- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

It was July 1992 when Brian Carroccio realized that he was blessed.

Young Mr. Carroccio was a high school student in Potomac when his father purchased a vermilion red 1978 MG Midget.

Granted, Mr. Carroccio’s envisioned use of the sporty little two-seater differed vastly from his father’s ideas on the same subject. Nevertheless, an accommodation was reached and the teenager began driving the car to school. The odometer had registered only 58,000 miles when the British car was purchased from a neighbor down the street.

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“It was never reliable,” Mr. Carroccio says. One of the first chores father and son tackled was substituting a more reliable Webber carburetor for the original S.U. carburetor.

The diminutive, 11-foot, 9-inch-long car served the high school student well and for a time went off to St. Mary’s College with him.

As the MG approached its 20th birthday, the weary car started to come apart.

“We look upon 1997-1998 as the dark years,” he says.

It was during that period that a rebuilt 91-cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine was installed. The entire suspension system was also replaced, along with the hydraulic brake system. The 13-inch styled steel wheels were discarded in favor of sporty after-market models that accommodate slightly wider tires.

The four-speed manual transmission didn’t need attention until 2004. However, while all the other work on the car was being accomplished, and Mr. Carroccio was matriculating at St. Mary’s, his father decided the time was perfect for some cosmetic work to be undertaken.

The original paint was stripped off and the car was resprayed with the same color. The black strip along the rocker panels was eliminated in favor of an all-one-color car. The federally mandated massive rubber bumpers required no attention.

A stainless-steel exhaust system took the place of the original, which eliminates such tasks in the future.

Prior to repainting the MG, all of the trim pieces were removed. Worn items such as the “MG” emblem on the trunk lid, side light and backup light bezels and lenses were replaced.

All of the replated or new trim pieces help to make the finished product sparkle.

Only 2.3 turns take the steering wheel lock to lock and with the precise rack-and-pinion steering gear, the nimble MG Midget is a delight to drive. To the left, the car can be turned in 30 feet, 10 inches. The same maneuver to the right takes an extra 13 inches.

In addition to the fun-to-drive quotient, the reported 28.5 miles per gallon makes $2-a-gallon gasoline prices a bit more palatable. The car can be driven in excess of 200 miles on a 7.5-gallon tank of fuel, helped by the fact it weighs a mere 1,775 pounds.

The Midget was not designed to comfortably accommodate passengers much taller than 6 feet.

In order to gain more room in the cockpit, Mr. Carroccio has removed the radio and the heater. They can easily be reinstalled but, for now, the owner prefers the few extra inches of interior space.

Since restoration, the little MG looks great, is considerably more reliable and currently is approaching 80,000 miles on the odometer.

On fair weather days Mr. Carroccio will motor to work in his MG. His sixth-grade students at Avalon School give him a thumbs-up when they see their teacher in his sporty MG.

Although the speedometer is set to register speeds up to 120 mph, he says his MG has a built-in speed governor. “It starts to shake at about 50,” he remarks.

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