• Hi Guest! Being a Paying Supporter is NOT a requirement to participate at BCF. However, subscribing will help ensure we can continue to serve the LBC community for years to come. If you enjoy BCF and find our forum a useful resource...Please consider supporting us by **Upgrading**
    (PS: Subscribers don't see this banner)
Tips
Tips

Need Engine Swap Ideas for '76 Midget

midget4387

Freshman Member
Offline
Hello to all.

A newbie here. :eeek: Is it that obvious? Well, let me begin. I have a 1976 MG Midget that needs pretty much a thorough restoration. It’s complete, nothing missing, and the body is sound (i.e. little to no rust). I would however, like to swap the engine for something more reliable for daily commuting. Nothing excessive mind you. Simplicity is key here. Just another little carbureted four-banger with a 5speed of approximately the same dimensions and power (maybe a tad more) as the1500 and tranny currently residing under the hood. It would be nice to be able to retain the original Midget driveshaft and rear-end. It would also be nice to win life’s lottery I suppose. Perhaps something of American or Japanese origin ( I am Stateside) that is in abundance, reliable, and easy to obtain parts for from say roughly the same year to maybe the 80’s or 90’s. My greatest concern with this swap is keeping it as least invasive as is possible. I would really prefer not having to hack up the transmission tunnel if that can be avoided altogether. I also understand that I’ll more than likely have to fab new motor mounts. I can live with that. My only issues with the current crop of ECU managed 4 cylinders, what with DOHC/SOHCs, is that they may be to tall to fit under the hood as I would rather not alter the hood. Hey, stop looking at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about when I am absolutely clueless. What I am really asking for is the least expensive and invasive and the most economical swap. How practical and reasonable is a project of this description? Please forgive the tall order. With sweaty palms and bated breath, I await your recommendations. Thanks to all and have a positively smashing day. :cooler:

Midget4387
 

tosoutherncars

Jedi Knight
Offline
Hiya Newbie! :smile:

A rebuilt 1500 should be as reliable as anything else, as long as the thrust bearings are well taken care of. With flat top pistons (higher compression) and a carb upgrade (SU, Weber DGV or DCOE or duals) power is more than adequate as well. All that is readily available through all the regular aftermarket sources. And 1500 engines are cheap and fairly readily available, so you can build one up and then swap it in comparatively quickly.

If you really want a 5-speed, the Laycock overdrive that came on many 1500-engine Spitfires can be fitted fairly easily, with a fabricated trans crossmember.

I'm sure others will pitch in with swap suggestions, but since you're looking for a non-invasive, relatively inexpensive upgrade, I thought I'd make the case.
 

bill_young

Jedi Warrior
Offline
There are a couple of engine that will fit without major surgery. Take a look at some of the Sprites and Midgets in the British V8 Newsletter. https://www.britishv8.org/Photos-Austin-Healey-Conversions.htm Of the ones there perhaps the Nissan and Mazda fours are closest to what you are looking for. There is an early Datsun engine that fits like it was made for the car, Datsun actually used the drawings for the A series as a basis for some of their fours in the 60s but these engines and transmissions aren't plentiful these days and may be hard to get parts for. I'd say stick with something like the Nissan or Mazda. There is a nice Sprite with a BMW four, but it might be a bit more involved swap than the others.
You should also take a look at Bugzuki with a Suzuki engine installed, another nice swap, but it does take some special parts to get everything to fit well. https://www.ado13.com/dohczuke/dohc.htm
 

RickB

Yoda
Offline
Check into the Nissan 1500 with a 5 speed.
If you go with the Nissan 1500 then you have a few more options in the transmissions, and no expensive adapter kit is needed.
You can get economy or performance heads with downdraft carb options or side draft, even put a pair of SU's on it if you want.

