1971 MG Midget Mk III
4-cyl. 1275cc/62hp 2x1bbl SU
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The Mark III MG Midget was introduced in October 1966 as a 1967 model. Both the Midget and its companion Austin-Healey Sprite received the 65 hp BMC A-series engine, now displacing 1275 cc. It was the same engine as the Mini Cooper S, but detuned, and it could push the boxy little roadster to 60 mph in 14.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of about 94 mph.
The convertible top was finally a folding design instead of something to be dismantled and put in the trunk, and the car sold for $2,174. MG described the Midget as “the smallest real sports car.” The top three gears were synchromesh but first was still a crashbox gear. The car changed little in 1968 and 1969, when knock-off wire wheels became optional. The price crept up to $2,520 in 1972, when black rocker panels carried the name Midget in block letters and Rostyle mags wheels were fitted.
More attractive rounded rear wheel arches were introduced for 1972, but they were dropped when crash testing became more severe in 1974. At this point the car was equipped with big rubber blocks attached to both bumpers. The Mk III was the most popular Midget of this body style, with 100,246 finding owners. Paint colors were bright and cheery and the car handled well, until the front lever shocks wore out. The quarters are cramped for drivers taller than 5-feet 9 inches tall, however, and the road and wind noise make a radio almost unnecessary.
The MG Midget would continue to be revised starting in 1975, with the introduction of the Mk IV model. Model changes at this point were aimed at addressing increased emissions and safety regulations.
Good examples of Mk III Midgets can still be found at the back of garages in better neighborhoods where they were a popular second car for sunny days, but time has not been kind to those living on the streets. As always, look out for rust and check that the front suspension is still stiff, without having tube shocks fitted. The lever shocks are also at the top a-arms and if they’ve failed, the suspension bushings are worn out too. First gear should be quiet, which is uncommon in most cars now. Prices for the MG Midget are remarkably cheap, and represent one of the most economical ways to get into vintage motoring.