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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Midget front suspension upgrade

I own a MG midget MKIII (1970).
I am considering to upgrade my front suspension because the ride on bumpy roads is not very comfortable, I am getting the impression that the front shocks are not working at all.
After a little research in the archives there seem to be two options. First the Frontline front suspension kit, and the second option is to fit upgraded front shocks from Peter Caldwell of WorldWide Auto Parts in Madison.
The Frontline kit is quiet expensive but it seems to be a full kit and I don't need to buy anything else, just fit it and I am good to go. Am I right? Or is there something I am not seeing here?
For the second option (Peter Caldwell shocks) I am not sure which parts I need to get in addition to the shocks to get a similar result to the Frontline kit. Can someone help me out here?

Thank you very much!

Ralle Baller

Hello Ralle,

What do you mean with "have the feeling the schocks dont work" ?, are they very stiff or just the other way, very lazy. I had lazy shocks at first, 10 years ago. I changed the oil inside the schocks and that made a hugh defference. So i kept the orginality of my Midget MK3 1971 RWA, and have an acceptable ride.
Niek Lammerts

In either case, Frontline, or Peter Caldwell's rebuilt dampers, you still need to rebuild your lower a arm and kingpin assembly.

Once you've rebuilt them, the difference between the Frontline and the rebuilt dampers is this: the Frontline system uses telescopic instead of lever arm damping, and the Frontline adds triangulation to the upper control arm.

The question, then, is: is the Frontline sufficiently better than the stock setup to be worth the $1000 (or so) purchase price? (oops, subtract Peter's damper cost ($180/pr) from that to get the difference).

The main advantage of a triangulated upper control arm will be under hard braking while cornering. This would be more noticeable with really wide, or really sticky racing tires.

The main advantage of tubular dampers is their ability to cool under hard use. Also, this would be more noticeable during heavy usage, like in racing.

A newly restored, stock Midget suspension is a wonderful thing, in my experience.
Norm Kerr

The front line kit is complete, as you say, but how is the rest of your suspension, i.e. bushes, king pin, bearings and ball joints? Any of those can cause twitchy suspension.

The upgraded standard shocks from Peter Caldwell have the reputation of being the best that you can get for the standard suspension, again you need to check the rest of the suspension and steering. Most people are quite happy with the standard set up for normal road use although for the fussier driver there are various modifications which can be carried out to improve the system.

I have the frontline system and I like it, but I'm not particularly bothered by sensible modifications, others like to keep their cars as near to original as possible you have to decide which way you want to go.

Graham P 1330 Frogeye

FL is complete indeed.

To achieve the same you need a Peter C shock and Peter May negative front trunion and top link kit.

Did you by any chance run out of petrol on the way back from M50?
Onno Könemann

Check your entire front suspension - change bushes to polybushes, make sure your shocks are working and not leaking - check your tyres and pressures and tracking - when you've done that, if you still are unhappy - then decide.

If you fit Peter May negative camber trunnions (and for normal road work you don't really need them) then make sure you put grease nipples on first.

If you go down the frontline route then do bear in mind you may have to still engineer it all to fit, so it's not purely bolt on.

Alternatively - join the ranks of people trying to get Hoyles to do a midget version of their excellent suspension as fitted to As and Bs - which is bespoke to your car - so really is a bolt on simplicity!


I fitted the FL conversion kit and am quite happy with it. You donot have to rebuild the lower arm and the king pin. But you have to reroute the brakeline (although on my Frogeye).
I also did the back. It is more tricky because you have to do some welding.

Jan Willem
J.W. Vlaanderen

Wow, this thread is being dominated by dutch contributors, hello Niek and Jan Willem.

In my experience the Frontline kit is more than just shockers, it also gives better steering and in combination with a thicker anti rolbar its a brilliant improvement.

Like Onno says to compare you have to put on the negative trunion and topkit in adition to the shockers.

I have no experience with the Peter Cadwell shockers.
If its just shockers you need then Peter C. sounds like a good option.
Arie de Best

I think y'all are mistaking.

"not very comfortable" is what Ralle is stating.
Frontline doesn't really make a Midget more comfortable.

Alex G Matla

LOL Alex - that would mean having to admit that, really, the Midget is not the most comfortable of cars ... :P

That depends on they type of spring used!

A crappy shock will not give a comforable ride and FL solves that
Onno Könemann

Alex, its not frontlinestuf making your car uncomfortable, its your way of driving!
Arie de Best

LOL - poor Alex - but - at least he can corner ;)! I also thought he'd done so much to his car in the last year ..... it was almost comfy now :P

thank you very much for all the posts.
I will try and answer all the questions that came up.

First of all, I want to mention that I want to use my car only on the road, no racing!

Nike: what I mean by "have the feeling the schocks dont work" is that I feel every bump on the road, I even sometimes think that the wheels loose road contact when I drive over a bigger bump. So to me it seems that the shocks are very stiff. Is changing the oil an option here?

Norm: "you still need to rebuild your lower a arm and kingpin assembly." I am not a mechanic, but I still want to work on my car myself, because I love it!!! So sorry for asking probably a noob question here, how do I rebuild my lower arm and kingpin assembly? Can I buy all the parts from the shelf? Can you show my which parts are involved?

