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RE: Shed of the Week: MG ZR

RE: Shed of the Week: MG ZR

Friday 17th March

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!)



This week's Shed is an MG ZR. Here it is.

Oh sorry everyone, there's been a mistake, that's the £9,000 ZR. Here's the correct one, at £675.

Remember when this was an overt hot hatch?
Remember when this was an overt hot hatch?
Price versus value. Being able to tell the difference between those two is a useful skill, not just in used motors but in life generally. Last year, to commemorate too many years of marriage, Shed commissioned a photographer to record Mrs Shed for posterity. Unfortunately the snapper misheard the instruction and took several pictures of her posterior which, blown up to actual size and laminated, now serve as 'keep off' signs on Shed's compound fence.

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.

Small, brisk, cheap...
Small, brisk, cheap...
Like many late-model MGs and Rovers still running around, this one has a usefully low mileage. If anything, its cabin looks smarter than the £9K car's and the MOT history is reassuringly blemish-free.

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.

A taste of the 90s in a 21st century car!
A taste of the 90s in a 21st century car!
On the good side, even though this is a 105 and not the 160 or even the 120, the 100 and a bit horse you get in the 1.4 dovetails nicely with the surprisingly adept chassis, the belts have been done on this one and the insurance is low. Plus you can tune a 1.4 quite rudely. Plenty of spares, bits and know-how around to help you there.

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.

Here's the shouty ad.

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.


 

Author
Discussion

Jazoli

Original Poster:

6,259 posts

171 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Not a bad shed this week, the 1.4 engine is a cracker and they are fun to drive.

culpz

1,893 posts

33 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
When i look at cheap, sub 1k cars, it is hard to look past MG. I'm sure these are small and nippy but i'm not sold on the looks. In fact, i end up looking at a different brand altogether 9 times out of 10.

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.

Butter Face

14,760 posts

81 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
We had a (pre-facelift) ZR160 for a while and it was actually a decent car.

The interior and trim were very 'rover' but it was bolted together well and had a fair turn of pace. We ran that alongside an MG TF and both were good solid reliable fun!

forzaminardi

1,815 posts

108 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Not a bad shed this week. Pocket money fun at it's best.

ukaskew

3,349 posts

142 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
My wife had a lovely pre-facelift 1.4 '105+' in a fantastic shade of Blue, the 17" wheel option was a huge mistake, driving even on relatively smooth roads was back breaking work.

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 smile
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MrGeoff

259 posts

93 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Back when I was younger and MG Rover were still in business I had one of the pre-facelift ZR 105's (think it was what they called the '+' model, skirts and 17" wheels), a mate had a 120 and truth be told for the difference in price at the time there's wasn't a huge amount between them. I have fond memories or it, sure we had our problems but it really wasn't a bad car. For this kind of money it's a great buy and looks surprisingly fresh for the age considering how old the design was at the time!

gazza5

184 posts

26 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
My first car was a 1.4 (83 bhp version) impression in red.

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.


J4CKO

22,019 posts

121 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Thats a tidy old thing for £600 odd, you still see the odd Barryied example, like some "Life on Mars" type time traveller from 2003 battering round a provincial town centre, we had a takeaway delivered from our local beige, deep fryed food emporium, a chunky yet alluring young lady appeared with my Mixed Kebab, small (hardly) chips and the wifes disgusting looking "Fishermans catch" Pizza, I remarked on the speediness of the deliver, which had not allowed me sufficient drinking time to achieve that zen like state where Donner meat seems acceptable, she said "Well, we are in a Sports car", and to be fair I could hear a fruity sounding exhaust being revved, in the manner of someone who thinks they need to rev it in case it stops like some lumpy cammed, big carbed old thing, the driver as turning round at the end of our road and then hammers it up to our drive, it was a ZR, replete with Lexus lights and a door in red, on a blue car, I nearly called them in to find a PH thread on the definition of Sports Car but they had gone !

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.

Good shed

BFleming

486 posts

64 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
I did a double take at the plate when I read the phrase '21st Century Car'. As far as facelifts go it wasn't a disaster, and for the price it'll do someone nicely. Definitely a shed this week!

untakenname

1,036 posts

113 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Have fond memories of the 1.4, a mate had one and it felt really quick compared to my car at the time.
Shows how times have changed as I don't find 250bhp feels quick these days.

kambites

51,751 posts

142 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
I was under the impression that head gasket failure on the 1.4 was pretty rare unless it's abused?

YellowCar

54 posts

43 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Must be just me then, but this falls in to a sheddy no-mans land.

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.

kambites

51,751 posts

142 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
The chassis is at least on a par with any of the things you mention. I'd certainly take a Clio 172 over this but I don't think you'd get a decent one for £700?

Ultimately when buying a car at this sort of price-point, I think condition and location becomes more important than make and model anyway.

Fordo

1,411 posts

145 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
I had a similar one in the same colour, as a stop gap car. Mine ran on the devils juice, and was bought to save money on a long commute. I was not a great fan - but the car cost peanuts, and was surprisingly reliable. The car was at odds with itself though - hard suspension, big wheels, but old agricultural diesel engine.


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?

Fordo

1,411 posts

145 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
kambites said:
Ultimately when buying a car at this sort of price-point, I think condition and location becomes more important than make and model anyway.
Great point - and thats exactly why I bought my one long ago. No point spending £60 on petrol to go see a shed far away

LewisR

622 posts

136 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
That one for sale at £9k. I wonder how much the vendors paid for it ?

rallycross

8,340 posts

158 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
I'd be very tempted to buy a 160vvc model.

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.

MadDog1962

713 posts

83 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
No more MGs or Rovers please.
They are all shed money for a very good reason.
It's because they are sheds.

MorganP104

1,163 posts

51 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
My Mum's got a time-warp Rover 25 1.6 with ALL the toys, that she bought new in 2000. I say time-warp as it ALWAYS gets what it needs (often whether it needs it or not), and has only covered about 30,000 miles in 17 years. The damn thing's a minter.

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!

suffolk009

3,142 posts

86 months

Friday 17th March
quotequote all
Reminds me of my Rover BRM. I paid £700 for that a few years ago. Ran it for a couple of years and sold it for more when the electrics decided to become part-time.
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.