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Category: Junkyard

Junkyard Gem: 1985 Ford F-150 Explorer XL 4X4


The Ford F-Series was the best selling motor vehicle in the United States for the 1982 model year and has remained in the No. 1 spot ever since. You’d think that Junkyard Gem-worthy examples of that historic F-Series generation would be easy to find in the car graveyards I frequent, given how many were sold, but most of the ones that do show up have been used up beyond easy recognition and then picked clean by junkyard shoppers. That’s not the case with today’s truck spotted in a northeastern Colorado yard: a fairly solid 1985 F-150 with two-tone paint and the Explorer trim package.


The seventh generation of the F-Series was sold in the United States for the 1980 through 1986 model years. For 1980 through 1983, the F-100 cost-cutting half-ton model was still available, after which it was replaced by the F-150 as the only half-ton F-Series. This truck has the mid-grade XL trim level, positioned between the Standard and XLT tiers.


The Explorer package, which included styling upgrades and various popular options at tempting prices, first became available in F-Series trucks for the 1968 model year. There were Explorer Rancheros and Broncos as well for a while. 1985 appears to have been the last model year for the F-Series Explorer package, after which it was replaced by a set of Preferred Equipment Packages. Starting with the 1991 model year, the Explorer name was repurposed as the model designation for a hot-selling SUV based on the Ranger chassis via the Bronco II.


The F-Series hadn’t gone very far along the process of its metamorphosis into the replacement for the American family sedan by the middle 1980s, so the powertrain in this one is extremely truckish. The engine is the base 300-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) pushrod straight-six, rated at 115 horsepower and 223 pound-feet. 302- and 351-cubic-inch (5.0- and 5.8-liter) gasoline V8s were available as options, and buyers of 1985 F-250s and F-350s could opt for a 460-cube (7.5-liter) big-block V8 or a 6.9-liter diesel.


No drive-to-the-office-park automatic here! This truck has the four-on-the-floor manual transmission, which was an upgrade from the base three-on-the-tree column-shift manual but cheaper than the four-speed with overdrive top gear.


Who says you can’t have a floor-shift manual with a bench seat? The middle passenger just had to get used to taking a beating from the shifter.


Ford hadn’t gone to six-digit odometers in these trucks by 1985, so the actual final mileage must remain a mystery.


There’s rust here and there, but it looks good from 100 feet away.


The original buyer of this truck even sprang for the optional AM/FM stereo radio, which was a good idea for the kind of long drives you take in the Mountain Time Zone.


Ford used the chassis of the 1980 F-Series nearly into our current century, finally doing a major redesign for the 1997 model year. The current F-Series is the 14th generation of a truck family dating back to 1948.

Willie Nelson better have been paid well for Ford’s use of this rewrite of his 1980 song!

Climbs a rocky hill while carrying a Chevy truck and towing a Dodge.

 



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Junkyard Gem: 1985 Jaguar XJ-S


An American car shopper looking for a new V12-engined coupe in 1985 had two choices: Spend the present-day equivalent of several hundred grand for a Ferrari or Lamborghini … or get a Jaguar XJ-S for about a third that price. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found in a Denver car graveyard recently.


Jaguar began bolting V12 engines into the E-Type beginning in 1971, then into the XJ12 sedan soon after that. By the time the E-Type was discontinued after 1974, Jaguar had spent the better part of a decade grappling with the near-impossible task of developing a successor that looked just as beautiful.


This ended up being the XJ-S, which was based on the chassis of the XJ sedan and debuted as a 1976 model in the United States. Production continued through 1996.


These cars were mean-looking, powerful and packed with English wood-and-leather luxury, but they were also temperamental and costly to repair. I’ve documented quite a few discarded XJ-Ss during my junkyard travels.


This is a DOHC 5.3-liter engine, known as the HE for its improved combustion chambers and rated at 262 horsepower and 290 pound-feet. This was serious power for a year in which a new Corvette’s engine made 230 horses and the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC coupe chugged along with a 184hp V8.


A three-speed ZF automatic was the only transmission available in this car.


The MSRP was an even $36,000, which amounts to something like $107,170 in 2024 dollars. That compared favorably to other European luxury coupes; the 1985 BMW 635CSi was $41,315 ($122,993 after inflation), the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC listed at $57,100 ($169,985 today) and the Porsche 928S cost $50,000 ($18,848 now). Detroit offered the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz coupe for $24,850 ($73,977) and the Lincoln Mark VII Bill Blass Edition for $26,659 ($79,363).


