • avatar

    I had a ’74 Spitfire I bought really cheap a few years ago. After catching up on some delayed maintenance it was quite reliable. The roof even keep the rain out. Great fun to drive and I’d have another in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Had a buddy in high school back in the late 80s that had a MG…it was such a reliable car that he quickly bought a MR2 to replace it…

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Almost went down this road back in college. COuldn’t decide on a old British sports car, or a old Jeep CJ. Figured I could get more practical use out of the Jeep for towing a small trailer, and it came in handy after hurricane/tropical storm flooding.

    Don’t know if it’s anymore reliable. I have to say (while knocking on wood) it’s never left me stranded to the point I had to get it towed somewhere, and it’s never gotten stuck when the pavement ends. Sure one time I had to push it home a half mile, or abandon it a few miles down the road, grab a battery out of another car, and ride my bicycle back to it. Plenty of push starts, alone; door removal makes this task a breeze (32inch tires do not). Leaks oil like a son-a-bitch; an endeavor I’ve almost entirely given up on.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    This was an excellent article followed by good comments. It really doesn’t have to be a midget. Owned an MGB that I finally had managed to made reliable when my future wife wrecked it.

    Made a manifold and replaced the carbs with a single unit from a 1600. Replaced most electrical stuff with vw parts. It actually started and ran reliably. I thought the engine was reliable from the start except for the carb. As a car it was pretty useless. For entertainment it was great and I thought I was cool.

    Thanks for the memories.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I’ve owned a Miata for 13 years. I’m shorter and fatter than you…it seems like the car shrinks a little every year. It’s too uncomfotable to commute in, and I hate that soccer moms in their 20,000 pound CUV’s feel the need to tail gate you…but everytime I think of selling it, I dust it off, take it for a spin, snick snick through the gears…feel the tightness of the steering and I realized I’d kick myself the second I sold it. The Miata…like an MG Midget without the Lucas Electrical smoke, leaky top or unreliablity

  • avatar

    Mental! Cool to see you writing here on TTAC. Hope to see you at TWS next month, or at ECR in May.

  • avatar
    02chuck

    A friends sister had a Midget. When we were in high school he would borrow it on Sunday mornings to go to to church (being good Catholic boys) and we would head for the local back roads for that hour we were “in” church. At least gas was cheap in those days. ah the memories. Scary part is I have been looking at the Midget ads on Craigslist!

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    Pops had a ’69, BR green.

    He saw me salivate over it when I entered my teens. He even let me drive it with him riding shotgun when I got my permit. He sold it the week I turned 16.

    He was foolish enough to buy a British car, but wise enough to get ride of it before his kids could get in trouble with it.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    The time I owned a Triumph GT-6+ was a lot of fun. It needed quite a bit of work (brakes, wiper motor, rust repair, etc.) But it never stranded me. Of course, that required some planning such as choosing parking spots at the top of the hill when the starter went bad.

    I replaced it when I came into a bit of money and went out and bought a new RX-7 (this was in late 1979). To this day I miss the GT-6+, the car where I learned to do brake jobs (piece of cake with the flip-up bonnet front end) and the car that taught me how to both fold, tuck and drop my 6′ 2″ frame to enter. Once inside, it was very comfortable.

  • avatar
    Monty

    As a teenager I owned a ’68 Austin Healey Sprite – 1275 CC’s of uninspiring power and fear-inducing brakes. But it could carve corners and curves like nothing else I had ever driven up to that point in my life. About 80 MPH flat out with a favourable tailwind, and about 20 leisurely seconds to get to 60.

    It was “Florida Green” in colour (a shade close to sea-foam green, or as my brother called it: “The same colour as tequila coming back up your throat.”), and the top leaked, the heater was laughable, the brake cylinder was iffy and I had to push-start it far more often than I was able to use the starter, but I would take it back in a heartbeat knowing what I know now.

    Unfortunately it was wasted on me then because I needed a daily driver and I had no friends who were gearheads, so I had to deal with it on my own. My father warned me that if I bought it he wouldn’t help me fix it, because he knew how much of a money pit those cars were.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    Long story, short. Had a 69 Midget as a project car that I worked on for many years. Had other rides so there was no rush. Got it in really good shape and achieved (almost) bulletproof reliability. Finally put it up for sale, advertising it as the “most reliable Midget in California”. Was inundated with phone calls and offers to a degree I never expected. Actually made a profit, but to see them as anything but a weekend racer, or a project can be a serious mistake. All’s well that ends well.

