WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The good news is that rust shouldn’t be an issue, although it’s worth checking for any bubbles that might have appeared as a result of damage or stonechips. And look for the usual scrapes and scuffs on hard-used high-milers; items like bumpers are pricey, even secondhand, while various official body kits were offered for the MGs, so check they are undamaged. One bodywork issue to consider, though, is blocked drain holes in the plenum chamber. It’s an easy fix, but water build-up can damage the engine ECU and pollen filter, with expensive consequences.
Watch also for broken bonnet cables, noisy boot locks, and water leaks from blocked sunroof drains and around the rear light lenses. Water getting into the boot can cause electronic gremlins, so check for damp. The tailgate on estate models featured a separately opening rear window, so it’s worth checking that the latch mechanism works and that water hasn’t been getting past the seals.
In various states of tune for the Rover and MG variants, petrol engines were 1.8-litre K-Series units in normally aspirated and turbocharged forms, and a smooth six-cylinder KV6. The former could suffer from head gasket issues at around 30,000 miles but most should have been sorted by now and trouble shouldn’t recur if repaired properly. Turbos can suffer from split hoses and there are reports of a dicky fuel pump causing starting issues, while air leaks from the inlet manifold gasket and a faulty mass airflow (MAF) sensor will cause running problems. Niggling sensor faults will bring up warning lights on the dash. The KV6 is a strong unit, but changing the cambelts at six years/90,000 miles is crucial as failure will wreck the engine. Special tools are needed so check it’s been done. Thermostat housings can crack on these engines.
BMW OR FORD
The 75’s common-rail 2.0-litre diesel, dubbed M47-R, is a BMW unit and was added to the ZT range in 2002. It doesn’t suffer from any real problems although it’s worth listening for rattles indicating a stretched timing chain (it’s a major job to change) and poor running caused by a blocked EGR valve. Slightly less sensible, though, is the 4.6-litre Ford V8 fitted to the MG ZT 260. Driving the rear wheels, it makes a great noise and is plenty quick enough, and it’s a reliable lump, too, with parts easily available from specialists. A niche choice, it’s thirsty if provoked.
GO FOR TRANSMISSION
The Getrag five-speed manual gearbox is bulletproof, as is the Tremec unit in the V8. Just listen out for a rattling dual-mass flywheel, issues with clutch hydraulics, and clutch wear on hard used examples