The XJ-S was notorious for expensive-to-fix electrical and mechanical problems, so it’s a struggle for third or fourth owners to keep theirs in driving condition. Some give up on the V12 and swap in small-block Chevrolet V8s.


The gauge cluster in this one was purchased by a junkyard shopper before I arrived, so I couldn’t get a final odometer reading. It appears to have been reset in 1987, anyway.

Here is V12 power wrapped in soft leather, paneled in rare wood, equipped in complete luxury.

A blending of art and machine.

British Leyland was so proud of the XJ-S that it opened this iconic TV commercial with a mid-1970s Playboy Bunny climbing into one.



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Junkyard Gem: 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz


GM’s Cadillac Division introduced the ultra-swanky Eldorado as a 1953 model, and the Biarritz name was first used on the Eldorado convertible three years later. After that, Eldorado Biarritzes in various forms were built intermittently through the following decades. The end finally came for the Biarritz in 1991, when the last eleventh-generation Eldorados rolled off the Hamtramck line. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found at a self-service yard near Denver, Colorado.


Biarritz is a resort city on the Atlantic coast in France’s Basque Country, just the sort of place where a high-living oil heiress might have flaunted her new Eldo during the late 1950s. The Biarritz title was used to designate Eldorado convertibles through 1964, then got dropped until its revival as the name of a gloriously rococo trim level for 1976.

For me, the definitive Eldorado Biarritz is the 1979-1985 version, with its stainless-steel roof panel inspired by the one on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. When Robert De Niro as pink-suited Ace Rothstein falls victim to a bomb in his car in the 1995 film “Casino,” that car is a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.


The Eldorado got a radical downsizing for the 1986 model year and its next-to-last generation, losing 16 inches of overall length and a corresponding portion of general bulk. The Biarritz version stuck around, but with no stainless-steel roof. 


The 1991 Biarritz package did get you two-tone paint, “Tampico” carpeting, birdseye maple wood on the dash and console plus 10-way power front bucket seats.


Also included were “wire wheel discs” aka faux-wire-wheel hubcaps.


The padded landau roof with slick-looking integrated opera lamps also went onto the 1991 Eldorado Biarritz.


All 1986-1991 Eldorados got a full digital instrument cluster.


This generation of Eldorado never got the DOHC Northstar engine. Instead, all were powered by a member of the Cadillac High Technology pushrod V8. The Northstar went into final-generation Eldorados from 1993 through the end in 2002.


This is the 4.9-liter HT engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 275 pound-feet. If you want to enrage engine-name purists you should call it the “HT4900” within their hearing range. Earlier versions displaced 4.1 and 4.5 liters, with 1991 being the first year for the 4.9.


When this car was new, no manual transmission had been available in a new Cadillac since the last three-pedal Cimarrons were built as 1988 models. The gearbox in this car is a four-speed automatic.


The final year for the Cadillac Eldorado was 2002, after which it was replaced by the CTS coupe. The 1986-1991 eleventh-gen Eldos ended up being the smallest of all the generations.


This one had an MSRP of $34,425, or about $80,326 in 2024 dollars. That was a bit cheaper than the cost of the similarly sized 1991 BMW 525i, which listed at $34,900 ($81,434 after inflation). Meanwhile, the costliest Cadillac of 1991, the Allanté hardtop convertible, cost $61,450 ($143,384 today).

Winner of the 1990 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award!



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Junkyard Gem: 1999 Suzuki Vitara JX 4WD four-door


Toyota and Honda enjoyed lucrative American sales success with the RAV4 and CR-V compact crossovers, which went on sale here for the 1996 and 1997 model years, respectively. Suzuki offered its first-generation Escudo/Vitara here (as the Sidekick, in addition to being sold by GM with Geo Tracker badging), but its 1980s design had become embarrassingly dated by the middle 1990s. Something had to be done; that turned out to be the second-generation Vitara, which appeared here as a 1999 model. Here’s a first-year example, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.


The first Suzuki-made car model sold new in the United States was the first-generation Cultus, sold here by GM with Chevrolet Sprint badges beginning in 1985 (this after more than 20 years of Suzuki motorcycles arriving at our shores). The Suzuki Jimny showed up the following year (as the Suzuki Samurai), with more and more Suzuki-badged models showing up during the 1990s.


