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MG TF: Buying guide and review (2002-2005)

MG TF: Buying guide and review (2002-2005) Classic and Performance Car
MG was known for its sporty two seaters back in the ‘50s, and its return to the category in the 1990s after a period of re-badged saloon and hatchback Austin-Rover models in the 1980s was well received. 
The MG TF may be an increasingly rare sight nowadays, but it was massively popular back in the early 2000s, with it good looks and competitive pricing it was the UK’s best-selling two-seater sports car for a number of years. So what made the TF such a desirable machine? At the turn of the century, MG wasn’t particularly flush with development funds so while rivals were releasing new models, the MGF received a huge number of upgrades and clever development, turning it into something that looked a bit sharper, and drove a lot better.
Making do with minor exterior cosmetic changes, the bulk of the changes were done under the skin. The suspension received a thorough overhaul, ditching the hydragas units of the F in favour of some conventional springs and dampers – improving handling greatly. 
Despite a few reliability issues, these little cars have developed quite a following. Turbulent times for the MG brand in the early 2000s meant that the TF was discontinued, along with all other MG Rover vehicles in 2005, however it was re-introduced in limited numbers by the new Chinese owners in 2007. Our focus will be on the cars built up to the end of MG/Rover ownership.
Which one to buy?
Modern convertibles tend to insulate their occupants from the driving experience a bit better than their older counterparts. This can be a boon on longer trips but shorter blasts down winding roads tend to be a bit less engaging. The TF definitely does not isolate you from the driving experience! The ride is firm, the canvas roof is pretty basic and road noise is ever present. 
Not ideal as a daily driver or motorway mile-muncher, but it’s just the thing to blow out the cobwebs on a Sunday afternoon. Practicality is a bit better than front engined rivals due to the extra storage space where the engine would go, with just about enough space to fit a weekend’s worth of luggage for two.
There are four different versions of the four-cylinder Rover K series engine available in the TF. First off was the entry-level 114bhp 1.6-litre, which was only available with a manual gearbox. A 1.8-litre version produced 120bhp in automatic form or 134bhp when paired with a manual gearbox. The top option was a VVC equipped 1.8 which produced 157bhp and could sprint to 60mph in under 7.0 seconds. The light weight of the TF means that even the 1.6 is an enjoyable drive, although many say that the best all-rounder is the manual 134bhp 1.8.
A number of special edition models were released such as the Sprint SE, Cool Blue SE and Sun Storm LE. Most changes were limited to unique paint and trim options, however the SE models generally came with the desirable wheels and uprated brakes from the TF 160. 
Three Sports Pack options were also available, offering lowered suspension on the SP1 and adding 16-inch alloys and ABS on the SP2 and SP3. 2005 model year cars had a hugely desirable glass rear window, which was a great improvement over the plastic items in earlier cars however as production ended in early April it may be easier to find an earlier car and retrofitting this item.
Due to their relatively low value servicing may have been skimped on so ensure that there is a comprehensive service history as neglected cars will cost more in the long run. 
Performance and specs
MG TF 135
Engine 1795cc 16 valve DOHC inline four
Power 134bhp @ 6750rpm
Torque 122lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 127mph
0-60mph 8.2 seconds
Fuel consumption 36.7mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight 
Wheelbase 2375mm
Length 3943mm
Width 1628mm
Height 1261mm
Curb weight 1105kg
Common problems
· Parts are in good supply, reasonably priced and available from a number of sources, the TF was built in relatively large numbers so there should not be any issues in keeping your MG running well.
· Head gasket issues due to overheating are a common TF issue. It is a regular problem with the Rover K series engines, and many running changes were carried out in an attempt to alleviate the problem. Keeping the cooling system in top condition is key as well as ensuring that servicing is carried out regularly.
· Rust can affect the car in a number of places, especially around the air intakes, sills, indicators and front wings. If the sub-frames show signs of rust then walk away.
· Water leaks can aggravate the rust issue so check for wet interior trim in the footwells and boot. Replacement rubber seals are a good investment.
· Badly aligned wheels often show up in heavy wear on the inside edge of the front tyres, easy to rectify but worth checking before you buy.
· The MG TF dropped the MG F’s Hydragas suspension system so there are no hydraulic leaks to worry about however old dampers can leak and brittle rubber mountings can make the ride very hard.
Model history
2002: MG TF goes on sale. Major suspension redesign, uprated engines and updated bodywork differentiate it from MG F. Sprint SE special edition released in July, 600 units built. Available on TF135 and TF 160 variants. TF 135 models received uprated brakes and ABS.
2003: Cool Blue SE special edition released in March, offering bespoke trim and three unique colour options. Available on TF 115 and TF 135. Sun Storm LE special edition released in October, included standard hard top, and was available on all engine options. 500 units produced.
2004: 80th Anniversary LE special edition released in January. Three unique colour options, 16” mag wheels and Anniversary logos distinguish these models from others in the range.
Spark SE special edition launched in July, offering usual SE trim on all engine sizes and some new paint options.
2005: Glass rear window introduced on all models Suspension changes carried out including thicker anti-roll bars and re-rated dampers to soften ride. Production ends in April as the Mg/Rover Group collapses. 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.mgownersclub.co.uk - Owners club
• www.xpartautoservicecentre.com – Parts and servicing for MG’s
• www.mgf.ultimatemg.com – Excellent source for detailed info on MG TF ownership
•www.xpowerforums.com – MG TF information portal
Summary and prices
If you are looking for a bargain convertible then there are few better options out there than an MG TF, prices start at under £1000 for a tired high-miler while top spec cared for models are generally not much more than £2500. At these prices restoring or overhauling a banger will almost always cost more than getting a good one in the first place and as there are a lot to choose from you can afford to be picky. Arguably, the sweet spot in the range is the TF 135 which provides as much performance as you would need and is less likely to have been abused than the top models. Find a low mileage special edition car and who knows, it may even appreciate in value in the years to come. 
Words: John Tallodi
Last updated: 14th Jul 2016
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MG TF cars for sale

