Midge Owners' and Builders' Club

Midge Owners' and Builders' Club. Cars and Pages.

    Peter's Midge, known locally as the Midgelet is, like almost all Midges, unique. But his is a bit more unique than most. Assuming that is grammatically acceptable. 
    First it has been through two complete builds in its 29 years by the same Peter (rare) and is still the same colour (more rare) and secondly (even rarer) it now has a coach-built wooden frame and a hand beaten beetle back. For those interested in making bodywork the hard way  Joep Bustin’s Midge might also be of interest.
    Here, however are Peter's words.
    Those of you of a similar age to me might remember a BBC children's TV program in the late 60's ' called Picture Box. One episode showed our hero building a car from bits of cars he picked up from a scrapyard, remember those? This stayed with me throughout my teens and into my twenties when I became keen to own something a bit different from the rest and I discovered a plan built car called the Burlington Arrow with the faintly derogatory tagline that went something like "...have you seen the price of plastic bathtubs?". I bought a copy of Kitcars and Specials and found the Burlington wasn't the only plan built car available, a local guy by the name of Roy Richards had built something called a Triumph 'Midge' using nothing more than a couple of sheets of ply and a Spitfire chassis. No money to buy a 'plastic bathtub' it looked like this was my only route. I visited Roy to get some hints and tips and found he was selling the original engine for £90 so the build was on! I managed to score a chassis from a nearby farm where someone had mixed concrete in the boot which had eaten the rear bodywork, I didn't need this anyway so I called in a favour from a friend with a flatbed and crane and got it home to my single lock up with no heat, light or power. The chassis needed a few modifications and the body was cut out of three quarter inch ply using the full size paper patterns purchased from John Cowperthwaite. The tub was skinned in thin Aluminium and it was time for paint but what colour? Roy's was red so that was out, then I saw a car on the front cover of another Kit car magazine and managed to contact the owner who told me the colour of his MG replica featured was Jaguar indigo blue, the decision was made. 
    Forty five thousand miles and some 20+ years later the Midgelet had started to look a bit tired, then the gearbox failed on the way back from a great day at Wilton House Super car Sunday so I took it off the road and decided to rebody it with a restyled 'boat tail' rear end. Rather than flat ply panels I designed and built an Ash frame and which I covered in 1.2 mm Aluminium. The only double curvature work was the boat tail section and after receiving quotes for just the two top halves ranging from £800 to £2k I thought I'd have a go myself. I bought a sandbag and turned a bossing mallet on my lathe and started beating the Aluminium into something resembling the curved panels. I got the shape somewhere near but it looked a bit like a raspberry! A wheeling machine seemed to be the answer so I made a small scale version just big enough to accept the two halves, it was a steep learning curve and whilst they're far from perfect I was reasonably happy with them. In its first incarnation the interior had gone from beige to grey but I was never entirely convinced, this time it was to be red. My mum had helped me with the first two but as she was sadly no longer with us I had all the stitching professionally done. The original engine had long been replaced with a 1300cc Spitfire version of the 1147 Herald but I was after a bit more performance so after 5 failed attempts to find an engine builder I had it updated with a Piper fast road cam and a lightened and balanced flywheel. It was repainted in the same colour by the same painter! It's rolling on 14 inch MGB wheels with a stainless one piece custom exhaust which everyone tells me is a bit loud but I think it's just fine! I'm still running it in and sorting out a few minor teething problems but it goes quite well and is much more comfortable than previously. Future jobs include replacing the cast exhaust manifold with a second hand tubular one I have in the garage. I have an old Landie and Harley to restore but I think I might still have another build in me, but I'll never sell this one, they're is too much of me in it!
​   Since the first appearance in the MOBC Winter 2018 magazine The car has been subject of considerable publicity including an appearance on you-tube and Octane magazine.

The first version
This was taken just after the paint was dry, which is why the cat is quite relaxed.