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Retirement has arrived – or, as I like to put it, I’m in the fortunate position of not having to work.
I’d always wanted two things in my retirement: to move somewhere warm, and to build a kit car.
My wife and I bought a villa near Dénia, on the northern Costa Blanca in Spain, and we started our new life in the sun.
Next up was building a car. The only issue was that I first had this dream back in the ’80s, when there were myriad kit cars to choose from.
Today, with modern cars going on and on, the kit-car market has almost dried up. So my next thought was: ‘How about running a classic sports car?’
I’d had a few as a young man, from a Triumph TR5 (why didn’t I keep that?) to an MG Midget.
The car needed to be left-hand drive and, after some research, there seemed to be a number of dealers in The Netherlands with a good selection.
I located a 1973 ex-California Mk3 MG Midget that appeared to be in great condition.
My wife had always wanted a city break to Amsterdam, so in August 2019 a trip was arranged, including a drive up-country to the dealer, Hofman Leek.
The car was just as good as it was described, a deal was done and the MG was duly transported to me in Spain.
When it arrived, I was shocked to see that it didn’t have any numberplates. I called the dealer, who informed me that, because the car had been exported, the plates had to be removed and cut up.
Because it wasn’t registered, I couldn’t get it insured or start using it. ‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘the registration process in Spain can’t take that long, can it?’
I talked to a firm that specialises in obtaining Spanish registrations, and we agreed the best route was to get the car on historic plates because, as in the UK, a historic car doesn’t require road tax and the ITV (the local MoT) inspections are greatly reduced.
The process began, and within a few weeks the car had been inspected by the University of Alicante to ensure that it was a genuine classic.
The inspection was very detailed, with every measurement taken and all identification numbers checked against manufacturer data. The car passed with no issues.
The next step was to get the documents issued by the Spanish vehicle authority. I was told this could take up to three months, but in fact it took eight – although, to be fair, COVID-19 may have caused the delay.
The final hurdle was then to get the car through the ITV.
This threw up a new problem: how to transport a car without numberplates and with no insurance to the test centre. A tow was arranged and the MG was duly transported.
I had started the car a few times in my garage with no issues, but inevitably when I took it in it went on strike.
Fortunately, there were no emissions checks required and, because it doesn’t have power steering or brakes, I was able to push the car through the test.
The MG passed, the numberplates were issued and I got it insured. Back home, I checked it over to find out why it wouldn’t run, and found some very worn carbs.
I purchased an SU HIF44, an inlet manifold and a new exhaust system.
On the first run out the alternator packed up, but Moss Europe sent one over from the UK.
The Midget is now running like a dream, and is the perfect toy for me to fettle and run around the beautiful Spanish countryside.
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- Owned by Brian Spickett
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