Cold Start: Oof, She Doesn’t Look Happy

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I know yesterday I derided the new 2024 Honda HR-V for having a face that looks like it’s had enough of your shit, so in the interests of fairness here’s a car that looks happy to see you and a human who, well, doesn’t.

From modern eyes, it’s hard not to assume that the MG-owning lady there is sitting, barefoot, in front of her fun little car because the damn thing won’t start. Probably a Lucas Electrics switch that melted itself into a plastic-and-aluminum pendant, or something. But there she is, stuck in what looks to be a giant sandbox.

Sorry, lady. Hope you can get that thing started.

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46 Responses

  1. My 1970 Midget was very reliable as well, one it was sorted and given the regular maintenance it needed. It, too, was the same color as the car in the photo (BLVC15 – Bronze Yellow). Always ran like a champ, especially after an engine and gearbox rebuild. Twenty years ago, it was my main transportation for over six years and was driven top-down as much as possible, even in the winter. Too many times caught with only the tonneau cover in a rain shower eventually caused its demise as the outer edges of the floor and inner sills slowly dissolved away. One key thing to smooth running was realizing the points and condenser are consumables. They need to be replaced about annually if regularly driven (I got between 12 – 15 months). Fit the new set, make sure the gap is spot on, check the dwell and timing and then have fun driving. The distributor cap, rotor, and HT leads could last longer, but these too were changed at least every few years. Car never had any mysterious Lucas electrical issues.

  2. I’m on-board for the MG content. Love a set of Rostyle wheels. My B has been re-wired, so “most” of the electrical works. Someday I’ll spend the time to figure out why my reversing lights don’t work.

    1. I re-wired my ’71 BGT (same color as this Midget) with a Painless harness a couple years ago. Got everything to work except the original Smiths tach, which seems to be a lost cause. So I gave up and stuck an aftermarket one in. All the rest of the gauges, and everything else, works fine (Knocks on wood and throws salt over shoulder to ward off evil Lucas spirits). Next up is a Delco alternator swap, as soon as I have a chance to have someone make me a bracket for it.

    2. I could write a novella about the weird behavior of the gas gauge on my A. It has several modes of action. Reads accurate. Reads inaccurate. Sits at E. Sits at F. Bounces between E and F in a hyperactive manner. Sometimes I think it’s read quantum physics texts because looking at it influences it.
      Looking at a schematic of how it’s designed makes me think Rube Goldberg, an alchemist and the devil got drunk together.

      I threaten to convert it to an electric drivetrain sometimes and it behaves for a while.

      1. My gauge never reads full… it tops out at about 3/4, but it’s pretty accurate from there. What always shocks me is that the analog clock still works and keeps perfect time. My Dad’s fuel gauge in his MGA is pretty bouncy, but it seems to work. I think we both count on our trip odometers as a back-up to the fuel gauge.

  3. Maybe she’s unhappy about its lack of acceleration?

    What it really needs is a rotary engine from Mazda! If this picture is from the early 70s, then that means the Mazda Luce R130 had been on the market. Which means a 110 horsepower rotary swap was possible into the little 1300 lb midget, and it might even lose some weight considering the heavy cast-iron lump that the rotary would replace. As Mazda’s catch phrase was at one point, “Zoom-Zoom”.

    1. In the mid 1970s, I ran into an old college friend at a bar on Campus Corner. He was in the USAF and was just returning from a tour of duty in Japan. He had picked up his car (a Midget) on the west coast and was returning to his home town in Oklahoma. When he got to Denver the engine failed catastrophically. While trying to figure out what to do, he found a shop in Denver that did Mazda rotary engine transplants and had them put one in his Midget. When I talked to him, he had done less than 1,000 miles, but was delighted with the results, especially the increased power.

        1. It’s not done yet. There’s still work to be done. While it runs and drives, it is not yet legal.

          I’ve also custom-built an electric velocar, that is light enough to be operated purely by pedaling it. With the electric motor turned off, it can hit 35 mph on flat ground with me pedaling my ass off, and holding 22 mph or so on the flat is easy. If I turn the motor on, it’s a “car” that can reach 50 mph, peel out, do donuts in parking lots, and my pedaling can add thrust at all operating points. It gets 90-130 miles per kWh, and has a 1.5 kWh pack. I also have a switch to limit the electric assist to 750W/28 mph in jurisdictions that have codified ebikes into law. In some jurisdictions, it is legal tom operate unrestricted, unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured, because legally it is a “bicycle”. It weighs only 90 lbs. I’m working on a version that can top 100+ mph, but will still be very pedalable with the motor shut off.