33 Search results
895 39995 GBP
  • MG TF

    £2,350 £2,350

    Full Leather, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Power Steering, 15'' Alloys, Full service history

    • Mileage: 44000 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
    Cambridge Autos
  • MG TF 1,3 Roadster

    €31,100(£28,332.10) €31,100(£28,332.10)

    MG TF 1,3 Roadster Equipment: Total restaureret Flot farve kombination Trådhjul rød læder skal ses ring for info

    • Year: 1954
    For sale
  • MG TF

    £2,695 £2,695

    British Racing Green MGTF;ONLY 30000 Miles from new ;Full Service History with recent repair and service invoices ;Sports Exhaust ;Full Black Leather ;Glass rear screen ;Alloys;Radio Cassette complete with ELO Greatest hits cassette;2 x keys and remote fobs

    • Mileage: 30000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.588
    For sale
  • Mg Tf 2006

    £2,500 £2,500

    Key Facts 2006 Convertible 53,000 miles Manual 1.8L Petrol Great little convertible With low mileage.! Comes with hardtop for the winter Months Selling due to moving overseas. Contact Rob for viewing 4 owners, Silver, £2,500 This car comes with Electric windows, MP3 player, CD player, Bluetooth, Sports seats, Power steering, Central locking, Alarm, Driver's airbags, Penger airbags, Spare wheel (Full)

    • Mileage: 53000 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • MG TF

    £2,795 £2,795

    DVD Player, Full Leather, Immobiliser, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Front Centre Armrest, Metallic Paintwork, Colour Coded Body, ABS, Power Steering, Electric Front Windows, CD Player, Stereo, Alloy wheels, Service history Superb classic, 15 months warranty available

    • Mileage: 64000 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • MGTF 135

    £2,250 £2,250

    MGTF135 COOL BLUE Sports. Manual 5 speed. Petrol, 51115 miles. Cam Belt change 2016, soft and hard tops. Heated Rear screen. PAS, Airbags.  Only reason for sale, its not ideal for 80 year old to get in and out of. Full service history. Excellent condition. Good tyres  .MOT until 02/2018. Eastbourne area. £2250 or near offer. 01323 767615 //07495477269.

    • Mileage: 51115 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • Mg Tf 2003 1.6

    £1,100 £1,100

    MG TF 1.6, 2003. Great condition. One years MOT. No head gasket problems as had a replacement engine which had done 65k. New clutch, cam belt., rust treated and undersealed. new front wishbones, new rear exhaust back box. Upgraded speakers in the back.Usual wear on the drivers seat bolster. (replacement seats from £50 upwards) I am lucky to have a car lift so you can inspect the under side of the car if you . I will put some sunny photos up when it comes out again.

