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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am new to this forum, so sorry if this is in the wrong place.
I am turning 17 in a month or so and am going to try to get my license asap. I have been looking at potential first cars for a while now, and originally wanted a MG ZR 105 as my first car, but the insurance is ridiculous. Today I discovered that I can buy AND insure a Rover 25 or 200 bubble for less than £2000. The reason why I want a Rover, is because I have been a huge fan of British automobiles from the likes of BMC, BL, AR, RG and MGR since I was very young. My dream car is even a Rover SD1 Vitesse in Moonraker blue!
But anyway, the car I am looking at is a Rover 25/200 (ideally a 25, I prefer the quad headlamp design) with three doors and a 1.4 K-series engine. Tell me if this is a stupid choice of a first car if it is, and if there is anything to look out for when buying one (I am aware of the head gasket issues on some K-series models, but am not sure if the 1.4 is one of those affected)

Thank you for any help!
 

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There are still bargains around. Good idea if you can find a good one. For low insurance you’ll want an 1100 or 1400 (85bhp) 200 bubble or 25. Both those engines are k series, with the possibility of HGF. Look for a well kept car, everything works and no/ little corrosion (especially underneath). (y)
 

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Hello and welcome to the forum.

Nothing stupid about your choice of car at all. They are a much better car than the general public would have you believe and a good compromise considering you can’t afford to insure a ZR.

What you do need to consider is that these are now old cars. As with all old cars there are most likely going to be some niggles to address depending on how well it has been cared for in it’s life and how knowledgeable it’s owners have been.

A lot of problems with these cars stem from people not maintaining them correctly, or not fixing things properly in the first place.

I would personally go for a Mk1 over a Mk2 (the quad headlight version you mention). Personally I find these better built with a few lesser of the Rover cost cutting niggles on the later models.

Yes the head gasket is the issue a lot of people are afraid of, but the reality is it’s not that big of a deal to sort out. In fact I‘d rather get a car on it‘s original gasket and deal with it as and when it may happen. This rules out any bodged repairs or previously cooked engines. However a tidy car which is running well and has the paperwork to show what’s been done can be a good buy.

Look out for a corroded and leaking sunroof if fitted. Also check for leaks in the boot in the spare wheel well. Corrosion on all four wheel arches, tailgate hinge areas, sills particularly at the rear in front of the rear wheel arch.

Other than that it’s like any other second hand car of this age, check the engine sounds healthy, a little tapping from cold is quite normal on the 1.4, but it should be quiet when warmed up. Check the fluids for cleanliness and correct levels. Look for obvious oil leaks (the K series tends to leak from it’s cam cover gasket and cam oil seals) not major at all, but look for any particularly noticeable oil on the ground under the car.

Check the condition of the radiator and make sure the heaters in the car blow out hot air. The heater fan blower speeds can stop working on various settings, but again this is an easy fix. Check that the key fobs are present and working.

Obviously make sure the car drives correctly in all gears and pulls throughout the rev range when it’s up to temp. These are pretty simple cars and with a little care can be very reliable daily transport.

I‘ve had my MG ZR form new for sixteen years, I also had a Rover 25 for four years and now also have a MG ZT-T. I’m a fan of these cars and like that they are good DIY mechanics cars, they are a good car to learn how to maintain cars yourself and are also fun to drive.

Plenty of places for parts still such as DMGRS, Rimmer Bros, Brown & Gammons, even eBay. MG-Rover Mobile Mechanics are also very good should you need them for an efficient head gasket repair and they don’t take your eyes out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello and welcome to the forum.

Nothing stupid about your choice of car at all. They are a much better car than the general public would have you believe and a good compromise considering you can’t afford to insure a ZR.

What you do need to consider is that these are now old cars. As with all old cars there are most likely going to be some niggles to address depending on how well it has been cared for in it’s life and how knowledgeable it’s owners have been.

A lot of problems with these cars stem from people not maintaining them correctly, or not fixing things properly in the first place.

I would personally go for a Mk1 over a Mk2 (the quad headlight version you mention). Personally I find these better built with a few lesser of the Rover cost cutting niggles on the later models.

Yes the head gasket is the issue a lot of people are afraid of, but the reality is it’s not that big of a deal to sort out. In fact I‘d rather get a car on it‘s original gasket and deal with it as and when it may happen. This rules out any bodged repairs or previously cooked engines. However a tidy car which is running well and has the paperwork to show what’s been done can be a good buy.

