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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - 5 - speed conversion kit

midgetening gentlemen
While still reading the interresting comments about LCB or not, I have set the ordering one on stand by :-)
Right then, the year I had the Midge now, I have all the time been interrested in some sort of 5 - speed conversion, but have so far been scared far away from the cost of one, eg. Moss's Frontline at 2 - 3000
Jan Kruber

On a quick look, I would say that all of the necessary parts are there.

The biggest problem with the conversion is that the main cross member of the body shell has to be cut out and replaced with a bolted on unit (the parts for this are in that kit) Its still an easy DIY job though and although ideally it involves a small amount of welding, this is not essential.

Second problem is that the gearlever comes out of the top of the transmission tunnel about 4" further back than with the original gearbox. Most people just accept this and get used to it although there is an alternative of shortening the gear selector parts of the gearbox which keeps the gearlever in almost the same as the standard gearbox.

You may need to get the speedometer recallibrated, but again, there are other solutions to this.

This is a fairly common gearbox upgrade in the UK and I have never heard of anyone who regretted doing this alteration.

>>>This is a fairly common gearbox upgrade in the UK and I have never heard of anyone who regretted doing this alteration.

You may hear some regretting soon if some of the rumours Re: re-classification of modified cars (Q plates etc) are proved to be true....

J Smith

Indeed Jim, but not for technical reasons!

Incidentally Q plates are no longer isued. - unless they decide to re-introduce them with this new legislation.

What about this, from what I understand it's more plug & play friendly. It's what I'm planning for my restoration (I already have the Datsun gearbox).
Stan Kowznofski

Jim, reclassification is not an issue here in Denmark (well yet, at least, you never know what is coming up from the EU!)
Guy, shortening of the gear selector parts sound interresting, it is a DIY? Do you have any links to watch?
Stan, as I have read the Datsun 210 box'es are not nearly as readily awailable in Europe as in the US, thats why we have other are other options here. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.
Jan Kruber

The Datsun (Nissan) box is apparently a very good option - but 5 speed versions of this gearbox are extremely rare in the UK. I am not sure about mainland Europe, but I suspect the same applies.

Here is a T9 gearbox suppied with a shortened gear selector arrangement. Compare the photo with the gearbox you found.

I did my own gearbox modification - I believe this was before anyone was offering altered ones on a commercial (and expensive!) basis. Let me have an e-mail address and I will send you a copy of my "how to" notes.

On the unaltered gearbox, the gear lever "turret" comes flush to the end of the casing of the gearbox output shaft. You can see in this photo where I cut the casing and repositioned it further forwards from the weld marks.


Splendid Guy! My email is
kru1 (at)
What just stroke me, what about the clutch, I notice a cable in the kit, is it a speedometer cable or a clutch cable? Is the bellhousing an altered MG housing to suit the T9 with the standard slave MG cylinder? Or is there something to alter here too, and what about the speedometer cable connection and ratio ?
Jan Kruber

The cable is for the speedo... thank God the clutches are not cable drawn... haha

As to the other I cant say, I want to say it's almost a direct fit minus a bolt or 2

You may want to look into upgrading the pressure plate to a 7.5 over the standard 6.5 inch disk and replacing the pivot arm and bearing with a concentric slave cylinder

As they say, in for a penny...

1 Paper

Jan the cable looks like a speedo cable to me, I expect it has a suitably modified end to allow the Ford drive end to operate the Midget's speedometer

Rather than recalibrate the speedo I use a bike computer driven by the brake drum to see the speed I am doing

A GPS unit will do the same job too

My type 9 conversion allied to a MG Metro cylinder head, carburettor and electronic ignition allows 110+mph running

Best uphill on a runway during a track day was 113mph
Bill sdgpM

Looking at this kit.. I'd guess it's plug and play direct kit

It kind of looks like a concentritic throw out bearing
1 Paper

No Prop he says in his ad that it is simply a roller bearing replacement for the carbon one

The casting is drilled and (usually) tapped to take the standard clutch slave cylinder

The right hand flat section by its hole is the one needed and that is the drilled one
Bill sdgpM

The kit of parts looks to be as supplied by Morris Minor Centre (Birmingham) Ltd a kit I have used on about a dozen type 9 conversions on 1098 / 1275 engined cars.
1500 uses a different approach.
948: I made my own bellhousing.

