1 Of Only 2 In The U.S.? 1995 MG-F

A few days ago, we covered an MGB-GT and have regularly covered A’s, B’s, and Midgets. Today we have a treat in a later version MG known as the “F”. Once again, I have surprised myself as I’m not familiar with this model – I don’t believe that I have ever encountered one. This MG-F is located in Durango, Colorado and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $7,000 with the reserve stated as $8,000.

The listing mistakenly identifies this MG as a 1980 model, that’s incorrect as they were manufactured between 1995 and 2002, though the seller does identify the error. Built strictly as a roadster, the MG-F was first manufactured by Rover (1995-2000) and then by MG Rover from 2000 until 2002. MG Rover is considered to be the last British domestic mass-production auto manufacturer. In 2006, MG Rover was acquired by SAIC, a Chinese company, and they continued with a variant of the F, known as the TF, through 2011. Total F production, assembled in Longbridge, Birmingham UK, was about 77K copies.

There are no images included in the listing of this MG-F’s 118 HP, 1.8 liter, in-line, four-cylinder, transversely mounted mid-engine, so I thought I would show you the rear hatch where you can gain access. Some mid-engined cars, like this MG and the Toyota MR2, can be challenging work/maintenance environments. The seller refers to this 46K mile MG’s operating characteristics as, “fast and fun” and “it starts every time“. Gear changing occurs via a five-speed manual transaxle. The seller states that the following items/services have been performed: changed the plugs, changed the oil, changed the air filter, installed a new fuel pump and filter, and a new fuel relay sending unit. The only adverse thing uncovered regarding this engine is that they had a tendency to suffer head gasket failure – potentially due to poor cooling/ventilation in the tight engine compartment. It would be good to hear from any readers than can elaborate on that matter.

The seller states that this MG-F is one of only two currently residing in the U.S. (not sure how he knows that) and parts are easy to source from the U.K. He claims that this example is rust free and comes with a tonneau cover, which would be nice to see deployed. As for the body, the fit and finish present very well and there are no indications of any road-going mishaps. The finish has held up remarkably well as red has a tendency to fade but the seller states that ths car was used primarily for summer drives in the U.K. and then stored afterward.

Red cloth upholstery adorns the interior and it works very well with the contrasting black dash, console, and two-tone door cards. There are no signs of rips, splits, fades, or stains. The parking brake and shifter boot are looking grody but those are minor items in the scheme of things. The interior doesn’t appear to need any attention.

Here is an article where you can learn more about the MG-F  if you are in unfamiliar territory with this car as I was. This one is certainly unique and for that reason, I would be a bit concerned about having to source replacement parts only from the U.K.; I couldn’t find a domestic-based supplier but Rimmer Bros., as the seller suggests, does seem to have many bases covered. The seller has a clear Colorado title and import documentation so reregistering this very British import shouldn’t be a problem. It’s going to take $8K to snag this U.K. spec two-seater; what do you think, worth taking the plunge?

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Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Check the head/gasket on these things

    Like 4
    • grant

      I’m currently saving up for a Spitfire and I expect to spend six to eight thousand on a mk 4 car. This looks fun for the price.

  2. Kel

    The head gasket problem stems from movement of the steel cylinders in the aluminium block. There is no cure. This is the same motor as in the first petrol Freelander and it ruined their reputation. It lasts a bit longer in the MG as it doesn’t have to work as hard.

    Like 4
    • Murray

      Kel, your statement that there is no cure for the MGF’s head gasket issue is incorrect. Issue was caused by a poorly designed head gasket plus the factory’s use of non metal locating dowels between the head and the block. Later much more efficient head gasket designs together with metal dowels solved the head gasket issue. My own MGF bought new in Australia had a head gasket change at approx 6000 miles. Car currently has 60,000 miles and I had no issues. I must stress though that my usage is mostly for long leisure driving and is service religiously.

  3. Vegaman Dan

    That’s clearly just a simple Miata- wait, MG? But, they don’t make- huh, what is this?

    It’s just enough of a head scratcher to make me do a double take and I like that. I have no idea on its reliability, but I have to say it’s darn cute and that price seems really low for what it presents.

    Like 1
  4. UK Paul

    I can buy a decent one of these for $1800, and as low as $800 in driving condition.
    Head gaskets as mentioned are an issue. Rust too.

    Like 2
  5. Miguel

    If you miss this one we have them in Mexico and they can be imported under the 25 year rule and our cars have the steering wheel on the correct side.

