Tyler Sprague's 1971 MG Midget
I was 17 years old and a junior in high school when I began contemplating a project for my senior year. There was no doubt that my project would focus on something with a motor, and my interests were only limited by my part time and slightly above minimum wage job at the local auto parts store. Okay, my options were definitely NOT endless. I decided since I was woefully in love with automobiles, and every make and model struck my fancy in one way or the other, that restoring a car or truck was the answer to the big question my senior English teacher would eventually ask. “Tyler, what are you planning to do for your senior project?” Yup, I was ready for her. Well, sort of.
Picking the right car was vitally important to me. First and foremost, I was operating on a very limited budget. I wanted something that was not overwhelming, so a complete rebuild was definitely out of the question. It was also important to me to keep this project fun. No, EXCITING! I absolutely HAD to have something that would maintain my wandering attention and hold my ever-changing interest. I didn’t have a clue, so, I turned to craigslist. Frustration had become commonplace as I perused the ads, and I had no direction until my father suggested for me to consider an MG Midget. That was it! A small, two-seater convertible with a manual transmission that is relatively simple to work on and a blast to drive. The search was on, and luck was with me, for just a short three-and-a-half hour drive from my house was a 1971 MG Midget listed for $750. It had sat in the seller’s garage for 15 years, and he stated that it would start with a battery and new starter. The very next day I emptied my bank account, my father rented a car dolly and we headed north to pick up my new project.
When we arrived, it was as the seller had stated. The car had been hit in the rear driver’s side quarter panel, the tires were dry rotted (as demonstrated by the blowout an unexpected new tire purchase while towing it home) and the starter was hanging by one loose bolt. We tightened up the starter enough to hear the engine turn over, accepted a new rear quarter panel (that turned out to be for the wrong year) as part of the deal, paid the seller, signed the title and smiled all of the way home.
Needless to say, I didn’t finish the restoration of my Midget during my senior year, but I did get an “A” on my English project. The story of my Midget made the front page of the local newspaper, and I graduated high school a proud young man.
I’m 22 years old now, and my 1971 Midget is still an ongoing project. I have endured many late nights and several bloody knuckles during the restoration process, but now this little car is a daily driver. I am very proud to say that my Midget is extremely reliable, exhilarating to drive, and always receives compliments from new friends that I meet at gas stations and fast-food restaurants. People have made offers to purchase my Midget, but I have always turned them down. My ’71 has become a member of the family, a great topic for conversation and the number one reason that I have to work nights and weekends.