Mar 21, 2003 update to the MG Midget project car

Baseline

On track testing with a Miata.
This helps us compare our baseline to our goals.
Weigh in!

You’ve seen the pictures of what our little Midget looks like, but you’re probably wondering what the heck we’re going to do with this little British car. Here’s a little background on the Midget to get you in the right frame of mind. First off, the premise for Project Midget was concocted over more than a few frosty beverages. Our drinking buddy/co-conspirator, Rennie Bryant, confessed that what he would like is a modified Midget that will show those Miata enthusisasts a thing or two. A tall order, perhaps, but with a decent restoration and some careful hot rodding and modernizing this could be obtainable.

But, before we get too far into what we are going to do with our little Project Midget, we need to discuss exactly what we have to start with. What we have is the world’s worst 1971 Midget that still runs and drives. The only saving grace with this car is that it is not rusty. Somehow, some way, there is not one speck of rust on this East Coast car anywhere. Other than the fact that the engine smokes badly, every synchro in the gear box is junk, the left rear spring is broken, the tires are junk, the fuel pump leaks, the steering rack freezes up when you make a right turn, the seat, dash and entire interior are shot, only one of the gauges works, the chrome is rusted, the paint is faded, the wipers don’t work, the exhaust leaks, the windshield is pitted, the shocks are shot, the throttle sticks open, and the brake pedal is soft, the car is absolutely perfect!

If we are going to do this thing right, we need to test it against a decent Miata both before and after the transformation. Last week, we tested our Midget against a bone stock 1992 Miata at Ocala Gran Prix, a racing kart track in west Central Florida. We had several staff members and friends drive each car around the mid-40 second course. Surprisingly, the Midget was not miles behind the Miata at the finish line. In fact, it was just a few seconds back from our benchmark.

Unfortunately, we need to readdress the money situation one more time. Despite its deploarable condition, this Midget is rust free, runs and drives (if you use those terms loosely). The going price for a car in this condition is right about the $1600 we paid for it. Sad as it may seem, the laws of supply and demand have relegated early Miatas to nearly the same price range. Clapped out early Miatas sell for as little as $2500 and a real nice example costs barely twice that figure. So, the math just isn’t going to work on this one. There is no way you can buy and even partially restore an MG for less than $5000, never mind upgrade and modify it. So, without getting to crazy in the money department (let’s face it, not many people want to have Jaguar XKE money tied up in an MG Midget) we need to fix this thing up and make it run better than a Miata.

Some of you by this time are thinking, “What would happen if you spent the same money hot-rodding the Miata, instead of messing with the Midget?” To be fair, that’s a viable concern, but, if you are reading a magazine like this one, we need to assume some leap of faith and an incomplete grasp of reality on your part to get this far with us. To be fair, we will compare our finished Midget with not only the same stock Miata, but with our red hot Project Miata from our sister magazine, Grassroots Motorsports.

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