Monday, 20 June 2011

The MG ZT-T...

Think of an MG and you might find yourself thinking of someone like this...

Hey, look at me, I drive an MG. LOOK AT MY JAUNTY POSE!

...hmm, yes, quite. Think about all things 'Rover' and your mind's eye won't offer much in the way of a healthy vision there, either. Er...

This is just how they delivered them, it saved time

So, an amalgamation of the two brands could only possibly serve to create some kind of bastard lovechild that'd be about as popular as Hard House Anthems in an old people's home, right? WRONG! It meant this handsome sucker...

Well hello there, good lookin'

Ahh, the MG ZT, or in the interests of this update, the ZT-T. That's 'estate' to you and me. We're all about the 'junk in the trunk' here, we simply like large rear ends and we cannot say otherwise, you other chaps can't deny that when a car drives in with, we're bored of trying to do something clever with Sir Mixalot lyrics. MOVING ON!

It was one of the few cars that MG got right (using 'right' in the loosest possible sense) before MG/Rover's sudden demise in 2005. Despite the reputation of the brand they were a pretty good car, mainly because by 2001, some three years after the launch of the pipe-and-slippers Rover 75 equivalent, a few of the bugs had been ironed out. Just a few mind, not all of them. Far far from all of them actually, but never mind.

Out of patriotism and with a stiff upper lip, the British motoring press gave the car a warm welcome, though it wasn't undeserving. It was a good car; handsome, spacious, comfy, quick (if you ticked the right box on the order form) and for its size it wasn't too bad on the twisty stuff either. Plus, it somehow managed to hugely distance itself from its Rover sibling despite using the same bodyshell thanks to vents, spoilers and er, more vents! Oh, and some bright yellow. All that might have had something to do with the fact that Peter Stevens penned the styling tweaks, which is good. Who, you say? He designed the McLaren F1, 'nuff said.

When it came down to power there were several options. There was the 1.8 petrol (or 120 in relation to the bhp) which was about as sporty as a fat man with a heart condition at a triathlon. Then there was the 2.5 V6 (or 160) as well as a 190bhp V6. Oh, and there was a diesel too, but why would you buy a diesel sports-tourer? That's like putting rugby boots on a ballerina.

The best engine however, was the 1.8 turbocharged petrol which, confusingly, was also called the 160 as it superseded the initial 2.5 V6, what? It produced less torque than the V6 (159lbft opposed to the V6's 170lbft) yet still managed to be quicker to 60mph, taking just 8.5seconds - not bad for a big'un! Oh, and there was the 260 which had a 260bhp 4.6l Mustang V8 bolted to a rear-drive floorpan engineered by Prodrive. No, really...

This is NOT a photoshop, nor is it on fire. The rear wheels really are spinning. SHOCKING!

..stop dreaming about V8s though, you can't afford one...yet.

Inside the ZT you'll find bucket seats, leather, all the toys a grown man could wish for and a lot of comfort - it's a really nice place to be. Some might criticise the seemingly weak visibility, but you needn't worry about it. It's not that bad once you've spent some time in there, in fact it just adds to making the cabin feel safe and enclosed.

This is where your bottom goes

Nice car all in all, eh? That's the thing though, while it is a great car it's impressive nature has been hugely overshadowed by the demise of the company that spawned it. The notion of an entire factory shutting down in a single day, leaving assembly lines full of part-built cars to rot while instantly forcing hundreds of people out of work with a notice period measurable by hours hardly leads you to the conclusion of the car being well built, does it? Soon after the closure of the factory the dealer network collapsed too, leaving Rover and MG owners in the lurch. That wouldn't have been too much of a bad thing if the cars were issue-free, but they weren't, not by a longshot. Head gasket failure plagued the 75 and the ZT, specifically in the case of the 1.8 K-series engined cars, though the V6s weren't much better. And with no company to back up the warranty a lot of ZTs ended up, well...

One owner, never raced or rallied, full service history. Arf!

...because it was just too expensive to repair them, £3500 for a new engine in most cases. We know this first hand as the N2G head-honcho worked in a Rover garage during the time when they went bump - bad times. As for the cars that survived, they ended up here for not a lot of money, despite having normally been treated to thousands of pounds-worth of repairs...

...and that's just fine with us! Yes, the MG ZT-T has a history littered with failure and misfortune, but that wasn't the car's fault. Plus, it's British which means it has to have a story fraught with plight and desperation. That's why people liked the car and rightly so, it was (and still is) a great family hauler. We might say this about every car we feature, but with the ZT-T we really would buy one. It looks great, goes like stink (if it's the 1.8t) and above all it's more than enough car for anyone. The cars out there today are great, they've survived the hard times so they should be bought and driven. It's also worth noting that while MG/Rover may be dead there's no shortage of parts out there so maintenance isn't an issue either, any decent motor-factors will be able to supply all the kit you'll need to keep motoring. It's a win/win.

Still not convinced? Well, what if we told you the MG ZT-T still holds the record for being the fastest (non-production) the world. Yes, really.

225mph, right there.

You'll find a link to AutoTrader here.