As an affiliate of the far-flung GM Empire, Suzuki products sold in the United States became more Daewoo-ized during the 2000s, but there were always some genuine Suzukis available all the way through the final Kizashis and Grand Vitaras.


The Vitara was available in the United States through the 2003 model year, while the more powerful and generally grander Grand Vitara was sold here all the way until American Suzuki Motors filed for bankruptcy and gave up on highway-legal four-wheelers after 2013. You can still buy new Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs to this day, of course.


This is a top-trim-level four-door JX+ with four-wheel-drive, so its MSRP was $17,999 (about $34,406 in 2024 dollars). That compares favorably with the similarly equipped 1999 Honda CR-V ($20,450, or $39,091 today) and 1999 Toyota RAV4 ($18,198 today).


The Grand Vitara for ’99 came with V6 power under the hood, while the regular Vitara made do with 1.6- and 2.0-liter straight-fours. This is the 2.0-liter, rated at 127 horsepower and 134 pound-feet.


A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment, but the original buyer of this car bought the automatic. Unlike the car-based CR-V and RAV4, the 1999-2003 Vitara had a truck-style frame and true four-wheel-drive instead of an idiot-proof all-wheel-drive system.


Collectible? Probably not, but still an interesting piece of Suzuki automotive history.

American Suzuki Motors didn’t seem willing to spend money to do TV commercials for the not-so-grand regular Vitara, so we’ll watch one for its JDM sibling instead.



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Junkyard Gem: 2003 Mazda Protege5


Mazda sold its Familia small car in the United States from the 1971 through 2003 model years, with some interesting developments right at the very end of that run. There was the Protegé MP3 for 2001-2002, the Mazdaspeed Protegé for 2003 and the Protegé5 wagon for 2002-2003. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of the latter type, found in a Denver self-service boneyard recently.

The Familia went to front-wheel-drive in its fourth generation, with the first examples showing up here with GLC (Great Little Car) badges as 1981 models. The GLC became the 323 for 1986, and its platform ended up beneath the Ford Escort starting with the 1991 model year. The Familia sedan became the Protegé in the United States for 1990, while the 323 name stuck around on the hatchback until it was discontinued after 1994. For 2004, the Mazda3 became the Protegé’s successor here.

Nearly all reviewers loved the Protegé5, with our own scribe describing it as “a cross between the Miata and the Tribute” with a “way cool” interior and excellent handling.

The Protegé5 was available with one of six different paint colors, but most of the review cars seem to have been done up in the “Vivid Yellow” hue you see here.

Young car shoppers who enjoyed riding mountain bikes and skateboards were targeted by Mazda’s marketers, although most members of that group had already defected from wagons to SUVs by that time. Mazda tried not to use the word “wagon” when describing this car, instead referring to it as “a sporty car with a built-in social life” in the brochure.

The engine is a 2.0-liter DOHC straight-four rated at 130 horsepower and 135 pound-feet.

A four-speed automatic was available as an option, but the wise Protegé5 buyers took advantage of the high-revving engine by sticking with the base five-speed manual. That’s what’s in this car.

The factory 16″ alloy wheels looked good.

The original owner’s manuals were still inside when I found it. We can see from the salesman’s card that this car was sold new in Omaha.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The TV commercials for this car got the “Zoom-Zoom” treatment.

Look, Vivid Yellow paint!

This car was known as the Familia S-Wagon Sport 20 in its homeland.



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Junkyard Gem: 1986 AMC Eagle Sedan


The American Motors Corporation’s Eagle was the first production car sold in the United States with what we’d now describe as a true all-wheel-drive system, beating Audi’s Quattro-equipped cars to showrooms. During the Eagle’s run through the 1980 through 1988 model years, the wagon version was by far the biggest seller and nearly all the discarded examples I find during my junkyard travels are wagons. Today, though, we’ve got a four-door Eagle sedan, found in a northeastern Colorado self-service yard recently.

For 1980, the Eagle was based on the AMC Concord and came in sedan, coupe and wagon form. The following year saw the addition of Eagles based on the smaller AMC Spirit, which expanded the lineup to include the Eagle Kammback sedan and the sporty Eagle SX/4. By 1984, only the wagon and sedan remained.

