The MG TF, which Nanjing Automobile Group plans to re-engineer for the United States, was a bright spot before MG Rover Group collapsed in 2005.
A popular convertible in Europe, the two-seater sold about 117,000 units in its 1995-2005 production run. It was not sold in the United States.
So what's the MG TF like? It's a midengine two-seater about the size of a Mazda Miata. Base models were powered by a 118-hp, 1.6-liter overhead-cam Rover engine. Performance models, such as the VVT and Trophy, were sold with 1.8 liter engines.
The base transmission was a five-speed manual. A continuously variable transmission, or CVT, was optional. All models had four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.
Extra attention was paid to the cosmetics. The gauges, for instance, had stylized MG logos. And the paint quality and appearance were above average for a $22,000 budget sports car.
The MG TF roadster took shape in the early 1990s. It was styled by Gerry McGovern, now director of advanced design at Land Rover.
MG plans to sell a fixed-roof version of the roadster in the United States. It may also sell the convertible but it has not spelled out its U.S. lineup.
The car's quality was middle of the pack. The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder K-Series Rover engine has a reputation for blowing head gaskets if the coolant runs low. But the TF was free of traditional British sports car maladies, such as electrical glitches and leaky roofs, according to an online buyer's guide devoted to the car.
The car that Nanjing wants to build in Ardmore, Okla., appears to be the MG GT concept car that MG Rover showed in late 2004. If so, development costs would be less than starting from scratch.
Nanjing purchased MG powertrain and body tooling and other assets from a British receiver last year.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]