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.