Only 1,274 Eagle sedans were built for the 1986 model year, with sedan sales dropping below 500 for 1987. Chrysler kept building Eagle wagons after buying American Motors in 1987, creating a new division using the Eagle name for 1988. That meant that final-year Eagle wagons were Eagle Eagles, legally speaking (though they kept all their AMC badging for that year).

Even though American Motors had owned Jeep for nearly a decade when it began design work on the Eagle, the drivetrain in this car isn’t just lifted straight across from the Jeep parts bin.

There’s a center viscous coupling between the front and rear axles and no truck-style low-range gear selector. Starting with the 1981 Eagles, the driver could use a simple electrical switch to choose rear-wheel-drive and save fuel.

But if you wanted to stay in four-wheel-drive mode at all times, no problem. Try driving a 1986 4WD-equipped Subaru or Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon for long distances on dry pavement in four-wheel-drive mode and you’d tear up the tires or worse (Subaru and Toyota introduced their new AWD systems to the North American market for the 1987 and 1988 model years, respectively).

Of course, Audi would sell you a 4000CS Quattro sedan with no-driver-brains-required AWD that year for $17,800 ($51,008 in 2024 dollars), and Volkswagen added the Syncro-equipped Quantum for the following year. The 1986 Eagle sedan had an MSRP of just $10,719, or $30,716 after inflation.

This particular car probably cost a lot more than that, what with all the pricey options. The power door locks were $189 ($542 now), for example.

The air conditioning cost $795 ($2,278 today), while this top-of-the-line four-speaker AM/FM/cassette audio system with digital tuning had a price tag of $447 ($1,281 now).

AMC and GM 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines were available in earlier Eagles, but the 258-cubic-inch (4.2-liter) AMC straight-six was the only Eagle powerplant choice for the 1985 through 1988 model years.

A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment; this car has the optional three-speed automatic. The price: $379, or $1,086 in 2024 money.

American Motors used these door tags for decade after decade.

This car was sold at Spearfish Motors in South Dakota, which still exists today but now sells just GMCs, Cadillacs and Hummers.

It’s in nice condition with a decent interior and no rust to speak of, but nobody was willing to rescue it before it came to this sad fate.

It leaves the world of ordinary cars behind.

AMC didn’t give much advertising screen time to the Eagle sedan.



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Junkyard Gem: 1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 Convertible


By the middle 1960s, George Romney had left the helm of American Motors to become governor of Michigan and company president Roy Abernethy had decided that AMC needed to compete more directly against GM, Ford and Chrysler. In order for the Kenosha manufacturer formed from the 1954 merger of Nash and Hudson to do that, a genuine full-size car had to be created to steal sales from the Impala, Galaxie and Monaco. With a wheelbase stretch and a restyling by Dick Teague, the Rambler Ambassador became that car for the 1965 model year. Here’s a once-snazzy soft-top Ambassador from that year, found at a family-owned yard just south of the Denver city limits.

I’ve documented quite a few vintage machines at Colorado Auto & Parts in this series over the past year, including a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere, a 1969 Walker Power Truck, a 1974 Ford F-250, a 1960 Triumph TR3A, a 1947 Dodge Custom Club Coupe, a 1969 AMC Rambler 440, a 1951 Studebaker Champion, a 1959 Princess DM4 limousine and a couple of dozen first-generation Mustangs and Cougars. This Ambassador is now parked between a Chevelle and a Mustang.

The Ambassador 990 convertible wasn’t the most expensive new ’65 Rambler you could buy, because the Ambassador wagon and the sporty new Marlin cost a bit more. Still, its $2,955 price tag ($29,907 in 2024 dollars) was on the steep side for Rambler shoppers accustomed to penny-pinching Classics and Americans.

This car would have cost much more than the base MSRP, though, because it was built with AMC’s biggest car engine at the time: a 327-cubic-inch V8 rated at 250 horsepower. No, it’s not related to the Chevrolet 327 small-block; parts-counter staffers spent many decades dealing with that confusing name mixup (to be fair to AMC, their 327 was first).

Kaiser-Jeep, not yet purchased by AMC, bought AMC 327s for use in its trucks during the mid-to-late 1960s and called them 327 Vigilantes.

The base engine in the 1965 Ambassador was the 232-cubic-inch “Torque-Command” straight-six, the 4.0-liter descendants of which were still being bolted into new Jeep Wranglers in 2006.

