Junkyard Find: 1979 MG Midget


1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBMC and then British Leyland churned out MG Midgets and near-identical Austin-Healey Sprites for 20 years, with the final example coming off the Abingdon line in 1980. Because project-grade Midgets still clutter garages, driveways, yards, and fields throughout the land and they’re not worth much, the clock runs out for many of them every year.

The next stop, usually, is among the Sephias and Jettas of the IMPORTS section at a self-service wrecking yard. Here’s a forlorn ’79 I spotted last week in California.

1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsContrary to the belief of those living in Michigan or Massachusetts, cars do rust in California. Oh, yes they do! The worst corrosion horror-shows in the Golden State will be cars that park within a block or two of the ocean, where salt spray mixes with morning fog, but cars that sit outdoors for years will have their paint scorched away by the sun and their weatherstripping turned into black crumbly powder by the smog. Then the winter rains come and water collects under trim, carpeting, and vinyl tops. If a certain doomed British corporation saved a few pence on materials due to labour strife and the imminent collapse of society, you might see this process take place even faster than usual.

1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, rust - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWorth restoring? No way. But owners of surviving Spridgets — of which there are many near this San Francisco Bay Area junkyard — will find plenty of useful parts on this car.

1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor 1979, the U.S.-market Midget had big plastic bumpers, jacked-up ride height (to meet Uncle Sam’s headlight regulations), and the single-carb 1,493cc engines out of the Triumph Spitfire. Fifty horsepower, which was sufficient to make this tiny 1,826-pound car feel a lot quicker than it really was. Meanwhile, the ’79 Honda Civic two-door weighed 151 pounds less and had 13 more horsepower. Sometimes life isn’t fair.

1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, interior - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBeneath all the junkyard clutter, the interior looks to have been spared the worst ravages of the weather, probably because the car’s top stayed up during the wilderness years.

It’s got four wheels and reflexes so quick it almost seems alive.

If you like these junkyard posts, you can reach all 1600+ right here at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand!





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