The fury of British sports car pride and speed is met with sleek ergonomic design in this month’s featured classic car – the MG Midget. Don’t let its diminutive name fool you – the MG Midget is anything but small in size, or performance. Let’s take a closer look at a UK heritage favourite, the 1961 MkI classic MG Midget.
The sixties ushered in a new era of peace and love across the free world. And in the UK, it also marked the inception of, to date, one of Britain’s most beloved classic sport’s cars.
History of the UK’s MG Midget
Born in 1961, the MkI MG Midget was conceived out of an idea to improve on the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite deluxe. The “frog-eyed” Sprite was the industry’s answer to a budget sports car that would sit somewhere between the performance-driven MG T-type Midget, and the larger and more costly MGA.
With a market clearly identified, MG went ahead and created the MG Midget, a mirror image of Austin-Healey's Sprite. The most significant differences between the two sports cars lay in grille, badge, interior trim, exterior trim and improved instrumentation. The MkI MG Midget saw production run from 1961 to 1964 in England and Australia.
A new generation of UK sports car: The MG Midget MkI, MkII, MkIII and 1500
The Midget evolved in three different iterations, the MkII (1964-1966), MkIII (1966-1974), MG Midget 1500 (1974-1980). MG Racing Coupes can also enter the annuls of history as prosperous versions of the MG Midget range as they were extremely popular for track-use, and in fact still are in classic saloon derbies.
A concept car, the ADO34 was a project that ran during the 1960 to 1964 period but was ultimately abandoned in 1964.
Body Design and Performance – From Austin Healey Sprite MkII to MG Midget MkI
Announced at the end of June 1961, the Midget MkI would perfectly fill the gap left by the T-type Midget and the MGA. And while atomically identical to the Austin Healey Sprite MkII but for the grille, badge and interior trim; the MG Midget quickly overpowered the Healey in not just sales, but performance.
Both models sported rear suspension with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, trailing arms from the headlights and near-identical wheel arches. The MG doors lacked external handles or locks, and windows were in the form of sliding Perspex screens. A quick look under the standard ‘61 MG Midget MkI hood showed:
- A 948 cc A-Series engine with twin SU carburettors outputting 46 hp (34kW) at 5500 rpm and 53 lb-ft (72 N-m) at 3000 rpm
- Brakes were 7-inch (178mm) drums each side
As optional add-ons, a luggage rack, heater, radio and hard top were available and factory-fitted.
A second edition would be worked on and released on October 1962. This updated MkI version boasted:
- A 1098 cc engine with 56 hp (42 kW) output at 5500 rpm and 62 lb-ft (84 N-m) at 3250 rpm
- Disc brakes would replace the front drums
Optional extras for this new addition included 13x4” wire spoke wheels and a heater.
British magazine, The Motor, put the MkI through its paces in 1962. The test recorded the 948 cc version reaching a top speed of 87.9 mph (141.5 km/h), with acceleration of 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in just 18.3 seconds. The test also recorded fuel consumption at 40.2 miles per gallon (7.03 L/100km; 33.5mpg‑US).
Motoring Classics Bodybuilding: Reviving the MG Midget Body Shell
At Motoring Classics, we love to set out personal challenges. Our manufacturing-arm, British Motor Heritage (BMH), has a rich history in UK heritage vehicle spare parts, body shells and more.
As such, we enjoy dabbling with various projects from time to time. When we’re not having fun constructing and reviving a classic for the track (read up on our A40 restoration project which won second place at Snetterton), we enjoy supplying customers with bespoke parts or, in conjunction with BMH, do individual revival projects.
The video below details the revival of a 1966 MG Midget from a body shell which was pressed using the original press tooling at the BMH headquarters. Watch as we effortlessly breathe life into a client’s MG Midget build.
If full scale restoration is on the cards, or you’d like to revive or accessorise your classic car – you know who to get in touch with. Explore our full range of spares and accessories or reach out to us for a bespoke project.