As a car mad teenager my favourite advert was for the MG Midget featuring a big haired brunette with heavy eye shadow wearing a white crocheted minidress and dreamily fondling the cars chrome handbrake.
Sadly, I never met the young woman and despite the fantasises, I never bought the car, either.
By the time I had money I was a rabid motorsport fan and that meant I had to have something closer to Grand Prix racing, a Lotus Elan.
The MG effect wouldn't go away though. Some weekends my late father, behind rose tinted spectacles, used to witter on about exciting drives in an early Fifties MG TF and of a friend who had driven a racing version home on public roads at night from a racing circuit.
I've never tried a TF, but in a move that older drivers may see as besmirching the name, there's now a new TF, the replacement for the MGF, Britain's best-ever selling sports car since its launch seven years ago.
The new car is much more focused on driving involvement and excitement and even further ahead of its rivals – and don’t think that I’m waving the Union Jack in a burst of patriotism.
This car is a tribute to British engineers. For although MG development was froze when *** took control of Rover – because it didn’t want the car wiping the floor with it’s below par Z3 – the TF has arrived six months earlier than expected, in time for the March registration.
Prices are in the competitive MG tradition – from £15,750 on the road for the 115bhp 1.6 litre model to £19,995 for the rip snorting 160 bhp 1.8 litre car, with automatic transmission available on the TF120 for £18,245 and the likely most popular the TF135 at £17,245. The TF160 races from 0-60 in 6.9 secs and will deliver 26-37mpg.
And the new metal work provides styling hints to the next MG – the £50,000 high performance coupe on its way within a year. It has cut aerodynamic drag and reduced lift, giving the TF much greater stability at seed than the old MGF. But the biggest news is the Hydragas suspension, which had a tendency to leak, with a conventional one of springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
The new suspension design has helped improve the brakes overall because the rear pair are used more. But the ride comfort is not as good and quite bouncy. With top speeds of 127mph for the TF135 and 137mph for the TF160, this is a cracking little sportscar.
Dressed to kill, the new TF is more raw, raunchy and passionate than before. You’re closer to the machine and the action as if in a pocket Porsche
And the steering is now quicker and more communicative.
Individuality? There are so many options – such as bright pack, if you are into chrome, for £175, and a wood trim at £350 – the chances of seeing an identical car are zero.
Inside, the suede and leather seats look good and there’s even a decent sized boot. Obviously, young people thinking about sports cars have a practical question about comfort a deux. The TF is not a large car, so the driving position is cosy for big people.
I know that doesn’t answer the delicate question of romance, but people who buy MG’s are too polite to go into that sort of detail.