Classics World’s Paul Wager test drives and reviews a 2000 MGF VVC…
Over the years I’ve covered many thousands of miles in MGFs and TFs, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent much time in one which could be described as pristine. I’ve also entirely forgotten what these cars feel like when the Hydragas suspension is functioning as it was intended to and before even leaving the yard in this car it was obvious why they were such a big seller among buyers who found the likes of the MX-5 too harsh and uncompromising.
As far as the Witney locals are concerned, Just Right Autos is merely their local garage but, thanks to boss Martin’s years spent at local MG Rover main dealer Kernahan, he’s somewhat of an expert on MGFs and the firm has developed something of a speciality in the cars.
This particular example is the Wedgwood limited-edition of just 100 cars; all painted in the distinctive Wedgwood Blue with a specification including leather seats, CD player, chrome detailing and 16-inch alloys as well as a rear spoiler.
Looking round the car it seems like an unusually pristine example, with nice shiny sills lacking the surface corrosion of our own MGF and also without the rust blister behind the offside headlight which seems a common issue. F. Martin pointed out a couple of blisters in the lacquer, but added that these would be sorted out before sale.
It’s in similarly good nick inside, too, with the leather in nice condition and all the important special edition details still present and correct.
Just Right fits the upgraded head gasket as a matter of course on its sales cars and this one has received the multi-layer gasket plus uprated oil rail, replacement cam belts and tensioner. It’s also been fitted with the stainless steel underfloor coolant pipes, meaning that all of the MGF’s potential weak points have been eradicated.
ON THE ROAD
Regular readers may already be aware that the Hydragas on our own MGF had long since lost the ‘gas’ part of the equation and was rock-hard until replaced with the coil spring conversion kit. This car, however, is from the other end of the spectrum, still running the original Hydragas and all the better for it. In fact, the ride comfort offered by the system really is impressive for a sports car like this and makes the MGF a really pleasant everyday and long-distance machine. The speed bumps and potholes which had you wincing in anticipation in our own car are sailed over in this one with no bouncing and jolting.
Not that the F can’t still cut it as a sports car, far from it: its low weight (1070kg) and the 143bhp of the VVC engine with its variable valve timing makes a great combination and I know from personal experience that these cars can surprise many modern performance hatchbacks. Even on a gentle test drive, this one feels as if all 143 horses are still in there and it feels nice and tight as you’d expect from a car which has covered just 65,000 miles.
With a new cambelt, upgraded head gasket and stainless coolant pipes, this is as trouble-free an MGF as you’ll find anywhere and is ready to be used and enjoyed this summer without springing any surprises. The MGF is great value right now and the underrated VVC model is a genuinely capable sports car – all for the price of a rotten Mk1 MX-5.
Fuel consumption: 40mpg
Gearbox: 4spd man