■ Spec verification: Thoroughly read any documentation before you buy, as non-Trophy cars are all but identical. For the 1.6-litre, check for matt black, unpainted door handles and side intakes. VIN plates can be found at the bottom of the windscreen, next to the spare wheel and on the right-hand front shock tower.
■ Corrosion: There are a few problem areas on the MGF for corrosion and rust, including subframes, air intakes, door sills and front wings, which are particularly susceptible. Go all around the car with a fine-tooth comb, particularly if it’s got a high mileage and has been daily-driven at any point.
Also worth knowing
There are a few MGF mechanical experts spread around the UK, including MGF Centre in Wolverhampton (01902 453 100) and Just Right Autos in Witney, Oxfordshire (01993 778060). If you’re unable to travel, Rough Luck Racing (07766 993717), a specialist MG mobile mechanic, can come to you.
How much to spend
£500–£1199: High-mileage project cars with rust and bodywork scrapes. Some gems, such as a 2001-reg 1.8i with a new exhaust and catalytic converter, but work and expense are required on most cars at this price.
£1200–£1999: Some decent examples, including a two-owner manual 1.8i in good general condition with full MOT and just 33,000 miles on the clock.
£2000–£3499: Fine examples of later models from 2001 with regular maintenance, low mileage and history checks. Some owners have spent significantly to bring their cars up to standard.
£3500–£6000: Low-mileage, showroom-quality Trophy Editions that could cost up to £6000. Most at this price have had a new head gasket fitted, but you should still look out for signs of rust and check service histories.
One we found
MGF 1.8i VVC MANUAL, 1997, 54,000 MILES, £2500: This 1.8i VVC example has had a new head gasket and water pump fitted, as well as a new catalytic converter and coolant pipes. Basic history details are available too, and the interior looks well kept, judging from the ad. Just check for rips in the soft-top and inspect the bodywork for rust.