MGF/TF Spy Picture Page

Words: Rob Bell
Pictures: Various

This page contains: RTS Pizza Delivery Van | MGF Mk2 | MGF Mk3 | MG "GTF" | MG TF2

This page is dedicated to the images of successive images of new variants of the MGF, as they were released. Interesting to look back at them now... how far away were our expectations from the mark? (For the MGF model history, click here)

The MGF "Mk1" (1995-1999)
MGF_Metro_mule_w250.jpg (11605 bytes) "RTS Pizza delivery van" - an early engineering prototype.

This car was harrowing the locals in Warwickshire in the early 90s - proving the mid-mounted K-series installation... Who'd have thought that this uninspiring looking van would sire our favourite sports car???

The MGF "Mk2" (nee MY2000)
Our "discovery" of the MGF Mk2 (or Model Year 2000) was nothing short of extraordinary. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin... As the story goes, BMW Rover group lent a pre-production car to a German motoring journalist so that they could write an exclusive article for a German automobile magazine. Our friend must have been struggling to think of somewhere interesting to take this car that could function both as a backdrop for the car, and to inspire his writing. No point visiting Abingdon - everything that had been there is now long gone there, except for the MGCC offices on Cemetery Road (and even this building is outside the boundary of the old factory). And well, it's all very pre- BMW isn't it? Where else might our earnest motoring hack go to experience the full-on MG atmosphere other than the MG Car Club's annual festival, Silverstone? No, I can't imagine anywhere better either. Except that this is a very secret prototype that no one knew about, and our Germanic chum is about to enter the lions' den.
mk2_new_wheels.GIF (32027 bytes) "But the new car doesn't look that different from the old car does it?" one presumes that our German scribbler reasoned. "Who would notice it if I park it in the general parking area behind the grand stand?"

Half the world, it would seem!
Unfortunately for our journalistic 'victim,' Silverstone is heaving with MGF enthusiasts with a keen eye for detail.

The very first thing anyone noticed about this car were its wheels - provoking some to wonder where exactly that flashy person had laid their hands on that set of very sexy 16" wheels (remember, 15" wheels were still very much the norm at this time [June 1999]).


mk2_interior.GIF (33807 bytes) Wherein, enthusiasts moved in to have a closer look. They spotted that these were MG branded wheels of a type never previously seen. Puzzling. The mirrors looked different too - they're from a Rover 200 and are electrically adjustable.

Then the greatest surprise. Look at the interior!

A completely new leather interior was evident - complete with a new pattern of seats and door cards.


mk2_centreconsole.GIF (25063 bytes) The design of the centre console had been altered too. The heater had been moved, and 'alloy effect' knobs used on the heater that now used a different set of graphics and colours.

Also new was the gearknob - now also alloy, with an Allen-bolt motif to mimic the fuel filler cap. Similarly, alloy-effect plastic was now found around the base of the gear shift. Rather more contemporary in feel than of old, and seemed to be inspired by the Audi TT's interior.


mk2_door_card.GIF (32574 bytes) The interior plastics had been changed too - now to include this beige colour that really lightened up the interior ambience. Notice too that the stereo had been upgraded, and additional tweeters included for the first time. One can also see that a slice of wood had been incorporated into the door - to promote that 'Olde Worlde' English interior theme. But not really very MG? Personal preferences maybe.
mk2_selespeed_wheel.GIF (33718 bytes) And perhaps the biggest surprise was to be found around the steering column. Here the prototype status was most clearly evident, as the steering wheel was clearly unfinished. It is, in fact, a wheel from the yet to be launched Stepspeed (not to be seen for another 12 months hence) - and the holes for the paddle switches can be seen on top of the wheel spokes (1). Also in evidence were the new aluminium-effect instrument faces, now incorporating a digital odometer (2). Very BMW. And finally, an additional stalk could be seen below the wiper stalk - a cruise control (3)!!!

What ever next???


It did not take long for news of this strange new MG to spread through the crowds, and it wasn't long before the crowds were shuffling around the vehicle, and many were taking pictures. I kid you not, at one point I saw a crowd three-deep surrounding it!

How damaging these revelations were to BMW Rover Groups launch plans cannot be easily determined - but it is thought that MG had to rapidly accelerate plans for launching the new car ahead of schedule following the appearance of pictures of this car in Autoexpress and Autocar. The MY2000 was eventually launched in November 1999.

The MGF "Mk3" (nee TF)
mgf_mk3.JPG (7219 bytes) This is how we were predicting the new MGF 'Mk3' (now known as the TF of course!) would look. This was based on the outrageous appearance of the MGF Extreme 500 (more here). We certainly got the silhouette about right, with its new, more square-jawed bumper, projector head lamps and revised front grille arrangement. We also guessed that the engine bay air vents would be changed too - although the final production versions were somewhat less extreme that the ones shown on this illustration!!!
mgfspy1_small.JPG (12099 bytes) The first spy shots of the Mk3 were to give a surprisingly accurate impression of how the new car would look. Aspects of our artist's impression were confirmed - areas such as the bonnet, wheels and alterations to the air intakes.

