1978 MG Midget Mk IV
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In so many ways, a later model MG Midget is at the bottom of the barrel, at least in my opinion. A gutless 50hp engine, ugly rubber bumpers, no grille, jacked up on the suspension, generally rather unappetizing wheels, on and on.
BUT..........lots of virtues, especially to one who has owned every form of Spriget from my own 1958 Bug Eye through countless 948cc, 1098cc, and 1275cc Sprites and midgets. As examples: torquey 1500cc engine, all synchro transmission, high ratio back axle, disc brakes with dual master cylinder alternator, improved safety equipment, triple wipers, bigger heater, controls on the stalks, YES.........there are some good things about late model Midgets.
Hence, my attempt to blend some of the best of the new and old together.
First, I found a sensational staring point, a Midget stored since 2002, 31,000 original, miles, absolutely perfect rust free floor and inner sills, runs perfectly, zero smoke, oil pressure light stays out even on a hot day at low idle, excellent wiring, etc.
And then work we did...........new fuel tank (replace the grotty old tank decayed from sitting), rebuilt calipers and new rotors, new rack boots and tie rod ends, new flex lines, new polished Minilite wheels with new Kumho radials, new convertible top, chrome bumpers from a Mk III Midget with the original bumper guards, a lowering kit, eliminating the side lights, matching the paint and blending in the corner paint, an excellent beginning!!! Even added new fuse boxes with modern press in fuses and an on board trickle charger to keep the battery at full charge when not in use.
Then, installing a pair of redone low back seats, new carpets, new leather steering wheel, Sony stereo/CD, 12v outlet with USB outputs, new muffler, Weber carb (for a vast improvement in performance) with electric choke, powerful shrouded electric radiator fan for dealing with the hottest weather, we got the interior and trunk lights to work on their switches, thicker front sway bar and new bushings, lots of little things (new fan belt, all new fluids, new brake light switch, new shocks, electronic ignition, Bug Eye front parking/turn signal lights), and the result was thrilling.
Precise steering and great handling courtesy of lowering the car, fitting the thicker sway bar, new shocks, and the wider wheels. The Weber brings the engine alive, the stereo sounds great and with the 3.7 diff gears, only used 4,000 rpm to cruise at near 80 mph. Very impressive for a Spridget.
Okay, sure, still has the rather ugly dash but, as slight compensation, installed MGB kick panel cubbies for the odd CD or bottle of touch up paint. And leave installing an older Spridget dash to the next owner.
Neat having many controls on the stalks, nice having an improved cooling and electrical system, clearly the choice was to go in one of two directions....take an early car and fit lots of more modern items (as I did on my 1965 MGB....dual master cylinder with servo, 5 speed trans, four wheel disc brakes, alternator, better radiator, etc.) OR make a newer (and in so many ways, better) car look like an older one. My choice, clearly, was the the 2nd option.
And it looks oh, so good. Obviously best suited for around town or the proverbial winding country roads BUT easily cruises at 75+ mph and with the luggage rack, makes for a fun touring car capable of being driven most anywhere.
So, there it is. A wonderful little 42 year old car that has been dead reliable, quiet in operation, fun to drive, and very comfortable.