Look out for a corroded and leaking sunroof if fitted. Also check for leaks in the boot in the spare wheel well. Corrosion on all four wheel arches, tailgate hinge areas, sills particularly at the rear in front of the rear wheel arch.

Other than that it’s like any other second hand car of this age, check the engine sounds healthy, a little tapping from cold is quite normal on the 1.4, but it should be quiet when warmed up. Check the fluids for cleanliness and correct levels. Look for obvious oil leaks (the K series tends to leak from it’s cam cover gasket and cam oil seals) not major at all, but look for any particularly noticeable oil on the ground under the car.

Check the condition of the radiator and make sure the heaters in the car blow out hot air. The heater fan blower speeds can stop working on various settings, but again this is an easy fix. Check that the key fobs are present and working.

Obviously make sure the car drives correctly in all gears and pulls throughout the rev range when it’s up to temp. These are pretty simple cars and with a little care can be very reliable daily transport.

I‘ve had my MG ZR form new for sixteen years, I also had a Rover 25 for four years and now also have a MG ZT-T. I’m a fan of these cars and like that they are good DIY mechanics cars, they are a good car to learn how to maintain cars yourself and are also fun to drive.

Plenty of places for parts still such as DMGRS, Rimmer Bros, Brown & Gammons, even eBay. MG-Rover Mobile Mechanics are also very good should you need them for an efficient head gasket repair and they don’t take your eyes out.
Thank you for your detailed and informative response. I am aware that these cars are getting on a bit in terms of age, and am not afraid to get stuck in to fix whatever problems occur (within reason of course. I don't want to end up with an absolute lemon!). As regards to you recommending the MK1 over the MK2, am I correct in thinking, then that MK2s had slightly worse build quality due to the Project Drive initiative?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There are still bargains around. Good idea if you can find a good one. For low insurance you’ll want an 1100 or 1400 (85bhp) 200 bubble or 25. Both those engines are k series, with the possibility of HGF. Look for a well kept car, everything works and no/ little corrosion (especially underneath). (y)
Thanks for your reply.
I have looked at quite a few listings, but it seems that the only engines to buy are the 1.4 (the one I'm looking at), 1.6 (Insurance too expensive) and 2.0 diesel (Insurance WAY too expensive)
The 1.1 on the other hand, seems to be as rare as hen's teeth. Although, I am not ruling it out if I come across a good one.
 

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Thank you for your detailed and informative response. I am aware that these cars are getting on a bit in terms of age, and am not afraid to get stuck in to fix whatever problems occur (within reason of course. I don't want to end up with an absolute lemon!). As regards to you recommending the MK1 over the MK2, am I correct in thinking, then that MK2s had slightly worse build quality due to the Project Drive initiative?
Over the years project drive deleted various parts which were deemed to mostly go unnoticed for the end customer. It just makes for an overall more cheaply put together car, with less and less attention to detail. None of these cars were ever what you could call particularly well made, but by the latter years things were starting to deteriorate. Some changes made for the facelift regardless of project drive also brought their own problems. The later BCU is prone to give problems as the relays fail, often caused by water ingress. The later cars can be more leaky in various areas than earlier ones.

I personally felt my late Mk2 25 felt like a tinnier car than my MK1 ZR and my Mk2 leaked like a sieve. I also dislike the SAAB valve added to the cooling system of later cars, it’s an area prone to failure which doesn’t need to be there. I’m also not a fan of the remote tailgate release on the Mk2.

I’m not saying dismiss a good condition and cared for MK2, they aren’t vastly different. But my personal preference would be a good Mk1.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Over the years project drive deleted various parts which were deemed to mostly go unnoticed for the end customer. It just makes for an overall more cheaply put together car, with less and less attention to detail. None of these cars were ever what you could call particularly well made, but by the latter years things were starting to deteriorate. Some changes made for the facelift regardless of project drive also brought their own problems. The later BCU is prone to give problems as the relays fail, often caused by water ingress. The later cars can be more leaky in various areas than earlier ones.

I personally felt my late Mk2 25 felt like a tinnier car than my MK1 ZR and my Mk2 leaked like a sieve. I also dislike the SAAB valve added to the cooling system of later cars, it’s an area prone to failure which doesn’t need to be there. I’m also not a fan of the remote tailgate release on the Mk2.

I’m not saying dismiss a good condition and cared for MK2, they aren’t vastly different. But my personal preference would be a good Mk1.
Thanks again.
I have just read the same thing about the MK1s being better than the MK2s on another forum. If getting a smarter looking MK2 means a noticeable drop in build quality, then I think I will start to focus more on MK1s. The only issue being that they are significantly rarer than the facelift.
 

