Eye Candy: 1965 MG Midget

Modified for racing before he bought her in 2001, “Gidget,” a 1965 MG Midget, has been active in the Canadian and U.S. vintage car race circuit ever since, with Nick Pratt behind the wheel.

By Wheels.ca Wheels.ca

Apr 27, 2018 4 min. read

Article was updated 5 years ago

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Nick Pratt: Wheels Reader

Occupation: Retired from IBM

The Car: 1965 MG Midget Vintage Racer

Gidget, as I affectionately call her, is a rear-wheel drive Mark III Midget, powered by a 1275 BMC A Series engine.

She has been with me since 2001 when I purchased her from a mechanic in Mississauga. He race-prepped the car for his brother, who never got around to racing her. All MGs — Midgets, MGBs, MGAs — are ideal for race conversion, being low slung, forgiving in the corners, and relatively cheap entry-level cars for aspiring amateur racers.

I race under the auspices of the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC), on circuit tracks in Ontario, Quebec, and Northeastern U.S. states. Vehicles must be period correct, with no changes to body style, i.e. fender flares, and steel fenders and hoods can’t be replaced with fiberglass. They must run with the engines and transmissions “of the day,” but engines can have billet cranks, racing pistons and rods, lightened flywheels, and can be bored out to a maximum +. 060.

Eye Candy: 1965 MG Midget

Transmissions can have close ratio gears and differentials can be welded. Suspension and brakes must remain as built for the car. Ignition upgrades are allowed for reliability, as are changes to carburetion (SUs to a Weber on Gidget). Tires specifically designed for racing are used but must conform to rules regarding size and tread. Slicks are not allowed.

Cars converted for racing have two ways to go faster — horsepower and weight — so Gidget’s original 65 horsepower is now in the area of 115 hp. She burns 110 octane leaded fuel, which is extremely expensive, but fortunately, a relatively small amount is used, about 40 litres for a race weekend. The car has also been stripped of non-essential materials. A full roll cage is added for safety, and there is a fire suppression system and fuel cell. An antisway bar was added at the front to reduce roll and a pan-hard rod at the rear for lateral location of the axle.

The aphorism “in order to finish first, first you must finish” was never truer than in vintage racing, and it took me several years of leaking rear hubs, failed transmissions, errant wheels parting company with the chassis, and a few blown engines to get the car reliable and handling the way it should. This came about through painful lessons learned and finding a mechanic who knows his stuff as far as these iconic British cars are concerned. There is none better than John Dodd, of Bethany, Ont., who has looked after the drivetrain since 2008.

Eye Candy: 1965 MG Midget

Gidget has always been quick and enjoys nothing better than duelling it out with her arch rival, the Austin Mini Cooper S. Both cars run the same engine, the big difference being the latter’s front-wheel vs. her rear-wheel drive. But our lap times are similar which makes for battle royales on the track.

The car has raced at Mosport, Shannonville, and Mont Tremblant in Canada, and Watkins Glen, N.Y., Loudon, N.H., Virginia International Raceway and Waterford Hills, Mich., in the United States.

For those who know their lap times, my best ever lap at Mosport was a 1:40.9, but the car will typically run in the low 1:42s. I had a serious crash there last fall due to a mechanical failure and have just completed repairs in time for the 2018 season.

Anyone interested in information on vintage racing can find it on the VARAC website.

Eye Candy: 1965 MG Midget

Show us your Candy: Got a cool custom or vintage car? Send us high-res, horizontal pictures (at least 1 MB) of you (and your family) with your beauty, and tell us your story in 300 to 600 words, giving us all the details of how you found your car and why you love it so much. We like photos — the more the better — of the interior, trim, engine, wheels, and emblems. Email wheels@thestar.ca and type ‘Eye Candy’ in the subject line. Google ‘Wheels.ca Eye Candy’ to see classic cars featured in the past.

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