The base transmission in the 1965 Ambassador was a three-speed column-shift manual, but this car has the optional three-speed automatic with “Flash-O-Matic” shifter on the center console. If you wanted a factory radio in your new ’65 Ambassador, you could add “Duo-Coustic” or “Vibra-Tone” rear speakers.

AMC sold just under 65,000 Ambassadors for the 1965 model year, including wagons. Meanwhile, Chevrolet sold better than a million of its full-size Biscaynes, Bel Airs and Impalas that year (and GM’s Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick sold plenty of their own versions of those cars as well). As for Ford and Chrysler, there’s no need to rub it in by listing their vast sales numbers for big cars that year. The Ambassador wasn’t much bigger than the competition’s midsize cars at the time, which was a factor in its slow sales.

American Motors had its ups and downs after 1965, but the general story arc was that the Detroit Big Three used their greater resources to continue grinding down their Wisconsin competitor until Chrysler finally bought what was left in 1987.

The last model year for the Rambler marque was 1968, after which all of AMC’s U.S.-market cars got American Motors Corporation badging. The Rambler name lived on for one more year, as the model name on the former Rambler American for 1969: the AMC Rambler.

This car would be worth decent money if restored, but the body is on the rusty side and the interior has been exposed to the elements for many years, making such a restoration a very costly proposition.

The “Sensible Spectaculars” advertising campaign was on the puzzling side.



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Junkyard Gem: 1993 Ford Escort LX Wagon


The original North American Ford Escort was based (somewhat loosely) on its European cousin and was sold from the 1981 through 1990 model years. After that, the mighty Ford Empire turned to its Japanese ally, Mazda, for the Escort’s platform and that’s where it remained until the final ZX2 Escort coupes were sold here as 2003 models. I’ve neglected those early Mazda-based Escorts in this series up until now, so here’s one found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

The U.S.-market Escort was available in wagon form from 1981 through 1999 model years. For 1993, the Escort wagon came only with the LX trim level and its MSRP was $10,367 (about $22,795 in 2024 dollars). It appears that this one started out at a dealership just outside of Kansas City.

A 1993 non-wagon Escort buyer getting the LX-E or GT models got a 1.8-liter DOHC Mazda four-cylinder rated at 127 horsepower, while all the other American Escorts that year came with this 1.9-liter Ford CVH and its 88 horses.

Wagons deserve manual transmissions, and that’s what this car has. A four-speed automatic was available in several option packages or as a standalone purchase for $732 ($1,610 after inflation).

This car was a platform sibling to the Mazda 323 aka Protegé, which made it a close cousin to the 1991-1994 Mercury Capri. Its Mercury-badged twin was the Tracer.

Station wagons were on their way out of favor with American consumers in 1993, nearly a decade after the first Chrysler minivans and Jeep XJ Cherokees appeared, two years after the debut of the Ford Explorer and the model year of the first Jeep Grand Cherokees. Three years later, the Toyota RAV4 showed up in the United States, followed by the Honda CR-V a year after that, ensuring that Escort-sized wagons didn’t have much longer to live on showroom floors.

This deeply offensive bumper sticker was the creation of the late Frank T. Kostecki, an Ohio fur trapper and businessman who owned Kosky’s Trading Post in Sullivan and offered a full line of stickers promoting the consumption of roadkill possum.

Ford still hadn’t gone to six-digit odometers on the Escort by the time this one was built, so we can’t know its final mileage total.

Your friendly Northwest Ford dealer would toss in air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and a luggage rack at no extra cost!



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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Cadillac DeVille Tuxedo Collection


Cadillac began using the de Ville name (which means about the same thing as “town car” but is more French and thus classier) in the late 1940s, becoming a model name in its own right for the 1959 model year. The seventh generation of the Cadillac de Ville was sold for the 1994 through 1999 model years, and many of these cars received dealer-installed aftermarket packages to increase their general opulence. Here’s one of those cars, with the E&G Classics “Tuxedo Collection” treatment applied, found in a South Carolina car graveyard a few rows away from a Toyota Avalon with nearly a million miles on its odometer.

Cadillac went through many variations of this model name over the decades, including de Ville, De Ville, DeVille and Deville. For most of the 1959-1993 period, the two-doors were named some version of “Coupe de Ville” while the “Sedan de Ville” name went on four-doors. The two-door was dropped after 1993 and eventually the model ended up being simply the DeVille. After the DeVille name itself got the axe in 2005, production of what amounted to the same car continued with DTS badging through 2011.