Here the salient areas are highlighted: A: New front bumper with recess for what we now know are for the optional fog lamps. B: Safety Devices roll hoops - sadly a feature that was not to make it to production - but did leave a sizeable hole in the market that a number of aftermarket companies would later fill. C: multispoke wheels - the ones on this test car use the wheels from the then current MGF Trophy 160 - and note too the nice red brake callipers - again Trophy fare. D: New engine air intakes.

As an aside - I think I prefer the look of this front bumper, with its MGF headlamps and indicators to the TF items that we are now familiar with... Oh well, so much for progress!

mgfspy2_small.JPG (12921 bytes) Rear end shot of the test mule. Here, some thoughtful sole left one of the doors open (C). Ah, bless! ;o) This shot does reveal that the interior for the new car was essentially unaltered from the MGF Mk2 (MY2000). Other mods are visible though, including that rear bumper assembly, new wheels, and the new sill design (D). Again, the Safety Devices roll hoops are clear visible (B).

Interestingly, we knew that the boot lid had been altered for the new car, but this test mule uses the original MGF boot lid - as can be seen in this image (A).

The MGTF Coupe
proposed_TF_coupe.jpg (10124 bytes) Some incredible rumours were being banded about in MG circles during much of 2003 regarding a proposed TF Coupe concept. The idea is not entirely new: artist impressions appeared of a TF coupe in Autocar at the Time when Jon Moulton was seeking to purchase MG from BMW back in 1999/2000. The plot grew thicker when during a factory tour one of the guides let slip that a Coupe monoside had been tried... and more intrigue when someone heard of a photoshoot with what was proposed to be a metal-roofed TF. The rumour mill eventually lead to this computer generated mock-up of a Coupe TF in Autoexpress... but the real deal wasn't to appear until a year later...
And this is how the MG 'GT' appeared in November 2004 - an incredibly good looking coupe that looks far better than even the Auto Express rendered effort shown above (compare the roofline and rear window treatment, and you'll see what I mean).

I've been fortunate enough to see this car 'in the flesh' - and believe me, it looks even better than the pictures give it credit!

Novel features include TVR-like electronic door releases mounted in the door mirrors, along with door-mirror mounted direction indicators, a fantastic looking front splitter and futher modification to the boot lid trailing edge to further improve aerodynamics.

And the idea is far from dead, despite the collapse of MG Rover group in April 2005: here we have some further renderings of the proposed TF Coupe, released following talks with Oklahoma-based consortium proposing a US-base for future production of MG sports cars (July, 2006).

There could be mileage in the concept yet!

Prototype TF2

Note vent in bonnet and duct behind the radiator - all very 200HPD. And those wide wheel arch extensions!

Rear end view of the car - notice the gaffer tape rear lip spoiler, and the absolutely huge wheel arch extensions on the rear! The track of this car must have been at least 50mm larger than standard.

Another rear end view - pretty similar to the other image above.

Possibly the most revealing view of the car - the wheel base appears extended - and you get a good feel for that front bonnet vent in this image too.

With the collapse of MG Rover Group in April 2005, a good number of secret projects have come to light - many just make the pain of the company's demise even more acute - and amongst these were the plans for the TF2, a thoroughly revised MG TF. After chatting to the development engineers involved, a crude prototype had been built, based on the existing TF chassis (which would have continued on, but now under-pinning a new "Midget" - perhaps looking rather like the Peter Stevens rendition in the image to the right). The extensions in chassis dimensions were in part intended to enable packaging of the KV6 engine, as well as an opportunity to re-tune the suspension. These specifications lead to the car's wheel-base and track increasing significantly over the standard TF - and the resulting car was, by all accounts, an absolute hoot to drive! The prototype could be cornered sideways without any vices that effected the earlier mid-engined MGs and the steering feel was said to be much improved.

Why mention it here? You can't have failed to notice the four images above of a clearly mucked-around with silver TF (originally published on This isn't a Max-Power project gone seriously wrong... this is a serious engineering mule; someone broke into Longbridge in February, 2006 and found this car lurking in a corner. What is particularly interesting is that both the track and wheel base appears to have been extended (track obviously so, the wheel base less clearly), and the aerodynamic package has clearly been modified along the same lines as the 200HPD (read more about this here). What we may be looking at here is the first stages of the gestation of yet another of those 'what could have been' car projects that the British Motor Industry has become famous for... This appears to be that prototype TF2!