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In the 1990's there was no more tarnished , pitted and discredited image than MG. Originally providing much needed chrome grille decoration for old Morris's, MG eventually descended into badge engineering hell in the Metro/Maestro/Montego era. The RV8 roadster was supposed to resurrect the brand but proved to be a laughable and unnecessary throwback. Its a miracle, then, that the MGF not only managed to restore some lustre to the Octagon, but even made it sparkle.

What was cutting edge in 1995-6 could be looking a bit dull, but on the contrary, a used MGF has to be one of the better roadster buys at the moment. There are lots around, depreciation has eaten into values and, despite a history of niggles, essentially this is the most reliable MG in years. It is also one of the most exciting. And because MGF's are run by affluent, committed and careful drivers rather than immature, sound system obsessed kids, they ought to be in good nick. If you always promised yourself a less than traditional British sports car, now is the time to buy an MGF.

The stroke of genius was putting the engine behind the driver, effectively creating a pocket-sized Ferrari. The exterior styling was as soft as used bar of soap, but at least it wasn't given a tacky retro treatment.

There were just two models at launch. The basic 1.8i had a 120bhp version of the well proven K-series engine with a decent top speed (120mph) and acceleration, getting to 60mph in under 9 seconds. The majority of buyers, though, opted for the more powerful 145bhp VVC (variable valve control) which arrived in the showrooms from early 1996. The VVC had electronic power steering and ABS brakes as standard. The only way to tell the cars apart is by the 5-spoke alloy wheels which are fancier on the VVC, featuring an indentation on each spoke. There weren't many alterations early on...well, not ones that Rover admitted to, because the hood was modified early in 21996 and completely revised in August 1997 to keep out the elements. In December 1997 the 1.8i got power steering, but the major changes occurred in July 1999 with restyled alloy wheels, one-shot driver's door window, silver-finish heating controls and an alloy gearshift and surround. Most significantly, a Steptronic continuously variable transmission was now an option. Until recently Trophy developments, Rover and MG Rover played the special edition to boost sales like the Abingdon in 1997.

So the MGF was a great package, but the build quality was certainly suspect. cars built in the first year could have odd panel gaps, leaky hoods and rattles from the interior. Mechanically there isn't much to worry about. The engine is strong and reliable, although a noisy VVC would give cause for concern. The excellent Hydragas suspension needs to be set up properly and if the steering is vague and the handling less than secure it may need attention., especially as some owners have tampered with the ride height themselves, The bodywork may look gapy because of poor quality, or because of poor repair work. Certainly if the bumpers are split there has been a massive thump to the front or rear end. Make sure that you look underneath; founding and dozing coppers can snag the coolant pipes and exhaust. These may be the source of test drive rattles. Check for water leaks on the hood and headlining, as well as the carpet and seats. Take it for a jet wash if the owner will let you because early hoods (pre-August 1997) were notorious for leaks. However, the seals around the windscreen and boot should have been replaced under warranty.

In theory, high mile 1.8i's can sell from just over £6,000. Mostly, though, N to P plate 1.8's with 40,0000 are priced at £8,000. Add £800 more for VVC. Certainly you are spoilt for choice for under £10,00. Facelift models from 1998 are £11,500 to £11,995. Pay around £1,000 more for special editions. main agent are keen to shift late MGF's; you can buy Y-plate 1.8's for £14,995 and Steptronics for £16,495. Watch our for "grey" MGF's from the orient; they will inevitably have air conditioning.
A used MGF: drive its name with pride.
 

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Reading in The Sun today, they certainly gave the TF the thumbs up. Said it was the biz. Ken Gibson the scribe goes as far as saying TF stands for Terrific Fun. Also mentioned how many manufactuers could turn a project round in a year, only MG-Rover could do this.

Well done Rover, oh and lets not forget MG!;)
 
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