The 1994-1999 DeVille lived on the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Seville, after a decade of being a cousin to the Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile 98. It weighed just a hair over two tons.

For 1994 and 1995, the DeVille was powered by the 4.9-liter version of the pushrod Cadillac High Technology V8 engine, then received the DOHC Northstar V8 until the final DTSs were sold as 2011 models. This one is a 4.6-liter rated at 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet.

Padded roofs, landau or otherwise, had fallen out of mainstream car-shopper favor by the late 1990s, and even the Brougham name had been dumped by Cadillac by that time (as far as I can tell, the final Brougham-badged car available in the world was the early-2000s Nissan Cedric VIP Brougham). That’s where Cadillac dealers stepped in, and Washington D.C.-area-based E&G Classics provided a Tuxedo Collection by E&G kit for those dealers to install.

E&G wasn’t the only outfit providing such services for dealers selling seventh-generation Cadillac DeVilles; I found a 1995 Sedan DeVille St. Tropez Edition, featuring non-padded landau roof and special badging, a few months ago in Denver.

Both today’s Junkyard Gem and the St. Tropez DeVille were sold out of Don Massey’s mighty Cadillac empire.

The E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille got this body-color grille.

The heyday of the full padded vinyl roof for Detroit was the 1970s, and owners of the E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille were able to flaunt their style in true 1979 fashion.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The average age of Cadillac buyers plummeted the following model year, when the Yukon Denali-derived Escalade hit showrooms.



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Scrapyard Gem: 2003 MG TF


When I went on a whirlwind four-day trip to visit the car graveyards of Yorkshire, England, a few months ago, the MG F/TF was near the top of my list of cars to shoot. As it turned out, I found just a single example, at the York U-Pull-It. It was in rough shape, but it’s a discarded example of the very last gas-powered two-seat roadster to bear MG’s storied octagon badge and thus a true Junkyard Scrapyard Gem.

I’d seen a nice British Racing Green MG F at the “MG — 100 Years of Motoring & Passion” exhibit at Le Convervatoire National de Véhicules Historiques in Diekirch, Luxembourg, last fall and got to thinking about the fact that the Fs and early TFs are now legal to import to the United States under the federal 25-year rule. I spent a good chunk of my college years with a 1973 MGB-GT as my daily driver (British Racing Green, of course) and maybe an F/TF would be a fun car to own here. Then sanity returned when I remembered I don’t have room for both an F/TF and my future Mitsuoka Le Seyde.

The very protracted development of the project that became the MG F began in 1984, when the MG brand was owned by the Austin Rover division of British Leyland. Fast-forward to 1994, when BMW bought the Rover Group from British Aerospace (we’re skipping an Imperial ton of convoluted British car-industry history here, because we’re into the whole brevity thing) and that fresh infusion of Bavarian cash meant that the MG F actually became showroom reality as a 1995 model.

BMW sold MG in 2000; it became part of the Nanjing Automobile empire in 2005 and still exists today. For the 2002 model year, MG Rover restyled the F and gave it a non-Hydragas suspension, naming it the TF in the process.

I was able to find an example of one of the very last thoroughly British MGs, a 2005 ZT 190, a few rows away in the same yard. Also documented by me at the York U-Pull-It that day were a Ford StreetKa, a SEAT Altea, a Smart ForFour, an ex-Royal Mail Peugeot Bipper, a Peugeot 307CC, a Citroën C4 Picasso, a Citroën Xsara Picasso Desire, an early Honda HR-V, a Mitsubishi i, a Renault Megane CC, a Saab 96, a 2007 Mitsubishi Colt, a BMW 320td and an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

This TF was crashed and thoroughly picked over, but it was identifiable.

The TF was powered by Rover K-series straight-four engines of either 1.6 or 1.8 liters’ displacement, mid-mounted and driving the rear wheels. It’s essentially a British MR2 Spyder, but without the staid Toyota image. This car has the base five-speed manual; a CVT was available as an option.

You can get great deals on MG TFs in the U.K. right now, with prices ranging from the low hundreds of pounds on up to asking prices approaching £10,000.

British production of the TF ceased when MG Rover went bust in 2005, but Nanjing Automobile Group restarted production in China two years later and continued building TFs through 2011.

What’s not to like about the TF? Other than the imminent demise of its manufacturer, that is.

Because of charisma… the heart is different.



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