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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Cost effective performance improvements


I have graciously been allowed 200 quid of my own hard earned to spend on the old nail
Mark O

Wheels and tyres??
Bob Beaumont

You don't mention the exhaust system. A long centre bore manifold and straight through exhaust works wonders to allow you get the best from your other performance upgrades.
Chris Hasluck

My order of preferances would be--
Heavier front swaybar
LCB exhaust manifold and matching exhaust system
Nice distributor and high output ign. coil
Panhard bar if you really really think you need one

cheers willy
William Revit

Piper camshaft.

I had a number of 'issues' with Kent cams, so I would never use one again.
Dave O'Neill 2

Thats a good chunk of change... about $325 in the usa

To blow the whole wad, id go with a smaller steering wheel, a beefer front anti sway bar, and minix brake may have to knock off a childs lemonaid stand on the way for a few extra quid, but it would be worth it

Or minilite wheels

I love my sway bar, and have scence the moment I installed it, and I dont trash it...for me it just brought order to the car

And a good exhaust header thats cermic coated inside and out would be another nice upgrade.

What are you leaning towards

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Slacken off the brakes a bit - you'll definitely go faster through the bendy bits.
Guy Weller

Dave, I'm interested to hear what problems you've had with Kent camshafts. I've fitted several to various cars over the years and have had no problems at all; what should one be looking out for?
Nick Nakorn

Bellmouth and a rolling road session, assuming ignition and carb are in good order.
John Collinson

how hard do you drive it? what boots is it wearing?

I'd be adding an LCB and straight through silencers to that lot. (how much are LCBs now anyway?)

If too much, get yourself an MG metro head or similar and the book by Vizard and a couple of grindstones and that'll be that spent well.
Rob Armstrong


I bought a reprofiled 649 and when I compared it with the one I was taking out of the engine, it looked different. When I checked it, the lobe centre angles were 10 degrees out.

I took it back to my supplier and we looked at another that he had in stock and that was the same.

I then ordered a 649 billet cam. I thought that by paying three times the price, I might get the real deal. I was disappointed with the performance and when I measured it, it was nearly 20 degrees short on duration.

After that, I only fitted Piper cams and was pleased with the results.

As far as LCB manifolds are concerned, I wouldn't use anything other than Maniflow. They may be a bit more expensive, but the quality is superb, as is the performance.
Dave O'Neill 2

"""I love my sway bar, and have scence the moment I installed it, and I dont trash it...for me it just brought order to the car """

Oppps .. sorry, I said sway bar, I meant to say ""rear panhard rod ""

Another idea, ... its not performance, but still a cool idea... convert the boot into a small outdoor kitchen, mini frig, wet bar, beer dispenser, gas grill,and a sat dish with a big screen tv

Perfect for tail gating a the sports events

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I'm now driving my bog standard 1275 (20 0ver)midget. Cast exhaust manifold, saucepan air cans and old filters, 145 tyres, standard shocks and springs, standard anti-roll bar, 4 speed box.

What amazed me, when I expected to be disappointed, and left behind by other cars on the road, was how well it goes, and holds the road. It now seems to me, that unless you go for something that REALLY makes a difference -- k-series for example -- it's all a waste of money. The mildest new granny car these days, can piss all over the average tuned A-series engined Spridget. This is no longer the 60's 70's or even 80's, when you could out run the average white van. Now even the slow ones out run you.

Spend the 2 hundred quid on something else that will give you pleasure in the years to come. Or on a set of NOS front wheel bearings, which have the investment potential to be worth more than their weight in gold. LOL.
Lawrence Slater

Go to the Driver's Handbook and carry out the biggest service you can (36,000 mile?) And have some change. Or a normal service and two new high quality big brand tyres and a little change.

Or spend 200 on a set of front or rear standard shocks refurbished, (or a bit more for some Peter Caldwell ones).

Or new brake discs, pads and shoes and fresh fluid.

