Shed of the Week: MG ZR
£675 won't get you many options on a new car, but it is enough for a whole ZR (with a new head gasket!)
Oh sorry everyone, there's been a mistake, that's the £9,000 ZR. Here's the correct one, at £675.
Still, at least the photographer covered himself by doing her in three different positions for twenty quid, which in Shed's opinion represented good value. He wouldn't have done it for ten times that.
Returning to where we came in, you may think that a £9,000 ZR is a bit rich. Shed couldn't possibly comment other than to wholeheartedly agree with you in the strongest and loudest way possible. But a £675 ZR that looks every bit as nice as a £9K one, and would appear to be in some ways superior to it? Now that's different.
This ZR is from the last year of MG Rover's life. Shed was actually at Longbridge on the very day that insolvency was declared. Nanjing, now SAIC, bought the key assets and the Phoenix Four who were in charge at the time trousered nine million quid each for their trouble. Not bad considering the company was up to its neck in debt to the tune of around £1.4 billion.
The K Series engine's mechanical issues, majoring in the leaky cylinder head department, have been well aired not just here but pretty much everywhere. Shed even heard his missus discussing it at the abattoir where she does an occasional night shift.
Thing is, of course, that there will be hardly any cars left now that won't have had the steel gasket fix. Only maybe the odd low-miler, ahem. The last couple of years' output of ZRs did have problems with their Security Control Units, MGR's name for the ECU that controlled the horn, windows, alarm and central locking, but again you can buy a kit to fix that.
One great point with our Shed is that it isn't saddled with the notoriously rattly ZR sunroof. There will be other rattles to take its place, mind ye, usually trim-related but could be almost anything. Door locks go, and indeed this one failed its MOT on that plus other stuff, but the work has been done to sort it. ZR starter motors are a potential weakness, as are batteries, alternators, and clutch release bearings. The clips holding the carpets in place often break. Brakes need regular checking and the rear wiper can have a mind of its own. The seats are not hard-wearing.
These ZRs are great little starter cars for budding young PHers, or nice nostalgia pieces for the more ancient ones among us who remember the good old days. You know, when times were bad. Those days.
2005 FACELIFT MGZR BRAND NEW MOT VERY LOW MILES 63000 SERVICE HISTORY GOOD RUNNER, RECENT CAMBELT AND HEADGASKET, THE CAR IS IN GOOD CONDITION WITH THE NORMAL MARKS FOR THE YEAR, E/WINDOWS,CD,MG ALLOYS. CHEAP TO TAX AND INSURE.
I do like the ZS 180 though. They have previously been SOTW i believe and there's a lovely blue one on AT right now with that daft rear wing on the back for cheap. I think that's where i'd put my money.
Sadly and somewhat predictably the car broke, a lot. MG/Rover even supplied a new engine when the first one went bang within 10k.
I love the fact that the car had a CD player, but slots to store tapes under the centre console
Great memories of that car - and still see it as a neighbour bought it. Only did about 44k miles in 10 years roughly (worked in London for them 10 years) - my dad had it its last 2 years with us and only did about 4k miles I think.
Good little car - didn't even have power windows or air con but handled quite well for what was seen as a old man's car!
Even my missus has a rover 200 as her first car (didn't know this till we nearly got married) - only got it because it was purple that had the 1.6.
These do handle quite well if set up properly, I remember following my uncle in his 80 bhp 8 valve one and me in a Volvo T5, obviousl the Volvo was much, much faster, but it didnt corner anywhere like as well.
I had a 200 BRM (forerunner of this), the green one with an Orange Beak, it drove really well, lovely engine and the best gearbox of any car I have had, sadly though I bought one that had been sorted HG wise, it went again, I fixed it but the liners had sunk so it just pressurized the cooling system and made the hoses go all bulbous, sold it to a scottish lad who came down all the way with a trailer, put it on, towed by another, older 214, and drove back, all in one go, he put a turbo engine in it.
My uncle still has a BRM, of the 795 made, think there are about a 100 still going.
If you want something quick which handles well, then surely there are better (usually French) alternatives (warm AX, Saxo, 106, or Clio).
If you just want something cheap and reliable, this one may not be so hot on the latter.
It's no wafty barge, and it's certainly not a looker.
Not that it's necessarily a bad car, and it's certainly cheap enough, but I don't see that it excels at anything, even at this price.
Ultimately when buying a car at this sort of price-point, I think condition and location becomes more important than make and model anyway.
The 1.8 vvc version is probably quite fun though - that would be a good shed of the week. But for a basic starter car, theres much better out there surely?
I've got an old ZS180 2004 that is a surprisingly good handling car, with a lovely engine, Rover clearly knew a thing or too about handling.
I have also just bought the Honda version of the ZS180, a 1.8 vti 170 bhp 5 dr Civic and its a real dud to drive, soggy handling, vague steering, high gearing.
Every now and again, I drive it for one reason or another. It drives like a car from the '80s that's had some sort of a cosmetic facelift (not dissimilar to the whole Daewoo Nexia thing).
I mutter under my breath that it's a bit crap, which my bat-eared mother invariably hears, causing her to enquire whether I think it needs to visit her mechanic.
I tell her that the car drives like it's new (which it does). But when it was new it was a bit crap, so there's not much one can do about that.
Or is there? I'm told the solution is to buy an MG ZR, which is light-years ahead of the 25 in terms of driving dynamics. Not that my mother would ever part with "Roxanne Rover" (yes, she named it), and certainly not for a version of her own steed that looks like Max Power's reader's car of the week 1989.
God bless Peter Stevens and his magical turd polishing cloth!
They're on the rise now. Although the 1.8VVC and CR gearbox made for spirited driving, and I quite enjoyed the unique paint and interior, I've no real desire to find another.