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MG MGF Technical - Taking on a classic

As hinted at over on MGF General, latest situation in the Reeves family is that we are looking at a second car, and seeing as it will be primarily for my commuting and so on it may as well be what I want to drive … an MGF please.

Background. My first MG was a 1996 MGF, which I owned for nearly six years and it broke my heart to sell. Second MG was a TF that I did not own for as long and sold when I became a stepfather. Now, there was a lot superior in the TF, but it did not have the same soul as the MGF (a personal opinion and I will respect options either way on that subject). Therefore, an MGF it will have to be.

Another car owning factor is that the MGF is the only car I have ever owned long enough to take through an MOT. Main reason is that while I might be a bit clever in my own little world (scientist), I am sub-Neanderthal (or at least, nervous) with regard to my practical ability in things like mending cars.

Strategy, partly driven by hard economics, is to buy an early MGF (actually, have a soft spot for the Abingdon, but cannot imagine they are up for sale that often) and keep it for a long time. However, the ‘keep for a long time’ implies a lot in terms of commitment to maintain a car that is already up to nine years old and fast on the way to becoming a classic. Open ended question I know, but what does this really demand?

Immediate question is whether to buy a good condition car or perhaps to buy one in an acceptable condition and use the money saved to get some refurbishment work done. Best approach? Another part of the plan is to get work done to correct some of the known faults with the earlier MGF’s. Opinions as to my priorities (beyond the obvious head gasket and suspension bush upgrade)?

Chris Reeves

Why go for the F with all the problems. The MX5 has front engine and rear wheel drive, Mazda reliability, easy DIY.
The F is " a high tech mid-engined car" that Rover still cannot get right. Sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I actually own an F so I am speaking from experience.
Let me know what is the outcome.
Chris Jones


Do not want an MGF v MX5 v whatever debate! Considered my options and the MGF is my favoured option. However, tacitly I accept what you say by asking the questions. Not my style to do something without thinking very hard beforehand.

Chris Reeves

Chris R,.

Why go for a "banger"!.

Plenty of low milage "minters" on ebay now, at winter prices!.
Good or Bad, seems to make little difference with HGF.
Any car that age will require commitment when it comes to maintainance, so buy the one YOU want!.

MGF "High Tec" Eh....Hmmmmmmm.


Go for the best body but cheap car with the knackerd engine and then visit.....,take your pick, but 190+HP would make it a classic !
Andrew Regens

m e johnson

<<but 190+HP would make it a classic !>>

It would also make it explode!

Chris, welcome back! :o)

3 mains areas to check that come to mind instantly:

1. Suspension bushes - you've already considered these, so 'nuff said.
2. Rubber seals and hood condition. The seals on the MGF are of reasonable quality, but are not impervious to age - and on a soft top, seals are particularly important. By 9 years, the seals are well beyond their best, so I'd probably budget for their replacement, and source them from one of the MGF specialists.
3. Dampers. The OE ones weren't the best quality to start with, and depending on the mileage of the car that you eventually settle upon, could be past their replace-by date. Plenty of aftermarket options, and an alternative might be to use the marginally better dampers fitted to the Trophy...

On the debate on whether to buy cheap average condition car or get an excellent condition one for more money, then I'd look at the difference in price between the two - probably only a grand or two. Then tot up how much it would cost to bring an average condition car to excellent - and the difference between the two may not be that large...

Tricky decision, but I'd go for the best car I could find. I agree with Andrew that finding the best body work is probably more critical than mechanics: they're all remarkably cheap.

Good luck with your search! :o)
Rob Bell


Mike Satur had some MGF'S for sale that had all the usual neglected service points done ( ie cam belts, water pumps etc ) I think there was a BRG and Red at the time I was down. My mates going up on Saturday to check out a silver one he wants .
Hope this helps. Good luck with the search.

John Robb

Many thanks for the comments. Summary seems to be that condition of bodywork is crucial, although I will also be cautious about mechanics. Most certainly not keen on starting with a banger. Rob, your list is my starting point. As for 190bhp+, did not the SP Cheetah have a claimed 210? Interesting thought should the Dark Side take hold, although very much minded that the external appearance should be as factory, even if planning to change under the surface stuff. Comment about specialist dealers is useful, as it seems to be wise to get them alongside as part of the whole process.

Final remaining question is long-term ownership issues? If I asked this over on MGB Technical doubtless there will be a wealth of experience of the problems and pitfalls of running the older classic. How much do we know about the problems with the MGF in the future?

Chris Reeves

>> Interesting thought should the Dark Side take hold, although very much minded that the external appearance should be as factory, even if planning to change under the surface stuff. <<

I completely agree with you there Chris - large white spots on the door notwithstanding, that's my approach too :o)

>>Comment about specialist dealers is useful, as it seems to be wise to get them alongside as part of the whole process. <<

I think that this is a very good idea

>> Final remaining question is long-term ownership issues? <<

Condition of the cooling system - which becomes increasingly critical as the car passes its 7th year. Everything corrodes - the radiator (if you get more than 6 years out of it, you're doing well), the under floor pipes (start to fail after about 5 years) - and even the rubber hoses can split as the car exceeds 7 years of service - typical hoses to fail are the ones to the underbody coolant pipes - possibly because of the temperatures they're exposed to, and the movement of the engine over its mounts.