          1. Jeff C-C, check my profile. I provided links to pics of both.

            The GT6 has a Prestolite MTC4001 series-wound DC motor, Soliton 1 controller, a 208V 100AH battery pack of CALB CA100FI, and a Brusa NLG battery charger. I do not know when it will be finished. My job has been overworking me and I haven’t had time to work on it. The GT6 needs another 100-150 hours of work and about $2,000 in parts. I have a windshield sitting waiting to be installed, need to fix the lights/signals, and install the digital gauges I bought for it. There’s a bunch of odds and ends that need work, and I plan to put a LeMans bonnet from Jigsaw racing on it. Expected performance is 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds, a top speed of over 140 mph, and a range approaching 200 miles on the highway once I get the aeromods installed and perfected. When it was first tested on some golf cart batteries ready for the recycle yard, it was slooooooow, but with the LiFePO4 in it, it now peels out in top gear at a stop and wants to go sideways. Needs a limited slip differential.

            The microcar was custom designed and built by me. Without the drag optimized, it gets the equivalent of close to 4,000 mpg in terms of energy usage at 30 mph cruising speeds when using the motor with some light pedaling. There is potential to cut aerodynamic drag to about 1/6 of current levels. Currently, it is set up for 2,500W peak, and is using ebike wheels/tires and cable pull disc brakes. It’s a very fun deathtrap and can carry a week’s worth of groceries plus my tools in the trunk. I’m going to upgrade to cotter pin axles, install a roll cage made with a friend’s tubing bender, 16″ light-duty motorcycle wheels on all three wheels, 16×2.25″ solar car tires(low enough rolling resistance to still be pedalled with the motor off to a decent speed and still rated to handle highway speeds), a Schlumpf drive upfront to multiply my gearing range by 2.5x, hydraulic disc brakes, a more dense battery pack made of Panasonic 21700 batteries from a Tesla Model 3, a ASI BAC4000 FOC ebike controller, a 3T wind Leafbike motor, and other changes. The idea being, to build a “car” that in some jurisdictions is legally a bicycle, because it can be pedalled like one with the motor shut off. If I get the aero right, I’ll be able to sprint to 45 mph or so on flat ground with the motor disabled, but turn the motor on, and it’s a sports car. By going with a throttle-less design using a torque sensor, it skirts the law in some places. Wherever legality is an issue, I have a switch to limit it to 750W/28 mph. But eventually, when unrestricted, I plan to have about 10 kW peak from the motor, with 0-60 acceleration around 7 seconds and a top speed in the triple digits when the motor is in use, with wide enough gearing for my pedaling to not only get me up a mountain with the motor disabled at walking speed at a pedaling cadence that won’t hurt my knees, but also for my pedaling to be able to add thrust to the rear wheel when using the motor to careen down the pavement at 100+ mph.

  4. I had a 75′ Midget when I was in highschool. Same color as in the photo. Much like a highschool girlfriend I have fond memories and want to ride her again, even though she broke my heart all the time.

    Just found out that Jason and David filed the old cesspool. Glad to see them here!

  5. On one hand, I feel a little bit of empathy for the current Jalopnik staff, now having pure direct competition in this realm. The other reminds me that competition makes better on both sides, I now have 3 damn car sites to daily check between The Drive, the fresh and funky bunch back at Jalop, and this behemoth.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. I dropped Jalop, not because of the writers, because they’re just there doing a job, but because I wanted to get as far away from GMG as possible. Once someone recommends a competent alternative to Kotaku, the cord is severed. Between Defector, Autopian and this mythological Kotaku replacement, I don’t have to give Spanfeller anymore of my precious eyeball time.

  6. Jason, I went to another car site today and something was very wrong. It wasn’t fun any more.

    A quick google search let me know that the party moved! So happy for you guys. Time to check out Optima batteries!

    Cheers, Jeff C-C

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