Car of the Month
Owners name: Angus Gray
Owners location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Model: Midget GAN5 matt black grill 69 - 70
Engine size/type: 1340cc A-Series
Year of manufacture: 1971
Colour: Bronze Yellow
How long owned: 46 Years
History of Car and any work or modifications carried out: 789 AGG a 1971 MK III Midget (first registered as WSC 321K then TMG 1F) has been in the Gray family ownership since 1974. In the hands of family members it has won over 100 awards; autotests, sprints, PCTs, concours, races, road rallies. It has been raced at MGCC Silverstone, Donnington, Ingliston, Knockhill and Ring Djursland in Denmark. Three generations of the family have used the car and its made the cover of Safety Fast twice. A very well-known car in MGCC circles and motor sport in Scotland in particular, that is in the 70’s and 80’s! Around 1985 the car went into store as brother Stuart and Angus moved on with various race & sprint winning Caterhams, FF2000 and Westfields.
In 2014, after some minor refurbishment and a brief outing in the hands of Michael Gray, the car went back into a barn as Michael moved on to FF1600. Fast forward to 2018 and having retired I decided it was time to recover the car from the barn and put it back on the road. The objective was a refurb, but not a concours car.
On first inspection the car looked okay and I estimated 4 months to refurb. However over 30 years had taken its toll. There were a few times I wondered what I was doing, particularly when the car had the floors, inner & outer sills and front & rear bulkheads cut out due to the dreaded rust. I am now glad I took the decision to rebuild rather than re-shell as it still feels like our family car. During the rebuild I also took the opportunity to resolve a few issues with the car. The usual Midget gearbox issues were addressed with a SC/CR example. The corkscrewed half shafts replaced with uprated examples. A big surprise were the number of little bodges we had done over the years in the heat of competition (or cost saving) to keep the car mobile, all now correctly repaired. I never did like the dash on the Midget, the capillary powered temp gauge being near the top of the list. Now replaced with separate dials for water and oil pressure.
After 2 years work the 789 is now finished. I can take some of the credit for the result but the real credit should go to Aly Hunter Restorations, Aly did all the difficult work to the highest standards. The good news is that with around 100bhp its actually very nice to drive and has the performance not to be a liability with todays road speeds. Edinburgh streets however are a different matter, tackling potholes with extreme caution.
789 is to a fast road spec, given the need to be an allrounder. The engine was built by Agra Racing Engines. It has an 11 stud Leyland ST BV Head, 731 cam, balanced internals, twin HS4 carbs, K&N filters, 1340cc, Panhard rod, anti-tramp bars, LSD, 4.2 Diff, laminated screen, Aldon distributor, Aldon Ignitor ignition, Peter May CR gearbox & half shafts, uprated front anti-roll bar, LCB exhaust manifold, Moto-Lita steering wheel, Frontline front suspension, electric fan, bespoke engine turned aluminium dash, bonnet bulge for SU's and modified front valance for the oil cooler & Wipac Quadoptic headlights. Most mechanical modifications actually date back to 1978 other than the gearbox & Frontline suspension.
The last time the car was used in anger was when I was FTD at Silverstone, winning the Magnette Trophy, in the California Cup Test in 1988. 2021 beckons, the car will be 50, I will be 61 and it will be 42 years since I first did the Cali Cup tests!
Nickname of Car: None