Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics -


RUST Check for rot ev­ery­where, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the rear whee­larches, chas­sis box sec­tions and the vul­ner­a­ble dou­ble-skinned bon­net lead­ing edge. If a panel has vis­i­ble sur­face bub­bling, you can be pretty cer­tain that it’s ten times worse un­der­neath. The good news is that you can prac­ti­cally re­build a Midget from scratch thanks to ex­cep­tional parts back-up.

COOL­ING Midgets con­verted to run on un­leaded petrol tend to run rather hot, so up­grad­ing the ra­di­a­tor, re­lo­cat­ing the fuel pump closer to the tank and fit­ting a ther­mo­stat­i­cally con­trolled fan is a good idea. Get­ting the ex­haust man­i­folds wrapped or chem­i­cally treated low­ers un­der-bon­net tem­per­a­tures, too.

IG­NI­TION Bin­ning the orig­i­nal points and con­denser in favour of elec­tronic ig­ni­tion will im­prove hot start­ing markedly, as will fit­ting a qual­ity red-top ro­tor arm. A starter motor that won’t en­gage could be down to worn brushes – di­rect re­place­ments are read­ily avail­able, or you could up­grade to a high-torque starter.

MAZDA MX-5 NA 1.8i

RUST Pay at­ten­tion to the sills ahead of the rear wheels as rot can spread to the in­ner struc­ture; en­sure that the drain holes from the hood area aren’t blocked. Look for poor qual­ity patch­ing. Orig­i­nal sills had a stonechip fin­ish so smooth paint in­di­cates pre­vi­ous re­pairs. Whee­larches go, and ex­am­ine the wind­screen sur­round as rot in the A-pil­lars isn’t un­known. Plenty of spe­cial­ists can re­pair an MX-5 cost­ef­fec­tively, though.

EN­GINE Check that the five-year/60,000mile cam­belt change has been done, although the non­in­ter­fer­ence en­gine is safe if it does break. Cor­rect anti-freeze lev­els are vi­tal in pro­tect­ing the al­loy cylin­der head, and check for a leak­ing wa­ter pump and oil seep­ing from the cam cover gas­ket, cam sen­sor seal and front crank pul­ley seal.

GEAR­BOX A sticky shift means that the rub­ber boot be­neath has split , al­low­ing oil to es­cape; it’s an easy fix. A leaky clutch slave cylin­der is cheap and easy to rem­edy. A square rear num­ber plate, air­con and/or auto ‘box means it’s a Ja­pane­sespec Eu­nos Road­ster.

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