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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I'm looking to buy my first car. I'm 20 and the only car I've driven in the past was my brothers Corsa, it's since got written off though so I'm looking for a new one mainly for myself.

I'm thinking about a ZR as I love the look of them and have heard their handling is superb. Problem is I only have a budget of 3k max. So something in my range would be an 01/02 reg with about 50,000 on the clock.

I'm just wondering what ZR's are like after 50,000 miles? Do they become problematic? I'm awful with cars so the last thing I would want is for it to be prone to developing faults.

Do you think a ZR with that many miles is a good choice and it should be fine, or should I maybe save up a bit more to get a newer ZR?

Any advice or comments are greatly appreciated. Cheers, Luke
 

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Hi Luke.

The ZR is a great little car and is a fine first car by anyone's standards. On the whole they are pretty well built and certainly much better than various continental equivalent (peugeot 206 and Fiat Punto to name but two).

I'm sure you're aware of the head gasket issue that K series engine has. It's not inevitable that is will go but fairly likely. They can go at any time regardless of age, mileage or maintainence standards but it tends to occur within the first 6 years / 60k miles. Don't let it put you off though as HG replacement shouldn't cost more than £4-500 and once replaced, shouldn't ever cause any problems afterwards. The signs are usually easy to spot and if caught early, there shouldn't be any lasting damage.

The cars can suffer minor electrical gremilns but most are widely known and are easily resolved. The gearboxes can also be a weak point so listen out for any dodgy noises on the test drive.

Look out for any that have been thrashed as many are owned by boy racers who like to thrape the motor. The K-series love to rev but has it's limits! Look out for cars with FSH and evidence of a head gasket change for peace of mind. Make sure you get a few insurance quotes before you buuy as even the base 105 1.4 model is group 8.
 

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If you get any K series engine, maybe also get AA breakdown cover for £62 a year. Covers things like HG, battery, electrics etc up to £500 with just a £25 excess. It will certainly make me feel better when I dot have to pay £hundereds when the HG does go.....again...
 

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Make sure you get a few insurance quotes before you buuy as even the base 105 1.4 model is group 8.
Can I correct you. ZRs between 51 and 52 is group 9, and 03 onwards are group 7. The major difference is the alarm system not being Thatchem rated, but don't let that put you off.

Try and find a + model. They have all the electrics and obviously finding one with fog-lights and air-con will help if you wish to resell it.

Mk1 versions that you talk about tend to have better build quality (interior wise) and definately suit your price range. I'd save a bit more and spend £3500 - £4000. You should be able to find a low milage 52 - 04 car then.

Good luck with your search.
 

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as HG replacement shouldn't cost more than £4-500
Head gasket sets are about £40-£50. £400 is alot of money for a head gasket replacement....paying for alot of labour there. Im sure an experience mechanic can have the head off in no time. After all its only un-doing bolts and doing them back up. Hardest part is the timing.
 

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Any ZR you buy shouldn't give any more problems than any other car.

Do take it for a test drive on different types of roads to check it runs well, stays at the correct temperature etc.

Alot of ZRs interior fittings rattle as the build quality can vary. Its nothing serious, but it can be annoying while your driving. Its difficult to solve the squeeks and rattles, so try finding a car that doesn't, and it will probably stay that way.

A 3k budget doesn't sound alot, but you shouldn't have any problems finding a tidy 1.4 engineed car. Don't buy the first you see, view a few before you commit to buying to get the best deal.
 

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Can I correct you. ZRs between 51 and 52 is group 9, and 03 onwards are group 7
I stand corrected. Either way, it's still pretty hefty for a 1.4 especially compared to the equivalent 25.

Mk1 versions that you talk about tend to have better build quality (interior wise) and definately suit your price range. I'd save a bit more and spend £3500 - £4000. You should be able to find a low milage 52 - 04 car then.
Early ZRs (51/02 plates) are the best built out of any of the ZRs and you would be best off searching out a good one of this vintage. Quality went downhill on the 52-plate onwards cars as MGR started cost cutting. The facelifted models boosted quality slightly but still not to previous levels.
 

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hi i have to agree with others my 1st car is a mg zr i poseted pictures yesterday in the my new mg post :) and i think its a brilliant car i got a 04 reg one the new shape and i love it i dont think it lacks on power for a first car. i payd 5.5k for mine with 29k on the clock and it polishes up well i rekon for a first car they are very good and also think that they look far better than corsa's clios puntos saxos all the obvious first cars i think its better to be different :)
thats mine runs like a dream and a bit of power there hiding waiting to be unlocked ;)
 

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Had my ZR now for 6months (Black 2002 ZR+ 2.0TDI)
I have had several problems but these are all wear and tear, you will get problems with any car you buy.

