The Midget is an icon of British motoring, offering a taste of motorsport-derived heritage to those who didn’t quite have a motorsport bank balance. Produced from 1961 all the way through to 1980, the Midget evolved hugely over the years, from it’s humble origins with a buzzy little 948cc A-series engine through to the much-loved 1275cc Cooper-S derived unit found in models from 1966 onwards and the later car’s 1500.
This model, the Mk3, is easily the most sought-after. It features the distinctive round rear arches (only available on 1972-74 model year cars), chrome bumpers and over-riders, the 1275cc detuned Cooper-S power plant, front disc brakes and Rostyle wheels.
NML 512L was purchased from Chris Leader (the head engineer at P&A Woods) in October 2003. Prior to this it had been dry-stored and unused for at least 10 years. The new owner undertook a very extensive recommissioning programme to get the vehicle back on the road. The majority of the work was carried out by Wells Vousden Restorations and included:
New fuel tank, exhaust, brakes and water pump
Full underbody Waxoyl treatment
New fabric hood and seat head-rests
Much more work was carried out, as can be seen from the accompanying receipts and invoices.
The car’s current owner acquired it in September 2017, and has undertaken an enormous amount of restoration and recommissioning work to take this wonderful little roadster from solid classic back to tip-top condition. Works undertaken include, but are not limited to:
Fitting an original steering wheel
All new boot, windscreen and door seals
Rechroming the bumpers and over-riders
Full bare-metal respray in original MG Aqua Blue
New heritage bonnet
New wishbones and kingpins
Completely renovated carburettors and ignition system
And that barely scratches the surface the work carried out. No expense has been spared in getting this delightful little sports car back on the road in prime condition. Having been dry-stored since 2003 and having undergone a full restoration with all the accompanying paperwork present, it has a history almost second to none and has a genuine mileage of just over 40,000.
There is a vast amount of paperwork the comes with the car. Naturally the V5 is present and correct. Although the car is now classified as a Historic Vehicle, and therefore requires neither an MOT or road tax, the current keeper has kept the car’s MOT current for peace of mind. It will be due in September 2021.
Many years of previous MOT certificates, a wealth of invoices, receipts and schedules of works come with the car, as well as a Haynes Owners Workshop Manual. All of this confirms the extensive renovation works carried out, as well as establishing the low, original mileage.
The cabin of the car is in superb condition, featuring period-correct vinyl trimmed seats, the original dash and switchgear and vinyl-edged grey carpeting, all in great condition.
Everything has a lovely patina to it. The cabin was in such good condition when the owner purchased it that they wanted to preserve the character of the car as much as possible. So they’ve done what needed to be done and no more, which we feel is the right choice as it looks superb.
They did, however, acquire and fit an original Mk3 MG Midget steering wheel, as the car had come to them with a wood-rimmed aftermarket wheel. This wheel, the boss to fit it and a few other spares come with the purchase of the vehicle– handy if you find the original wheel a bit too bit, as the aftermarket wheel is over an inch smaller in diameter. Inside the boot is in great condition, and a full-size spare wheel is present, along with the original jack.
Everything in the cabin presents beautifully and works well. It really is a lovely place to be, with the chunky, period toggles and switchgear and beautifully elegant chrome-rimmed dials transporting you right back to the hey-day of British sports cars.
As you can tell from the pictures, where this car truly shines is on the outside. The owner has spent thousands getting the car into truly superb condition. In March 2018 a full bare-metal respray was undertaken, giving the car its current, period-correct, MG Aqua Blue finish. A gorgeous colour that is too rarely seen on restored MGs today, many owners instead choosing British Racing Green or red; we think this is much better.
When you’re close-up with the vehicle, you can see just what a superb job has been done of the paintwork, it looks like it’s just come out of the factory, In fact, knowing the quality of BL paintwork in the 70s, this is probably a lot better than it was when new. While the respray is excellent, the owner wasn’t happy with the quality of the bonnet panel, so a new Heritage item was fitted and resprayed to match.
Other external features are the gorgeous, restored Rostyle wheels and the folding roof with accompanying tonneau cover – both of which look barely used and are in excellent condition.
Underneath the car looks solid and clean, with no evidence we could see of any damage or corrosion. The fact that this car has been dry-stored for almost 20 years and has undergone a complete renovation and respray means the bodywork is in truly exceptional condition.
Mechanically the MG Midget was always relatively simple and very reliable. Especially in this form – the Mk3 feature a slightly detuned version of the 1275cc unit from the Mini Cooper-S.We can confirm that it fires up first time, run smoothly and sounds absolutely fantastic.
The owner assures us that the car drives as well as it looks and sounds. And we certainly believe it, the exhaust, brakes, clutch cylinders, carburettors, ignition system, wishbones, kingpins and fuel system have all recently either been replaced or restored.
Even a cursory glance around the car shows the mechanicals are in wonderful condition.
MG’s Midget has always been a fun, spirited little sports car. It always punched well above its weight, and its appeal really hasn’t diminished over the years. The small footprint, low centre-of-gravity, snickety manual box, rorty 1275 engine and light kerbweight combine to give you a car that’s as much fun to zip along a B-road today as it was in 1972.
Of course, while the Midget may still be a highly regarded classic sports car, there are a lot of bad ones out there. This is not one of them. In fact, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Meticulously restored with real love and care, the owner has refreshed and renewed what really matters on these cars – the bodywork, the underside and the mechanicals – and kept as much of the original patina and character of the cabin as possible.
So you get the best of both worlds: a genuine, low-mileage, thoroughly original Midget, but one that’s been massively rebuilt, restored and protected from the elements over the last 20 years. Enormous amounts of work have gone into this lovely little car, all confirmed by the wealth of paperwork it comes with (far more than we can list here).
Of course, the thing we really love the most about this car is the colour. That original period Aqua Blue is an unusual choice, but a brilliant one. So many owners resort to the clichéd choice of British racing Green or red, but we think this colour shows off the curves and proportions of the car so much better. And boy does it stand out. In fact, it looks absolutely stunning, especially in the dappled sunshine of a British summer.
If you’re looking for a practical, reliable classic that’s clearly been loved, has been lavishly restored and will repay you a thousand times over in pure joy, we can’t think of anything better than this little blue delight. It’s a truly gorgeous vehicle, and it deserves to be driven, enjoyed and cherished for many more years to come.
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