About Me and My MG

I’ve been an MG Midget enthusiast since I was 6 when my Dad bought one from my uncle for 1500 bucks.  That was 1987.  This is the story of that car.

Quick overview of the car

VIN# GAN5UB91179G

Engine number # 12CJ/DA/H32875

Assembled 8/70

Shipped to America 9/70

Original Color: Bronze Yellow


Original Dealer options

Radio



Current modifications+upbgrades

Datsun 5-speed conversion


Maniflow LCB header+Exhaust


Prothane Bushings


Rebuilt shock absorbers from World Wide Auto Parts


OEM door mirror


Repainted British racing Green


Engine rebored .030” over


SW5-07 cam


9/16” Sway bar

1970-1986

1987-1988


1988-1999

During this time the car was in my father’s care.  By this time it was missing its radio console, courtesy light, trunk light lens, its MG badging, and the grill chrome trim piece. and wiring  A few times he and my grandpa pulled the engine and replaced the clutch with some assistance from me.  I was instructed in the importance of greasing zerks, changing oil, and topping up dashpots.  My dad used to take the whole family (myself, my mom, and my brother) for ice cream or to the movies with that car.  Back then it was pretty easy to fit us kids right behind the seats.  We even saw a few MG shows, and I remember laughing at the MGB GTs thinking how silly it was to have such a very small station wagon!


A few years went by and then a tragic event occured that would forever change the car.  My father pulled up to a flashing red, waited his turn and proceeded into the intersection.   A driver approaching the intersection from his right didn’t stop at the flashing red and instead plowed into the front right fender, totalling the car. I remember gazing upon its disfigured face when I saw it in the parking lot of the body shop and I remember how sad it all was.  Somehow my dad managed to find a way to have the body repaired for the amount that the insurance company gave us.  The body shop replaced the rightside floor with plain sheet metal.  They purchased the hulk of a red 1973 MG Midget that had been totalled when someone rear ended it and cut out the right front quarter of the car to be transplanted into my dad’s car.  for the rest of the decade their would be one wheel that didn’t match the rest. 


Years later I would notice that the turn signal hight on the left didn’t match the left, and that the radiator support posts were misaligned.  Still the car was repaired and repainted in its current “British Racing Green” and the flat black rocker panels were painted gloss black.  At some point after all this, a large dent in the passenger door appeared following a collision in a parking lot while the midget was parked.


Also during this time the transmission got jammed in reverse and was replaced with a rebuilt unit (my dad didn’t know how to rebuild them).  Sometime in the mid 1990’s my dad gave up on the car and parked it because it was due for another clutch and he was getting tired of all the repairs it always needed.  It was then that he told me that the car was mine if I got it running again.


2000-2012

I graduated from high school in june of 1999 and started looking around for work.  In the meantime, I worked on the MG with my dad.  Once we got it running I started practicing my stick shift driving by going up and down the alley.  Starting the car from a dead stop was a bit tricky.  The clutch didnt disengage untill it was almost all the way to the floor, and you had to slip the clutch a little to avoid stalling the engine but it wasn’t easy to find the right way to do this.  After a while, this turned into an all out joyride to a carwash. It was then that I truely fell in love with the car all over again, and any doubts I had about MG ownership were wiped away. 


I got hired by a local mechanics shop,  It was run by a guy who ran a very tight ship and I was a young cocky amature mechanic that wanted to do a lot more than merely run parts for folks.  I quit after a year because of the low pay and the fact that it was obvious I could do a better job doing this or that than some of the bozos he’d hired, but he still wouldn’t let me cut rotors, change oil or anything. Worst of all he’d insisted that I arrive precisely on time to the second, not even stand by the clock and wait, not arive early or late.  It hurt a little when he called my new car a “toy” and insisted I get a real car.  But I digress.


In fall of 2000 I went to college at John Brown University in Arkansas.  After a semester, we towed the midget down there and from then on I had great fun touring the back roads of Arkansas.  The best was the rear gravel driveway to the dormatories.  i loved flying down that as fast as possible.  There is a real rally spirit to these cars.  At the time though, she had some issues with worn big end bearings that cause her to lose oil pressure after an hour of hard driving. 


Another thing that happened was that my fuel pump gave out while taking somone back to the dorm after they got off work.  We started pushing the car back to the dorm at night when a cop stopped us because he was afraid that 1 the car was stolen, 2 that we’d get hit because we werent that visible.  After a long discussion he called his superiors and decided to escort us back to campus.  So here we were pushing an MG Midget down country roads with a cop following and lights flashing.  It was like a surreal high speed chase gone horribly wrong.


I ordered a replacement pump, discovered that what was on the car was not the original item and that the fuel pump isn’t inside the tank (after removing the tank and making a mess of course).  It was then that i reinstalled the fuel sending unit turned 90º from where it should have been.  Thus For the next several years, only 1/2 tank of gas would read on the gauge at all times.


