Growing up I was surrounded by cars, MGs in particular. Summers spent breathing in the intoxicating Castrol 'R' fumes at numerous race circuits, ‘helping’ dad at a young age as he serviced the many MGs he has owned, navigating the British countryside on several Speckled Hen runs and the like. I knew I would own an MG of my own one day and I was always pretty sure which one it would be.
I always liked the Midgets best. They just looked like so much fun and the drivers always seemed to have the biggest grins on their faces. I had watched them race, seen them hill climb, knew my dad had rallied one in the past and after seeing my parents pack enough gear for a two week-long camping trip to Switzerland into theirs, wondered if there was anything that couldn’t be done in a Midget.
Then, when I was about fourteen, I visited with my dad the workshops of Peter Wood, well known in MG circles, especially for his expertise on MGA Twin Cams, but also very well known for his work with old aircraft too. He was at the time, among other things, about half way through the re-building of a Spitfire (a Supermarine Spitfire not a Triumph), and not just any old Spitfire either, but the only known surviving naval version called a Seafire. Peter very kindly allowed me to help out on Saturday mornings. Well when I say ‘help’, I really mean take stuff apart and watch and listen while things were built, but it meant that I learnt how engines and gearboxes worked and I gained some useful mechanical skills. So every Saturday morning and much of my school holidays, until I went to university, was spent at Peter's working on the Seafire but many MGs too. I found it all quite fascinating, and Peter very patient, putting up with my mistakes and endless questions. I was also very lucky as I was taken a few times to the VIP enclosures at some air shows where Spitfires would by flying, and had the opportunity to meet some of the pilots.
Six months or so before I left Peter's he decided to re-build a 1974 round arch Midget on a new Heritage shell. This had been in the yard rusting away for many years, but Peter had all the documentation for it and just about every part required to completely re-build the car from scratch, from his stores of 'new old stock'. Furthermore, under the bench was a freshly built, and blueprinted,1275cc "A" series engine just crying out for a suitable car. I helped Peter start with the dismantling of PWV 765M, which had originally been finished in Glacier white with Autumn Leaf interior and had also been fitted with wire wheels, an unusual and very attractive combination. We started by removing all the large mechanical parts, for inspection, which due to its low mileage were in good order, especially the rear axle and gearbox. I saw very little of the remaining work that went into this car as by now I was away furthering my education, but whenever I came home and made a visit to Peter, I noticed a little more had been done and so over time witnessed the re-birth of the Midget.
It was ten years later in the summer of 2005 when I felt I had been MG-less for long enough and should put matters right by getting my own car. At the annual Silverstone International I looked at all the Midgets, especially those for sale, though none of them impressed me too much (lots of shiny paint, but not too much floor in one case!). Being impatient I was a bit disappointed; however I had a drive in dad’s Midget to restore my enthusiasm and the search resumed. A few weeks later when he was visiting Peter for some reason or another, my dad mentioned we were looking for a good Midget when Peter said, "well why doesn't she buy mine?" PWV 765M had simply been sitting in one of Peter’s workshops gathering dust (lots of dust), unused, even un-MOT'd for the past ten years, just waiting for an owner. It would cost more than my intended budget, but what a chance. In fact the only chance I would probably ever have of buying the nearest thing to a brand new 1974 MG Midget! It was by now about mid September and so it made sense to put things off until the following spring, this would give me more time to save up, and Peter time to get the car up and running once again. And so it was in April 2006 when dad collected PWV and took it home for some serious running-in, between himself and Peter all the little problems were eventually put right, and after a good polish the car looked terrific.
Dad drove the car down to me on a perfect summer’s day in June and I went for my first drive, taking just a short trip around the local lanes up on the South Downs near Stockbridge. It was simply perfect; I'll remember it for the rest of my life. The steering, pin sharp, seemed a little heavy compared to my modern car, and the gear change very precise, but pretty quickly everything fell into place.
I’ve really only had about four month’s driving experience in my Midget but it has all been tremendous fun. Compared to any modern car everything on my Midget has character. The way the doors need closing or the windows winding, the noise from first gear, the way it takes corners, I could go on and on, its just what I always thought it would be - and then some. I had already come to accept that there would be the odd problem, mainly because the car had stood un-used for so long, and there will always be jobs to keep me busy I am sure, as with any old car. But to me, that is all part of the appeal and I hope that by doing a lot of the work myself, I will get to know my Midget well enough to know if anything is going wrong before it does, and be able to enjoy the car for what it is – a fantastic little sports car.