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Spridgets Published: 13th Oct 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


Fast Facts

  • Best model: 1275 models
  • Worst model: 1500
  • Budget buy: Early 1098cc cars
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs convert/additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L3490 x W1370
  • Spares situation: As good as it gets
  • DIY ease?: Morris Minor simplicity
  • Club support: Superb
  • Appreciating asset?: Yes, but taking time
  • Good buy or good-bye?: A cut price Caterham – why not?
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Minimalist affordable sports car that provides more smiles per mile than any other. Always cheap and great value with super club and specialist back up but there’s a lot of dross about so take care when buying


The very best, mint condition non Frogeye Sprite or Midget would have to be something special to be worth over £10,000


Comparisons with its deadliest rival – the dreaded Triumph Spitfire – are inevitable, but you can add the Seven too. All three are basic in design and refinements with the Triumph coming out top here but the Midget was generally considered more manly than the sissy Spitfire!

A Spridget feels as Spartan as a Caterham and just as noisy and unrefined. The cockpit lives up to the Midget name as well so try before you buy, and, make no mistake, Midgets are noisy; the old gearbox on A-Series models wails like a banshee, while engine and wind din makes the legal limit a test of endurance on all models – but at least you’ll be kept legal!

As compensation you got one of the most fun-filled sports cars, irrespective of price or prestige. Performance is at best lively but more than ample plus there’s enormous scope for tuning. Handling is kart like and predictable, if low speed. But again, there’s tremendous tuning scope for road and track, where Spridgets still make brilliant low cost racers.

By and large the press loved ’em over their long production run. Testing a 1275cc Sprite in 1967, Motor called it a “safe little sports car… so controllable.”

“What it lacks in ride and comforts, it makes up with outstanding agility and responsive handling” said the same weekly when commenting on the unloved 1500 model back in 1975. Whether or not it was because the engine was a Triumph, or those horrid rubber bumpers, but the 1500 was never the best Midget even though a recorded 0-60mph in 11.9 seconds stroll was actually as fast as the MGB! Certainly, the Midget suffered less from the raised ride height and de-toxed engine scandal to meet US laws than the MGB and the MG still handled fairly tidily and predictably.

Monthly Car was the most critical judge of all the press, refusing to fall for the now classic charms that the Spridget was propagating. In a 1971 twin test against the Triumph Spitfire MkIV, it felt the car was cruder and reckoned the new vastly improved Spitfire now handled better; by 1973 it simply called the Midget “A dying breed of sports car – thank goodness”. In 1975 Motor pitched the pair of 1500s together for the last time and really didn’t favour one or the other, criticising both for their age and crudeness more than anything else.


The very best, mint condition non Frogeye Sprite or Midget would have to be something special to be worth over £10,000 such as a showroom fresh delivery mileage rubber bumper version which sold at auction recently.

However, that’s the exception and most top examples sell for half this, meaning it’s arguable whether the restoration of a basket-case is economically viable, especially if you’re considering a re-shell.

Anything under £2000 is likely to be more body filler than steel, since rust is the worst enemy of these cars. Like-for-like, the cheapest buys are the post 1974 re-engined rubber bumper models. The bumpers look even more ungainly on the Midget than the well sculptured type found on the MGB but, at least in this case the driving experience wasn’t totally ruined.

It remains to be seen whether the rarity of the Sprite version will result in a price difference over the Midget. The rarest of them all is the short lived Austin Sprite of 1971 and this will become the most collectible model we reckon.


There’s heaps you can do to a Spridget and, best of all, there are plenty of cars out there on sale that already have been tuned and improved over the years saving you the time and hassle.

The A-Series is super-tunable in the time honoured way and a good 1275cc unit can hit 100bhp reliably, although around 80bhp is more tractable and cheaper to obtain.

A good number of owners now go another power route and install the later K-Series Rover engine or even a Fiat twin cam, both of which dedicated kits are still available. Don’t go trying to fit a B-Series as the unit is physically larger.

As the Spridget never came with an overdrive option (and that includes the 1500) perhaps the most desirable mod is fitting the five-speed unit from a Ford Sierra, which gives a long legged overdrive gait and more effective intermediate ratios. It costs around £1500 including the ’box from specialists. The A35-derived chassis can be improved immensely with telescopic dampers at the rear, replacing the old lever-arms, along with an axle tramp kit to prevent the assembly joining you in the passenger seat under power! Don’t go mad on tyre choice though; even MG tuners say that 5.5 rims are more than okay for road use with good quality 165/175 tyres. If you intend to keep the car standard, consider investing in an uprated radiator on the 1500, where the reduced rubber bumper ‘mouth’ can lead to cooling problems.

What To Look For


* Worth checking the hood (which are rarely water tight) is okay, plus see if the seller has any extras to include in the sale such as a tonneau cover or hardtop roof – many have.

* Trim is simple and Spartan but at least it is easy and inexpensive to restore and even upgrade. Look for damp damage and musty smell. Sun visors were never fitted! Rubber bumper cars use Triumph dials and switches.

Three Of A Kind

Arch rival to the Spridget, the Spitfire outlived it by a couple of years and outsold it in every year they competed, bar 1969. A more refined, civilised and arguably prettier car, although not half as macho looking or performing. Most will like the MG’s more controllable feel against the more skittish Triumph. Spares and support is equally excellent and they represent similar top value for money and economy of running, especially if overdrive is fitted.
What the Spridget (and the Spitfire) should have evolved into; mid-engine, exotic design, targo topped. Small wonder that the lovely little Fiat X/19 was dubbed a baby Ferrari. Launched in 1972, it still sets standards for handling and poise and while pace isn’t great it’s more than adequate plus the ‘1500’ cars boast five-speed transmissions but all rot like mad and the hydraulics often play up. And this Italian isn’t as simple, sleep-peasy or as cheap to keep.
As modern as the Spridget is dated, the mid-engined, gas-suspended MGF can be bought for the same sort of prices. The MGF remains a strangely underrated sportster with strong performance and precise yet very user-friendly mid-engined handling – very unusual for such a design. The K-Series engine is notorious for popping head gaskets at £700 a time, the Allegro suspension loses its gas and build is patchy while it’s not exactly DIY friendly either.


Midgets are uncomplicated, unpretentious unbelievable fun that not only make great starter sports classics but also can be made into a serious track day car and competitive racers in MG championships. It lives up to its name in size and ownership costs but with a big heart. Despite their age you can still walk tall with a Midget…

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