Or look out some rusty bits to fix (if you can weld and have a welder).

Or to some of options above which have spare change replace any perished suspension bushes.

And for any option go through the wiring system sorting corroded connections and bad wiring.

A long winded way of agreeing with Lawrence and probably what Nigel might say - get it is good running condition. And do stuff that may come up at next MoT.

And use it (so a service and petrol)

M Wood

Depends where you are driving Lawrence. On the over congested roads in Southern Britain, I might agree with you. It seems that rarely is there a time when you can drive on any road and not be in line with other cars, or be baulked by other cars which may have the performance to outclass your Midget, but their drivers rarely do so, meaning there is little point in improving your car's performance either. But on empty roads in the wilder parts of the country (or soon to be foreign lands) one can sometimes still drive for tens of miles and not see another car pass in either direction. And in these circumstance, a bit extra performance is well worth having. Not so you can out-run other cars on the road ('cos they aren't there) but just for the enjoyment of the extra handling and performance.
Guy Weller

Given what you have already listed as done, and assuming that the car is otherwise properly in tune, roadworthy and serviced, then the additional options I would look at would be (in priority order):

Tubular LCB manifold
Improved exhaust /silencer
Uprated front anti-roll bar ( Second hand one of off a 1500 is thicker and makes for a cheap upgrade worth considering)
Performance disc pads (Greenstuff, or probably better the Mintex ones
MG Metro head if you can find one.

All of these are pretty well bolt-on options so there is little or no down-time for summer (or winter) driving
Guy Weller

You do have a point about the roads down here Guy. But my point about how good a Spridget is in standard form is valid too. I just didn't know it when over 30 years ago I made mine more "sporty".

Btw, since you mention what are soon to become foreign lands, what's salmon farm's view on old classics? I see the SNP is going to nationalise BP and starve the UK of oil. Do they have any other petrol related plans? ;)
Lawrence Slater

1,5 ratio rockers, best investment I ever did.
Alex G Matla


I was going to mention 1.5 :1 rockers

And for the most part they are a big improvement, but l figured with his cam it might be a waste once you get a total lift of of just shy of 1/2 inch, you loose the benifit

But if the fairly close to stock and your lift is around 3/8 inch... yes id do the high ratio rockers in a new york city minute
Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I drove my a series for a bit as std. I then applied metro head, twin 1 1/2 carbs and lcb with Rc40. Same cam. Got 75 bhp and 88lbft on a rr. This made it a lot faster on the road than standard. It was totally worth it, even though I then went k. It did make a difference, and I'd do it again if I bought another a series car.

And it was fun, too, and taught me a lot. So yes, a valid point Lawrence, but one I don't agree with ;)
Rob Armstrong

how nice it is to spend someone else his money! :)
J.W. Vlaanderen

better quality tyres - they effect the braking, steering, suspension, road holding and ride comfort and noise - so the driving experience

best thing I done was to replace less suitable tyres with more suitable tyres on my Midget

and here's one you won't like -

but is one of the most overlooked improvements you can make to any vehicle ...

... driving training!
Nigel Atkins

Driving training.... Mmmmm

The ol... "David Leib" most recommened high performace trick.

He should know, he was as adamant about driver training as nigel is about the hand book... and he should know... that guy could drive the course and beat the wind to the finish line.

So yes, driver training has got to go to the top of the list

Funny I ws just sharing with one of our friends the other day that this site is so dedicated to building and modifying and we rarely if not in the last decade have ever really talked about high performnce or illegal street racing tips ... and now here we are a decade or more later hinting at the possiablity

Talk about karma... she has a funny name, but you havd to respect her.

Prop ... " supporter of david lieb school of racing" ... paper
Prop and the Blackhole Midget

200 hundred quid on a driving course? Nah. I'd rather go down the pub. lol.
Lawrence Slater

Mark, if you really haven't got an LCB then it just has to be number one, without it all the other engine related suggestions won't work properly. LCB makes a difference even on a standard cam, but fiven yopu have fast road it is very close to becoming essential as the extended echaust valve duration results in backwash into the combustin chamber with and all-into-one manifold like the standard one.

