MG Midget & FWD Register

The MG Car Club Sydney MG Midget & FWD Register

John Lindsay is The MG Car Club Sydney’s Midget & FWD Registrar

Contact him:

Telephone: 0403 330 441 (M)

Email:  john@technispec.com

The MG Midget

The term “Midget” was originally coined for the M-type Midget in 1929 and continued to the TF-type Midget in 1955. Today these Midgets are known by their type code and subsequent Midgets are essentially the Modern Midgets (1961-1979).

There were three “official” marks of Midget produced. The variety of detail production changes and the differing pollution and safety requirements for the US market mean that there are 14 distinct versions, 4 different engines and a staggering list of specification changes.

The MG Midget Mark 1 was first introduced in the UK by British Motor Corporation (BMC) in June 1961. It was a badge-engineered version of the Mark II Austin-Healey Sprite. It was distinguished by improved interior trim; better detailed instruments; bonnet and side waistline moulding trim strips; a vertical-slat “MG style” grille and different badging. All Sprites (including the Mark1 Bug-eye) were assembled, like Midgets, by MG at its Abingdon-on-Thames works.

The body design was a combined effort by the Healey Motor Company and the MG Car Company. Healey was responsible for the car forwards of the doors and MG the rear.

The Mark 1 retained the side screens, drum brakes and the 948cc motor of its predecessor, now improved to 46.5 bhp with a close ratio gearbox as standard. Chassis numbers were GAN1 commencing at GAN1-101.

In October 1962, saw the introduction of front disc brakes and a 1098cc motor with 55 bhp. Chassis number prefix was now GAN2 commencing at GAN 2-16184, following on from the earlier car sequence. It remained a Mark 1.

The Midget Mark 2 introduced in March 1964, included revised doors incorporating windup windows, external door handles and door locks. The engine remained a 1098cc unit but with improved main bearings, cylinder head and new exhaust lifted power output to 59 bhp. The chassis prefix changed to GAN 3, commencing at GAN3-25825

announced in October 1966, introduced a fixed folding hood and a detuned (for reliability) Cooper S engine producing 65 bhp (Cooper 75bhp). The chassis prefix changed to GAN 4 commencing at GAN4-52390.

This model was the only Midget model to be assembled in Australia from CKD kits sent from Abingdon. All previous vehicles were Austin Healey Sprites (Marks 1-3). There were 1184 Midgets assembled in Australia between November 1967 (on sale early 1968) and December 1971. The production was split between the initial UK GAN4 model coded YGGN4 or YGN4 (approximately 788) and the “facelift” model GAN5 coded YGN5 (396).

The Mark 3 underwent much modification during its long (October 1966- October 1974) production run.

The initial period from October 1966 to September 1969 saw the original design with detail changes.

The second period from October 1969 saw the introduction of the “facelift” model. Leyland, who had taken over BMC in mid 1968, an effort to rationalise production removed the essential differences between the Sprite and Midget. The MG style slatted grille was replaced by the pressed metal grille of the Sprite and it lost its side waistline trim strips. The Austin Healey name was dropped in December 1970 and the renamed Austin Sprite in July 1971.

The engine number prefix changed to 12CE-DA-H and the chassis prefix to GAN 5 commencing at GAN5-74886 in September 1969 production.

The third variant was the “round arch” Midget in October 1971. This introduced a round arch style to the rear wheel arches which gave greater symmetry to the design. It also introduced a new engine prefix 12V, beginning with the 12V 586 which was essentially the previous 12CE. The chassis prefix remained as GAN 5 commencing at GAN5-105501.

The fourth and final variant was the Midget 1500 produced from 1974-1979. The motor was from the Triumph Spitfire 1500 and the rubber bumpers & higher suspension settings were fitted to comply with US crash testing criteria. Predicably it was dubbed a “Rubber Nose”. The round arch style was deleted in favour of the original square arch due to its greater rigidity. The chassis prefix changed to GAN 6 commencing at GAN6-154101 and ended at 229526.

The last Midget GAN6-229526G rolled off the production line on 7Th December 1979.