It's red, it's a convertible sportscar and it's yours for £995...
The sun is shining (here at least), and the snow-covered scenery looks dazzling in the crisp morning air. What better way to enjoy it than speeding (philosophically if not literally) through the picture-postcard scenery in your convertible MG-F.
Oh all right, we can think of several better ways too, but for Shed money those ice-in-the-eyebrows moments seem limited to Britain's once most popular sportscar, riding a bicycle, and not much else. (We're not counting old Triumph Spitfires. Don't know why, we're just not...)
Not that today's SOTW needs much of an apology. In fact I've had a soft spot for the MG-F since it was launched back in 1995 - and I'm sufficiently confident of my masculinity to admit it. If you must know, I used one of the very first examples to impress a young lady on a touring holiday in Italy, so I can honestly report the MG-F has got what it takes in many of life's most important respects. Or at least it had what it took back then, and that one was painted in a rather girly purple. Happy days!
Nowadays the MG-F's reputation seems somehow to have floundered, yet back in 1995 I remember there was a palpable excitement about a new British roadster that looked pretty and drove well to boot. Dig out an old Autocar magazine from the period, and you'll see what I mean. The MG-F engaged its driver with good steering, a pliant but well-controlled Hydragas ride, and it was blessed with a revvy K-Series engine offering more than enough performance to have fun with - even though the TVR crowd might have sneered derisorily.
The car was available with 1.6 litre or 1.8 litre engines with Variable Valve Control (quite a big deal in those days), the latter offering approximately 140hp and a 0-60sec sprint around the 7sec mark.
It's a 1.8 VVC that the vendor of this week's SOTW is tempting us with and while it's a pre-1999 facelift car, being chipped from the Longbridge block in 1997, we're not going to let that deter us - especially as the car has been treated to a recent head-gasket and cambelt. (The old K-Series head gasket being one of that engine's less admirable features.)
The car is advertised with lowly mileage and an asking price of £995. And it's worth a look, surely?
Advert reads: Superb 1.8 MGF with the high performance VVC engine. Recent head gasket ,Cambelt and pulley. Very good bodywork and interior in half leather. Superb engine and gearbox which spins cleanly to over 7200 revs. 16 Inch alloys. Fantastic fun and a good heater and hood. A real autumn giveaway.Be quick.
OK, I'll be the first to say it - an MX-5 can be had for much less and will, in my own experience, be a much better proposition all around. The VVC might give it some go, but the rest of it is pretty unappealing...
A friend's girlfriend had one of these cars from new and kept it for a few years. She loved it and it was easy to see why; they're pretty, fun to drive and have a good 'feel' to them. Despite what people here will inevitably say she had no trouble with it at all and she was an enthusiastic driver. A nice SOTW, but very narrow inside if you're a big bloke.
BTW I don't think the MGF was ever available with a 1.6 litre engine or if it was, it must have been introduced only a few months before the TF replaced it. At launch it was only 1.8VVC and non-VVC.
The 1.6 was introduced when the F was 'facelifted' in around year 2000 (upgraded interior, additional speakers, different wheels). Identifiable by black door-mirror cowls and lack of the extra speakers (behind the seats) that were introduced in the 1.8s.
My wife had one of these in Tahiti Blue in '97, IMHO the best colour on these. Owning one of these back then, drew admiring glances when you were out in it and it was a fun car to drive, so much so I used to take every opportunity I could to get my hands on it. A friend had an MX5 and we always used to argue about which was best, we could never agree. The only downside was a tendancy to overheat, and crap seals around the windows, which meant you had to have a couple of towels in the boot to dry the seats, but in the summer it was fantastic. Incredible to think that these used to sell for £16K - £18K back then. At this price I could be tempted to take a trip down memory lane. Top Shed!
Would any right minded person walk past an MR2 to get in one of these? I'd rather catch a bus... I'll be interested to see if anyone pipes up and says something along the lines of 'i've owned one for 10 years, done 80k and it has cost me very little by way of repairs'... Not going to hold my breath... i've known two girlies who have owned these the first had a gearbox give up the second the engine failed (don't know the details - couldn't be bothered listening) if you're tempted by one of these, don't do it, taxis are a cheaper option...
Had one of these BRAND SPANKING new was only 1.8 not vvc, but 1 and a half years later 2 head gasket replacements and a new rear screen possibly the worst car I've ever owned was lucky to shift it. No wonder they went bust load of carp!
Dad had one of these. It leaked. Badly. And then the cambelt broke and the engine sh@t itself. Before that, I drove it and it was nippy enough.
This isn't trying to start a small-convertible-fanboy argument, but the MGF had all the right ingredients and somehow managed to feel boring: by which I mean, I was bored driving it. The MX5 gets more and more fun the more you drive it. Can't work out why.
Good shedding there! Not a bad car at all, and easily moddable to something cheap and handy for a track day. Cooling system is fragile (later remote thermostat mod helps with this) and they are VERY tyre/geometry sensitive but if properly set up it makes an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous MX5.
Cue lots of people who have never owned one, never driven one, never even sat in one lining up to slag the wee beasty off!