Please note that the cars or exhibit items shown in this database are part of our collection but may not be on display when you visit.
The idea of an all-new MG sports car to replace the MG B was kicking around the halls of the Austin Rover Group as far back as 1985. A front-wheel drive, front-engined two-seater convertible dubbed the F16 was developed as a prototype, but ARG’s financial issues forced the new sports car concept to the back burner. That is, until 1989, when Mazda introduced their own interpretation of a classic British sports car, the MX-5 Miata. Needless to say, a modern classic was born…and it was not British!
Around that same time, a new division was created within the Austin Rover Group: Rover Special Projects. RSP would develop more unorthodox models, leaving Rover’s main designers to concentrate on saloons and hatchbacks. Three prototype two-seaters were built. Similar to the three concepts for the MX5, front-engined/front-wheel drive was considered, as well as the standard front-engined, rear-wheel drive. But the 3rd design, a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive layout was chosen as the production model. Stylist Gerry McGovern penned the exterior, giving the F’s front end treatment an homage to the post-1975 MG B “rubber bumper” grille. RSP also gave the new model Hydragas suspension, which, in the words of its inventor, Dr. Alex Moulton, “de-fidgets the car”; the suspension was interconnected between the front and the rear, and could be tuned to provide accurate response during direction changes.
Both 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine options, one with variable valve timing, received high marks from the automotive press upon their debut in 1995. As the first all-new MG sports car to be released since the B in 1962, buyers flocked to UK and European showrooms. Widespread expectations were that the MG F would re-establish MG in the US, but fears it would undercut sales of now-parent company BMW’s Z3 put a halt to that. A mild refresh in 1999 helped boost sales, and a name change reviving the TF nameplate came in 2002.
In 2005, however, the collapse of MG Rover Group ultimately resulted in a buyout by China’s Nanjing Automobile. Nanjing’s MG division kept the F model alive until 2011. MG is still active, producing hatchbacks and small SUVs for the European market.
Manufacturer: MG Rover and Nanjing Automobile Group
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Drivetrain Configuration: Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine: Water-cooled, naturally-aspirated, 1.8 liter, four-cylinder, 118 HP
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Top Speed: 137 mph
Years of Production: 1995-2011
Production Numbers: 118,000 (total UK and Chinese production)
Original Cost: £15,300 GBP ($23,000 USD in 2002)