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MG Metro

MG Metro Published: 15th May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MG Metro
MG Metro
MG Metro
MG Metro
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British Leyland entered the hot hatch cauldron late in the day with its cool (in more than one sense) MG (and Vanden Plas) mighty Metros but they did add some class to the supermini segment. Rare sights over 35 years later, the MG remains a perky and pretty pocket rocket, especially in Turbo tune, that also makes an inexpensive usable starter classic. The luxury VDP alternative proves that economy class can also mean first class. Both are still unfairly overlooked which keeps prices low.

Driving

Admittedly, the MG was nothing more than a warmed up Metro and not dissimilar to the MG 1300, but it was well done to the point where Autocar said, “There’s something rather irresistible in the MG Metro’s sheer cheekiness”. Agreed. In single carb tune, the 72bhp 1275cc unit yields as much power as the old Copper S (thanks to a special camshaft) for fair zip. The Turbo, announced a year later, was the first ‘blown’ MG since the K3 Magnettes – with a little help from Lotus.

Free from serious throttle lag (as was commonplace with Turbo engines back then) this mighty Metro enjoys good real world motoring pace but the lack of an overdrive fifth gear is more evident than ever and all feel fussy at speed. Handling is fun though and you may find that the standard Hydragas suspension (as used on the MGF) has been modified at the rear to improve it further.

Values

In total, some 60,000 MG Metros were made between 1982 and 1990. If you can find one now – they need some searching – you only need to pay £4000 for something worth having and probably half this for a fair alternative albeit in need of TLC. There’s not much variance in prices between the different models but watch them rise soon.

Timeline

1980 Metro is launched, complementing and not displacing the iconic Mini

1982 MG Metro resurrects the octagon badge (which had died in 1980 with the closure of Abingdon). Special camshaft gives it similar power to old Cooper S via single SU. Special trim denotes this model, such as side stripes and red seat belts. At the same time, the Vanden Plas sneaks in; similar to the MG but with bespoke trim

1983 Turbo version surfaces with Lotus co-developed engine good for 93bhp and uprated all round including vented discs

1984/5 Minor styling mods to the front end, wider stronger suspension subframes and colour coded bumpers

1989 Final changes were minimal and included raised fuel filler, cable clutch and a rear spoiler. Manual (not) auto VDPs gain MG engine tune

Top five faults

Body

Rust is the main worry as they rot as badly as the Mini although post ’88 models are said to be better protected; check usual Mini areas. The front wings are unique to the Turbo and naturally specific MG and VDP trim is hard to come by

Engine

A Plus-Series engines are becoming scarce and expensive (Mini owners want them!) plus the MG Metro has specific features such as camshaft and ignition; as it wears a single carb (like the lesser Metros) is it still the correct MG unit fitted?

Turbo

Turbo engines used special distributor (another popular Mini fit – has it been swapped?). Turbo also prone to wear and oil feed pipe prone to rotting as is oil cooler assembly

Gearbox

Weakest link is transmission, particularly on Turbo, so expect to find wear and noise

Running gear

Hydragas spheres are now obsolete so you need to use second-hand ones. Front brakes special to Turbo (another fit for hot Minis) and it’s hard to find replacements

Best models

Metro

When launched the MG looked nicely restrained; later 80’s upgrade gave it (and the Turbo) a rather garish appearance

Turbo

This manic Metro was quite acclaimed in its day – it’s getting hold of an original that’s not been modified which is now the biggest problem

VDP

Away from the boy racer pocket rockets lurks pure class in the Vanden Plas. It’s an MG Metro with luxury rather than sports addenda



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