Since its launch in 2001, the ZR has had a cult following. However, today, good ones are getting fewer and further between. Although this one is DAVE DAWSON’s daily driver (at least until his MG3 arrives), it’s good to know its in good hands…
My ZR followed a Rover 75 1.8. I’d always wanted a 75 and perhaps turned a bit of a blind eye when I bought it. The head gasket needed replacing after 3000 miles. I was rescued by the local X Part agent but their replacement only lasted 1000 miles!
For a lengthy 20,000 miles the next head gasket was fine. However, I then noticed coolant weeping after a cold start. It was time for the 75 to go, but its replacement just had to be another MGR!
AROnline Contributing Editor, Clive Goldthorp, advised me of a nearby used car dealer he’d discovered, specialising in MG Rover cars. Within just a few days the proprietor rang advising of a very tidy, low-mileage ZR. I just had to see it. I wasn’t going to limit myself to another 75, which realistically was more car than I needed.
The ZR in question was a 105 3-dr in British Racing Green – a 2003 car with only one owner for its first eight years, the ZR had been barely used by its second owner for the next 12 months or so. The total mileage was only 29,100. The service history wasn’t just full but brilliant. The ZR had initially been looked after by the supplying. Wirral-based MG Rover dealer and after that always by a garage which has effectively taken over from the franchised dealer, namely Peter Jones Engineering of Prenton in Birkenhead.
When I went to view the ZR, I was initially pleased at its very tidy appearance. Relieved to find a max coolant level with no ‘mayo’ deposits, everything else on my forecourt check was fine, too. A short distance into the test drive and I thought: “This one is mine – a total ‘no brainer’!”
I have now owned the ZR for almost two and a half years, increasing its mileage to 58,000. Peter Jones continues to look after it. Shortly after I acquired the “MGem”, Peter gave it another full service and changed the cambelt – a wise precaution. Since then, he has given my ZR a full service every 9000 or 10,000 miles with an interim oil change. Beyond oil, filters and plugs she hasn’t needed much. The front pads have only very recently been changed. Likewise, the exhaust mid section and back box. Other than this, Peter has only had to fix the passenger side electric window mechanism – that failed in frosty weather. There have been no head gasket issues to date. However, after the 75, I do keep a very close eye on the coolant level…
Disaster nearly struck late last year. I was taking the usual route home from work when, on a multi-lane city centre stretch a car in the lane to my right slammed on his brakes. Realising he was not going to avoid ‘rear-ending’ the car in front the guy opted to change lanes and hit me instead! On no!!! Luckily, however, he only caught the middle of my driver’s door. Sill, pillars all okay. Phew!! A local body repair shop soon sourced a (yellow) ZR door. You’d never know – they performed a brilliant job. Peter Jones has just had to replace the door card clips but the paint job and door fit are just fine!
In summary, the ZR is staying with me. I just couldn’t part with it. She’ll very soon be joined by an MG3 younger brother!