Real World Reviews: MG Metro Turbo

80s cars Reviews
In this Real World Review, Chris Claydon takes a look back at his old MG Metro Turbo. Told with some affection, but a little aggravation.

This Real World Review heads back to the 80s and takes a trip down memory lane in an MG Metro Turbo. Telling the story this time is Chris Claydon of Shine My Ride fame. You can follow him on twitter at @shinemyrideuk. It is fair to say that Chris's story starts well enough but then heads downhill rather rapidly. This doesn't make particularly good reading for me as I view the little MG Metro with some degree of affection. Firstly, my sister had one when I was younger and through my distinctly rose tinted glasses, it was perfect in every way. Also, I've been checking them out on eBay recently and it seems like they're becoming quite collectable. So hopefully I'll receive a glowing Real World Review some time soon. In the meantime, it is over to Chris...

After a good start in the world of motoring with an exceedingly reliable Fiat 128, (a Real World Review for another day perhaps?), I started to hanker for a car with a bit more oomph. My dreams of adding that oomph to the 128 were sadly never really going to become a reality. The dream had to be fulfilled another way.

So it was off to the auctions with £1,100 in my pocket. As I walked along the lines of cars awaiting their turn in the ring, something caught my eye. A782 FPD - in gleaming red and anthracite. OK, so maybe not that gleaming, but I knew that with a little effort, I could soon get it looking good again.

The object of my affections: An MG Metro Turbo. In hindsight, there were two grave mistakes in this car. One was giving it an MG badge and the other was bolting a Turbo onto it. There was a third grave mistake, but I'll come on to that later.

MG Metro Turbo on PetrolBlog

The Metro finally came into the ring. The bidding started at £500 and inched its way up. It stopped at £800, so up went my hand for £850. Twice. In fact it might have been more than twice, as the auctioneer said he had noted my bid! To my delight, no-one topped it. However the bid was below the reserve so the auctioneer had to consult the seller after the auction. Oh the suspense! Would I have something to drive home in? The auction was over, so there was nothing else for me to bid on. Would the seller hold out for more money? Finally the auctioneer came back and we sealed the deal. The ordeal was over. For now...

After a few months of seemingly happy motoring, the storm clouds started to bubble up. One day I noticed a hefty bump on changing gear. An investigation of the engine bay revealed a broken front engine mounting. Not the rubber bit, of course not. It had broken the metal bracket that holds the rubber mounting bush. Next day, myself and a mechanically apt friend are at the local scrappy hacking an engine mount bracket out of another Metro. Aforementioned friend kindly welds the donor mount in for me. And off we went again. For now...

A short time passed by until, pulling out from a junction, I hear a massive crunch from under the bonnet. The thing just would not move now, not even when pushed. In the end we had to use a trolley jack just to get it to the side of the road. It was picked up by a specialist from the next town for diagnosis.

The eventual diagnosis? The gearbox had failed. But given my luck with this car so far, it hadn't just failed. From what they told me, it sounded like the bit in Star Wars where the Death Star explodes into millions of pieces. In fact, their exact words are that they had never seen an A-series gearbox fail in such spectacular fashion. Great! What a consolation that was!

The only way was to source another engine and gearbox combo. Fortunately for me, Austin Rover had not seen sense and carried on making the MG Metro Turbo for a few years after. Hopefully that meant my quest would bear fruit. I spent a few days scouring the Auto Trader for salvage yards in the hope of finding one breaking MG Metro Turbos.

Finally I found one in Cornwall! It was from a D-plate car that had been written off, so was three years younger than mine. Hastily a van was hired and I made the trip down the M5 and A30 to Cornwall to collect the unit. The engine and gearbox were dropped off at the garage in Taunton and the waiting began. Eventually I got the call and I was reunited with my MG Metro Turbo.

It wasn't to last though. After a while, a funny rattling noise starting emanating from the gearbox. Feeling rather spooked it was hastily put up for sale as 'needing attention'. So ended my association with the MG Metro Turbo, or should that be M(oney) G(rabbing) Metro Turbo?

So not the most glowing of references from Chris! If you have an alternative view of the best car ever to be fitted with red seat belts, please get in touch with PetrolBlog at the usual address...

Image courtesy of MetroPower.