Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Brit Ragtops For £5k - NICK LARKIN ED­I­TOR-AT-LARGE

A £5000 bud­get means that, al­though you could be lucky, you’ll be down among the semi-dead ex­am­ples of many prospec­tive mod­els when look­ing for a suit­able pur­chase.

So why not go for some­thing eas­ily within your fi­nan­cial con­straints? A car of­fer­ing Great Bri­tish open top sports car styling with a mid-en­gine and rel­a­tively mod­ern prac­ti­cal­ity.

Step for­ward the MGF. Nearly as much fun as its fore­bears with the knowl­edge that, K-se­ries cylin­der head gas­ket per­mit­ting, you can drive any­where with­out fear. A top-of-the-range VVC model with a po­ten­tial 137mph on tap and 0-60mph in about eight sec­onds should be well within your bud­get and you could even go for a Brook­lands LE spe­cial edi­tion in Bri­tish Racing Green.

Spares are no prob­lem, there’s ex­cel­lent spe­cial­ist and club sup­port, and the Hy­dra­gas sus­pen­sion gives a good ride and amaz­ing han­dling. You may even have some cash left over for up­grades!


CHECK THOSE SILLS Cor­ro­sion shouldn’t be a huge prob­lem on well looked after ex­am­ples but it’s not un­known for rust to ap­pear on the sills, air in­takes, around the in­di­ca­tors, on the wings and in the sub­frame. Check them all care­fully.

IN­SPECT THE EN­GINE The K-se­ries’ cylin­der head gas­ket is prone to fail­ure – symp­toms in­clude over­heat­ing, ‘may­on­naise’ on the dip­stick and un­der the oil filler cap and a mis­fire at high speeds.

HAS THE CAMBELT BEEN DONE? These de­te­ri­o­rate with age. The ra­di­a­tor and coolant pipes could also be past their best. Check that the car sits level and not too low.


EN­GINE 1796cc/4-cyl/DOHC POWER 120bhp@5500rpm TORQUE 122lb/ft@3000rpm MAX­I­MUM SPEED 120mph 0-60MPH 8.5sec FUEL CON­SUMP­TION 33-40mpg TRANS­MIS­SION RWD, five-speed man­ual

The twin-cam ‘F de­liv­ers fizzy per­for­mance and mind-bog­glingly flat, level han­dling. Good ride, too.

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