Recently, I heard an idiot radio presenter say, without any hint of irony, that it had been a bad year for MG Rover. In fact, it has been an utterly catastrophic one for the thousands of workers who lost their jobs.
Although their manufacturer has ceased to be (for the time being, anyway), 35,000 cars have been left behind, so what exactly has happened to them? According to the liquidators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the majority of those on contract-hire and lease agreements had to go back to their ultimate owners. So 24,000 went to Capital Bank and 3,000 to Lloyds Bank. That left around 8,000 new and used MG Rovers. They still have 1,500 in stock, which will be sold over the coming months to large dealer groups, car supermarkets and auctions. So if you always promised yourself an MG Rover, they are still out there.
Just because the factory making MG Rovers has ceased to be, this does not mean that the cars stop working. Indeed, you can make a decent case for buying just about all of the late models, apart from the CityRover and 45.
If you need a comfortable, though not particularly spacious, car with an olde worlde charm, the 75 is brilliant. Go for the one with the BMW diesel engine and you are laughing, with almost 50mpg and great acceleration. The Tourer estate looks great and, with MG ZT go-faster looks, nothing else seems meaner.
A 25 is a useful shopping trolley, dated but efficient - and, in MG ZS form, fun to punt around. The 45 is rather pointless, but it does have a large boot and the depreciation is horrendous (I recently found a 2000 example for £1,000, which is brilliant value if you just need a second car for the commute or station run).
MG Rover values have not collapsed to the point where you can buy them for 10p. PWC released cars gradually and there has been a constant demand for product, and a nationwide support network has sprung up to service, support and provide warranties. Warranties were the major concern of many, because cars up to three years old were, suddenly, unprotected.
MG Rover buyers are protected under sale-of-goods legislation and should expect that their cars are of satisfactory quality - and responsibility in relation to these rights rests with the dealer. Not all dealers have survived, but companies such as Warranty Direct (www.warrantydirect. co.uk) are willing to offer owners full protection. They still offer a 10 per cent discount and, on their best cover, a 75 owner will pay around £290 a year.
It is still possible to get parts for an MG Rover. XPart claims to have renegotiated with more than 800 companies to continue to supply vital parts. Its AutoService centres offer full servicing and parts supply for MG Rover cars initially, but ultimately other marques as well. So far, 115 former MG Rover dealers have signed up.
Nationwide Autocentres has a network of 220 outlets across the UK and has said it will repair and service MG Rover cars at half the normal labour costs for those items and procedures covered by the existing manufacturer's warranty.
The scheme means that MG Rover owners who hold an existing manufacturer's warranty for their vehicle will be able to get their car serviced at any Nationwide Autocentre. However, the cost of any parts or materials required as a result of the service will need to be paid by the car's owner and will not be covered by Nationwide Autocentres. The company's offer is scheduled to run until 31 March 2006, when it will be subject to a review.
The pick of the last models
Mileage: delivery miles
Specification: 1.8 VVC 160
A hoot to drive, and good value because the 'warm' version with 105 bhp isn't much less at former Rover dealers.
Motorhouse 2000 (08712 250 110 )
Mileage: brand new
Specification: CDTi Contemporary SE saloon
Saves £7,000, has a great spec and a superb diesel. The pick, probably, of MG Rover's output of the last five years
Mileage: 25 miles
Contemporary SE Automatic
Lunatic concoction of American V8 engine and olde-worlde-charm Brit interior. One day it will be a 24-carat classic
Motorpoint (0870 120 0778)
MG TF Price: £12,695
Mileage: brand new
130 bhp engine is more than adequate
You an get left-hand-drive MG TFs at £9,999, but prices are holding because many think this might be the last true MG sports car
Contact: SG Petch (0845 634 6346)