Hooniverse Weekend Edition – A 1979 MG Midget with only 7,100 Miles!


Continuing on with the Low Mileage Edition of Hooniverse Weekends I came across this mint 1979 MG Midget. In what is possibly the longest production cycle of any British Car, the Midget was a decedent of the Austin Healey Sprite, that first saw production in 1958. 1980 marked the last year for the Midget, so that was an incredible 22 years of factory output with over 226,000 MG Produced, and another 129,000 Sprites. So, it this last of a breed worth buying, or is just another antique to be locked up in a museum?


This version of the Midget was called the Midget 1500, after being fitted with the 1493CC unit lifted from the Triumph Spitfire. The gearbox was also lifted from another British Leyland model, the Morris Marina. To meet US federal regulations, very large black plastic bumpers were added to the front and rear along with an increase in ride height. Federal regulations at that time dictated that all passenger car bumper heights had to be equal (remember, they didn’t consider trucks, vans, and utility vehicles passenger cars), and that headlamps also had to be a certain height.

This particular Midget is all original, and according to the listing:

This is a chance to own the best 79 MG Midget on the planet. It has only 7,137 miles. The car is all original. Even the tires are original. The car is in the best color you could by. It was dealer rust proofed. The top is like new. The car runs and drives better than any restored one of these. They are only original once. It would cost a fortune to restore one of these to this level and it still would not be as tight.


Currently the bidding has stalled at $7,600.00, with an unmet reserve. So, how much do you think the bidding will go before its sold? Is this an MG worth craving? Am I out of my mind for taunting you? See the eBay listing here.

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  1. clunkerlove Avatar
    clunkerlove

    A Tifosi bugeye kit will turn that rubber bumper car with the high-water pants into a proper classic: http://austin-healey.com.au/
    I fail to appreciate the malaise era Midgets and MGB's. Not long ago I had an '80 Spitfire and I got my reciprocating saw and removed the unsightly rubber bumpers and replaced them with the chrome units from a '77. I'd guess it was ~40lbs lighter without really compromising crash integrity. Anyway – the Tifosi kit looks great and if I had a rusty but trusty MG it would be tops on my list of restoration goodies.

    1. facelvega Avatar
      facelvega

      The problem is that if this thing has any special value, it's in the originality, warts and all. That kit is a no-brainer though for one that has already had any changes or miles. Personally, though, I'll take an Ashley GT.
      <img src="http://images.hemmings.com/wp-content/uploads//2010/10/AshleyGTGoodwood_1000-700×525.jpg"&gt;

      1. tonyola Avatar
        tonyola

        You could take two Midgets and make a Sparks Turbo Phaeton!
        <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2677/4399073376_26c0e8a739_z.jpg?zz=1&quot; width=500>

        1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar
          BlackIce_GTS

          While that's not a silk purse, and the Midget certainly isn't a sow's ear; this is a transformation that really fits the metaphor.
          Making a cubic zirconia encrusted coke spoon out of a briar pipe?

  2. Jim-Bob Avatar
    Jim-Bob

    Well… there are several British cars that had a longer production cycle than a mere 22 years. For example, the Mini. It was made from 1959 until 1999 with only minor evolutionary changes. The same could be said of the Jaguar XJ6 as it used the same basic architecture for almost 35 years if memory serves. Plus, let's not forget the Morris Oxford that has been in production since 1954 or 55 and is still built today in India as the Hindustan Ambassador.

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      The original XJ6 platform was in production from 1969 to 1992 – that's 24 years. The XJ6 based on the all-new XJ-40 platform was introduced in 1986 and lasted until 2003.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      Morgan has been producing the 4/4 since 1955. They may eventually stop, who knows?

  3. CJinSD Avatar
    CJinSD

    I didn't realize that so many of these were Sprites. I see a MKII or III Sprite from time to time, but I remember when MG Midgets were everyday sightings and most Sprites seemed to be Bugeyes.

