Which are the best books for Sprites and Midgets ? Well, that depends.
It depends on whether you are looking for the history of the car, maintenance manuals or books with beautiful photographs. Whichever type of book you are looking for, Sprites and Midgets are well catered for.
Over the past 30 years, I have owned 3 Midgets, a Sprite based Westfield Eleven and currently own a Frogeye. In that time, I have acquired quite a library of Sprite and Midget related books. So, let’s take a blat through them and I will give you my personal review and rating of each one.
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The books fall loosely into the following categories: Reference, Maintenance and Tuning, Restoration and Miscellaneous (where would we be without miscellaneous !)
- MG Midget & A-H Sprite: The Essential Buyer's Guide
I bought this book a couple of years ago when I was coming back to Spridget ownership after a break of 15 years or so. My target was to buy a Frogeye or, if that was too difficult (or expensive), a MkIII round wheel arched 1275 Midget. I had seen a couple of cars up for auction (live auctioneer, not eBay) and wanted to get a clear idea of what I needed to look at before bidding. The book is clear and concise and really helped me to focus on what was going to be a deal-breaker and what I might be prepared to take a chance on.
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is in the market for a Spridget but is not particularly up to speed with the latest state of the cars.
- Frogeye Sprite: The Complete Story
A relatively new addition to my library and I haven’t fallen in love with it yet. It is growing on me, though, with some great photos that I have not seen before. There are a lot of pages for a book devoted solely to the Frogeye. It is written in a story-like narrative rather than technical dimensions and features. It covers history, manufacture, race and rally, modern derivatives and clubs and specialists.
I have upped my rating from 3 to 3.5 and who knows, it might increase further as I get more comfortable with it.
- M. G. and Austin Healey Spridgets
I have owned this book for over 30 years and although I don’t look at it regularly anymore, it is still a great book. It was published in 1984, not long after Midget production had stopped. This was the 80’s; big hair, big shoulder pads and the ladies were just as glam! The Spridget was unfashionable (oddly, this was when I bought my first Midget) but was cheap, available and brilliant fun; similar in many ways to the MGF today.
I would say that this book was the first good quality reference book for the Sprite and Midget enthusiast. It has been supplanted by more up to date books, with more colour photos, but the book is a great snapshot in the history of Spridget enthusiasts.
Seek this out almost as a social history reference rather than modern day definitive guide.
- MG Midget and Austin Healey (Except Frogeye) (Super Profile S.) by Lindsay Porter (1-Aug-1983) Hardcover
OK, so I have a love / hate relationship with the Super Profile series of books. I love them when they are about cars that I don’t own (I have the Cobra and Jaguar D-type editions.) Nice pictures; a bit of history and some performance graphs to look at. I love the quirky, naïve format of an 80’s classic book series. But, I find them to be sadly lacking in useful information if you actually own the car.
Buy for fun, curiosity or if you never intend owning a Sprite or Midget.
- MG Midget Mark III (GAN 6) Drivers Handbook: Mg Midget Mk 3: Part No. Akm3229
The Owner’s manual is definitely a nice little curio to have in your collection, especially if it is the original one that came with your specific car. Again, it provides an historical context for the car and is a great reference for tyre pressures and simple servicing tasks; greasing, oiling and the such like.
Maintenance and Tuning
- TUNING THE A-SERIES ENGINE (3RD E: The Definitive Manual on Tuning for Performance or Economy
Although not specifically a Sprite or Midget book, the A-Series engine was the chosen power unit for 16 of its 21 years. This is just one of those books that I love to own. I am probably never going to do any of the tuning in this book but I do rebuild the odd engine. I have a Lotus Twincam with a bent inlet valve that will get some attention soon and the general approach to rebuilding is second to none. It covers everything from Hot Road 850 engines to Nitrous Oxide Injection.
Buy this if you are into engines … and you like to smile a lot !
- MG Midget and Austin Healey Sprite Owner's Workshop Manual - 1958 to 1980
If you intend doing any type of maintenance on your Spridget, from changing the oil, to changing the engine, then you absolutely need to own this book. It may not be perfect, and there will be times when a one line instruction takes a frustrating hour to complete, but I have had mine for over 30 years now and I still refer to it whenever I work on the frogeye.
It covers all of the Sprites and Midgets from 1958 to 1980 (last 1500 Midget came off the line in November 1979)
- Automotive Electrical Manual (US) (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)
Another non-specific Sprite / Midget book but very useful all the same. I am not a natural when it comes to car electrics but this manual makes it very easy to understand what is going on across all of the electrical and electronic systems in a car.
It starts with a brief recap of what you learned about electrickery at high school and then continues to explain all of the major electrical and electronic components of a car; from charging systems and ignition to engine management and test equipment.
Buy this if you are the main maintenance person for your car and electrics are not your natural thing.
- SU Carburettors Tips & Techniques
This is a really useful reference book SU Carburettors and SU Fuel Pumps. I Don’t know if it used to come in a larger format but, the text is so small that, with my ageing eyesight, I need a magnifying glass to read some of it. It is a very dry read, not the sort of book that “you just can’t put down,” but it is nothing if not comprehensive.