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The reality now is choices are getting more and more limited. Find the best car you can regardless of what year it is. My preference is Mk1, but if I was looking to buy another I’d be putting the overall car condition above all else. I’d just consider finding a good Mk1 as a bonus.

Some people prefer the Mk2 mainly for the revised looks and updated dash. Either choice is a similar ownership experience. They are good cars.
 

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Hi

It's great to hear new drivers are still interested in the older MGR cars.

When choosing a used car go for something solid underneath - I mean check all the MOT history here:


You can see how the car was cared for over the years and if there is any sign of corrosion picked up. It is very interesting to compare cars and you may right some off without having to take a journey to look at one.

Ideally you want one an older person has cared for and nothing comes up on the advisories other than tyres!

If the head lamps aren't clouded it should be a garaged car which is a gem.

The thing with the K series is to let them fully warm up before you put it through the rev range due to the sandwich design and to regularly check the condition of the coolant hoses, radiator for leaks. Just regularly check under the bonnet before any big journeys or at least every fuel up.

Try searching online for Rover 25 classic car for sale as the good ones can show up on those type of sites.

Check your local news paper website classifieds and Gumtree, ideally finding one locally is ideal and you could try classic car insurance to see if that helps with your age.

With the differences of the different 200s and 25s I think you will be the best judge when you sit in it.

Also the 2013 MG3 is now coming down in price and is only group 4 insurance so check if anyone is looking for a quick sale. The Furious Driving YouTube channel review said it was like a nineties hot hatch to drive, it may be worth considering :)
 

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Over the years project drive deleted various parts which were deemed to mostly go unnoticed for the end customer. It just makes for an overall more cheaply put together car, with less and less attention to detail. None of these cars were ever what you could call particularly well made, but by the latter years things were starting to deteriorate. Some changes made for the facelift regardless of project drive also brought their own problems. The later BCU is prone to give problems as the relays fail, often caused by water ingress. The later cars can be more leaky in various areas than earlier ones.

I personally felt my late Mk2 25 felt like a tinnier car than my MK1 ZR and my Mk2 leaked like a sieve. I also dislike the SAAB valve added to the cooling system of later cars, it’s an area prone to failure which doesn’t need to be there. I’m also not a fan of the remote tailgate release on the Mk2.

I’m not saying dismiss a good condition and cared for MK2, they aren’t vastly different. But my personal preference would be a good Mk1.
Having owned a few, I agree with this. This older 25s/ 200s were quieter, more solid and simpler. However, I have a mk2 now due to it being the best I saw chassis/ bodywork wise when I was looking. Having got a reasonable one, underbody treatment was an early task, once I’d sorted out a few running issues. I’ve also fitted some mk1 bits (soundproofing, kick plates etc) to improve the mk2.
 

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The MK2 is no worse than the MK1 is quality on both is pretty shocking on both really the interior trim fails to bits on either of the project drive is deleting things like the bonnet sound deadening and things like that, despite what people say the MK2's don't rust and worse, Ive got a R8, bubble (with 38k on clock) MK1 25 and a MK2 160 and the R8 and MK2 are the only ones without rotten wings and arches. Yes the BCU relays do fail but it's it's a easy and cheap repair and the heater vents are normally broken but the MK1 looks SOOOO dated now. Also with the MK2 1.4 you'll get ABS which as a new driver is a bit plus
 

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The MK2 is no worse than the MK1 is quality on both is pretty shocking on both really the interior trim fails to bits on either of the project drive is deleting things like the bonnet sound deadening and things like that, despite what people say the MK2's don't rust and worse, Ive got a R8, bubble (with 38k on clock) MK1 25 and a MK2 160 and the R8 and MK2 are the only ones without rotten wings and arches. Yes the BCU relays do fail but it's it's a easy and cheap repair and the heater vents are normally broken but the MK1 looks SOOOO dated now. Also with the MK2 1.4 you'll get ABS which as a new driver is a bit plus
It goes to show how varied people’s experiences are. I’ve never had any interior trim fall to bits on any of them. Just like I’ve never had a K-series overheat which they are so often criticised for.

My Mk2 to me definitely felt worse in some respects compared to my Mk1.

The looks are subjective really, especially considering the youngest of these was built in 2005 they aren’t cutting edge. However saying that I think pretty much everything today looks high, bloated and much of a muchness. Mk1 or Mk2 are both fine in the looks dept IMO.
 
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