Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides


MGF Published: 31st Aug 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

If you’re looking for some cheap thrills, then you’ll swear by this MG

I keep thinking about buying mgfs. is there a cure?

Nurse! No seriously, buy one because they are not only great value but also a bloody good sports car in their own right. They are becoming increasingly popular at MG events – in fact, at the recent MG Era Day at Brooklands, F/TFs dominated proceedings and there’s the usual excellent MG club support to rely upon.

Why so cheap?

It’s to do with a variety of reasons but the main one is probably because of their record of unreliability and that K-Series engine in the main.

Head gaskets?

Yes, and it’s more a case of when the engine will pop it rather than if. Having said that, a head gasket normally only fails due to other causes such as overheating caused by clapped out radiators, water pumps and hoses etc – all of which are prone on this engine. Really, to be safe, it’s best to renew the gasket (along with the main coolant pipes – £215 supplied and fitted by MGOC Workshop) as preventative maintenance with the latest designs rather than wait to be towed home. Plus, after fitting a low coolant warning light (around £120) you can forget all about it. Sort of.

I drove one and rather liked it

So you should because the MGF was a cracker, just as enjoyable as an MX-5. MG may have been out of the sports car game for two decades but it certainly knew the score and the MGF was a thoroughly up-to-date mid-engined roadster. The handling is the best bit as it’s so predictable (a bit like a Midget) so unlike many other mid-ship cars that can bite back when pushed too far. The ride is more Lotus compliant than a Midget – thankfully, so!

What’s the best models to buy?

First and foremost – a good one as there’s a lot of rusty rubbish out there. But all things being equal, it has to be the 160 Trophy with its 159bhp engine and special tuned suspension and brakes. This car makes a fair rival to the Lotus Elise (which uses the same engine) but at much less cost. Next up has to be the normal VVC-powered models (145bhp) but one we would avoid – unless you desperately need a self-shifter – are the auto models, because not only do they spoil the drive but can be very unreliable to the point where repairs can scrap the car. Oh, and finally, don’t dismiss the 1.6-litre (TF) version as the lower gearing used makes it pretty perky and it’s a sweet engine.

MGF or TF?

The TF was launched with a new look and new name but it’s under the skin where the major changes lurked. Out went the Austin Allegro gas suspension that served the car so well and in its place came a new multi-link rear suspension with conventional damping along with a revised steering. There’s a choice of 1.6-litre (115), 1.8-litre (135) and 1.8 VVC (160) models, the latter featuring variable valve timing. There’s also a CVT available with the 1.8-litre engine, named Stepspeed. It doesn’t take long for the first TF special edition to arrive though the TF Sprint is on sale.

Talking of which…

Yes, there’s shed loads of special editions that are worth looking at. The first is the Abingdon, then there’s the Brooklands (Green paint, beige leather trim and hood, 16-inch alloys and extra chrome) followed by the LE commemorating 75 years of MG production (black and red paint, leather trim and extra chrome plus multi-spoke 16-inch alloys).

Next up is the Wedgwood SE (CD player, leather trim, extra chrome, boot spoiler and multi-spoke 16-inch alloys – in blue naturally) before the Freestyle signed off the F specials.

And the TF?

First was the 2002 TF Sprint, followed by the Cool Blue before it’s the turn of the Sunstorm – launched in the autumn! Final ones, for the old MG outfit was, fittingly the 80th Anniversary special edition and the Spark. New Chinese owners, launch the LE500 Limited Edition but the most coveted may be the 85th Anniversary special edition as the run only existed of just 50 cars.

How much should i pay?

There’s cheap and there’s value – don’t confuse the two. Yes, you can buy running MGFs for well under a grand but penny-to-a-pound they’ll be ratty, rusty and a road to ruin. It’s far better to up the ante to £2000 where some good well cared for ones reside while another grand secures a very nice car be it F or TF as it makes little difference to the prices as condition counts the most. Last of the line TFs can sell for £7000 plus at a specialist which isn’t bad value when you consider what established MGs and TRs normally sell for – is it? Some specialists are now marketing ‘refurbished’ MGFs for similar money where the car has had all the usual trouble spots overhauled and sold as a renovation complete with a warranty.

Apart from the engine what else is a worry?

Rust can be a main one, especially earliest models; check sills (replacements from BMH) arches, floors, suspension parts and in particular the subframes. New front subframes are £350 each, while the rears are £765, with replacement a lengthy process. Many Fs came out of the factory with incorrect suspension settings. Measure the distance between each front wheel centre and its corresponding wheelarch lip; it should be 368mm ±10mm. If it’s less, the system needs repressurising, although the car may have been lowered deliberately.

A four-wheel geometry check and reset can work wonders to the handling. The Hydragas suspension spheres are extremely hard to obtain now and a reason why so many Fs are being scrapped. There is a conversion kit to turn an F into a TF but at well in excess of a grand, costs more than many cars are worth. The brakes (Rover 800 front, Metro rear) suffer from dodgy handbrakes that only new callipers cure.

The trim rather lacks stamina but that’s not really a problem if the car’s price is right as there’s an enormous range of customising gear around to tune and improve either models and you can really make yours something special.

Are they a classic though?

Depends what you mean. As a car, yes the MGF (the last of the ‘traditonal’ MG sports cars remember) is definitely a classic. But if you are looking at making money on one, then you’ll have to wait a long time as, despite a high scrappage rate, there’s too many around. But that’s a good thing surely?

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Britians top classic cars bookazine