The Midas was originally conceived as a small front wheel drive sports car.  In fact the Mk1 was designed as an updated, restyled and improved replacement for the Mini-Marcos that the original company, then known as D & H Fibreglass Techniques Ltd, had been building under licence.  The philosophy of using a purpose designed, strong and rot free composite monocoque with front wheel drive running gear has continued with all subsequent models.

The choice of which Midas will suit you best will depend entirely upon what you are looking for and how you intend to use the car.  If you are after a zippy little sports car that you can easily tinker with, then the earlier cars will appeal.  If you are after something that will serve as an everyday car that can cruise motorways as well as blitzing the back lanes, then the later models are more likely to meet your needs.

The different Midas models fall into three distinct categories that also correspond with the different vehicles that the running gear was sourced from:

Mk2 Gold kit as built by Russell Bulgin for Cars & Car Conversions Magazine in 1982

Mk2 Gold kit as built by Russell Bulgin for Cars & Car Conversions Magazine in 1982

The Mini based models, the Mk1 and Mk2 Coupes, are the earliest and smallest versions and were only made as a hatchback coupe. Production ran from 1978 to 1981 for the Mk1 and then the Mk2 was made from late 1981 until 1989.  A few Midtec Bronzes were also built in the early 1990s.  Despite being so compact externally, these Mini based coupes offer a roomy cockpit, with the option of 2+2 seating and a sizeable rear compartment that can be accessed through the glass hatch. The introduction of the Mk2 in 1981 also brought in the Bronze, Silver and Gold names, designating the level of build that the car was supplied as:  The Bronze was the basic kit, requiring the new owner to source a donor vehicle; the Silver was a full set of new components that still needed to be bolted together; the Gold was almost a complete car requiring just the rear suspension, exhaust and seats to be fitted. Just enough to satisfy the bureaucrats that the Midas Gold was still a “vehicle supplied in component form” and thus avoid the requirement for full type approval.


Gold Coupe Moulds coming back from Berlin

Gold Coupe Moulds coming back from Berlin

The Austin/MG (A-series) Metro based Mk3 Gold Coupe and Gold Convertible are slightly larger than the Mini based models, but the evolution of the design can be clearly seen. The larger size makes them slightly more roomy than the Mk1/Mk2 models, whilst the taller gearing of the A+ Metro drivetrain makes for a more refined driving experience. The Mk3 Gold Coupe was introduced in 1985 and the convertible arrived in 1989. Production of the Gold Coupe stopped with the closure of Pastiche Cars in 1991 and the subsequent sale of the moulds to Berlin, but the moulds have since been retrieved and bodyshells are available again from Alternative Cars Ltd. The Gold Convertible was introduced in early 1989 to much fanfare, it made the front cover of Car magazine and was road tested by Autocar and Motor, but the original Midas Cars Ltd folded later that year. However, production has continued in fits and starts as the marque has changed ownership with the largest number being produced at Sutton Bonington when the marque was owned by GTM. Alternative Cars Ltd still offer a full kit, which was slightly revised in 2006 to meet the SVA/IVA regulations.

The Rover Metro/100 based Mk4 models are slightly larger still and benefit from the more modern K-series engine range. This offers more performance and even better cruising thanks to the five speed gearboxes so it should come as no surprise that these cars tend to clock up high mileages.  The Mk4 Coupe, launched in 1995 and originally called the 2+2 Coupe, is a two door booted coupe with enough space in the rear for a couple of pre-teen children and a large boot. The Mk4 Convertible was launched in 2002 and called the Midas Excelsior, the Coupe was renamed the Midas Cortez at the same time. It also offers 2+2 seating and the same large boot space. Both models are still available in kit form.

Cortez & Excelsior

Cortez & Excelsior

Whichever model interests you most, you will find that the Midas Owners Club is there to support you and these cars are rewarding to own and drive.


What to look for when buying a Midas.

Every model has a version of the polyester and glass fibre based composite monocoque for which Midas is famous. These are rust free and extremely strong. Thanks to the quality of the design and construction, even the earliest cars show very little sign of aging or fatigue.  However, the subframes that hold the drivetrain and suspension in place are steel and can rust if not looked after.

The front subframes are derived directly from their donor vehicles, i.e. Mini or Metro. Generally, if the cars are used regularly then the front subframes don’t rust, thanks to the anti-rusting effects of old A-series engines that provide a fine coating of oil over most surfaces.  The Metro subframes also benefitted from better rust protection when new. However, if the car has been stood and especially if it has been stood over grass then any of the subframes can start to rust. The Mk1 and Mk2 Coupes were supplied with a simple beam like rear subframe and, despite being zinc coated when new, it is not uncommon for these to rust if no further preventative action has been taken. The Mk3 and Mk4 models had the Metro rear subframe and this can also rust through if not cared for especially if the car has done a lot of miles and been exposed to winter road salt.

