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						Modified Mg Midget3
Dirt-Cheap Modified MG Midget

Toyota 2T-C powered MG Midget

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

I’m a huge proponent cheap fun cars, but you typically have to be creative and a little handy to find something classic and sporty on a shoestring budget. For me it was a $1,500 Triumph Spitfire that I couldn’t turn down (which is now happily hogging space in my garage until Spring), but I hope to use it to show how much enjoyment can still be had in a cheap old car. Cool cars under $3,000 aren’t always an easy find though, so I feel it’s my gearhead duty to share this smoking deal on a MkI MG Midget that comes with an interesting engine swap and a titled parts car for just $1,900!

Like many small British sports cars of the era, the MG Midget was born in the early 1960s and was sold until around 1980. The MkI Midget was powered by the Austin-Healey Sprite’s 948 cc four cylinder, producing 46 hp, and output was increased to 56 hp in 1962 by increasing displacement to 1,098 cc. Performance was spirited, especially given the car’s diminutive size, but not what we’d consider fast today. Engine displacement was increased in later generations, but didn’t always result in a big performance gain given tightening emissions regulations. The final MG Midget left the factory in 1980 sporting the Spitfire’s 1,500 cc engine and was capable of 100 mph flat out.

MG turned out a crap-load of these cars, nearly 23,000 examples of the MkI alone, so finding them cheap is pretty easy, and even easier if you’re not looking for a mint condition example. Take this ’64 Midget on Seattle Craigslist for example. It appears to be in reasonable condition with no major corrosion or body damage present, and most of its trim is there as well. It even comes with a titled parts car, which is another big bonus. The trick is that the Austin-Healey A-series engine in this car has been replaced by a 1.6-liter Toyota 2T-C four cylinder, commonly found in older Corollas, Celicas and several non-U.S. models. This engine is good for 75 to 102 hp, some of this wide margin is due to the difference in net vs. gross hp reporting, but also a difference between early and late engines. Compression is a respectable 9.0:1.

Other than being a nice upgrade in terms of performance, the Toyota 2T engine is a fairly tunable, being used in Australian Formula Two racing in the 1970s and ’80s, and can be improved to over 150 hp. The seller has also noted that the engine comes with Weber carburation and the Toyota’s T50 five-speed manual transmission, which sounds like a healthy formula in the Midget. By the seller’s description, it sounds like the engine has been partially installed, but it’s not quite ready to run yet and still needs an exhaust manifold.

There’s always danger associated with someone’s custom project, and the seller chose not to include any photos of the engine swap, but I think this one could be a winner on a small budget. Check it out here on Seattle Craigslist.

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