Unless you are short in stature and sit close to the steering wheel the T9 remote does not need shortening.
Not all T9 gearboxes are suitable for the conversion.

I have fitted three Datsun gearboxes. Spares are getting rare. I cut and fabricated a repair to the heater ducting under the battery tray for clearance.

Alan Anstead

All clutch release bearings are concentric !

The special upgrade is to fit a concentric slave to operate directly onto the concentric release bearing!

The Kit uses a Peter May type clutch release bearing.
In the past a QH clutch cover was specified as it had a large enough hole to allow the T9 imput shaft through.
There were problems with the QH Clutch cover in that the pressure pads could come free when the holding collar loosened its swaging.
I overcome the problem with a few tack welds.
It seems that QH then discontiued the pressure pad on the clutch cover which is missing on NOS that I have purchased so a carbon thrust can no longer be used.
The options appear to be PM or Concentric clutch release.
Alan Anstead

Very informative feedbacks.....
What about the pressure plate, does it require new holes and thread cutting in the flywheel ?
Jan Kruber

As regards shortening the T9 remote, I'm about 5' 5" (1.69m) with short legs so sit close to the steering wheel, on my car the remote is shortened and I prefer this but I've driven a Sprite without the T9 remote being shortened and I've found it no problem.

If you have a shortened remote then the standard T9 gear lever can get your knuckles close to the dash and the gear lever movement takes up more cabin. You can loose about 25% of the shifting space by making the standard lever a shorter shift or change to the quickshift levers but q/s levers will rattle at 3,500 revs as they don't have the built-in isolating rubber bush.

You can also get a (red) (re-inforced glass filled nylon) heavy duty gear lever saddle clip that helps with making the shift crispier without transferring more rattle.

Photo of shortened standard Ford T9 lever keeping the isolating bush and (red) (re-inforced glass filled nylon) heavy duty gear lever saddle clip, although at the moment I'm using a shortened (cheap made) quickshift lever with igus plastic bearing that tizzes at 3,500 but the changes feel nice.

Nigel Atkins

A couple of shortened (cheap) quickshift levers, one shortened more than the other.

Nigel Atkins

As the T9 doesn't have a drain hole and plug doing oil changes is a bit of a pain so fitting a drain plug is useful. Below is a photo of Arie's very smart g/box with drain plug added.

Although the gear oil often recommended is Comma SX 75W-90 (GL4) for colder climates Castrol Syntrans Multivehicle 75W-90 Fully Synthetic works better.

Nigel Atkins

The kit is usually a std 6.5" cover with hybrid plate.

If you are a Midget & Sprite Club member past issues of Mascot are on the members only site. There are articles on how to do the conversion available there: some written by me.
Alan Anstead

If you do decide to go for shortening the gearshift extension, this photo shows where the gear lever emerges, slightly behind where a standard ribcase gearlever sits. It also shows the stubby gear lever that I rather like. It gives a very short throw, I guess about 2 1/2" fom fully engaged third to fully engaged 4th, with no hazard of catching knuckles on the dash or on the radio speaker!

I am not entering any argument about whether a shortened gearshift extension is better or worse than having the gearshift further back. Both work very well and as a driver one could get used to either in a short space of time. Its just a matter of personal choice.


If I decide to look for a second hand Type 9 gearbox, eg one from a Sierra 2.0 DOHC, that I have seen for sale close to my home, should I go for the short 6,1" or the long 8,1" input shaft?
Jan Kruber

i like the placement of the 'persuader' in your pic Guy.
P Bentley

Read my thread above and the attachment gives the info you seek on type of T9 you require.
Alan Anstead

l am pretty sure l used one of the longer input shaft ones. l remember cutting a piece off the end of the shaft on mine with a grinder sitting disc, and then putting a radius on the end to aid location in the spigot bush.