Graham: If it is possible I would like to keep my car as original as possible, but I have to confess a comfortable ride more important to me than originality. A few month ago I successfully competed a 5-gear gearbox conversion and I would never go back to the original gearbox.
You say "but how is the rest of your suspension, i.e. bushes, king pin, bearings and ball joints? Any of those can cause twitchy suspension."
I dont really know how I can asses the state of these parts, I have nearly no experience in working on cars, but I am eager to learn. Is it advisable to change all this parts?
"Most people are quite happy with the standard set up for normal road"
If the standard setup enables a smooth ride on bumpy roads, I will probably choose this option because it will probably be the cheapest!

Ono: "Did you by any chance run out of petrol on the way back from M50?" No I didn't go to the M50.

rachmacb: "Check your entire front suspension - change bushes to polybushes, make sure your shocks are working and not leaking - check your tyres and pressures and tracking - when you've done that, if you still are unhappy - then decide."
I think that is the way to go here. How do I check if the shocks are in order?

Ono: "That depends on they type of spring used!"
What type of sprigs would you suggest for a comfortable ride?

Guys, THANK YOU very much for all your effort!

Ralle Baller

First things first do you grease your front suspension at regular service intervals as detailed in the Drivers Handbook??

(have you got a copy of the Drivers Handbook?)

this is vital and very easy to even for a non-mechanic like me

for now get a classic car garage to inspect the rest of your suspension and front end and give a report

a standrad set up on a Midget should be quite comfortable, it might seem a little hardish at the front depending on what you are used to driving

I've got a FL kit and only use my car on the road but and it goes on some quite rough roads

the FL kit is quite comfortable, you do have to set the dampers to very low (soft) settings though

I strongly advise you to buy your kit from a second party like Moss, MGOC as just two examples

as already said other components need to be in good condition and fully and properly serviced, maintained and repaired to get a good ride

bushes can make a big difference to ride, so too the tyres (replace regardless of tread depth if over 6 years old) and even tyre pressures
N Atkins


The kingpin and lower arm can be purchased as a set from some MG suppliers who do this rebuild service regularly. The joint between those two parts is the weak link in this car's front suspension (and needs liberal greasing with every oil change!), and it is usually worn badly by the time the other parts (like the dampers) have started to act up. Sooner still, if the greasing has not been kept up on by a previous owner.

The nice thing about buying them as an assembled set is then the difficult aspects of a front end rebuild are dealt with (pressing in and reaming the kingpin bushings, sizing the lower fulcrum "pin" to the new A-Arm threads, shimming the kingpin to the upper trunion).

Like Rach pointed out, since those parts are all the same regardless of whether you rebuild your dampers or replace them with a FL kit, it is not a bad idea to do this step first, and then drive it and decide the next step.

Onno correctly pointed out one more difference between the stock and the FL set up: the -1deg front camber. But like Rach stated, the difference is not "night and day" from a stock set up, but it does help the car to get the most from modern radial tires. The option with a stock damper is to use Peter May's offset trunion bushings, for less $ than FL.

In the end, whether you go with rebuilt stock (with offset trunion bushings), or FL, neither one is likely to make the ride "smoother" than the other, as neither one substantially changes the front geometry. On the other hand, a bad damper, or other worn parts can certainly make the ride and handling poor regardless. Simply putting a FL kit onto an otherwise worn suspension would not make those things get better.

Another thing that could make the ride harsh would be the fitting of too hard bushings at the inboard end of the lower A arm. As Rach and Mr. Atkins pointed out, poly bushings are a very nice way to tighten up the suspension, but only if they ones chosen are not too much harder than stock.

Here is a link to some advice on how to check, and refill the dampers:
and this one is really neat, it shows how the lever arm dampers work:

Norm Kerr


Where are you in Germany?
In a few weeks I will be in France and Germany and would not mind dropping by if it is near.

The normal springs are the most comfortable but old ones can be saggy and less comfortable
Onno Könemann

Hi Ralle,
checking the suspension is relatively simple,
1. Shocks
Push down hard on front wing over suspension and release it. The wing should rise and settle straight away with very little rebound. This is only a rough test but can give a good indication of shock condition.If it bounces a couple of times or more, check the oil level in the dampers, if it is OK your shocks are probably dead!
2. Wheel bearings and Steering Ball Joint
Jack up under the front wishbone to just raise the wheel from the ground, now grasp the tyre at the front and the rear of the wheel, rock the wheel horizontally, any play is either wheel bearings or possibly the steering ball joint. To check the ball joint get someone to turn the steering wheel back and forward and watch the ball joint, any play will show up fairly obviously.
3. King Pins
With the suspension still jacked up grasp the tyre at the top and bottom of the wheel and rock it vertically, any play in the King Pin should be obvious. Don't mistake bearing rock for king pin or visa versa, it is actually fairly easy to diferentiate them as the play is in a slightly differrent place.
4. Trunnions
More difficult to check although bad wear will also show in the previous tests.
5. Wishbone rubber
need experience and a pry bar to check properly, if in doubt, replace them.
You can repair/replace all of those items yourself in a weekend, but you won't be able to fix the trunnions or king pins yourself, you'll have to buy rebuilt units as they need machining.
Hope that helps,
Graham P 1330 Frogeye

This thread was discussed between 12/07/2011 and 13/07/2011

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