I have the Nissan 1500 in my 78. Even the economy head produces plenty of power for this car, I have the 5 speed and am just waiting for warmer weather to install it. I already get 31 mpg highway and I don't drive economically. :devilgrin:
I expect that number to climb towards 40 mpg after the 5 speed is installed.

Watch Craigslist for "Datsun 210" or "Datsun B210" - you can set up an RSS feed so you can monitor specific searches like that from an RSS reader (or your iGoogle page if you have one).
That's how I got my 5 speed with new clutch for $150. :laugh: :devilgrin: :laugh:
 

aeronca65t

Great Pumpkin
Offline
Personally, I'd stick with the 1500, properly repaired/rebuilt or earlier (and slighty more robust) 1275 engine.
The 1275 is really a better engine and is essentially a bolt-in. The 1275 requires a matching trans...the 1500 trans won't fit a 1275.
A nice running 1500 or 1275 can be great fun in a Spridget.

The trans tunnel is a critical, structural element in Spridgets and it's very small.

For any successful swap, you need a trans that will fit in theat tunnel or you need to be willing to do skilled, major surgery to a super-important area of the chassis.
Just about the only trans that will fit (and still with some metal-modding I think...ask Rick above) is the early push-rod engine and trans used in rwd Datun 210s. These are getting hard to find. They are a nice little 1400 to 1500 cc engine, but only a modest leap forward in technology or power over the stock engine.

A good friend of mine put a 1600 cc Toyota twin-cam engine and trans in his Midget. He's retired and has a Masters degree in mechanical engineering.....and he's not just book-smart. He's an excellent fabricator/welder/machinest. And he has a nice big shop on his property. It took him over a year to get the thing really worked out and he has basically nothing else to do. He ended up building a new steel-tube center frame to make up for the loss of stiffness when he cut the tunnel. In fact he said the car was still flexible after that, so he added some extra roll-cage braces.

During all the time he was in his shop working and re-working his swap in 2007, I was off racing and enjoying my "slow" 1500 car.
To me, a Spridget is a particularly difficult car to do a swap in. A TR6, MGB, or Spitfire would all be a much easier and better choice (although I wouldn't do a swap in any of those either).

It's your car and you can choose what you want. But be sure you have the time, money, place, skills and patience to complete it.
Whatever you choose to do, G'luck!
 

RickB

Yoda
Offline
If you go with a Nissan engine & 5 speed then you only have to find the one with a "60" on the side. The serial number doesn't matter because the size is the same from one "60" to the next as far as I can tell.

There is a WIKI out there on the different transmissions and places like Ratsun Forum and Datsun 1200 BBS are (sometimes) lots of help.
 

Jim_Gruber

Yoda
Country flag
Offline
On SpriteSpot.com there are some interesting swaps under the Lumps Section.

www.britishv8.org/Other/RichardBondy.htm describes efforts to put a Ford ZTEC into a Spridget.

themite.com I think or Google The Mite details a turbo Miata Powerplant into Spridget installation. Both very well detailed and look to be well engineered.
 

RickB

Yoda
Offline
Need a nice bonnet ready for a V-8???
I've got a pretty red one here that would accommodate a really big motor!
 

bigjones

Jedi Warrior
Offline
tosoutherncars said:
A rebuilt 1500 ....With flat top pistons (higher compression)

Wow,
So you don't even need to shave the head?
What are your thoughts on the stock exhaust manifold?
Cheers
 

tosoutherncars

Jedi Knight
Offline
No need to shave the head, unless it's warped; as with a lot of cars of that era, the Spits and Midgets got higher compression in Europe, and dished pistons here in order to meet (useless) EPA guidelines. Swapping to 'euro' pistons during a rebuild is a given, so much so that my local LBC parts house doesn't even carry oversized dished ones.