Also own Rover 200 1.4 16v and well the HG went on that, now with the diesel i have no such problems and also i get 45+mpg.

I must stress though like others have, drive as many ZRs as you can as some of them are really rubbish where they have been driven so hard, i test drove 5 ZR's before getting mine and all of the previous felt soft and sloppy, really be careful and get someone experienced (or the RAC etc) to check the car over for you, and if the person you are buying from does not allow a check leave there and then.( i had this, after more investigating i found out the car was stolen.)

But as far as the car goes, the handling is brilliant, my brother has a 2003 Honda CTR and every corner i leave him in my diesel smoke.
But being a cheap car the interior is not too classy, its tough and solid but is prone to rattle a lot, on twisty B roads it will sound like the car is going to fall apart but heck isnt it fun.
 

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I stand corrected. Either way, it's still pretty hefty for a 1.4 especially compared to the equivalent 25.
The 1.4 ZR is worth the group 7. It's got much more punch than other 1.4 cars. That's probably why it's a little more expensive to insure.

Early ZRs (51/02 plates) are the best built out of any of the ZRs and you would be best off searching out a good one of this vintage. Quality went downhill on the 52-plate onwards cars as MGR started cost cutting. The facelifted models boosted quality slightly but still not to previous levels.
I agree. My 53 plate isn't that bad, but I guess I cannot compare without being in a 51/02 ZR. However, with any small hatchback (whoever makes it), interior/build quality isn't going to be fab compared to more luxury cars. In that sense, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
 

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Hi

I've had my ZR 120+ (on the 52 plate, pre Project Drive I think as it has the trim above the airbag on the passenger side) and I'm rather happy with it

It's done just over 50,000 miles and it's been pretty faultless apart from the headgasket going just over 500 miles ago.

It's a lot of fun to drive, fairly quick and fairly cheap to insure. The interior looks dated but it grows on you - it feels solid and I like the soft touch plastics. It's a nice size being roomier than your average Fiesta et al but not too big. I find that I can fit comfortably in the front at over six foot unlike a lot of newer cars where the centre console is far too big.

The car's rattle free too, although that's probably a rarity from what I've heard!

They can vary - I looked at a 51 plate ZR before which was in a dire state with ripped leather, rust under the bonnet, dodgy looking coolant, smashed gear knob, broken passenger mirror, etc

Having had the misfortune of driving an awful 04 plate Seat Ibiza 1.2 as a courtesy car which had no steering feel, awful light clutch, no power and wallowed all over the place I'm awfully glad to be able to get back into my ZR!

I'd say that it's crude but it's a lot of fun. A lot of newer cars just feel detached in comparison - I liked my Mk 4 Astra but this car is so much more fun to drive

As for the headgasket issue, if you change the coolant when specified (at a good garage as it needs to be vacuum filled), check the coolant levels frequently and let it warm up thoroughly before revving above 3k rpm or thrashing it you should be OK.

As above, definitely get the '+' spec model as the basic spec is very basic. It does without the half leather seats (they're vinyl instead IIRC), the leather steering wheel, electric windows, electric mirrors, central locking, etc
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Cheers guys for all your responses. A lot for me to go off now, just wish I was a bit more knowledgeable with cars.

I've had a pretty decent insurance quote from Norwich Union, 880 for the year with me as 2nd person and my brother as main driver. Less than what I expected so things are looking good there.

I was aware of the head gasket issue, didn't know it was that bad though. Definitely something for me to look into. I didn’t have cover on the Corsa I had, so I think the AA cover will probably be crucial on this.

I’ll definitely look at several before I decide on one. Just had a browse on autotrader and there’s actually sod all near me within my price range. Looks like I’m gonna have to travel a bit in order to get several viewings and make sure I find one which rattles the least (if at all).

The ZR+ thing. What sort of difference in price are we talking about between a ZR and a ZR+? To be honest, I’m not all that fussed about the electric windows, electric mirrors, etc. (although the vinyl seats sound a bit crappy).

Are we talking about a small price difference which warrants going for the ZR+ instead, or do you have to cough up quite a bit more cash? I’m assuming there must be higher demand for a + as well?

Wilks88, that’s a wonderful car. It’s pics like that which really make me want one.

Again thanks for all your response, I’ve read them all and they’ve all been excellent. Any further replies on what I’ve written above would be a huge help. Cheers, Luke
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Cheers mate I wasn't aware of that site. I'll keep my eye on it and try and find something that suits me.
 
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