Car of The Month
April 2018 – 1967 MG Midget
YUC 179H (known affectionately, if unimaginatively, to our family as “Midget”) is a 1967 1275 MKIII MG Midget. The M at the end of its chassis number indicates it was one of only 476 Midgets built at Cowley, for reasons nobody has ever adequately explained.
The car carries a 1969 registration plate because it spent most of the first 2 years of its life in Jersey, registered to the dealer on the island, before being returned to the UK. There are two possible explanations I am aware of. Firstly it could well have been one of many Midgets used as hire cars on the island. Secondly there was a purchase tax avoidance scheme where cars were exported to the island and stored for a time then re imported as used cars. The rental car theory fits better with the known facts.
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The only difference with Cowley cars that I am aware of is that the sump flange on the engine is machined thinner, which makes getting a leak free fitting of the sump even harder than it already would be. All of the 1967 Midgets had an unusual heater layout – this car was built without a heater at all but acquired one at some point in its life. In order to make it correct for 1967 I had to make part of the air inlet myself.
I bought the car in 1986 when I returned home from university, at the time it was in the condition many ’60s midgets fell into, what my other called an “old banger”. I kept it on the road and used it as my only car, including trips to France where my then girlfriend (now my long suffering wife) was working. I always travelled with tools and spares and an expectation of breaking down.
In 1988 I acquired a company car and started a 6 year DIY restoration, after which the car attended many MG Car Club and other classic car events and competed in many autotests. The car was part of the works centre’s BMC trophy winning team 3 years in a row, and won the John Thornley Trophy at least once.
A few years ago the car was involved in a slight accident and as a professional bodyshop could never match the low standard of my home respray the car was taken back to bare metal and professionally painted.
The car is as close to original spec as I can reasonably get it, with the exception of a modern electronic distributor, which is much better at coping with modern fuel.
The first two of these photos show the car at what is now known as the Oxford Mini Plant, formerly the Morris Cowley works where it was built. The car was on display at the recent MGCC meeting.
Owner: Barry Graham
Make/Model: MG Midget
Month/year of manufacture: 1967
Colour: British Racing Green
Engine size/type: 1275cc
Date purchased: November 1986
Pet name of car: “Midget”