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MGF

MGF Published: 12th Apr 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MGF
MGF
MGF
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No, it’s not an expletive and this modern MG is a worthy successor to the MGB that a lot more enthusiasts are positively swearing by...

WHY IT’S A WINNER

MGF is the sportster MG fans had to wait nearly 20 years for, and one which has increasingly taken the place of the evergreen MGB in classic car circles, especially with younger enthusiasts. And rightly so because, thanks to its advanced design with engaging yet fail safe mid-engined handling, crisp K-Series engines and a civilised cockpit, it’s everything you could wish for in a modern classic that’s astonishingly 20 years old!

HISTORY

1995 Launched and using a development of the Allegro’s novel Hydragas suspension system plus an electrically-operated power steering option the MGF was MG’s first mid-engined car. Powering the F was the vivacious Rover K-Series engine, stretched to 1.8-litres in standard tune 120bhp or 145bhp in VVC (Variable Valve Control) form.

1998 Optional power steering now standardised. An influx of special editions start to surface such as the Abingdon, SE and Freestyle.

2000 A light revise, including a more traditional wood-trimmed cockpit. Mechanically, the CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) concept called Servotronic that allowed manual changes was offered (although wasn’t very popular).

2001 That spring, a new 160bhp Trophy version launched. Hydragas suspension was modified, ride height was lowered by 20mm, competition-style springs and dampers were fitted in tandem with the gas suspension, while AP racing brakes were installed. Also now offered was a sweet and fairly speedy 1.6-litre entry model. The CVT transmission was upgraded to accept semiautomatic steering wheel-mounted buttons, and renamed Stepspeed.

2002 In February, after 42,000 UK sales, the MGF was no more. In its place came the similar-styled TF (a name dating back to the1950’s roadster) complete with a new nose and – chiefly – an entirely new chassis layout that did away with the old Allegro underpinnings in favour of orthodox springs and shock absorbers.

DRIVING

MG may have been away from the sports car scene for almost 20 years, but it certainly kept abreast with the times and the engineers knew what modern enthusiasts demanded when they developed the MGF. Allegro-sourced suspension? Don’t laugh – retuned for sports car use, it works extremely well with this mid-engine layout, providing an amazing ride for a hard core sports car. Another surprise is the MGF’s user-friendliness. Mid-ship chassis layouts are usually quite unforgiving when pushed hard through corners, but this isn’t so with the MGF.

The later TF is, overall, an improvement on the MGF and certainly the conventional suspension is easier to maintain and fix, but the ride on early cars was a disappointment after the serene Hydragas. It was quickly cured and retro fitting kits are available.

BEST MODELS

Good ones! Thanks to the varying standards out there, with a rumoured 100 per month landing on the scrap heap, the car’s solidarity needs to be placed above trim level and so on. The Trophy is the most exhilarating with the VVC second best. The autos we’d steer clear of unless you really need a self-shifter because they are not an efficient or satisfying set up and are also invariably horrendously expensive to repair.

PRICES

Average cars can be had for beer money while essentially decent cars can be found from a grand, but both will usually be hiding some expensive problems. The sensible money seems to start around £2000- £3000 for a private sale or closer to £4000 from the trade; some specialists are now selling fully refurbished MGFs for around £5000. LE 500 is only car that may have some classic value and late plate cars can fetch up to £11,000. On all, the optional hard top can add £500 to a car.

VERDICT

Along with the Toyota MR2 and the Mazda MX-5, the MGF is the modern, classic sportster just right for the younger classic car enthusiast – and the Brit makes as good a choice as any of those Oriental pair. So why not use the F word when talking about your next sports car buy?

FIVE TOP FAULTS

1. ENGINE This unit is famed for popping head gaskets with terminal results and a new one will be needed at some point! VVC systems are known to fail

2. SUSPENSION Geometry needs careful setting up. Hydragas leaks and spheres are now very hard to obtain (conventional suspension kits available but pricey). See that the ride heights are correct

3. BODY Look for rust in the subframes, floor and suspension wishbones and trailing arms and wheel arches. Damper turrets can split especially if stiffer dampers have been retro fitted or car used on track

4. BRAKES It’s a mix of Rover 800 and Metro and up to the job but handbrake callipers seize up and their replacement is only cure

5. TRANSMISSION Gearchange can be loose, hard to cure. Oil leaks and noise common. Autos can be unreliable and repairs may well exceed the value of the car



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