    Like 16
    • Claudio

      Miguel, you have me daydreaming

      As i was looking , i said to myself , too bad it drives on the wrong side , sadly being in canada , getting it here would be an issue , i have had shipped and i have picked up and driven back but with covid and distance , its a lot …

      Like 1
    • Claudio

      Miguel, you have me daydreaming

      As i was looking , i said to myself , too bad it drives on the wrong side , sadly being in canada , getting it here would be an issue , i have had shipped and i have picked up and driven back but with covid and distance , its a lot …

  6. Claudio

    Miguel, do you want to help guys getting these ?

    Like 2
    • Miguel

      I am not set up right now to do any traveling to go see the cars but I hope that changes soon.

      Like 2
  7. Slantasaurus

    I only encountered these cars in the original GT video game. Didnt realize they were mid engine, I figured FWD. Looks make me think of a Dodge Neon if they had done a roadster.

  8. Miguel

    I don’t know if you guys know this, but MG just put out a new SUV that is being sold in Mexico.

    I just saw a review of it and it is made in China. I tend to stay away from any vehicles made in China so I would not be interested in it.

    Here is a Wikipedia page that shows a few pictures. The review did show a very nice interior and it does come with AWD which is a rare option in Mexico.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_HS

    Like 3
    • Scott

      This is blasphemy. First China takes Hong Kong and now the MG? I just noticed the HS is built by SAIC Motors in China.

  9. Ron

    When these were available in Europe, Rover chose not to sell them in the States. It would have been competition for the BMW Z4, and the folks on the BMW/Rover board chose to not do that. It would have been a win-win for both, but I guess they thought the presence of the MG would have diluted the market. Que sera, sera…

  10. Bill McCoskey

    Interesting to see the power brake master cylinder assembly is on the left hand side of the firewall. Does this suggest the basic vehicle design was first done as a LHD car? Or was it the only location available?

  11. Keith Holdsworth

    Lpts of MGFs and a few TFs here in Canada.

  12. Tim

    The K series engine in these was a very interesting design, with the block thru to the heads held together by long studs. It made it a kind of ‘sandwich’ of flat castings. This was revolutionary at the time, but I guess didn’t work that well as head gasket issues were the demise of it!

    Although the styling and mid-engine design wasn’t ‘traditional’ MG, it was well received in it’s day and sold relatively well in the UK for a niche product.

    As mentioned elsewhere, the cynical decision by owners BMW not to export to the US market was just another reason why Rover failed – they were interested in robbing the brand names, but not really in competing with their own BMW brand in important markets. Arguably, this was a better design than Z cars, that with proper development and quality control could have made a significant dent in the Miata takeover.

    • Gerard Frederick

      Rover was a disaster when BMW stupidly bought them at great expense. Idiotically they left Rover management in place with the result that the Brits sabotaged BMW at every turn. The quality of the cars was beneath contempt. Rover workers actually killed cats and sewed their bloody carcasses into the seats of cars destined for Germany. When BMW ¨dared¨ to object Rover´s british stiff upper lippers laughed at them. The disaster was so huge, it almost bankrupted BMW. BMW finally literally GAVE Rover away to save themselves.

      Like 1
      • UK Paul

        What a bizzare fantasy.
        BMW bought Rover to steal the technology from Range Rovers to make the X Series BMW and make a fortune with Mini.
        The took the best bits and dumped the rest.

        Like 2
      • grant

        I’ve never heard that and can’t find any info on it anywhere. Can you cite a credible source? Because like a lot of things nowadays that smells suspiciously like it came right out of someone’s rear end.

        Like 2
      • UK Paul

        I think it’s a tad more credible than sewing dead cats into car interiors.
        How many BMW SUV were they prior to the take over? Zero.
        Has Mini been a global success? Check.

        Like 1
  13. Bill McCoskey

    I have a long-time friend who owns an independent auto garage in the south of England. He said the early version of this engine car be challenging if the typical problems have yet to be sorted out.

    Yes, head gaskets are a problem. He notes that the head gasket bolts are of the stretch type, and MUST be replaced if the bolts are either removed or have loosened on their own. Using the old head bolts will cause head gasket failure after about 5,000 miles. And always tighten the head bolts by hand as far as possible, never use a powered socket on them.

    One problem contributing to overheating is the water circulation at lower engine speeds is so poor, it won’t even push water thru the heater unit, and he says you might need to squeeze the upper radiator hose multiple times to get flow into the radiator and heater box.

    Also of great importance; when removing the head, always have the gearbox in neutral, as the slightest rotational movement of the rear wheels can cause the cylinder liners to come loose from the block! If this occurs you will need to do an engine overhaul!

    And one more thing; when replacing the cam belt, it is important to take it out of the box and warm it up. This lets the belt take on it’s natural round shape. When it’s in the box for long time storage, the belt will become “U” shaped, and if installed like that, it will probably result in the cams being out by 1 or 2 notches.

