Things to look for when buying an MGF
VVC or 1.8i?
The difference in the way the two drive is in the upper half of the rev range, above 3500- sounds a lot, but the engine revs so effortlessly that it’s very usable. The non-VVC goes relatively flat after 5000-5500 just like any normal fixed cam car. Other than that and a bit of detail difference (wheels, seats) the two versions are identical. If you like a bit of performance, go for the VVC – it’s an extra 25 very usable horsepower. If it’s not important to you, go for whichever car is in the best condition.
Much has been written about this topic, some of it accurate some of it is certainly not. See my pages MGF overheating and MGF head gasket replacement.
Cam belts are supposed to be done every 5 years as well as on a mileage basis, so check which year it was last done on each car. Any doubt, do it as soon as you get the car.
Check that the cam bolts have been loctited in – a very occasional problem (more on the VVC but not unknown otherwise) has been that the bolts have slackened off thanks to the brilliant modern practice of not using any locking devices. The result is expensive! Fortunately, Loctite is a permanent cure to this so it is an immediate attention item when you have bought one. See also my page on cam bolts.
Some of the steel water pipes in the cooling system have lately needed replacing, due mainly to failure to refresh the coolant as often as specified – if it gets old, it loses its anti-corrosive properties. Worse still, it is often replaced with just water. So check out the condition of the coolant.
The cars are also of an age when cooling system hoses are reaching the end of their life, particularly the ones carrying the hot water away from the engine. Check whether these have been renewed, if not check their condition. Consider seriously replacing them if you buy a car which hasn’t had them replaced – although expensive and not so easy to access, they are much cheaper than a cooked engine.
Headlights are proving to be an issue, the reflectors deteriorate so check that out. new ones are expensive, it is possible to get the reflectors rechromed but I am advised there is about a 1 in 3 failure rate on the process.
Leaks: Check the seats for water stain, which would indicate a bad leak from the hood seals. If there is water stain, have a good look under the seat for signs of mould or floor pan corrosion (latter a bit difficult to check thanks to one piece carpets, I haven’t heard of any rusting through yet but have heard of surface rust there which is the first step).
Rear window: As with most convertible tops, the rear windows deteriorate with UV and/or misuse. Check the window for suppleness, signs of cracking, and opaqueness. If there is a cloudy film on it, this can be removed with the Greygate polish we sell.
Fabric condition: After years of use, some of the fabric tops are being chaffed by the frame when the hood is in the lowered position. This occurs towards the front of the hood, near the side.