  • avatar
    manu06

    I’d sure like to find a TR250.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I liked hot rods in high school, but around 1971 I met a girl with an MGB We broke up and I bought a Bugeye Sprite. That was some 40 years ago and I’ve had some LBC since then. Plenty of nicer and faster cars but really none as much fun.

    ps I delivered Chinese food in my Sprite and had to push start it 20 times a day. With that job buying a new battery wasn’t easy.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Had a college buddy in the early 70s who had a 1098cc version. Built a trailer hitch and he towed a 14 foot boat from Cleveland to Michigan and back several times.

    Then I fell in with some serious SCCA production racers (Dave Tabor [RIP] and Comptune. Amazing how much power they could make with a long stroke / 5 port head / cast iron slug of a motor. 14:1 compression anyone?

  • avatar
    obbop

    Are there motor mounts, etc. to ease the installing of a small block Chevy?

  • avatar

    This certainly is a very amusing account of Midget ownership. And krhodes1, your commentary on upkeep of the Triumph is tempting me dangerously to start searching for a Peugeot 404 to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy D

      David, remember Tom and Ray Maggliotti (sic) ” yippie I yo cayay, Parlez vous Francais?

      Yippy I yo cayo,My Peugeot wont go.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Be careful with that one.

      I freely admit that my one true automotive love is old Peugeots, having owned a number of 504s and 505s. I would love to have another nice 504, but the reality is parts for them are scarcer than hen’s teeth, even WITH the Internet at your fingertips. You can’t even get them from Europe, as all the running RWD Peugeots are now in Africa.

      At least with a Spitfire, EVERYTHING is available, and cheap as chips. But I will say, of ALL of the old used European daily driver cars I have owned, the Peugeots, with one exception were the most reliable of all. And the exception was a mangy dog of a 505TD that I never should have bought. Fabulous cars, you just have to ‘get’ the thought process behind them, which is NOT the same as the Germans or the Swedes or the English. I think the Italians are most similar. And you must learn to swear in French at the car, they like that. They are easy cars to work on, once you learn the secret handshakes.

    • 0 avatar
      svenmeier

      I am from Switzerland and I recently met a Peugeot 404 Coupe owner. I’ve always been a fan of these cars due to their Pininfarina styling and good looks.

      The Peugeot 404 owner was from southern France and he has toured most of Europe with his 404. He claims the car has never failed him and it’s due to him taking good care of it. According to the owner, the biggest problems on these cars is rust, not mechanicals.

      Go for it, get a Peugeot 404.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    I had one of these. Same color. If I recall, to turn on the heater you had to throw a switch in the engine compartment. Very ergonomic. The boot was large enough for a gallon milk jug filled with water (necessary because Midges always overheated), and one soon learned to start out in second gear because number one wasn’t synchronized.

    It had a radio. Or something. It was square and had a dial with two knobs plus a speaker, but you couldn’t understand anything that came out of it since the quality was so bad. Or maybe the previous owner had simply blown the paper speaker apart, I was never certain.

    The Midge sometimes started from its own electric power, but it was always best to master the “running jump start” method. Not as practical as the “A” (which came with its own crank), but serviceable just the same.

    You could never get new parts since the factory was always on strike, but junk yards had whatever you needed, probably. On the fun scale it was at least a 9.5 out of 10.

    I traded mine for a Fiat 124 Spider which was a big step up in quality, if you can imagine that.

  • avatar
    namstrap

    At a dealership I used to work at that sold Volvo and British Leyland, any time we had a new MGB or TR7 in the showroom, it would definitely have a chunk of cardboard underneath it.
    These were new cars!

  • avatar
    BarryO

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the incredibly small clearance between the exhaust and the pavement.