    Like 5
  14. Arthur Brown

    Bill McCoskey raised a point I have wondered about. Once, when in Bermuda, I saw an MG sedan in the Hotel parking lot. It was a small 2 door hatch back as I recall. This was about 2004. The car had a sticker on the windshield that very clearly said “Made in the USA”. I had forgotten about the NG tie in with BMW. And now that I am Cleaning mine up I realize how similar that car was to my 318ti BMW. Anyone know if MG had any made at the plant in South Carolina?

  15. tompdx Member

    I saw one of this at DMV in Oregon. It was blue, had a Japanese lic plate, and was also right hand drive. So I guess the other US MG F is here in Oregon …?

  16. sadie lynn boulineau

    One of our club members here in Florida has(had) one of these that he got from Canada as it was LHD.

    Like 1
  17. Tom Heermans Member

    Is this not the car that was coming stateside and to be built in Oklahoma City?

    Whatever happened to that deal?

  18. Mountainwoodie

    I wonder what could be done short of replacing the heads and cooling system to make these more reliable. I like the look and would like to see a lhd one in person.

    I’m too lazy to drive a right hand drive vehicle though.

    NHAve to wait for Miguel’s MG Export venture :)

  19. Claudio

    The answer to making these reliable is quite easy
    I owned a 2001 toyota mr2 stick that i bought on ebay and picked up myself in south carolina
    But my daily work commute at the time involved a highway commute and i felt i needed an additional gear
    So
    Back on ebay and bought a 2004 mr2 with a 6 speed semi auto from virginia , i had a ball with both cars , never an issue , toyota reliability , go cart on rails , too bad they were underpowered as i decided to go for a boxster but the sheer pleasure of owning/driving the toyota is not to be downplayed, i would buy another if i could
    With covid rules , we cant drive through the border and thats the fun of buying /driving !

    Like 1
  20. Paul T Root

    I know the owner of Quality Coaches in Minneapolis had one 10 years ago or so. So I don’t think I believe the claim of 2.

    Like 1
  21. Tom Wasney

    Saw these in ireland when the wife and I were there 20 years ago… Very cool looking little cars… I had a 69 sprite and 70 b roadster years ago so I became a quick fan of them… !Quite a few running around the emerald isle… Smart cars and Skodas were very popular also… Little nissan micras, that’s what we rented while there. Just bought an 05 350z convertible a few months back, sticking with that for a while…

  22. Stan Marks

    A red sports convertible is like a magnet, to me. I like the style on this one.
    My problem are the issues under the hood. Bolts, head gaskets, over heating, etc..?? Pass-a-dena….

    Hey Bill, how much trouble to switch the steering column to the left side? Can it be done without breaking the bank? Or is it not worth it?

    • Claudio

      Easy peasy, but a 2000 to 2005 toyota mr2
      Toyota toughness

      Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Stan,

      There are too many unknown parts to the equation. For example, since this car WAS available in LHD form, did that mean a different firewall with dedicated stampings & punch-out holes for LHD or RHD, or did they simply use a set of bolt-on cover plates? If it involves the plate set-up, then perhaps buying a wrecked on in Canada would make it easier, simply transferring the needed parts from one car to the other.

      I have examined how LHD to RHD conversions were performed on US cars coming into the UK. Back in the 1980s and 1990s a large shop dedicated to US cars in London, would actually cut the steering column and relocate the upper part to the opposite ide of the dash [oops, now it’s the facia because it’s going to be RHD!]. They put a chain gear on both cut ends, then using an adjustable idler gear, they ran a chain, much like a bicycle chain, connecting the 2 parts. They cut the facia apart and fabricated a new angle iron braced support. Some were well done, others looked like it was — a hack job.

      The automatic transmission shifter was connected using a bicycle brake cable. Pedal assemblies were attached to the new dash support, and the brake pedal linkage consisted of a cross shaft to the left side, joining the pedal to the master cylinder.

      I don’t know what the inspection requirements were in the UK, but I doubt the chain drive steering would pass the US DOT regs. Since dual drive brake pedal set-ups are approved for US driver education cars, and cable gas pedal systems go way back, for example, my dad’s 1960 Peugeot 403 7-passenger Familial had one from new.

      It’s my understanding that Canada and the USA share most federal DOT and EPA requirements [except for Calif]. Since this car was available in Canada, I should think it not terribly difficult [post pandemic] to import a LHD Canadian version, and even if there are a few minor modifications to get DOT & EPA certification, I suspect they would be far less work than a RHD to LHD effort.

  23. Stan Marks

    Bill, about the only thing, I understood, was the DOT comparison, with our neighbors to the north.
    But I got the gist of your explanation.
    I knew you would have the answers, thanks..

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