This MG Midget is Powered by a V-4 Honda Motorcycle Engine
British style with Japanese reliability? Sign us up.
A hero in Dayton, Ohio, named Chuck Bridgman has conducted a rather interesting engine swap in one of the most charming cars from the era of the British roadster. He found a 1979 MG Midget 1500 with a broken engine (big surprise) and swapped out its original 1,493cc inline-four shared with the Triumph Spitfire for an unexpected powerplant. This Midget is now propelled by a 1,098cc V-4 sourced from a 1984 Honda V65 Magna motorcycle.
Despite being a smaller engine designed for a smaller vehicle with half the wheels, this is actually a significant performance upgrade for the car. By the time the MG Midget hit the late '70s, it was choked to just 50 horsepower and 67 pound-feet of torque because of emissions regulations and by just not having a great engine in the first place.
The Magna, however, made 116 hp and 70 pound-feet of torque which are still fairly impressive performance numbers by today's standards for a motorcycle that size, if a bit lacking in torque. Bridgman originally wanted to use a flat-four engine from a Honda Gold Wing GL1200 but found out it was actually too big after doing some measuring under the hood of the Midget.
This build still doesn’t have a ton of power for a four-wheeled conveyance, but considering the owner estimates this Midget’s curb weight to be about 300 pounds less than stock which would put it around 1,550 pounds, the Magna’s engine has more than sufficient grunt to hustle the little roadster around. The trustworthiness of a Honda motor over a 1970s Triumph unit likely makes this car easier to live with than before, too.
The MG Midget is a weird car and the Honda V65 V-4 is a weird engine and in a strange way, they just might be perfect for each other. To see the gritty details of the build like how Bridgman created a custom driveshaft by combining the Honda’s and the MG’s hardware with some bearings from an Isuzu Trooper in the mix, you can check out his build thread here.