    I had a 64 Midget, classic red, my first car. It was parked in someone’s back yard for several weeks and I passed it every day one summer on the way to work. I finally knocked on the door to ask about the car, and this old woman said some kid who lived down the street spun out in front of her house, he pushed it onto her property, that the thing was broken, and she’d appreciate it if I talked to him and bought it and got it out of her yard.
    I found the owner, another young guy who also knew nothing about cars, and brought my good friend, Vinnie, who was a gear head, with me to look it over. Vinnie opened the hood, took the dip stick out of the SU carb, wiped the oil on his hand, then looked at me and said ‘You don’t want this POS’. He told the owner, I’ll buy it from you for parts, $100, take it or leave it. The kid took the offer. After we towed it home, I asked Vinnie why I’d want a car that leaked oil into the carbs. He said ‘You’re as dumb as the last guy who owned it. it’s supposed to have oil in it.’
    He helped me get it in ‘road worthy’ condition. It had a cracked axle, and we found a replacement in a junk yard. The radiator had a hole in it, which we patched with epoxy, and it held. Other than that, the thing actually ran, and I used it for about 2 months.
    But every time I ran over something more than 3″ higher than the pavement, I would knock off the exhaust pipe and lose the muffler. I didn’t have a spare tire in the trunk, but I did carry a spare muffler. I probably replaced it about 6 times.
    I used to take it to college, about 12 miles away, but one weekend it wouldn’t start and I left it home. I came back a few weeks later, and the Midget was gone. I asked my dad what happened to my car, and he said he sold it to one of his buddies. I asked him how he did that without my knowledge, and he said it was easy – he found the title and forged my name. I asked him why, and he said he got sick of listening to my mom yell ‘that kid’s going to get killed in that thing – do something!’ I asked how much he got for it, and he said ‘enough for 2 six packs – help yourself’.
    I gave him a hug and said thank you.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I guess i have considered myself blessed, since my bro did bought a circa 68 Datsun 1600 Fairlady, it should be the copy of MGB etc.
    It did ran everytime. When I first got the car the ignition wire was messed up, when she is in starting position it has no power to the coil so it will never fire unless u spun the engine fast enuf and it usually catch when the key is in running pos. So I wired a wire to the starting pos and ran without a hitch. Also the turn signal lights and the side lights wires were reversed. So when have the side lights on the turn signal light cannot be seen, as running lights had more intensity than the turn sig. Normally is the other way around, the turn sig have more candle power than the side lights!
    With these 2 issues solved rest of the car was good. The soft top is not the best shape, i drove her during my summer mths it was swell.
    Remember one night I came home from disco with 2 lady fnds, a cop car stopped us, the reason I had 1 studded tires, which can hear the rattling miles away. SO i got a citation for running a stud tire outside of oct to april.

    I can see why when Miatas came out it sold like hot cakes, reason all these small rag top sports car have nothing reasonable nor reliable to own.
    The old Lotus Elan was a swell car but u have to be a Masochist to own one.
    I was told the Elan, one do need parking brakes when parked, if just left in gear, the twisting on the rubber dough on CV joint will destroy her no soon enuf.
    Sad to say the Prinz of Darkness aka Lucas was largely responsible for the untimely demise of the British Auto & bike industries.
    Atleast this time they were not dumb enuf to use the Euro dollar.

  • avatar
    Les

    Hmm, local dealership out here in bumblefluke nowhere actually has an MG Midget on the lot, reasonable-looking condition.. think it’s a ’74…

    I actually managed to get into it (six even, 300 pounds), almost didn’t get out. ;p

  • avatar
    GregD

    I’ve carried a visible scar on my left shin for nearly 30 years acquired by repeatedly having to kick start my 72 Midget! British Racing Green with a rollbar, the thing constantly needed mending. Not the best choice for a poor college student with limited funds and even less knowledge of engine repair…but it was a hell of a lot of fun to drive.

    I have only one bad memory of the car…the odor left behind for days after a hobo decided the Midget was a good place to spend one rainy night.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” You learn that a frown is impossible while driving, unless it is raining ” ~ _THIS_ .

    I’m a masochist as I own the ‘ Americanized ‘ version of the MG Midget : the mighty Metropolitan Nash FHC ~ it’s a terrific daily commuter , always reliable and yes , it still has the crispy original Lucas ‘ Price Of Darkness ‘ wiring loom (I’ll replace it whenever I finally paint it)

    It’s also my favorite Rally Car as I handily keep up with the other Sports Cars in the twisty bits .

    It’s designed & built of a compilation of MGA and MG Midget parts so it’s no speed ball but eventually it gets up to 65 ~ 70 MPH where I’ll drive it all day long , the smirk never leaves my face for one instant .
    I’ve driven it to Canada and back , Death Valley multiple times and when pressed , I take naps or sleep in it , being 6′ tall I stick my feet out the window .

    As mentioned , it’s a 1930′s Tech machine and so unless you’re ready to care for and feed it , it’s not a very good car .

    I’ve managed to staunch 95 % of the oil leaks , it still gets damp on the engine’s exterior but I discovered a secret to keep the gear oil in the rear banjo and off the damned brake shoes =8-) .

    Everywhere I go , folks look perplexed at it’s overall un restored battered condition and California license tags and always ask the same thing : ” you came from _where_ ? in_THAT_ ?! ” . sure , why not ? it’s the same as driving to work 265 times but all at one time , right ? .

    Besides , even if your ancient LBC blows a generator in the dead center of Nowhere Ville U.S. of A. , no worries ! just go to the local Ford New Holland Tractor Dealer , he’ll have a brandy new one on the shelf for about $100 .

    You have to really enjoy cars & driving them to like any LBC , MG or other .

    I like the good heater , having grown up in New England with crappy heaters .

    If I could only figure out how to stop the ingress of water when it rains , I’d be set for life .

    THANK YOU ALL for the great MG Midget & LBC stories and comments ! .

    -Nate


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