Midget. You probably wouldn’t get away with calling a car that today (you know, political correctness...) but back in Twenties nobody batted an eyelid when MG pulled out the moniker for the M Type (based on the then newly released Morris Minor) and continued to use it until its T Type of the Fifties. Its successor, the MGA, was too large to be referred to as a ‘Midget’ so the name was dropped then resurrected for the re-badged Austin-Healey Sprite in 1961, becoming fondly referred to as the ‘Spridget’.
The Midget was a huge hit during the Swinging Sixties — the golden era of the British sportscar industry — as everyone wanted small, nippy roadsters. The MG division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) were rubbing their hands with glee. They couldn’t build them fast enough and pretty soon all you saw on British roads was the tiny two-door with the classic long bonnet and short deck sportscar proportions. Its 948cc BMC “A” series engine made less than 50bhp and it was as basic as you could get and although it was rather spartan it was very charming which sure helped sales. The following year, the engine grew to 1,098cc with 56bhp and front disc brakes were added as were the ever so popular wire-spoke wheels and by 1964, they became even better equipped. Output also grew to 60bhp but and in ‘66 there was another increase in displacement. The new 1,275cc de-tuned Mini Cooper S engine made 65bhp and it had 98Nm of torque which was plenty for the lightweight car, blessed with the ability to dart from left to right in a blink of the eye.
The biggest changes came in the Seventies where the popular wire wheels were dropped from the options list and back came the square wheel arches replacing the rounded ones to help strengthen the body while rubber extensions were added to the chrome bumpers to meet US impact regulations. Under the bonnet sat a 1.5-litre Triumph motor with a fully synchronised gearbox. It provided ample fun behind the wheel and an engaging drive; it was a real gem on winding country roads. Before the Mazda Miata came along in 1989 and became known as the best roadster around, the MG earned that title three decades earlier.
The Midget continued in this guise with only slight cosmetic changes until production ceased in 1979. The last 500 units to roll of the line were painted black.
These days, well maintained and all-original examples have been known to fetch as much as $15,000 (Dh55,000).