The Midget Mk1 first appeared in 1961 with a cute little 948cc A-series four-pot. A year later it was swapped for a larger 1098cc affair. In 1963, the engine gained stronger main bearings while the front drum brakes were changed for discs. In 1964, the first big facelift occurred. As a result of this, the Midget – now called the Mk2 – got a small increase in power, semi-elliptical rear springs for a smoother ride and a revised interior.
The car was growing up, but in 1966 it started shaving with the arrival of the 64bhp 1275cc engine, a detuned version of the one doing the business in the Mini Cooper S. A better hood and larger fuel tank completed the makeover. Today, this Mk3 version is the one most buyers seek out.
In 1968, British Leyland adopted the car and its marketing team set to with on-trend Rostyle wheels, fresh interior trim and new rear lights. Casting around for something to do, in 1972 the same team forced rounded rear wheel arches on the car.
In 1974, the US insisted on a raft of safety and emissions-led changes that resulted in the Midget getting big rubber bumpers and a cleaner 1.5 Triumph engine mated to a Morris Marina gearbox with full synchromesh. The square wheel arches made a comeback because safety officials considered them to be stronger.
When it comes to a Midget, condition is king and corrosion the enemy within. Yes, you can get new panels and even shells, but they aren’t cheap and they’ll require painting. In fact, one expert we spoke to has stopped dealing in cars that require body work, it’s that expensive. On the other hand, he’ll take any number of mechanical issues on the chin.
So, look hard, believe no one and avoid rust like the plague, and you should get the Midget of your dreams.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
Mike Authers, founder, mgmidgets.com: “Midgets are little but that’s what makes them so much fun. The handling is great but safe, too. But it’s getting harder to find good ones. Not so long ago I’d have a dozen in stock, but at the moment I’m down to one. It’s a fully restored, former Downton Engineering 1971 1275cc Midget for £19,450. Body condition is everything; you can always replace mechanical parts easily, but beware of cheap, poor-quality copies. My favourite is a late-1960s 1275 with chrome bumpers and wire wheels.”
■ Engine: On A-series 948cc, 1098cc and 1275cc engines, check the oil pressure and for signs of oil smoke and fumes. The 1275cc engine is popular with DIY tuners so look for signs of ham-fisted tweakery. A leaky head gasket, worn valve stem seals and noisy tappets are other issues to look out for. The later 1.5 engine had weak crankshaft journals so listen for rumblings below.