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MGF Published: 26th May 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come



You can see the thick end of 200bhp. Power Train Products (PTP: 01455 622229) is an expert; its upgrade for under £600 lifts 1.8i power from 120bhp to 140bhp. If you’re after a car that can be used on the road as well as the track, you can aim for 170bhp with different cams etc (Trophy kicks out 160bhp remember). Start with ITG induction kit (from £350), 52mm throttle body (£149.95, MGOC) and sports exhaust.


K-Series is not as dire as you’ve been led to believe. A ducting kit from Mike Satur (01709 890555 is good mod but can’t be fitted with air con. A special low water level sensor kit from Brown & Gammons is £90 well spent, too. It’s good preventative maintenance to replace the head gasket and latest Chinese multilayer type is said to be the best now and a kit costs around £250.

Bottom End


It’s possible to bore out to 1900cc but it’s not cheap or productive. Other routes include the Lotus VHPD 190 1.8-litre strip engine, which is a direct replacement and produces just under 190bhp plus features a special crankshaft, with forged pistons, rods. You can buy one of these units from PTP costing almost £6000 against a standard engine from MGOC at £1470.


The cooling system needs to be over-serviced as the engine runs some 30 degrees hotter than MG ZR thanks to engine location; replace any suspect pipes, especially those under car; opt for stainless at around £70. The variable valve timing system (VVC) been known to call time due to a tensioner fault causing the belt to pop out; belt replacement is critical along with worn pulleys, including the water pump one.



First step is to ditch the stock dampers for adjustables (£70- £115 depending upon type). Trophy model sat 20mm lower thanks to competition-style spring and dampers. On the ordinary gas-sprung MGFs, you can’t alter the springing as such but larger lower knuckle joints at the front is a good alternative. New from MGOC is an anti-roll bar kit said to stiffen up front by a hefty 40 per cent costing £319.95.


MGF shouldn’t handle badly; if it does a simple chassis re-alignment and re-gas of the Hydragas will usually see a massive improvement on most cars, costing around £150. When having the ride height reset have it set to the lowest permissible height. Suspension spheres on gas MGFs are now hard to obtain and are known leakers so will become an MoT worry. You can fit conventional springing, like the TF, but as conversion costs £795 (try MGOC) plus fitting it exceeds the worth of many cars.



MGFs are surprisingly high geared so Lotus played around with the ratios for its Elise and it’s generally agreed that the closer ratio box, as fitted to the 111S is ideal but the 135 Sport ’box boasted the best set of ratios with its ‘shorter’ fifth cog. There’s a six-speed conversion from Komo-tec who can cram in an extra cog into your existing modified gearbox but it costs some £5000 so well out of reach for the vast majority of owners. Lower profile tyres will lower the gearing a touch.


Gear linkages break and have been unobtainable for a while but MGOC now offers a repair kit at under £40. Clutch hydraulics fail and are a swine to bleed properly; some leave reservoir cap off overnight with car jacked up at a kilter to assist. Few people like automatic MGFs. The F1-style semi auto can prove to be fussy and jerky in action. If you are in doubt have the system checked by an expert. As a reconditioned auto box costs the thick end of £3000 fitted, it will render many cars scrap.



Firmer adjustable damping is the obvious first mod but be careful how you go here as too firm a setting (especially with Spax types which have some 20 settings) can cause stress fractures at the turrets, although this is more likely to happen on a track car. Renewing all suspension bushes with harder poly items is a given and ensure that the wheel bearings are okay for faster cornering loads.


Early Fs suffered from poor handling and pulling because of mal-aligned subframes. See that the ride heights are correct (368mm +/- 10mm). According to MGF specialist Brown & Gammons (01462 490049), incorrect filling of the system when new was common. Rear wheel bearings wear and can take the carrier and hub with it; parts becoming hard to obtain but flanges obtainable from MGOC.



Brakes are Rover 800 with Metro discs on the rear and this set up is adequate, although you can go a lot further. The Trophy set up is as good as any aftermarket types although it may mean new wheels to accommodate the larger discs used. A low cost and effective upgrade are EBC sports discs with its Greenstuff pads at around £200.


Handbrakes are usually rubbish after a while due to the rear brake callipers seizing. According to MGF specialists, stripping them and freeing up the mechanisms works but is only a short term fix and a new (usually offside) calliper at around £80 is the only permanent solution.



A popular car with custom fans, there’s a vast amount you can do to mod and customise your MGF from a wide spread of specialists such as Brown & Gammons and The MGF Centre. Stylish optional hard tops turn up for around £500-£600 used, or you can buy good alternatives from Brown & Gammons costing £899-£1275, depending on colour and spec.


Rust has become a major worry and will scrap many cars due to cost of repairs. Chief areas are subframes, rear trailing arms and their pick-up points, front suspension attachment areas, floors and the external sills – although these items are now being made by BMH. Headlamps becoming scarce and dear to buy but wings are okay from MGOC; £189.95 front or rear.



Like the exterior, there’s a lot you can do to improve the standard MGF cockpit. Special editions frequently featured leather and it’s an easy swap or you can use aftermarket alternatives. Typically leather seats cost around £800, door cards £130 and dash trim kits £100. It’s worthwhile having a glass rear window fitted with heated elements if the perspex one needs replacing due to general ageing.


General standard of trim is nothing special and the cabins don’t hold their shine as a result. Metro switchgear is used – electric windows regularly play up and the rear boot release cable is known to break. Hoods that stick half way is due to failing pull straps on the frame; new ‘helper’ straps cost about a tenner but are fiddly to fit. Noisy wipers are usually a sign that they are about to fail; it’s a Metro system and costs around £50 second-hand which, incidentally, is what MGOC asks for its repair kit.


  • ENGINE OIL: 10W/40 semi syn 4.5 litres
  • GEARBOX: MTF94 2.2 litres (change 96,000 miles)
  • COOLING SYSTEM: 10.5 litres
  • SPARK PLUGS: NGK Laser Platinum
  • PFR6N-11 or equivalent
  • TIMING: Set with strobe
  • NOTE: Cam drive belts should be replaced @ 60,000 miles – a job for specialists due to the accessibility


MGFs have turned the tide and becoming collectible to the point where specialists are now selling ‘as new’ models to your spec. Trophy Cars of Peterborough will tailor one to your desire. Apart from service and repair work, Trophy also retails MGFs after fitting a new multi-layer head gasket and head skim, new cam belt and water pump – backed by a 12 month warranty on the engine. Not the cheapest way to buy admits the outfit but one of the most reassuring! 01733 260606

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