Star crack seen on Mk1 bonnet.

Star crack seen on Mk1 bonnet.

Unlike a lot of glass fibre bodied cars, the Midas monocoque should not develop stress cracks and the only inherent “design fault” may be found on the Mk1 bonnet, which could bounce on the top of the engine’s oil filler cap and the SU carburettor creating “ star-cracks” in the gelcoat of the bonnet. The bonnet of the Mk2 was redesigned to provide greater clearances and should not see the same issues.

That doesn’t mean that every Midas will be crack free, but rather that you should carefully inspect the body to look for any signs of cracks as any present will bear witness to misuse or mishandling. Bad cracks on the bumpers and body extremities are usually there as a result of accident damage, whilst cracks on doors or bonnets can be due to the panels being misaligned, or having been closed onto something hard.  Whilst a crack does signify a local weakness in the composite structure, it does not necessarily mean that the car should be avoided. Every crack is repairable and the structure can easily be returned to its original strength. However, the presence of a large number of cracks, or clear signs of accident damage, should be addressed as soon as possible and this should be factored into the purchase price.

There are several other potential defects that affect the composite body that should also be looked out for and these apply to all GRP bodied cars and not just a Midas:

  • The most common is faded pigment in the gelcoat. The pigments used in gelcoat colours are basically the same as those used in paints and just like paints of the same era, gelcoats have been subject to the same ban on the use of lead and cadmium. That means that the pigments will fade if not sufficiently protected from UV light.  Any car with a gelcoat finish should regularly be polished and waxed, either with a good solid car wax or a modern polymer wax that will provide UV protection.  Just as with faded paint, the gelcoat colour can be returned by buffing up with a polishing paste, but a gelcoat specific cutting compound works best.  The pigment in a paint will be contained within 40 to 50 microns of the colour coat layer, but the gelcoat layer on a Midas will be more like 0.5mm (500microns) thick. That means you can be quite aggressive when polishing up the gelcoat, even using 400 and 600 grade wet and dry to remove deep scratches if necessary.

    The front of this Mk1 has several nasties: The gel cracks are clearly the result of accident damage.  The grey stains are where the gel pigment has been discoloured by UV light and the exposure has led to micro-cracking.

    The front of this Mk1 has several nasties: The gel cracks are clearly the result of accident damage. The grey stains are where the gel pigment has been discoloured by UV light and the exposure has led to micro-cracking.

Less common problems, but ones that will require more work to rectify, are micro cracking and micro blistering.

  • Micro cracking is caused by too much exposure to UV light and may be seen on a car that has stood outside without a cover. The gel coat effectively dries out after exposure to too much sunlight and fine cracks appear. If tackled early, they can be sanded out and the gelcoat polished back up to a shine, but if the car has been left out in an exposed position for a long time then they might go right through the gelcoat. In which case sanding the gelcoat right back and painting the car is the only option.





  • Micro blisters are less common and are caused by gelcoat being kept wet for a long time, allowing moisture to seep into the pores of the gelcoat. This is called osmosis and is more common on GRP boats. On a Midas it is most likely to be found in hidden recesses, such as those under the edge of the bonnet, or the rear hatch on coupes, where muck and sometimes moss can gather and stay damp. In such hidden areas it can generally be ignored. It only becomes a big problem if it is in a visible position. The most common cause of that is poor storage under tarpaulins, or plastic sheets, that hold moisture against the bodywork. It may even be caused by layers of damp sheets in a poorly ventilated garage. Such micro blistering can only be tackled by sanding back the gelcoat and in bad cases, where the blisters go right through the gelcoat, the body will need painting.
Micro blisters seen around a rear hatch gutter. The brown colour from the sludge has been carried by the  moisture into the blisters.

Close up view of micro blisters seen around a rear hatch gutter. The brown colour from the sludge has been carried by the moisture into the blisters.

