Between myself and my girlfriend, we now have two Japanese cars – two mk1 MX5s. Before these I had a number of MGs so have the ability to compare the two quite happily. The MGs were great fun, fairly simple to maintain albeit the headgasket failed on the TF which is common for this model.
For years I had hounded those who drove Japanese cars, and called them “jap scrap”, mainly ‘cos it rhymed. But then I didn’t really have the right to. The build quality of a 26 year old MX5 is much better than that of a much newer British build car. Everything about it is as if it has been well thought out and planned. The later MGs before the company’s demise just seems rushed and ill thought. So now, with much irony, I love Japanese cars! I went to Japfest 1 and 2 last year, and now that the first has moved to Silverstone for 2016 (which is just up the road from me in Northampton) I’m already looking forward to seeing what’s on show. My turbo MX5 will probably still be waiting on it’s second life so the girlfriend’s Mk1 1.8 will probably be used… so watch this space!
Then of course, with Japanese engines also being more efficient, and fairly compact, many have been used for engine swaps etc. Who doesn’t like the 2JZ block, turbo charge it and you have a lot of power. Put that into a smaller car and you have much epic-ness!
Or so the old saying goes…. but it is certainly something I believe in. And what’s to go wrong when you are used to something already, used to a fashion or trend, or in my case a make and model of car.
Yes, yes, I have reverted back and now am driving another MG as my daily driver. The Audi is gone (drinking too much fuel), the Lexus I had as a replacement, really wasn’t an inspiring drive, so I was on the hunt for something that would save me money, on petrol and insurance, and bring the fun back to driving.
And what’s more to love than a mid-engined, rear wheel drive car, putting out 143BHP.
This is truly for the love of cars; the engine, the noise, the feeling of the open air in your hair. Who needs mod-cons, electronic safety assistance or things to interfere with the experience. This thing is back to basics, no nonsense motoring, and it is saving me money afterall. What’s not to love
I’ve made up this list for my previous use when looking to buy MG roadsters so thought I’d share it with anyone looking to buy.
These cars are very good value at the minute. You can get very good examples for between £2500-3500.
So to cut to the chase the following are some of the things you should watch out for:
Head Gasket – the head gasket is known to go on the ‘K’ series MG Rover engines. Has it been fixed / replaced with the uprated unit. If not how many miles has the car done? It will GO at some point in the future so budget in around £400 for fixing. If it hasn’t gone it can be good for up to 80,000 miles or more but it does all depend on how the car has been looked after.
Cambelt – the cambelt will need replacing at around 60,000 miles. Has it been replaced? If not this will need doing in the future. Budget between £100-200 for this.
Water pump – this will normally be replaced when the head gasket gets replaced. Has it been replaced?
Coolant pipes – the coolant pipes (running from back to front of car) are prone to rotting out from the inside out, and therefore dumping coolant from the car. This can cause headgasket failure. Sometimes the pipes are replaced when the head gasket gets replaced. Stainless steel pipes can be bought for around £60-70.
Brakes – pretty standard stuff now, what do the disk brakes look like. Are they pretty rusty / ridged?
What do the break pads look like?Replacing both will cost around /£120-150 all round.
Tyres – what’s the tread look like? A set of mid-range tyres all round will cost around £250-300 for an MG TF
Rust – again pretty standard. Have a look at all the wheel arches; especially the lip around the edges. On the MGF there’s a plastic/rubber seal. If you can peel this back and make sure the metal behind isn’t rusted.
Exhaust – get down on your knees and have a good look underneath. Give the backbox a good prod. Being a mid-engined car there’s not an awful lot of run for the exhaust system so it’s all pretty much contained.
You’ll really need to take the car for a test drive and give it some good revs to make sure the system isn’t blowing/there aren’t any holes in it….
Replacing the backbox with a standard non-stainless unit will cost around £150 but the system itself is probably fine if the car isn’t older than 13-14 years.
Heater – make sure it’s blowing hot, so make sure you take the car for a test drive. If it’s blowing cold or doesn’t heat up this can be related to head gasket failure so would steer well clear.
Hood – make sure there are no tears or big rips and the rear screen isn’t ripped. Can prove costly to repair.
Oil – Check the dipstick, make sure the oil looks okay and has been topped up – somewhere between the high and low marks is good. Make sure the oil is clear and not creamy coloured (signs of head gasket failure)
Coolant – make sure the header tank is clear and not cloudy / dirty. Signs of head gasket if the tank is blackened.
And then of course there’s the common sense question: does the car sound ‘okay’ when it’s running. No loud noises, bangs, clunks etc.
If you have any queries feel free to comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible!