Why we love the… the Spridget

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

For David Jacobs, his love of the “Spridget” runs deep – and can be traced back to a childhood encounter…


My first brush with MGs came when I was about 4; A couple who lodged with my Nana had a black open topped one with a red interior. I remember being plonked in it behind the seats, but at that age, I wasn’t that interested, so I don’t recall if it was a B or a Midget.

They didn’t really enter my consciousness for quite some time after that; my cousin had a sportscar when I was about 10 or 11, but it was only a Triumph Spitfire (!)

During my teen years, I’d been more interested in custom cars and hotrods, but after learning to drive and buying my first car – a 1973 Vauxhall Viva, reality (and insurance!) bit, and my daydreams of dropping a Rover V8 into it faded somewhat. I had started my first job and one of the guys at work had an MGB GT – now this was something slightly different from the run of the mill stuff everyone else had. Then my sister and her husband bought an MGB roadster – better still, as the top came off (never mind the fact that it was so full of rips and tears, you hardly needed to lower it for that wind in the hair feeling!) However, when I came to drive it, I was a bit disappointed as it felt really heavy and unresponsive, so when they came to get rid of it, I wasn’t too interested in taking it on, especially as it needed quite a bit of welding underneath.

Anyway, the scene was set, and I fancied myself in something like this, and having ditched ‘Custom Car’ in favour of ‘Classic Car’, I had discovered that the Midget was probably more to my taste. The more I found out about them, the more I had to try one, so when a 1974 model (one of the last chrome bumper ones) came up for sale in the local paper, off I dashed with my mental checklist of what I should be examining. Well, I did all the examining, and promptly ignored what my eyes had told me once I’d got in and drove the thing. It was love at first drive! Basically, it was fun with a capital F, U and N!

I drove it in all weathers from blazing hot sunshine (memories of traffic jams in Norfolk, surrounded by clouds of greenflies, attracted by the non-original Inca yellow paint) through rain (lethal handling due to ‘Danubiana’ Rumanian remoulds on the back, which were so bad they were recalled and scrapped!) to snow in the depths of winter…

So, a day later and my Halifax savings book emptied, the Midget was mine. I drove it in all weathers from blazing hot sunshine (memories of traffic jams in Norfolk, surrounded by clouds of greenflies, attracted by the non-original Inca yellow paint) through rain (lethal handling due to ‘Danubiana’ Rumanian remoulds on the back, which were so bad they were recalled and scrapped!) to snow in the depths of winter (actually not that bad as it has a terrific heater so it’s quite cosy inside – shame about trying to scrape the ice off an extremely brittle plastic hood window one morning). The 8 months of MOT it came with ran out in January 1987 (goodness knows how it had passed judging by the horrors I found) so I took it off the road and started to take it to bits and rebuild it. Lack of a garage hampered things for a while, so it was about 6½ years, a change of colour to Mallard Green, and a worrying amount of cash spent on new parts before the MG was back on the road again, but I had done pretty much everything myself, apart from the engine machining.

Ten years later, I’m still driving it though not everyday, because even though it’s noisy, slow, cramped and totally outdated, it’s still F U N.

5 Comments

  1. I had a 1500 Midget. Truly dreadful it was too. Bought it because it *seemed* to offer better value than the Spitfire I couldn’t afford at the time. It had been “restored” not long before I bought it by a company called “Enigma Restorations” according to the sticker in the back window.

    Restoration included a rolled up copy of the Sun in the bottom on one A pillar (new panel about £6) and lots of filler with iron filings (so you can’t tell that it’s filler with a magnet) strategically placed in lower rear wings.

    Both footwells leaked due to the bodged tack welded patches (Midget wings are only bolt one and the structural bit is the scuttle and footwell). New outer sills tack welded on over old rusty ones, inner sills plated over old ones (all structural). Oh, and a very dodgy floor repair covered by glued down carpet. and a Mk1 bonnet bodged with some very dodgy paint work and filler in the front edge.

    Enigna Restorations, if anyone is interested, were destroyed by a mysterious fire (no it wasn’t me but have a read of this… http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/8194891.Todmorden_mill_complex_wrecked_in_blaze/ )

    Back to the car, well, in 8 years it ate 3 sets of “uprated” front shock absorbers, a set of rear shocks (telescopic conversion), I learned to weld and fixed the sills, both sides of the floor pan, the drivers, side A pillar and hinges and the inner wings. Every time I poked something it just got worse.

    The handling on the standard 145 section tyres was laughable until I fitted some Minilite alloys and wider tyres, and replaced the front dampers, steering rack, springs and every single suspension bush, trunnion and grease nipple. Then the piston rings blew, 50 miles from home.

    I drove it for miles, almost always with the hood down but eventually got fed up of the eternal rust battle and the endless spare parts needed, and burning off or hacksawing and chiseling off every single rusted bolt.

    Eventually, I hated the damn thing and was glad to see the back of it for an MX5. Should have saved my pennies and bought that Spitfire…

  2. Been trying to read up on the Spridget S project that was developed in response to the Honda S600 / Honda S800, apparently it went from 0-60 in around 9-10 seconds and had a max speed of 107 mph though unable to confirm the figures.

    The Spridget engine was not in 1275cc Cooper S specification rather it was developed by Eddie Maher being not only faster and more economical compared to Spridget with a Cooper S unit but also cheaper to build, only for the project to go nowhere on the basis that the Spridget would have allegedly embarrassed the MGB.

    Not sure though whether Eddie Maher’s improvements to the Spridget S’s A-Series was simply limited to an All-Alloy Head (and whether it was a Crossflow or 8 Port head) or something more.

  3. While have read about shelved B-Series Spridget-derived prototypes such as the 84 hp 1622cc powered Austin-Healey MARS Sprite prototype (noted for both being quicker than the MGB as well as needing underbonnet sound deadening), would the 68-91 hp 1.5-1.75-litre E-Series engines have fitted into the Spridget?

    With the 1.5-1.75-litre E-Series uprated to 83-106 hp in Downton tuned form, it would have suited the Spridget from the late-60s / early-70s compared to the 1.5 Triumph Four unit even if the latter was only chosen for compliant with US emissions regulations.

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