The latest episode in the MG saga is no surprise – a decade-and-a-half old design gets launched in the middle of a recession and nobody buys the car, who’d have thought it? – but it is the latest in a long line of rather sad tales under which the fact that the original MGF is actually rather a good car has been buried.
Five years after the the MX5 had revitalised the market for affordable two-seat roadsters, MG’s first attempt under Rover to pick up where they left off with the MGB may not have been everybody’s cup of tea, but the ‘F’ was very successful, and not without reason.
The early cars used technically intriguing Hydragas suspension, while the K-series 1.8 used Honda-derived variable valve timing technology to produce a healthy (and fruity-sounding) 143bhp. And unlike the Sprites, Midgets and Bs that came before it, this time the engine was tucked in behind the driver for better weight balance.
Despite this, handling was not the car’s strongest point, with unfavourable comparisons to contemporary Japanese rivals like the MX5, MR2 and Suzuki’s diminutive Cappucino not helping the early car’s reputation. The high driving position was also a common gripe, and as time went on the famous head gasket problems made many think of the K-Series engine in the F as a bit of a liability.
Many older Fs have succumbed to attrition, with blown headgaskets as well as more conventional problems of the loud and crashy variety taking them off the road. But plenty still survive, and this week’s shed seems like a nice example for less than a bag of sand (a couple of 'love marks' are to be expected at this price). It’s got the right engine (with head gasket 'done'), along with the standard ABS and power-steering that the VVC brought with it. It’s also in the right colour and, charmingly, it’s even got the right numberplate: P10 VVC. The admission that the suspension needs re-gassing is surely a good place to start haggling..
94,000 miles, 2 Door Convertible 1800 vvc, Petrol, Manual, british racing green, black half leather seats, remote central locking, tax till jan 2010 mot till jan 2010. head gasket done at 81.000 had new tyres & rear screen fitted, lack of use means the suspension needs gasing, no time wasters, canvassers, txts or e-mail number plate included (Walthamstow). £995