    • Engine size: 1588
    For sale
  • Mg Tf 2003

    £2,250 £2,250

    get ready for summer with this great looking car, Janspeed stainless steel exhaust (sounds great), stainless steel coolant pipes, modified head gasket, leather interior, wind deflector,hood cover, hard top, good stereo, on sorn at mo but will have new MOT when sold.

    • Mileage: 65991 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • MG TF

    £2,195 £2,195

    Parking Sensors, CD Player, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Air Bag, Central Locking, Cloth Upholstery, 15'' Alloys MG MGTF 1.8 SPORTS CONVERTIBLE 2DR PRESENTED IN TROPHY BLUE, 51,823 MILES, PAS, CLOTH INTERIOR, E/WINDOWS, C/LOCKS, E/MIRRORS, AIR BAG, COLOUR CODE HOOD, 15'' ALLOY WHEELS

    • Mileage: 51823 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • MG TF 1,5 Roadster

    €33,800(£30,791.80) €33,800(£30,791.80)

    MG TF 1,5 Roadster Equipment: Ekstrem fin restaureret Køretøjet står som nyt ring for info Bemærk original 1500

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
  • MGTF 2007

    £3,250 £3,250

    MG-TF 1600cc 135 SPORTS CAR 2007 41.000 miles 12 months MOT @ 4th May 2017 'til 2018....no advisories Silver/Gold very unusual. £3250.REDUCED NO OFFERS. ***************************************************** This car is in truly immaculate mint condition, everything working as it should, it’s fully up to date with servicing. Always starts first time and runs beautifully. Ideal car for long distance touring or use as a regular car. Most service work carried out by MG specialist MJN Ltd, Bristol who will vouch for its condition. ********************************************************************************************************************** New triple knitted  cylinder head gasket upgrade, including new cam belt, tensioner kit and water pump. £850 New throttle cable. £30 New stainless steel ‘front to rear’ heater/radiator pipes. £100 Additional radiator air intake cowl. £30 Fully service with long life platinum tipped spark plugs.  New front brake pads and caliper service 4th May 2017 Updated solid state heater fan speed resistor unit. £40 Mike Satur chrome Boxer MK3 s hoops and tinted rear screen. £450 ABS. New battery. £60 Alarm including interior volumertric sensor. 2 x keys and 2 x remote key fobs. New Scorpion ‘DEMON – 39849 ’ stainless steel cat back exhaust system. £400 Heavy chromed hood catches. £170 Chrome gear shift bezel/surround. £40 Chrome filler cap. £70. Chrome door hands and quarter deck boot lid trims £40 Chrome radiator mounting plates. £33 Alloy seat belt tidy’s £25 Interior LED’s where possible All door, boot and catches replaced with chrome catches. £60 Full under bonnet stainless steel bolts and brackets dress-up kit. £50 5 x new ‘minilite’ style wheels spare never used. £500 Rear colour matched spoiler. Toyo tyres x 3, spare never used.   Front:-185/55R15 PXT1-R 82V.      ****//****  x 2.  Rear:- 205/50R15 PXT1-89V. Total price £350.  Top quality German McGard wheel locks and 2 x  pouches.  £30 Aircraft quality alloy gear knob. £40      ----------//----------     heater controls. £35 Hood anti jamming straps. £30 Lexus style clear lens rear light cluster £100 Internal light cluster covers. £20 Radio & CD player and uped door speakers. Electric windows  & mirrors. Fog lights fitted as extras. £130. Twin air horns. Alloy seat belt escutcheons. £25 Half tonneau cover. £55 ‘Buzz-Topps’ soft top half cover. £70 MGTF complete tool kit. £45 12v electric tyre pump. £25 Colour matched side air intakes’ mirror pods door handles and spoiler. £100 Set of colour matched reversing sensor kit, not yet fitted. £20 Undersealed with Wax-oil. £35 *********************************************************** Many extra’s, invoices show over £4000 spent, no expense has been spared on this car. It is in mint condition inside and out…..there is absolutely no work to be carried out, just get in it and head off to the S o F. All invoices, service records and owners handbook in plush black leather wallet.  Years ago MGF's and MGTF's were scrapped, not anymore; they are creeping into the collectors arena and becoming sought after collectors cars. When these cars were first made they were cost nearly £20.000. I have owned this car for 3 years, during which time I have lavished time and money make it one of the best TF's you will find. I have now bought a second TF hence this one is for sale. You may find cheaper TF's around but none as clean as this one. Remember if the cylinder head gasket has not been replaced and uped by MG specialist who know what they are doing say goodbye to  £1000 if it goes wrong.....and they do fail. These 'K Series' engines are great, used in the Lutus, but the original head gaskets nearly all fail at some stage!!! V5 states 'gold' but looks like silver at first glance, the hint of gold gives it a lovely and unusual 'champagne'  look in the evening and silver look in the sunlight....very cly. Great looking 'Porcshie' wedge shape, much more modern looking than the dated 'sausage' look of the Mazda MX-5....handles better and sticks to corners like it's on tram lines. The 'K' mid engined balance makes it a joy to drive, no under or over-steer, the car goes where you point it. Any inspection welcomed. 01761 568 729 & 07860 587 999

