﹒Garage stored and unused since 1987 ﹒Running order ﹒Unspoilt basis for sympathetic restoration ﹒Excellent original interior
Let’s face it – we’ve all occasionally had trouble getting around to doing things. Life is busy, and the non-essential tasks always get shoved backwards to make way for the more important priorities.
That’s what the previous owner of this Midget has had to deal with. He bought the car in 1987 and had been meaning to crack on with its relatively minor restoration ever since. But in the event, the Midget got stuck in a queue of family commitments and household projects, all the while sitting there waiting for that ‘one day’ to come.
It sat in a Northamptonshire garage from 1987 until January 2021, when the owner finally decided he had to make some decisions – keep it and restore it, or let it go to a new home where the long-awaited recommissioning process could be completed.
It was a tough decision, but he took the decision to let the Midget go, so here it is.
It’s a rare car, too, being a completely unspoilt early example. Dating from 1966, it retains all of its original interior including the sought-after thin-rimmed MG steering wheel with jewelled centre boss, and has never been modified with any tuning parts, sports wheels or questionable ‘upgrades’.
It’s simply an honest and lovely Midget that’s ready to once again see the road – something it has been waiting to do for over 30 years. And thanks to being kept in dry conditions, the repairs required aren’t as dramatic as you’d fear. It’s the perfect project for someone who wants to put their own mark on a car, or for a dealer to buy and restore to resell. It’s perfect for either, but whatever restoration it needs ought to be sympathetically carried out as the car is wonderfully unspoilt. It deserves to stay that way.
Unsurprisingly, the Midget hasn’t been up to much for the past three decades other than hibernating somewhere safe and warm, which has contributed in many ways to its remarkable survival. It has had some body repairs in the past, while the vendor believes it has had very few previous keepers – maybe three or four before him.
Sadly, the paperwork for the MG was lost in a house move many moons ago and while the vendor has said he’ll continue looking for it (it’s possibly filed away somewhere) he’s selling it with no bills or paper history other than a V5C, which he has acquired a duplicate of showing that the car is registered in his name and has been since 1987.
During that time, he has driven it fewer than 100 miles, so the recorded mileage of just under 64,000 is almost certainly genuine.
It may be small, but the Midget’s cabin oozes character. It has a lovely patina – it’s not badly worn anywhere and the only signs of tiredness are a slight divot in the driver’s seat and some wear on the side trim near the driver’s door. Otherwise, it’s in fine order. The thin, wide steering wheel is a real rarity as many of these have been binned by previous owners over the years and replaced with something sportier – the jewelled MG-logo boss and slim wheel are therefore a real selling point.
As, indeed, is the Smiths heater, which would have been an expensive option when new. Despite standing for over three decades, it works, too. When the car is restored, then, the cabin won’t need a huge amount of work – more just a sympathetic fettling.
It’s tidy inside the boot, too – which contains the tonneau cover and also a spare clutch for the future owner.
From a distance, the Midget looks cheerful and healthy – but it is a car that will need work before it can safely return to the road.
We’ll get the bad bits out of the way first – the front valance has some rot, both sills are scabby all the way along and the nearside rear arch has blown out under the paint and is likely to need a repair section. But for a 55-year old Midget, that’s far from disastrous.
We were able to inspect the car on a ramp and the underside tells a positive story. There’s a bit of crud around the driver’s side rear spring hanger but it really doesn’t look too bad. The floors are solid and the suspension components all look pretty decent.
The exhaust has had a brilliantly creative repair using a tin can, but the vendor openly admits this is just to stop the car from sounding like a firing range while being loaded and unloaded from a trailer – it’ll need a full exhaust system, but luckily these are easily sourced for a car like a Midget.
Apart from the aforementioned rust on its lower quarters, the Midget is pretty decent higher up – the British Racing Green paint actually has a decent shine to it, and the doors and boot lid are free of evident rust. The bonnet has some corrosion on the leading edge, where it is also missing some chrome trim. It should be possible to repair it, though.
The hood is in surprisingly good order given its age – there’s a small crack in the plastic rear window, but the hood frame and the canvas are in decent order. The tonneau cover is also still there and in good shape, though the zip has rusted up and may need replacing.
Overall, then, this is a pretty solid Midget that needs some cosmetic TLC, but it is far, far from a basket case and would be a wonderfully rewarding car to restore.
Given that it has barely turned a wheel in over three decades, it’s remarkable that the Midget fires up, let alone that the 1098cc A-Series engine sounds so fit and healthy. That’s partly because it was regularly started and warmed through during its storage and also because the vendor made a point of getting it running before he put it up for sale, so it’s had a bit of fettling where needed and it runs sweetly.
Obviously we were unable to drive it, but the vendor reports that it goes into all gears and that the clutch is a little high but doesn’t appear to slip. Considering its lengthy lay-up, it would be sensible to assume that the brakes and suspension will need a full overhaul.
Often, the fun of an old car is in the fettling and recommissioning. And whoever buys this one will undoubtedly get themselves a great hobby car for the upcoming summer.
From our basic appraisal, we don’t believe it would take too much effort to make the car roadworthy once again and you could even use it with some of its cosmetic blemishes as they are while gradually improving it. Or if you wanted to go the whole hog and do a concourse or show-standard restoration, it would be the perfect place to start.
A largely solid, original, unspoilt early Midget that’s crying out for a new owner to bring it back to life.
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