It is worth adding a few comments on painting here.  Painting GRP bodied cars properly is quite expensive, akin to a bare metal respray on a steel bodied car. The gelcoat surface will require thorough preparation to provide a good key for the paint and several layers will be required: typically starting with high build primer coats, which need to be flatted back, before being locked in by a strong, flexible, undercoat (usually epoxy based). Then the colour coat goes on, usually followed by a clear lacquer. If you are aiming to change the colour of the whole car, especially if you want a metallic finish, then this is the only sensible option. A cheap blow over, i.e. just a colour coat without the correct primer stages, will start to peel or crack within a few years.  On the other hand if you are looking to repair one panel, or bodywork section, repainting the panel to match the original gelcoat colour can provide an economical, but perfect repair.  A good car painter, using modern paint matching techniques, can blend in a painted section next to a gelcoat finished section and no-one will be able to spot the difference.

Having scared you with all the bodywork problems that you may encounter, it should be repeated that these problems can affect any GRP bodied car and are all repairable.  It is still possible to find a well cared for Midas that has none of these problems and, thanks to the quality of the original build, a Midas is less likely to be badly affected by these issues than many of its contemporaries.


Mechanically, the Mk1, 2 and 3 models are all pretty similar. They all use the A-series engine and gearbox and the suspension is also similar in layout.  The Mini and Metro derived engines are fairly simple and robust engines and spares availability is excellent. You just need to do the usual pre-purchase checks that you would for any similar cars, such as looking for tell-tale signs of engine and gearbox wear, checking the suspension for unwanted movement and giving the car a good look over for any problems.  The Midas was designed for home assembly, so nearly all the likely repairs can be done by a DIY mechanic.

gold engine bay

The Mk1 and 2 Coupes use the Mini’s rubber cone front suspension along with coil springs over telescopic dampers (coil-overs) at the back. The Mk3 models all use the Metro’s hydragas at the front.  All the Mk3 Coupes and most of the early Convertibles used coil-overs at the back, but most of the later convertibles used the hydragas units, from the Metro, at the rear. Whilst old hydragas units can leak fluid, or gas, telescopic dampers can also rust up, or lose their oil.  It is really a matter of taking a look under the car, checking the condition and factoring the cost of any repair work into the offer price.   As to which setup is best, it may just be a matter of taste. Both setups – hydragas front with coil-over rear or hydragas all round – can be made to ride and handle well. Equally, if the suspension is neglected then either setup can provide a hard, or bouncy ride, that ruins the handling.

The Mk4 models differ in that they are based on the K-series powered Rover Metro and Rover 100. Generally the K-series engines used in the Metros were torquey and reliable. Largely this was thanks to being manufactured when Rover was under BAE, or BMW, ownership and the problems that later afflicted the K-series, when cheaper head gaskets, or plastic head dowels were substituted, were still unknown.  The early K-series still needed to be looked after properly, with the timing belts being replaced at regular intervals (typically every 60K miles or 5 years) and should the head gasket need replacing, or other internal engine work be required, then the long bolts that hold the engine “sandwich” together should be checked and replaced if they have stretched. The K-series cars have hydragas all round with a front to rear interconnection pipe and when working properly these ride and handle very well.

Most spares are easy to track down: Alternative Cars Ltd can supply all of the unique Midas parts for the Mk3 and Mk4 models as well as many parts for the Mk2. Mechanical parts are still readily available, especially for the Mini based models thanks to the continued popularity of Issigonis’ classic.


Where to buy (and where to advertise):

The best cars, that fetch the highest prices, are usually sold within the club, either through the club magazine, or the forum.  Typically this is because they have been taken to club events and seen by other owners and are therefore ‘known’ within club circles. If you are looking for a really good car, or a sound runner, then it is well worth putting a wanted ad on the club forum. It might just prompt an owner to sell his Midas to you.

Club meets, like the Stoneleigh show, are good places to buy and sell cars.

Club meets, like the Stoneleigh show, are good places to buy and sell cars.

Occasionally a good car will appear for sale in a classic car magazine, or classic car website. It is harder to judge what these cars sell for as, whatever the price advertised, the actual selling price is a matter of negotiation between the seller and the buyer and therefore not normally made public.

At the other end of the scale, cars sold on ebay tend to fetch lower values. This is partly because the Midas is not a particularly well known marque and so there may not be many people looking to buy a Midas at the time they come up for sale. A bigger factor is that the majority of the cars that appear on ebay tend to be “project” cars that need a substantial amount of work and this will be reflected in the selling price.  If you are looking to buy the cheapest car available with a ground up restoration in mind then ebay is a good place to buy.

In between you have the mid-priced cars.  The cars that are well used runners, but perhaps little tatty around the edges, or even a car that has been carefully stored away by an owner who had always intended to recommission the car, but never got around to it (more common than you might think – see below). Some of these appear on ebay and currently fetch bargain prices, whilst others sell through the club, or other websites.