I had constant issues with speed bumps that would rip my muffler off, and I broke an axel while leaving the parking lot with my girlfriend at the time.  The car remained parked on blocks for a month or two which upset a few people in the college.  Lots of adventures happened there that I don’t really have time to relate.  But all this came to an end in the summer of 2001 when I found out that I had flunked out of college, my girlfriend had dumped me, and I’d been fired from my summer job (all in one week OUCH!).  We got the car back to illinois by putting it on a trailer and towing it.

I still didn’t understand why it lost all that oil pressure and was concerned about the health of the engine over the trek from arkansas to illinois.  My dad had the bright idea of covering the car with a tarp and tying it down to the trailer in a few places, but this resulted in the ropes vibrating and rubbing some paint off the hood of the car.


On a roadtrip to a family thankgsgiving celibration a few states over, my dad and my brother saw a couple rusty midgets for sale on the side of a country road.  We managed to strike a deal with the owner and a friend.  We’d take the chrome bumper car and our friend would take

the 1500.  In the end both restoration projects fell through.  the 1500 got sold off but the 1275cc 1970 model was retained.  The body was too far gone so we stripped it of the parts, and chopped up the body.  Through an add on the internet we aquired a replacement body with the intent of making a good restored Mg Midget.  This never really happened and all these parts sit in the garage to this day, waiting for when I need them. 


I began attending columbia college where I met my wife.  Thank goodness she loves the car almost more than I do.  She has been my rock when it comes to this thing.  Wont let me part with it!.  I also finally joined the Chicagoland MG Club, which opened up a whole new world of tech support, and fun.  It was then that I discovered what the problem was with the oil pressure loss, and I also decided to do a 5 speed conversion.  By 2003 the car was off the road, and on blocks for a long time while I completed the 5 speed conversion, and then undertook a minor engine rebuild with the help of Barney Gaylord (www.mgaguru.com). 


After a year at columbia I transferred to National louis university, where I graduated with a BA in math.  the car was put back on the road, and I became the driving events coordinator for the club.  I used the MG only when the family Hondas weren’t available to me, because i didn’t want to risk losing any more of her to the elements, and keeping her garaged meant that she deteriorated very little in this time. I eventually discovered that she was only holding 1/2 a tank of gas and I got annoyed enough at this to take out the tank and send it off to Fuel Tank Renu, and got it restored and coated.  after reassembly, the sending unit was installed correctly, but my dad bent the arm so who knows how accurate its calibration is?


After graduation from college I looked for better work than the barista gig I had at Starbucks for the previous two years.  I landed a temp gig at Hewitt, and used the midget to drive the 1 hour commute to work.  the job didnt last more than a few months and when my time was up I was disappointed that once more I didnt feel like I had a lot of direction.  My wife (then girlfriend) had moved back to masachussetts without graduating due to the overwhelming cost of higher education these days, and I was left looking for a way to make ends meet well enough that the two of us could start a home together. 


I drifted from temp job to temp job but decided to try to go for a graduate degree at wheaton college to see if  that would help.  Also i started to feel like my calling, was to teach people about God, so the Evangelism and leadership program seemed a good fit.  I am still trying to figure out how MG sportscars and christian Leadership are connected, or where to go with this degree but I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  For a while the MG was my daily driver, because with the recession, my folks couldn’t afford to pay for any more maintenance on a second japanese car, nor did I feel like spending money on getting the title transferred or get the overhaul done on the 1993 toyota that was slatted to be a wedding present to me and my wife. 


In May the engine blew a head gasket between cylinders 2 and 3.  Upon inspection it became apparent that there had been some warpage or erosion there that may prevent proper sealing.  After replacing and blowing yet another head gasket just days after installation, these suspicions were confirmed.  So it was off top Apex engineering for a rebuild.  The engine was bored .30 over not by choice, but necessity because during the previous rebuild I apparently got over enthuisiastic with the ridge reamer (gotta be careful with that everyone).  The pistons were more modern in design and might even be lighter.  In addition, as we tore the block down we discovered the camshaft was unsalvageable due to a severely worn down lobe and bad paulling on a number of other lobes.  likewise the tappets were in need of replacement.  There was a fair amount of slop in the timing chain and some wear on the main bearings. 


So I looked for a good cam.  I chose the Swiftune SW5-07 which was manufactured on new billet and yet cost half as much as even a new cam in original profile.  This cam is listed as fast road and has given the car a good amount of extra power, not to mention that with the larger bore, the slightly shaved head, the shallower dish in the pistons she has more displacement and higher compression.  I reccomend the use of an offset cam key because the cam timing should be retarded about 6-8 degrees for street use.  That means getting a 3 degree offset cam key.


Just as soon as the car was reassembled with the engine all resplendant in new green paint it was time for the spring AHCA autocross.  She took first in the midget class because once again she was the only midget.  However both due to my improvement in driving skill and the car’s improved state of performance and repair, she placed right in the middle of the rest of the austin-healey sprites. 


By now of course it has been put on the road, and the MG is still waiting for a restoration.  She has been once again religated to special use, while I patiently save money and plan.  In the meantime, there will be much repairs , rallying, and autocrossing, untill the wheels fall off.  I have now graduated from Wheaton, and continue to develop this website, and try to put enough money together for a full restoration of the car.  Pleas check the news section for occasional updates.


-Seth Jones