About Midgets/Sprites

Being involved with Midgets and Sprites for 40 years now and supplying over 1000 of them I can’t emphasise enough what great sports cars they are.  Their small size is a real advantage in lots of ways. They are extremely nimble and handle so well that they excel in motor sport often beating much larger and more powerful cars.  They are eminently tuneable and there are a large range of parts available.

On a practical level they don’t take up much room to garage or get into a car park slot.  They don’t need power steering as they are light and don’t have wide tyres.  Parts have been remanufactured to meet demand and generally available next day from many specialists parts suppliers.

You can’t beat a classic British sports car with polished chrome glinting in the sunlight; guaranteed to bring a smile of satisfaction and pride to your face as the owner.

From my experience I’ve found 70% of buyers like a car in factory original specifications, the other 30% like to modify and improve their cars with modern upgrades.
I do find it is extremely rare to find an MG with its original engine as they have had replacement reconditioned engines fitted in the past if not several times and engine numbers have been removed by the reconditioner.
I personally like Midgets to be as they left the factory with original colours and specification.

Colour

At present, the most popular and desirable colour is British Racing Green, quickly followed by Red. Then closely followed by Blues, Whites etc. It’s very common that the car has had several colour changes over the years and when a complete restoration is carried out it’s painted to the owners personal choice which usually isn’t the car original colour. This doesn’t make any difference to value.

Running Costs

Owning a midget should cost very little. Any midget over 40 years old is classed as a Historic vehicle and exempt from any road tax and also exempt from the MOT test although I believe it’s still good practice to have one done as they check safety critical parts that aren’t easy to check without their specialist equipment.

Most cars are only used in the Summer months so clock up very few miles in a year, so a service once a year is fine, this can be a DIY job or shouldn’t cost more than £400.

Insurance

Special classic car policies are available with a choice of limited mileages, eg: 3,000 miles p.a. or 5,000 miles p.a. Prices vary from under £100 per year fully comprehensive to around £150 per year including benefits such as R.A.C. membership as available from the likes of Lancaster Insurance.
Click on the link to the left for a quote. There are many other classic car insurance specialists, buy any classic car magazine to see their adverts or search the Internet.

Parts

Parts for MG’s are a fraction of the cost of parts for modern cars and most parts are being remanufactured to supply the demand from the thousands of MG owners restoring and maintaining their cars.

In the late 1980’s Rover set up a company called British Motor Heritage, who found all the original tooling used by MG and now produce a wide range of sub-assemblies, body panels and components including full-body shells. Bodyshells now come complete with wings, doors, bonnet and boot lid, with modern anti-corrosion treatment. A Midget restored with a Heritage body shell virtually guarantees no corrosion is left in the car and with regular Wax-oiling the car should last forever!

There are many specialist suppliers of parts, the largest being Moss International. Tel: 0181 8672020 and the MG Owners Club Tel: 01954 231318 There are many smaller suppliers throughout the country. They all have parts catalogues and will post parts to you usually the next day.

Servicing

As most Midgets are only used as ‘sunny day’ fun cars and don’t cover the mileages of everyday modern cars I recommend a service once a year. I always think a Springtime service is a good idea as it prepares the car for Summer use. I also advise a small before Winter check to prepare the car for storage. Eg: antifreeze, increase tyre pressures etc.

Hopefully, you shouldn’t get too many problems using a Midget. But please bear in mind these cars are 40 years old, using 40-year-old technology so they will not be as reliable as a modern car. They can and will go wrong! There will always be some tinkering needed however good the car you buy is. This all part of the experience of owning an MG. If you want reliability buy an MX5.

Unleaded Fuel

All midgets were designed for use with leaded 4-star petrol. They still run fine on Unleaded although will perform better on Super Unleaded which is a higher octane than standard unleaded. With any Midget or Sprite car, I recommend using a lead substitute additive with unleaded petrol. Several different suppliers have been tested and endorsed by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs and these are easily available from Halfords, motorist discount centres, MG Owners Club etc.

E10 Fuel. Although owners in other countries have been using E10 for many years without major problems while E5 is available it’s best to use it. Do inspect fuel lines and components regularly as the rubber hoses can deteriorate from the Ethanol. They are cheap to replace every few years.

When you do buy an additive it is best to get one with an Octane booster. This will bring unleaded fuel up to the Octane of leaded 4-star. Just add the recommended dose with every tank full. Some now have additives to combat the harmful effects of Ethanol.

Warranties

Mechanical insurance-based warranties offered by many garages offer a very limited cover on MG’s of this age. They also only cover mechanical breakdown ie: the part must break rather than fail through wear and tear, which is usually the case on cars of this age. They have so many exclusions and clauses in the small print that making a successful claim is very rare, therefore I do not use them. Please be aware that they are old cars and as such can and will go wrong, it is very difficult to predict the where and when.

On Midgets over £7,000 I do offer 3 months/3,000 mile (whichever is sooner and Cars in the UK only) warranty on mechanical parts that might fail, I will also give a significant discount on labour during this period. This excludes electrical items and wear and tear items such as tyres, glass etc.

MOT’s

All my Midgets over £7,0000 will have a full service and a new MOT (unless at least 8 months remaining).

Although all Midgets and Sprites are now exempt from MOT testing under the 40-year rule I believe it’s essential our cars are independently checked each year especially safety-critical parts which aren’t easy to see or test unless on an MOT lift and rolling road…

All cars are checked with HPI Equifax, this is to confirm the following:-

  • Stolen Vehicles: a check is made with any vehicles reported to the Police as stolen or missing.
  • Condition alert: Warns if the vehicle has been subject to a total loss claim i.e. written off because of damage, or because it has been stolen and not recovered.
  • Outstanding finance: checks with finance houses to see if a vehicle is on finance. Some 5 million vehicles are on this register.
  • Security watch: Certain vehicles that are at risk from theft or fraud are registered with HPI.
  • VIN match: a cross-reference between the chassis number and the registration number to ensure they match.
  • Vehicle identity: to confirm make, model, colour, engine size and number, door-plan, fuel-type and transmission for all vehicles registered at the DVLA.
  • Plate Transfer: tells if the vehicle has had a number plate change registered at the DVLA since April 1990, if it has a check is made on all associated registration numbers to ensure there is no hidden history.

A copy of these checks will be shown to you and then given to you on purchase of the car.

I welcome any inspection on my Midgets before you buy and if you are unhappy with the car for any reason after purchase I do offer a 14-day refund policy. Return the car to me in the same condition and I will give you a full refund.

(see note below)

Happy Midget Motoring!
Mike Authers

Due to recent abuse of my refund policy, I am forced to deduct a £35+VAT per day ‘hire charge’ from the purchase price refunded.