The Midas has never been produced in large numbers so there are not a lot of cars out there. A survey by the club indicated that probably less than 25% of those made are still in regular use in the UK, but more than 80% are still registered on the DVLA database – the rest have either been exported or written off. That means around 55% of the cars made have been taken off the road for whatever reason. Some will have been carefully stored away, some less carefully stored, whilst others have changed hands several times.  If you are looking for a car to rebuild then there are plenty out there. It is just a matter of being patient and keeping your eyes open for a suitable car. If you are looking for a car in good working order, then you may have to be more pro-active: Put a wanted ad on the Midas forum and visit a few Owners Club meets to hunt down a car.


What to pay:

It is difficult to put a value on most Midas models as the market varies so greatly and Midas cars appear for sale relatively infrequently. Furthermore, prices really do depend on how good a car is and how well it is promoted.

The fundamental starting point when buying an early Midas, like any pre-SVA or IVA kit car – i.e. one registered before the SVA was introduced at the end of 1998 – is the question “is it correctly registered?” If the car has a V5C with the Make given as ‘Midas’ it has cleared the first hurdle.  In the pre-SVA days it was not uncommon for a Midas kit to be registered as a Mini Special, or an Austin Coupe, or whatever, particularly if the builder wanted to keep the registration number from the donor vehicle to avoid a Q plate. This can create a problem when you come to MOT the car, as it now has to be correctly registered. It is possible to have the V5C corrected, especially if the V5C has the Special Note (Section 3) “Kit built/converted –assembled from parts all of which may not be new”. If that note is missing and you have no other evidence that the car has been a Midas for some years you will be faced with having to get the car through an IVA test.  Apart from the need to get the car into tip-top condition and make a number of small modifications to meet the IVA test requirements, the test itself will cost £450.  That automatically reduces the value of any car without a valid V5C. With that in mind, it is no surprise to see the starting price for correctly registered “project” cars at around £500 for Mk1 and Mk2 Coupes, with Mk3 Coupe and Convertibles fetching a little more – anywhere in the £500 to £1500 range.

A lot of the cars that appear on ebay are "project" cars that require full rebuilds and this is reflected by the lower prices.

A lot of the cars that appear on ebay are “project” cars that require full rebuilds and this is reflected by the lower prices.

So defining the starting point as a “project car”, this really means a car that will need a complete rebuild before it can return to the road and may even be a partially stripped shell with bits in boxes. The next step up is the “rolling rebuild”. This is a car that is driveable and may even have an MOT, but is generally quite tatty. The exterior and interior may have been neglected and there may be mechanical issues looming : the subframes may have surface rust, or the engine may be starting to burn some oil.  Obviously, such cars are going to need a fair amount of money spent on them, but if planned sensibly this can be spread out over a number of years and the car can be used in the meantime. The value of these cars is quite hard to assess and really only the benefit of an MOT might lift one out of the “project car” category, whereas another may only need some cosmetic work. Therefore there is quite some overlap across these categories.  A rolling rebuild Mk1 or Mk2 probably falls in to the £800 to £1500 price range, whereas for a Mk3 the range could extend to £2000, or even a little more. A few Mk4s have fallen into this category and prices have been in a similar region to the Mk3s, i.e. £1000 to £2000.

The next category up is the “sound runner”. Again the distinction between this and the previous category can be blurred and can really only be determined on close inspection. A “sound runner” may have a few areas needing cosmetic attention: perhaps a panel, or two, needing polishing up, frayed carpets, or saggy seats. The mechanicals may not be the tidiest, but the engine and gearbox will be sound and the car would, at most, only need basic maintenance to pass its next MOT. Again the values will overlap with the previous category: Mk1 and Mk2 Coupes in this category have been advertised for prices of up to £2500 and are possibly rising. Mk3 Coupes and Convertibles have been seen at £3000 to £3500. The value of Mk4 cars in this category is hard to determine due to the scarcity of the cars, but is probably more akin to the Mk1/Mk2 price range.

The final category is the “concours” or “mint” condition car. Very few of these exist and when they do change hands it is usually by private negotiation, so it is very difficult to put a price range on these cars.  However, it should be safe to assume that the value of such cars will be above those of the “sound runner”.

Whatever your price range, whether you want a rebuild project, or a concours example, the Midas is a pretty rare car so do not expect to find the car you want immediately. However, once you have your car you can be guaranteed hours of fun and you will soon find that Midas owners are a friendly and happy bunch, happy to give advice and share their experiences of Midas ownership – check out the  Midas Cars Forum to see whats going on.