1961-1979 MG Midget

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The MG Midget is a small two seat sports car produced by MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1961 to 1979. It re-used a famous pre-war name used on MG M-type, MG D-type, MG J-type and so on.

MG Midget MkI (1961-1964). The first version was essentially a slightly more expensive badge engineered version of the Austin-Healey Sprite MKII and retained the quarter-elliptic sprung rear axle from the original Sprite. The engine was a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp (34 kW) at 5500 rpm and 53 lbf·ft (72 Nm) at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7 in (178 mm) drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc raising the output to 56 hp (42 kW) at 5500 rpm and 62 lbf·ft (84 Nm) at 3250 rpm and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire-spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was an optional extra. Production was 16,080 of the small engined version and 9601 of the 1098.[2] A car with the 948 cc engine was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1962 and had a top speed of 87.9 mph (141.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 18.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of 40.2 miles per imperial gallon (7.03 L/100 km; 33.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £689 including taxes on the UK market.[1]

MG Midget MkIII (1966-1974). The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper 'S'. However, enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a de-tuned version of the Cooper 'S' engine, giving only 65 hp (48 kW) at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft (98 Nm) at 3000 rpm. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper 'S' had a special head with extra-large valves: however, these valves caused many 'S' heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. There were minor changes to the body in 1969, with the sills painted black and a revised recessed black grille. Rubery Owen 'Rostyle' wheels were standardised but wire spoked ones remained an option. US spec cars received several safety additions: a padded fascia (dashboard) with smaller main gauges; collapsible steering column, scissor-type hood hinges, and anti-burst door latches. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972. Also in this year, a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternator was fitted instead of dynamo from 1973 onwards. 22,415 were made between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.[2]

MG Midget 1500 (1974-1980). 1976 MG Midget 1500In order to meet US federal regulations, large black plastic bumpers (usually called rubber bumpers, despite not actually being rubber) were added to the front and rear and the ride height was increased. The A-Series engine was dropped to be replaced by the 1493 cc unit from the Triumph Spitfire and a modified Morris Marina gearbox with synchromesh on all four gears. The round rear wheel arches were now square again to increase the body strength.[3] The last car was made on December 7, 1979, after 73,899[4] of the last version had been made. There was no Austin-Healey Sprite equivalent. However, there was a limited number of cars produced in 1980 of the MG Midget.

MG Midget
MG Midget USDM convertible
Manufacturer BMC
Production 1961–1979
226,001 produced
Predecessor MG TF
Class Sports car
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Layout FR layout
Engine(s) 948 cc A-Series I4
1098 cc A-Series I4
1275 cc A-Series I4
1493 cc I4
Wheelbase 80 in (2,032 mm)[1]
Length 137 in (3,480 mm)[1]
Width Mk I and II 54 in (1,372 mm)[1]
Mk III and 1500 55 in (1,397 mm)
Height 48.5 in (1,232 mm) (before springs enlarged for 1974 Rubber Bumper cars)
Curb weight 735 kg (1,620 lb) (approx)
Related Austin-Healey Sprite


  1. "The M.G. Midget". The Motor. March 28, 1962.
  2. Sedgwick, M. (1986). A-Z of Cars 1945-1970. Devon, UK: Bay View Bookz. ISBN 1-870979-39-7.
  3. Sports Car Market, October 2007.
  4. Robson, G. (2006). A-Z of British Cars 1945-1980. Devon, UK: Herridge. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3.


  • Terry Horler (1993). Original Sprite and Midget. Motorbooks. ISBN 1-870979-45-1.
  • Ray Bonds (2003). The Illustrated Directory of Sports Cars. Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-1420-9.
  • John Heilig (1996). MG Sports Cars. Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-0112-3.

External links