I "Googled" the 2.0 DOHC Sierra engine, introduced as all new i 1989. Now I'm not sure at all that I can use the gearbox, when I find pictures of it on www it looks different from the Type 9.
I don't think I can use that 2.0 DOHC engine gearbox, the name of it might be MT75 ??
Jan Kruber

The MT75 is not suitable for this application.
Alan Anstead

The only MT75 gearbox I can think of that might be suitable was/is produced by Mitchell Cotts and used MT75 internals but had no integral bellhousing and was set-up to use them as fitted to the type 9 gearbox IIRC. Westfield used them. Mention of one here
David Billington

MT75 is a different beast altogether, it's an all alloy box and much bigger than the Type 9.

The one I used came from a 1991 1.6 Sierra estate and didn't need any modification to the input shaft. I used the Frontline kit which doesn't involve cutting down the input shaft sleeve. I did the 'Weller Chop' to the rear extension before fitting. It's all still going strong after 12 years, even the clutch which has had some real hammer.
John Payne

MT75 followed the Type 9.

Some info links for you -
Nigel Atkins

what about the speedometer reading when connected to the T9 box. Is it far out, or is it something to live with, fitting some small stickers on the speedo glass?
How did you T9 guy's do it?
Jan Kruber

There are a couple of ways of driving the speedo.
You can use a Sierra speedo cable that loops across the car and up behind the dash like a snake.
You can fit an angle drive and custom cable routing as normal.
The speedo will read incorrectly but if you use a Sat Nav with speed indication it will be of little consequence. I, however, have had my speedos recalibrated by Vintage Restorations at Tunbridge Well, who I believe have ceased trading, but there are others such as Speedy Cables to go to.
Others have fitted electronic Speedos with sensors.
Alan Anstead

Ford also supplied a choice of different Speedo drive pinion gears. Depending on which diff you use and your tyre choice, it is possible to select a gearbox drive pinion that gives a fairly close approximation to correct, whilst still using the same standard speedometer. The gears have different numbers of teeth around 20 to 24, maybe others. They are colour coded.

Not sure if Lawrence had seen my last post on the matter of Ford speedometer gears, but he has just emailed the following more detailed information:

<<< The g/box speedo ratio depends on 2 components. The speedometer driven wheel, and the gear on the shaft.

The ribcase original speedo drive is 2.6:1 (13/5).

The T9 box has a number of different speedo drive ratios.
Speedo drive gear in Type 9 gear box 7 or 8
Speedo driven wheel in Type 9 gear box 22,23,24

The closest you can get to the original ribcase of 2.6:1 is to use 22/8=2.75:1. The BROWN driven wheel is 22 teeth.

The speedo is also affected by the tyre size and diff ratio.

On a 1275, with the original speedo turns per mile of 1376, a 3.9:1 diff, and 165/70 x 13 tyres, using the 22/8 combination, it results in a 6% slow error. >>>

Depending on your tyres size I think one can get closer than Lawrence's 6% when compared to the readout from a GPS speedometer, which for constant speeds should be pretty accurate. Possibly the ribcase ratio is perhaps slightly out at the best of times.

The 24 tooth one is BLACK
There is a GREEN one but also I have seen a YELLOW, which together with the BROWN, makes 4 options of driven pinion gear. Or it may be that the yellow is a duplicate, possibly for the BROWN.


You guy's are extremely helpfull, I'm allmost embarrased....
My tires are Avon ZT5 165/70 R13
Jan Kruber

Christmas gift's ordered!
After a lot of reserch, I finally ended up in ordering the conversion kit that I found on eBay and then I ordered a First Motion gearbox with the modified gear lever position and the 2.98 ratio first gear. I had a very nice dialogue with Paul, a part of what lead to the procurement.
It was much more exoensive than I first thought, but less tha buying a complete kit at the main supplier(s).
But having spent more than first expected, I should have some quick fit parts. A gearbox, that I do not have to rebuild, the correct parts, a long first gear and a gearlever placed, so that I do not have to cut in the shaft tunnel.
I got a conversion kit for 400 less that eg the Frontline, which the seller claims match.
I too have had a dialogue with "Speedy Cables", they will overhaul and repair AND calibrate my speedometer to the Ford gearbox for the cost of 80 plus VAT - that's fair, I think.
I can hardly wait for Christmas Eve .....
Jan Kruber

Richerd Jenkins (in Redditch, UK; mail: richard jenkins <>) id an excellent job on my speedo doing a proper recalibration clean and repair with a very quick turnaround. A few BB members have used his services too.
Graeme Williams

well done again.

