Overall condition: Good
Number of owners: 3
With Austin’s capacity being overrun, the 1959 Healey Sprite ‘Frogeye’ was built on the company’s behalf by MG at its factory in Abingdon – a move that was carried out originally for convenience’s sake but ultimately led to the revival of a name of old – and one that would carry on for much longer than Austin-Healey ever did.
With the Sprite already being built at Abingdon and MG needing a boost, it was decided that the tiny sports car would be redesigned with an MG front end. In 1961 the MG Midget made its debut, alongside the Austin-Healey Sprite Mk 2. Both cars had a squarer body, with separate front wings and a more conventional bonnet, while the car also got a boot – something that was missing from the original Sprite.
The little 948cc engine, meanwhile, got bigger carbs for slightly more performance. The purest Mk1 Midgets lasted until 1963, when the engine was upgraded to 1,098cc, front disc brakes were added and the rear quarter-elliptic leaf springs gave way to fully elliptic ones. And that’s what we have here – a very early Mk 2 from 1964. It’s an older restoration finished in unusual Riviera Blue, which was the original factory colour.
The car has had two owners since its restoration, the current one for the past seven years. It has been kept garaged and used frequently during that time.
Restored in 2012, with an invoice to back it up, the Midget still looks great today and really suits its rare Riviera Blue colour scheme – the colour it wore when it left Abingdon in 1964.
It still looks extremely smart and presents well, but with one or two minor areas that will need attention sooner or later, notably some light bubbling to the nearside rear wheel arch and lower quarter panel. There are also various small blisters and paint chips, but overall the car is in very good order with no major horrors – we’ve shown the condition in the accompanying photos.
All of the chrome and trim is sound with only very minor wear and the dark blue vinyl hood is in good order. The car is also supplied with a full tonneau cover.
Underneath it appears sound and has previously seen welded repairs around the rear spring hangers, a common Midget rot spot, and on the floors and bulkheads, carried out to a high standard.
Under the bonnet lives BMC’s venerable A-Series engine – in this case a 55bhp 1,098cc unit that starts on the button with very little smoke and soon settles to a smooth idle. It holds a steady temperature and goes well through the gears, the vendor describing it as a joy to drive and a car that has always been reliable, with no known problems.
The tyres are all in good order and the brakes and suspension appear to be free of any issues.
Documented work of note includes:
New clutch master cylinder and propshaft mounts
New tyres and wheels powder-coated
Replacement brake pipes and wheel cylinders, rear diff washers and isolated rust repairs
Unleaded cylinder head conversion, new hood, hub oil seal, immobiliser fitted
Extensive body restoration by classic car specialist
Basic is the name of the game when it comes to the Midget’s cabin, but what there is here is in good order with smart blue leather seats and the original three-spoke steering wheel, the original centre boss of which has some age-related wear.
The carpets are in good order, as is the crackle-finish dashboard (refurbished in 2013), while the car also still has a period Radiomobile MW/LW radio which is in good working order.
All of the dials and gauges work correctly including the rev counter – a proper sports car feature of the era!
The Midget is one of the all-time great British classics, with a huge following and great spare parts and club support, making it one of the easiest and most enjoyable cars of its era to own. There aren’t many 60-year-old cars out there where most parts are still readily available off-the-shelf.
As an ownership proposition to enjoy and improve, a first-time classic or a fun car for a younger enthusiast, it’s one that will take some beating.
This is a great, solid example that presents well, with only a few very minor cosmetic areas that could be improved if needed, but don’t detract from the fun and enjoyment it already offers. It’s a much-loved car and a reluctant sale, but one that’s guaranteed to put a big smile on the face of its lucky new owner.
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