The effect is dramatic. An owner of my acquaintance many years ago built up a 1275 engine himself with all the usual goodies including a "3/4 race cam" - about 285-290 deg duration as I recall. But the standard exhaust manifold. It went like a pig and after being dragged off by the neighbour's dog it acquired the name "3/4 race dog". I suggested that an LCB be fitted, which he did - and it completely transformed the car. And wasted the dog :-)
Paul Walbran

I wathched an old fithgear the other night and the modded a car and had a driver do laps with different mods done to the car, and the fastest lap time was a standard car and after driver training.
mark 1500 on the road Preston Lancs

Larger brakes would be my first choice, I fitted the 9" conversion from Peter May, now the car actually stops without me having to go to a gym to develop my leg muscles.
Dave Barrow

if your Spridget took a lot of effort to stop then I'd think your tyres and/or previous braking system was below full performance or you should see a doctor about the loss of strength in your leg

I've done a couple of sharp stops without effort this week and the only extra on my braking system is Mintex 1144 front pads but the whole braking system and tyres are all in good condition - legs are a lot weaker than they used to be though

ETA: of course I'm referring to road use of Spridgets here not track use
Nigel Atkins

What ever you go for Mark, buy it quick to avoid import duty!
Graeme W

Among the things I've added which made a noticeable difference to my '67 1275, and which were not obscenely expensive, were:

1) slightly larger anti-sway bar;
2) drilled & slotted front rotors and Greenstuff brake pads (the car stops very well, in my opinion);
3) Maniflow LCB and K&N filters with mini-stacks featuring proper radius;
4) pertronix ignition (though this was mainly done to cut down on maintenance, which it definitely did, supposedly it eliminates points flutter and variation in dwell at high rpms).

JM Young


Many thanks for your comments - all well received.

I think I am leaning to an RC40 or similar exhaust, decent pads, heavier duty anti-roll bar. I have an LCB fitted - of unknown provenance - see pic. Any of you guys got any clue as to what it is... and would a Maniflow offer anything better?

I also have decent tyres fitted.

I did investigate fitting an MG Metro head but they are as rare as hen's teeth and blinking expensive it seems. I would still like to swap my head out though. My head looks standard - cannot remember size of valves - stamped 12G938 near thermostat - which I believe is the part no for standard head.

Mark O

I had an unknown make of LCB fitted to my car when I got it but I didn't feel it was the best so changed it to a Maniflow LCB and what a difference, when it was off you could see that the other LCB didn't properly align to the head because at least one of it's holes was too small and offset

without going too silly on size an uprated ARB is excellent valve for the cost and returns it gives

decent pads, provided the rest of your braking system is in good condition, same for your tyres, is another way I'd go, in fact I did with Mintex 1144

I didn't think you'd go with driver training, I expect you'd say you're a fully trained professional driver or was, truck, forces, Police, etc. or as an 'airy-arsed biker you don't need it ;)
Nigel Atkins

I don't know what make the LCB is, but it isn't a Maniflow. It's not the worst example I've seen.

Difficult to know how much you would gain from fitting the Mnaiflow.
Dave O'Neill 2

totally agree, unless the manifold is off the car it can be difficult to see how well made it is

I remember now mine had a glob of overweld blocking the flow on one of the pipe's holes
Nigel Atkins

The manifold looks like a homemade 3 into 1 set up

Ive got a 3 into 1 and I like it, most use 3-2-1 set up

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Looks like an LCB to me!
Dave O'Neill 2

me three! Looks exactly like the one I had on my A. Maniflow from existing LCB is going to be poor bhp per quid.
Rob Armstrong

This thread was discussed between 12/09/2014 and 16/09/2014

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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