My memory is probably faulty or you may be a persuasive person but I'm sure I was quoted a lot more to do the speed or perhaps I'm thinking of another supplier (certainly JDO quoted more).

Note from Guy and me that the shorten remote doesn't keep the gear lever in exactly the same place but near enough.
Nigel Atkins

Congrats jan,

Well done... the hard part is done now it's just bolting it all in

On modifications like this the saying is true...once you have it running, you quickly forget the "investment" and the return on investment is the not of driving such a nice machine
.. I've paid good money for for severwl of my modifications... but looking back I've never regretted any of them in hind sight

Enjoy the adventure

1 Paper

Yes, as Nigel comments, the gear stick position although close to the original ribcase one, isn't exactly the same. You may still need to modify the position of the hole in the transmission tunnel.

You can see this is what l was doing in the photo l posted a couple of weeks ago on this thread. The hole needs to be moved back about 25mm and is easiest done by drilling out the spot welds around the reinforcing lip. Then moving that piece back, rewelding and then grafting in a small strip to close off the gap at the front.

"You can fit an angle drive and custom cable routing as normal."
Do you know where to buy an angle drive? By squezing a angled drive in between gearbox drive and the cable, don't you change the direction of rotation of the cable?
Jan Kruber

Speedy Cables can supply an angle drive and a suitable length cable.the cable will then more or less follow the route of the original cable to the speedometer head.
Unfortunately I dont have a record of the length of the cable required but I expect someone here will have it written down.
The cable will run in the correct rotation with an angle drive.
Alan Anstead

That sounds a great idea, I wonder why it wasn't adopted for my conversion (I don't really wonder).

what was the original cable route?

The conversion route is terrible.
Nigel Atkins

I, as always, went for the low cost DIY option!

I modified a standard cable to fit to the Ford speedo driver output. It then goes obliquely through the side of trsndmidssion tunnel, curving forwards so it lies neatly between the tunnel and the seat runer, tucked under the carpet. From there it goes back through into the tunnel again next to the cross member and then takes an easy 180 degree turn through in the engine bay and back through the firewall to the speedo. Works fine. No snatching of the cable and its been on the same cable for around 80K miles.

I seem to recall on my 5 speed data in conversion you can get an angle drive that also readjust the Speedo to the proper setting so no Speedo work has to be done

I've never given a lot of attention to Speedo calibration as we have some variavariation on speed except for school zones and construction zones and I tend to fall into those ranges as I normally pace traffic

So I wonder if you can't get an angle drive for the type 9 Ford to recalibrate the zpeedo

1 Paper

Trying to visualise it. The original cable route is out of the gearbox on the nearside crossing under the gearbox toward the front of the car then looping upward and backward through a grommet and onward to the speedo head.
With a T9 angle drive the cable comes off the angle drive on the offside of the gearbox carrying forward then looping upward and backward through a grommet and onward to the speedo head.
If a mile long Sierra cable is used it comes straight off the offside of the gearbox through a drilled hole in the transmission tunnel then snakes across the floor to the offside of the drivers footwell (rhd) where it loops forward,upward, backward and to the speedo head.
Alan Anstead

" then snakes across the floor"

Mine doesn,t, but its not a Siera cable. I think it was the MGB one. As I mentioned earlier, it emerges at an angle and then stays close to the transmission tunnel, lying between the left hand seat runner and the tunnel wall.

When I did mine, I didn't fancy a hole in the tunnel or any snakes on my floor, so I bought an angle drive from Speedycables. At the same time they made me a cable to my measurements, so it would follow the original route into the car. They made it with a Ford fixing at the 'box end and a BMC fixing at the speedo end. It has proved to be very good, with a steady speed indication and none of the wobbling sometimes experienced with the original item.
b higginson

Thanks for the answers.

Another thing for my to-do-list then.
Nigel Atkins

Has anybody tried to fit a Mazda MX5 6 speed to a Spridget yet ?
Malc Gilliver

There is a blog somewhere in 'tinternet about fitting 5 speed MX5 to a midget but it involves removing the transmission tunnel and replacing it with a spaceframe type structure. The 5 speed MX5 is too fat for the tunnel so possibly is the 6 speed.