Many aftermarket manifolds won't work with the stock exhaust mani, I went with headers. I did everything at the same time, so I can't comment on whether it made a difference!
 

bill_young

Jedi Warrior
Offline
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against an engine swap, but Duncan has a very good point, the original 1500 with some minor mods and either a 5 speed or a Spit overdrive makes a very nice package. My best friend here in KC has just that package and it's really a nice car. Great mileage, good power, and very reliable. He's upped the compression, installed twin SU's from a Canadian or home market Midget or Spit and a mild cam, it runs sweet.
He's been to both coasts numberous times for MG events and is planning on running over to Breckenridge this summer for the meet there. We've been on the road together and his car is just as comfortable at 75mph as my V6 is. He's driven my car and likes the power, but he won't change his car, it's the way he likes it.
 

Attachments

  • 16006.jpg
    16006.jpg
    16.4 KB · Views: 126

Midget78

Jedi Trainee
Offline
Bill, that picture of the Midget above looks exactly like my 78! That color on that car,...do you know what the "name" of it is? Carmine Red or possibly Damask Red? I have found that my car was repainted this color you have shown yet whomever did it did not prep it right as most of it has chipped off from age and I now have light surface rust (no holes yet)in areas. It all needs sanded down and redone. I have looked and looked and I keep finding paint colors that are close but not exactly it. My Midget is identical to that one in the pic. Very nice.
 

bill_young

Jedi Warrior
Offline
I believe Steve said it was Damask Red. He recently had the car repainted and the original color had faded a bit by comparing the new paint with the areas like the boot and under hood. He found a touch up paint code for a Ford that he has used in the past for dealing with things like touching up stains under the hood etc, but I don't remember what he said that color was. I'll e-mail him and find out for you.
 

bill_young

Jedi Warrior
Offline
Just got confirmation, Damask Red it is. As for the touch up paint, Ford Dark Cayon Red a truck color is close enough for under the hood etc, but not for exterior spots.
 
OP
M

midget4387

Freshman Member
Offline
Hi RickB

Thanks for your advice. Could you describe to me the mods needed to swap/fit the Datsun/Nissan 1500 engine and tranny into the '76 Midget I have? Please feel free to go into exhaustive detail. I'm all ears.

Conversely, say I chose to keep the Midget/Spitfire 1500 engine and do a 5 speed transmission swap only. Something along the lines of a "Rivergate" style swap perhaps. Any recommendations on a Datsun/Nissan, Suzuki(Samurai), Miata, Toyota gearbox? Something the Midget transmission tunnel will accomodate without too much surgery.

Again, thanks to you and all the gracious contributors to this discussion.

Midget4387
 
OP
M

midget4387

Freshman Member
Offline
Hi Bill.

Thank you again for the added suggestions. Could you perhaps shed some more light or details on the 5 speed swap you mentioned that your friend there in KC performed on his Midget? I might strongly consider a similar swap. I appreciate your patience with me.

Regards,
Midget4387
 

bill_young

Jedi Warrior
Offline
Steve didn't install a 5 speed but used the Spitfire OverDrive transmission in his car. Not a difficult change to make, he did it in his garage witout welding equipment, just had to use his saw to cut a bit of the center crossmember away and bolt in a replacement piece for the rear transmission mount. That swap has been covered in some detail on some of the other forums and perhaps this one, you'll just have to check the archives or do a search. As far as 5 speed conversions go, I may have spoken out of turn on that one. I'm not sure that anyone has a kit for the 1500 Midget. Quantummechanics has a kit for the Spitfire which should work with a bit of tunnel mods though. https://www.quantumechanics.com/index.php
 

RickB

Yoda
Offline
A little modification was needed in the engine bay, the front of the motor needed a bit of space cut out and the motor mounts had to be changed a little.
Unfortunately I wasn't the one who did the work, so I can't go into exhaustive detail.

The transmission in there now is a Nissan 4 speed, I have a 5 speed to replace it but am waiting until the weather gets a little better here.

