Taming a supercharged Midget with the right tyres.

I’ve spent years trying to hone my MG Midget into a fast-road, occasional hill-climb car. It’s been a bit of a journey. I’ve been through three engine specs, including the once-popular Rover K-series, but I’ve now settled with a 1293cc A-series engine and an Eaton M-45 supercharger.

Like many people taking the engine-uprating route, I also improved the brakes (KAD calipers — incredibly effective) and suspension (Frontline Developments throughout, including a Panhard rod — a huge improvement). While I was testing this set up, I ran round on a set of new, but standard-size Dunlop 155/80R13 tyres. I wanted to see how everything worked without masking or even creating problems with an overdose of grip from a super-wide section or ultra-soft compound.

Back in the K-series days, I definitely went too wide, too early and created a car with over-heavy steering and bump steer that could put you in a ditch. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

The shakedown period allowed me to make some adjustments, both to car and driver skill… and after couple of months I was ready to choose the tyre that would contain most of the Midget’s madness. First off, I looked at the Michelin XAS FF in 155/80R13. Muriel Colange, who looks after our export sales, runs these on her Lotus 7. The ‘FF’ stands for Formule France, a single seat series where the XAS is the control tyre. The FF uses a soft compound and works very well with lightweight road cars.

From my shakedown runs, it was clear that a softer compound would be a good plan, but I also felt that going just a bit wider than standard would be an advantage. Having a round-rear wheelarch Midget gives a bit more clearance at the back, so the 175/70R13 Avon CR6 ZZ was an option.

The ZZ is a fast-road/trackday/race tyre in a wide range of sizes from 10in through to 15in. I put one on a rim and fitted it up in turn to all four corners of the car to check that clearance on this low car was OK. I’d recommend this route if you are experimenting with non-standard sizes. We can help with this, just call me (Ben) on 01590 612261.

The trial fit showed that there were no clearance problems and I’ve been running the ZZs on my car since last summer. The tyre has excellent grip in the wet and dry and has proved a brilliant match for the Midget’s supercharged performance.

Name: Ben Field, managing director, Vintage Tyres

Vehicle: 1973 MG Midget

Time owned: 22 years

Other classics owned: BMW R65, Land Rover Series IIA