MG Moneypit

I know people have talked about it... but it would be suggfigsnt amount of work
1 Paper

I use the Datsun conversion in the 1971. The Rivergate kit has its problems, mainly release bearing vibration, very short universal joint life and premature clutch failure with their current Chinese spring loaded disc. Even so, I would not convert it back to the ribcase for anything. It is such a joy to drive the car with the overdrive.
Glenn Mallory

I received the conversion kit yesterday. It looks fine, every part is brand new, I think.
The ball joint's on the prop. shaft has got grease nipless, I like that.
Of pure curiosity I wrote some questions to the seller about which spares to buy, should I one day have a new ball bearing, friction plate or clutch cover. He is a kind of avoiding to answer, maybe it's to protect his business, that's ok.
But maybe some of you can answer some of my questions about the clutch parts. The clutch cover looks precisely as in the 1275 only without the pressure foot, is that correct?
The friction plate looks like in the 1275 only with different splines in the center.
Which cae is the bellhousing from? Or is it specially cast for the conversion kit?
It looks brand new and newly cast.
....and happy new year to all you you helpfull guy's!
Jan Kruber

The only part that I regreted not getting a spare for when I did mine was the clutch driven plate. Everything else is either standard, or easily adapted (like the clutch cover plate). The driven plate is a special with the splined centre to match the ford input shaft, but overall plate size to match the A series cover plates. So they are not so easily found.

as Guy has put but I'd also add (unless I've missed something) you would need to cut out some sort of aperture in the transmission tunnel to be able to get at the grease nipple on the U-J and even then you'll need a an old style syringe grease gun to get at the nipple.
Nigel Atkins

Oh, for a brief moment I forgot that the trans. tunnel is closed......
I guess I just have to grease the joints thoroughly before fitting the shaft
Jan Kruber

personally I'd replace them before for non-grease before installing conversion - or don't worry about greasing the front ones.

I'd forgot some "helpful" person had added grease type UJs on mine and they were transferred to the 5-speed conversion. One day a couple of years later I discovered them and that my grease gun wouldn't fit on them. My mate gave a a syringe type grease gun, the sort they used to supply with the old cars, and it meant I could grease the rear which hadn't been touched for at least a couple of years because I forgot they were there.

The front one now hasn't been greased for at least 8 years, possibly longer, because I forgot about it then couldn't get to it.

I think the greaseable UJs are like the greaseable track rod ends, that someone "thoughtfully" provided me, nothing more than a PITA, the greaseable TREs seem to go through boots quicker because of greasing (and piss-poor rubber).

In my experience, so far, replace them if you want now or when required, keep them and grease them, well the back one, if you want, or don't bother.
Nigel Atkins

Clutch plates suitable for T9 conversions can be made or relined by Precision Clutches of Henstridge.

The propshaft UJ nipples are buried in the joint. They can be removed and replaced by extended nipples.
If your grease gun head is too broad shouldered to service the nipple then some heads can be chamfered to allow better access.
Alan Anstead

Just a random thought....
What's to stop you using a tank cutter to make a strategically placed hole in the bottom panel of the tunnel to grease the UJ? It could be closed with a little patch of sheet steel and a couple of self-tappers to keep the crud out. Or even the same thing inside the car under the carpet?

Edit: Sorry Nigel you already said something of the kind. I should pay more attention.

If you use a grease gun with a standard flexi-hose extension, you can reach in by sticking your arm up the rear of the tunnel to get to the front UJ nipples.

(Now I wonder why that sounds obscene!)

Guy don't I remember you have unusually long arms. It'd be an absolutely messy job on my car with the specially purchased oil leak.

inside IIRC would be where the carpet is stuck down and you'd have to remove the seat each time to get at it for greasing. I've often thought about cutting a hole under the car (I could drain off the gearbox oil and reuse it then) but to get the syringe in at the correct angle would need quite a large hole, perhaps oval.

Rush into the 20th century, go greaseless!
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 19/11/2017 and 31/12/2017

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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