    • Mileage: 41000 mi
    • Engine size: 1588
    For sale
  • 1955 MG TF 1250

    £5,000 £5,000

    This beautifully presented MG TF 1250 was supplied new in North America. During the 1980's the MG was shipped to the UK and subject of a top class, professional restoration and right hand drive conversion. The TF was completed by 1989, finished in bright Red with lovely Tan leather upholstery, Beige weather equipment and chrome wire wheels. The car was finished to a high standard and during the 1990's and 2000's has featured at many shows, rallies and events in both England and Wales. The car originally came to us in 2008 having spent many years on the Welsh show scene. The car required very little preparation work and quickly sold to a local MG enthusiast near York. Between 2008 and 2015 the MG has proven totally reliable and has travelled all over North Yorkshire to many classic car shows. Over several years of regular use, the owner spent almost £5,000 on further improvements to include a full engine rebuild. The MG was treated to new main and big end bearings and shells, new camshaft, new pistons and piston ring set, oil pump, cam bearing, re-ground crankshaft and all new gaskets. Further expenditure included regular maintenance. Over the past twelve months the MG has not been

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
  • MG TF 135 2002

    £12,995 £12,995

    New and un-registered MGTF 135 with only 94 delivery miles. Platinum Silver with Black Sebring Upholstery and a blue hood. This 2002 model MG can only be described as time warp, it is in effect a new car having covered less than 100 miles and never registered. The car was purchased by its first owner for his daughter. Due to a separation the daughter never received the car and until now has been in a private collection as a pure investment. The TF comes complete with its factory build sheet and V55 form should you wish to register the car, we can assist you with this process. We are also able to offer delivery or can put the car into secure long term storage for you. Both sets of keys are with the car and please note this is a home market U.K right hand drive car and not a later Chinese model. Absolutely any inspection is welcome. Viewing is highly recommended. All major debit and credit cards accepted. Please contact us for any further information. Delivery and shipping can be arranged.

    • Mileage: 94 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • MG TF

    £26,995 £26,995

    1954 MG TF1250 . Finished in Old English White with Full Red leather interior and black Weather equipment Significant restoration work done, comprehensive history file. Driving extremely well. More Photos and information available at: http://www.classiccarbluebutts.co.uk/car137.html £26995 ONO

    • Year: 1954
    • Engine size: 1.3
    For sale
  • MG TF - 2004

    £2,495 £2,495

    Finished in Silver with contrasting black/grey interior. Mohair hood with glass heated rear screen, radio/CD. Garaged all its' life and immaculate throughout. Low mileage having covered only 54,000 miles. Regularly serviced by ourselves this future classic will be sold with a new MOT and warranty.

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.796
    For sale
  • MG TF 1250cc 1954.

    £39,995 £39,995

    Cream with Green hide interior and fawn weather equipment. Silver wire wheels. An original RHD matching numbered example supplied new to Australia from where it has recently returned and benefited from a complete body-off chassis restoration in its original colour scheme to an exacting standard, including the fitting of a 5-speed gearbox. £39,995

    • Year: 1954
    For sale
  • MG TF - 2002

    £2,250 £2,250

    Finished in Silver with matching hard top and contrasting black interior. In lovely condition throughout and covered only 66,700 miles. Full Service History and MOT'd until November '17 with no advisories. This future classic drives and runs really well and should give the next owner many miles of trouble free motoring.

    • Mileage: 66700 mi
    • Engine size: 1.796
    For sale
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