The Datsun / Nissan 5 speed with the "60" on the side fits right in the tunnel.
To do the Rivergate swap you also need to match the first part of the serial number on the top of the bell housing. This isn't needed if you are putting one in behind a Nissan motor, then you just need that "60" on the side.
I imagine there are others that also fit with little or no mods to the tunnel, but that would take research. :wink:
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
T Wedge TR7 engine, need help identifying part. Triumph 5
M Need Advice On 948 Engine Rebuild Spridgets 7
C Need Help Finding Torque Specs for Engine Austin Healey 1
T TR2/3/3A TR3 Engine Noise trouble. New to Triumphs. Granfather's Car. Need Help. Triumph 43
R TR4/4A Need Advice as to what to do regarding Engine Compression Problems Triumph 26
drooartz MGB The state of my engine -- need some opinions MG 12
drooartz MGB At what oil pressure do I need to dig into the engine? MG 21
M need photo of engine comp. of BE Spridgets 12
Randy Forbes Need help with a Longbridge engine number tag... Austin Healey 3
I Bugey 948 engine rebuild gone wrong - need help Spridgets 12
TraceZ Need instructions: Remove engine from MK3 Sprite Spridgets 19
M 1098 engine core-need it ? Spridgets 10
Tim_Creger MGB Need help diagnosing MGB engine issues MG 24
eschneider TR2/3/3A need help - value of TR2/3/4 engine & trans cores Triumph 8
R engine trouble, need advice Spridgets 16
L Engine build problems. Desperately need help :,[ Spridgets 34
H Need Healey 100 engine parts Austin Healey 4
toysrrus "Need Info" on "New" Spridget VIN & Engine No`s: Spridgets 45
69MGC Need Pushrods for Pre-71 engine MG 24
RedTR3 TR2/3/3A Need some help with TR3 Engine problem Triumph 4
Stewart Do I need to repaint the interior of the engine MG 4
B pulling engine but need help....pictures!! Spridgets 11
Bruce_B Need help with oil pressure on startup of engine!! Spridgets 8
dklawson Spitfire Spitfire Dry Engine Starts-Need Smoke Explanation Triumph 3
T TR6 Does a TR6 need an engine to chassis ground strap? Triumph 16
K Switch to Synthetic Oil...Does Engine need to be.. Triumph 2
Bret Hey Doc! Need your thoughts on engine oil? Other Cars 4
T Need Some Engine Photos Triumph 9
C TR2/3/3A need TR3 engine help Triumph 9
Dave Richards Need a 6 cylinder engine? Austin Healey 4
S TR2/3/3A I may need a TR3 rebuilt engine Triumph 8
Thor Need photo of 76 or later Midget engine bay Spridgets 6
Banjo in need of a 1275 engine Spridgets 6
davidk Need help with Engine Number Triumph 4
EMGEBE ENGINE PROBLEMS again - I need a RB26dett in my B MG 3
S Need Engine Block For BJ7 Austin Healey 2
T Need Values for 2000 Rover 1.3 Twin Point Engine British Motor Corp 1
G Engine Barely Running - Need Help Triumph 14
R TR2/3/3A Need advise of TR3 engine expert....[long] Triumph 5
K need new engine MG 22
tr6web TR6 Quit running after a few minutes - need advice Triumph 8
AngliaGT I Need to Resist - 1980 Ford Fiesta Other Cars 7
vette Need BugEye Generator Austin Healey 7
vette Need BugEye Generator Spridgets 4
Got_All_4 TR6 Distributor Gear Mounting Question Need End Float Washer Triumph 4
J TR2/3/3A Need help with pivot and body bracket for hood Triumph 2
Madflyer For Sale Triumph GT 6 parting out need something Triumph Classifieds 7
KiwiStagguy Re building my power steering 71 Stag . Rust and pitting bad . Need a business name to fix it Triumph Classifieds 0
tinman58 TR2/3/3A Need super charger!! Triumph 7
B Wanted I need a small section of a bugeye bonnet Spridgets Classified 5

Similar threads

Top