Scrapyard Gem: 2003 MG TF

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When I went on a whirlwind four-day trip to visit the car graveyards of Yorkshire, England, a few months ago, the MG F/TF was near the top of my list of cars to shoot. As it turned out, I found just a single example, at the York U-Pull-It. It was in rough shape, but it's a discarded example of the very last gas-powered two-seat roadster to bear MG's storied octagon badge and thus a true Junkyard Scrapyard Gem.

I'd seen a nice British Racing Green MG F at the "MG — 100 Years of Motoring & Passion" exhibit at Le Convervatoire National de Véhicules Historiques in Diekirch, Luxembourg, last fall and got to thinking about the fact that the Fs and early TFs are now legal to import to the United States under the federal 25-year rule. I spent a good chunk of my college years with a 1973 MGB-GT as my daily driver (British Racing Green, of course) and maybe an F/TF would be a fun car to own here. Then sanity returned when I remembered I don't have room for both an F/TF and my future Mitsuoka Le Seyde.

The very protracted development of the project that became the MG F began in 1984, when the MG brand was owned by the Austin Rover division of British Leyland. Fast-forward to 1994, when BMW bought the Rover Group from British Aerospace (we're skipping an Imperial ton of convoluted British car-industry history here, because we're into the whole brevity thing) and that fresh infusion of Bavarian cash meant that the MG F actually became showroom reality as a 1995 model.

BMW sold MG in 2000; it became part of the Nanjing Automobile empire in 2005 and still exists today. For the 2002 model year, MG Rover restyled the F and gave it a non-Hydragas suspension, naming it the TF in the process.

I was able to find an example of one of the very last thoroughly British MGs, a 2005 ZT 190, a few rows away in the same yard. Also documented by me at the York U-Pull-It that day were a Ford StreetKa, a SEAT Altea, a Smart ForFour, an ex-Royal Mail Peugeot Bipper, a Peugeot 307CC, a Citroën C4 Picasso, a Citroën Xsara Picasso Desire, an early Honda HR-V, a Mitsubishi i, a Renault Megane CC, a Saab 96, a 2007 Mitsubishi Colt, a BMW 320td and an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

This TF was crashed and thoroughly picked over, but it was identifiable.

The TF was powered by Rover K-series straight-four engines of either 1.6 or 1.8 liters' displacement, mid-mounted and driving the rear wheels. It's essentially a British MR2 Spyder, but without the staid Toyota image. This car has the base five-speed manual; a CVT was available as an option.

You can get great deals on MG TFs in the U.K. right now, with prices ranging from the low hundreds of pounds on up to asking prices approaching £10,000.

British production of the TF ceased when MG Rover went bust in 2005, but Nanjing Automobile Group restarted production in China two years later and continued building TFs through 2011.

What's not to like about the TF? Other than the imminent demise of its manufacturer, that is.

Because of charisma… the heart is different.

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