BMC and then British Leyland churned out MG Midgets and near-identical Austin-Healey Sprites for 20 years, with the final example coming off the Abingdon line in 1980. Because project-grade Midgets still clutter garages, driveways, yards, and fields throughout the land and they’re not worth much, the clock runs out for many of them every year.
The next stop, usually, is among the Sephias and Jettas of the IMPORTS section at a self-service wrecking yard. Here’s a forlorn ’79 I spotted last week in California.
Despite the scores of new cars available to North American drivers, not every niche is filled. Entire segments of the new car market have all but been abandoned in the almighty search for profitability — or in the case of some OEMs, mere solvency.
Whither the personal luxury coupe? How about the almighty two-door, full size SUV? Buyers would certainly snap up tens of these every year.
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.
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- MaintenanceCosts The worst of the malaise era. Engines with primitive emissions systems layered onto otherwise ancient technology, which managed to be unreliable, wimpy, and undriveable, all at once. Rust that was already starting on the showroom floor. Interior trim that makes a Cozy Coupe look sturdy. Packaging that gives you Civic interior space with Avalon exterior dimensions. Just a horrendous steaming pile all the way around.
- Bobbysirhan If anyone needs proof that automotive styling has reached an all-time low, it is that the Subaru WRX isn't being singled out as an abomination on the scale of a Pontiac Aztec or 1958 Lincoln Continental. These days it is almost expected for a new car to be hideous.
- MaintenanceCosts Compromised safety test results and minivans do not go well together.A shame as the looks are neat (the last interesting van) and the CVT/V6 powertrain is better than a lot of people give it credit for.
- Tassos Oh yeah! Great Catch! All my life I was looking for such an UTTER PIECE OF CRAP from the CRAPPY 70s and 80s, when ALL Cars were Crappy... at least all DOMESTIC cars were. Seriously?Maybe next time you will outdo yourself and dig up the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses the Second.
- SCE to AUX If Lexus badge-engineered a Camry in 1977, this is what you'd get.27 HP/liter - wow... my new 2.5T has 112 HP/liter and many engines are much higher. Malaise Era, indeed.GM died by a thousand cuts, and this car is definitely one of them - 100% mediocrity.