Other areas to investigate are the suspension ball joints that do require regular replacement (not entirely surprising really, as they are the same as those used on the original Mini!) - and note too that there are, amazingly for a car still built in the 21st century, grease nipples on the wishbone pivots, front and rear - if they've been neglected, then there will be long term consequences.

Probably other areas to consider too - if I think of any more I'll let you know!
Rob Bell

Problems that are not so far away would be airbags and pretensioning seat belts. Manufactures seem to say change when they get to ten years old, having been involved with vehicles that should have had items changed and have not, who wears the puplic liability if they dont work?. The parts are still working, ten years seems to be an arbitary number
The problem looms when these items become MOT issues and the costs make them worth more than the vehicle, imagine TEN air bags being changed in your classic M3 BMW.
With the number of vehicles made and the specalist outlets we should be in a good position to keep the F on the road but at a higher price than a B or midget.
Andrew Regens

Go with a tidy MGB or GT. I have been commuting for 33 years in either a Midget or MGB/GT. What type of Scientist? I did my research with Marconi Radar, but was attending college with Ford Dunton research guys who quickly introduced me to the simply vaguies of motor engineering.
I read the 'F' pages because I respect the endeavors of the F register guys, particularly MGs on Track and as I grow older I wanted something a little more comfortable, not so raw, perhaps more reliable! something my wife could drive when we do the long drives across Europe and therefore looked very hard at F ownership. Instead, I stick a V8 with uprated brakes and suspension in our old GT and now have a car we are both really happy with. The F is a very capable easy to maintain car, but if you want an appreciating 'classic' with B prices now running perhaps a little higher than Fs locally, go for a B.
Richard E

Some good points there chaps. If you want some other positives on running an older MG over the comparatively modern MGF, then consider the following:

1. emission regulations that are somewhat more relaxed for 'classic MGs'. No catalysts etc to worry about :o)
2. if the 'classic MG' in question is pre-1972, then it the road tax is effectively 'free' - one less cost to worry about
3. insurance is typically cheaper on a 'classic' vehicle with limited mileage compared to a modern.

There are a load of positives for buying an MGF over an older MG too - but I guess you've considered these already Chris.
Rob Bell

Hi Chris, spotted a P reg 1.8 for £3450 looked good to me, it was at a garage in Thirsk last Friday. We are meeting up on Sunday 17th October at the Errington arms for a run, details on gen MGF thread, be great to see you.

Interesting further comments.

Did consider the MGB, but mixed feelings that it would be right for me. Never driven one, plus only briefly sat in an MGC and an RV8 (later while on display at the Metro Centre!). I am a big guy, so struggled with the MGC and found my head stuck up too much above windscreen on RV8. Still keeping an open mind, but really stuck on the MGF.

Have emailed a specialist dealer to get the ball rolling.

> What type of Scientist?

Hydrologist. Done a fair amount of work with some rivers in European part of Russia. Keep on looking out for the one MGF reputed to be in Moscow!

Greetings Terry! Do you have details of the garage in Thirsk where you saw the MGF as cannot find anything on interent? Unlikely will have anything in time for 17th, and do not think I am available that day anyway even if you would let a Golf come along! Hoping to come to more events after that. Still got my 'MGF Scotland Certificate of Dedication' (framed and hanging up in the downstairs netty!)!

Chris Reeves


Just seen this thread so I will chuck in my comments. I never considered an MGF but I wanted a fun 2 seater that was not too expensive and after looking around I saw a nice Amaranth (purple) MGF for sale. It was a 1.8MPi but it seemed a bit dowdy so I decided not to buy it. A couple of weeks later I saw an MGF advertised in the Auto Trader and it said Abingdon. I didn't know what that meant at the time but I went and looked. It was a 1998 Abingdon, VVC and the selling dealer offered me a choice of a couple of different sets of wheels, One week later and I owned the car complete with a set of Trophy alloy wheels. I have never looked back, what a great car I have a long list of Darkside mods being worked on and have exchanged many postings with Rob, Scarlet, Will and others and I know it was the best descision I made. I owned a Jaguar XJR before and this car is so much more fun, more camaraderie than the stuffy Jag people.

Buy an F and don't look back....
Kevin s


Glad you are enjoying the MGF ... it does have that effect. Clearly the only time I look back is after having to sell my previous MGF's! If all goes well this will be my third MGF/TF, and my getting information is because the reasons for selling the previous MG's no longer apply so I intend to stay a long time. As for getting the Abingdon, good call, I think it is smart. Enjoy!

Chris Reeves

Good to here that you're returning to the fold Chris - do I add you back on to the CSMGF mailing list?
David Clelland


> do I add you back on to the CSMGF mailing list?

Yes please. It may be a while before anything happens, but I love to know what is going on!

Chris Reeves

This thread was discussed between 19/09/2004 and 06/10/2004

MG MGF Technical index

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