Dessie’s Mighty Midget is Put Through its Paces.
This article is reproduced from Motorweek 7 March, 1970.
MG Midgets have long been successful on the racing scene, and you’ve only got to look at the local results sheets for last year to see that. Despite having been around in one form or another for well over 10 years, the “Spridget” is very much a force to be reckoned with on our own circuits as well as those further afield.
On the road too, the Midget, or “Spridget” to be more accurate, is a very popular machine and one which offers good value for money.
One branch of motorsport which has not yet been conquered by “Spridgets” is rallying. Here saloon cars reign supreme and have done so for a long time now, but Dessie McCartney, who needs no introduction on these pages, is hoping to set the score right in the near future.
Dessie of course has latterly been well known for his “clod bashing” and auto crossing activities on a variety of flying tea trays, and he has also done more than his fair share of rallying with Minis, occasionally winning the odd event into the bargain. Before he turned to Minis, however, Dessie used several assorted Sprites and Midgets to collect silverware on all types of event, from driving tests to hill climbs and this “Spridget” experience gave him a healthy respect for BMC’s small sports cars and their capabilities.
Now, for 1970, he has got himself a rallying Midget and this car will, we hope, re-establish the name at the top of the rally tree. At any rate, having driven it recently, I can say with all honesty that it seems terribly quick to me.
The McCartney Midget will be familiar to anybody who attended race meetings at Kirkistown and Bishopscourt last season where it was raced with some success by its previous owner, Comber man Don Hanley, and in fact, it hasn’t changed very much since then. The engine is a 1293 cc unit, fitted with all the things that people tie on to BMC motors these days to make them go quicker.
It breathes through a large and main looking Webber carburettor and produces quite enough power to prove more than a little bit exciting on the road. A contributory cause of this excitement is the limited slip differential which, while desirable for competition motoring, does have the effect of making even quiet main roads feel like special stages. Straight cut gears live in the gearbox (the best place for them) where they make rather a lot of noise.
From the outside, not surprisingly, the Midget looks rather conspicuous with ultra-wide J. A. Pearce wheels and flared wings to suit. In fact, the wings are something of a subject in themselves, since Dessie managed to fit the rear wing extensions from a Ford Transit van onto the back of the Midget and, with the job properly done, these look very well. A one-piece fibreglass front looks after any front body problems.
We spent an afternoon with Dessie and his new toy making a grand tour of the rough roads in his local area, and aside from discovering that the McCartney lad is pretty good at that sort of thing (as if that was in doubt) we found the Midget to be surprisingly happy when leaping from bump to bump and motoring sideways on the road, as the accompanying photographs will no doubt show.
It could be that this is a machine to challenge the rallying “establishment”, but even if it doesn’t, it looks a lot more like fun than many rally cars, and it’s bound to be good to watch. Of course, to see the Midget in the flesh you’ll have to go to the Ulster Motorsport Show, where it’s on display for the week, and where you’ll find its owner on display as well.
Not that Dessie is being put in a glass case or anything like that, but he’ll be looking after the interests of fellow Bangor man Ken Coulter, who’s newly formed accessory business will see the light of day for the first time at the show.