Buy this if you need a thorough reference to SU carburettors and fuel pumps
- Austin-Healey Sprite and Midget Workshop Manual (1961-1974)
Quite possibly the most disappointing Sprite / Midget book that I have. I was so excited to get it that I bought 2 copies; 1 for the garage and 1 for the house. Sadly, I only refer to it now as a last resort; not because the information is poor, but because it is aimed at the professional garage mechanic who has access to all the specialised tools, which I don’t have.
Buy this if you are a professional mechanic.
- Original Sprite and Midget: The Restorer's Guide to All Austin-Healey and MG Models, 1958-79
This is a wonderful book. It covers the evolution of the cars in minute detail. Every colour scheme, every option and every update to every model. The photographs are beautiful and the cars included in those photographs are inspirational, not only to the concours restorer but also to the everyday owner who is not so keen with a bucket and chamois.
Buy this book … no … just buy it !
- MG Midget and Austin-Healey Sprite Restoration Manual (Haynes Resto Series)
It’s not that this is a bad book per se, it’s just that it doesn’t appeal to me. It was first published way back in 1984 and, although it has been updated and expanded a couple of times, it still seems to be stuck in that grimy era.
The information is good enough but the presentation is poor with unclear photography and layout. I don’t really refer to this book but, maybe I will when I get around doing some work on the interior of the Frogeye.
There are many other sources of reading material that you may find useful or entertaining. Here are a few examples from my own collection.
The Moss parts catalogue is free and a great resource for identifying which component it is that has just sprung out of your pliers never to be seen again.
Club magazines, like Mascot and Enjoying MG, are a great source of “how to fix that nutty little problem that is driving you mad” and monthly car magazines can give you that quick fix of motivation to keep working on your car. In particular, Practical Classics guide to the Midget and Sprite is excellent.
My favourite miscellany of all are period publications. I recently bought a 1958 Autosport with a review of the new Austin Healey Sprite (not yet nicknamed Frogeye). I have a 1962 owners manual, I would have to say is, in some ways, better than the Haynes Manual. Hunt around and see what you can find; there’s some really fun and interesting stuff out there.
If I were to recommend just the essential books for a Spridget owner, then it would be a list of 1 book; the Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual. However, why have 1 when you can have more !
My top 3 recommendations are:
I am still looking for books to improve my library; fill in some gaps or expand the view.
So, here are some further books that are still on my wishlist.
- Spritely Years: Race and Rally Memories from the Classic Era, Plus the Full History of the Sebring Sprite
- The MG Midget & Austin-Healey Sprite High Performance Manual: New 4th Edition (SpeedPro)
- Restoring Sprites & Midgets an enthusiasts guide.: An Enthusiast's Guide - A Practical Manual Written with the Home Restorer in Mind - Covers ... Gear, Suspension, Brakes, Electrics and Trim
- MG Midget and Austin-Healey Sprite: Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration
If you have any recommendations for Spridget books, old or new that you think would enhance my library, let me know and you may see them included when I revise this article in the future.
Recommendations from my visitors
Thank you for the following recommendations … keep them coming !
- MG Midget 1961-1979 (Road Test Portfolio)
Recommendation from Phil:
I have Brooklands books MG Midget 1961-1979. A great collection of magazine articles, reviews, tests and comparisons from the production years.
- Mighty Midgets and Special Sprites
Recommendation from Andrew.
- Sprites and Midgets: The Complete Story
Recommendation from Andrew.
- Robert Bentley's Repair Manual for British Cars
Recommendation from Tim:
If you are based in USA, you can buy it from Tim’s store, OEM Part Haus
- MG Midget Reborn
Recommendation from Brandon:
Don’t forget “mg midget reborn” by Peter Birkin a useful resource when rebuilding my midget
- How to Power Tune Midget and Sprite for Road and Track (SpeedPro Series)
Recommendation from Andrew:
There’s also a good bunch of Spridget-related titles in the SpeedPro series including Daniel Stapleton’s most excellent “How to Power Tune Midget
- More Healeys: Frog Eyes, Sprites and Midgets
Recommendation from Jonathan:
…no collection of Spridget books is complete without: “Sprites and Midgets” by Eric Dymock and “More Healeys” by Geoff Healey.
- The Sprites and Midgets (Collector's Guides)
Recommendation from Jonathan
- Handbook for the Austin Healey Sprite. Mark I and II from 1958
Recommendation from Paul, Jonathan, Tom and Gary:
It is dated 1962. It’s part general introduction to the model, part handbook, part maintenance guide. It even features the Innocenti 950!
- The book of the Austin-Healey Sprite, Marks I,II,III and IV: Maintenance and repair in the home garage for do-it-yourself owners (Motorists' library)
Recommendation from Gary
- Austin Healey Sprite Mark 1 Workshop Manual: General Data and Maintenance - Covers All Components and Drawings for the Frog-eye Sprite (Official Workshop Manuals)
Recommendation from David:
Although it refers to the use of specialised tools for some procedures, I find the actual technical information for restoration to original is excellent and very detailed.
- Modified Motoring:~ (2nd Edition)~ Improved performance from a production car
Recommendation from Nick: Spritely Years and Modified Motoring are also great books.
Recommendation from Steve:
It’s a reprint of a series of magazine articles they published back in the mists of time! I would never see it as a definitive guide, but some useful stuff for beginners when used in combination with a proper workshop manual.
Recommendation from Eric:
It covers big and small ones. A big hard backed book. A lot of stuff re Frogeyes etc.