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      The Sprite outsold the Midget by a lot in the early years, but it died in 1971.

  4. tonyola Avatar
    tonyola

    The buggy-bumper Midget stands as a testament to the utter incompetence and stupidity of British Leyland. Every manufacturer who exported to the US had to meet the same emission and safety laws. BL, however, did it in the worst way possible. First, take a none-too-reliable car that was already outdated by 1970. Second, drastically cut the power and driveability to meet US laws. Third, slap on huge, ugly rubber bumpers that utterly spoil the lines of the car. Fourth, cheapen every part of the car to keep the cost under control. Finally, raise the ride height so that the bumpers would be useful. So what if it wrecks the handling? The only remaining virtue of the Midget was that the top could go down. That wasn't enough. Is it any wonder that the Japanese destroyed the British sports car market in the US?
    You should be able to find a quite decent chrome-bumpered, pre-malaise Midget at this price.

    1. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar
      From_a_Buick_6

      I've never liked the Midget in any form. And as awful as the last MGBs were, this managed to be even worse. Quite the feat.
      At least the Spitfire kept its chrome bumpers (albeit with huge overriders) until the last year or two.

    2. P161911 Avatar
      P161911

      I have seen a rubber bumper MGB that the owner painted the ugly black things body color, it made it look 100x better. They could have probably sold MGs for another 3 or 4 years if they had done just that one small change.

      1. JayP Avatar
        JayP

        They tried with updates. By that time the Triumph men had wedged themselves in positions of power and finally did in the MGB to make way for the new shape of the future… the TR7.
        MG even had a new OHC engine but it was left to die. A few firms wanted to buy the rights to the bodyshell to continue but that all flaked out. The MGB really was an antique compared to the cars the Japanese were about to launch. 8 years after the B died, the Miata took its place.

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        They looked into painting the bumpers. At the time there wasn't a flexible, durable, inexpensive paint for that surface that would also be a very close match to the luster of what they used on the main body, nor was there money to develop one.

  5. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Wire wheels? Really? I thought the tires were supposed to run at a slip angle, not the wheels. Theres no sound as distinctive as the "ping" of snapping spokes under hard cornering. Guess they put so many of them in there to provide redundancy. But that also begs the question, "one fastener to keep the bloody thing attached to the car?" Of course, if you manage to keep it attached more than a week without removing and coppergreasing the splines, you wont have to worry. The rust and corrosion will make the wheel and hub one fused part. That brass hammer in the tool kit was for more than removing the nut.
    /Now collect that monstrosity and yourself and remove both from the lawn of my estate forthwith before Im forced to call the authorities!/

  6. P161911 Avatar
    P161911

    Isn't 7,900 miles pretty much the used up/full restoration needed point of a rubber bumper MG?

  7. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    I love classic cars, but I'd take a 1st-gen Miata with a 1.8 liter/5-speed/LSD with 100k over this thing any day.

  8. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    Jim, you've offered up a wondrous collection of low-mileage undesirables today. If these were the only four cars in the wooorld, I'd pick them in this order…
    MG
    Thunderbird
    Subaru
    Walking
    Renault

  9. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    In general I like Spridgets, but I'm not a big fan of rubber-bumper 1500's. If this were a round-arch car, or a Sprite Mk IV/Midget Mk III or earlier I'd be much more interested; as it is, I find a very weird part of me wondering if I couldn't find a Chrysler (Sebring, or even LeBaron!) convertible for less $$ and still have a more dependable car with better ultimate performance (if not better road feel.)

  10. CJinSD Avatar
    CJinSD

    A bit more than 20 years ago, a friend of mine had a rubber baby buggy bumper MG Midget that he'd purchased to drive while he was restoring his Spitfire. The Midget was cosmetically rather decent, although I never looked at it all that closely. When the Spitfire was completed, the Midget languished at the end of his partents' driveway. I asked what he wanted for it, and he said that selling it to a friend was out of the question. He had some good stories about the joys of lever shocks and British workmanship though.

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