Join Date: Jan 2006
Car: MG TF 135, MG ZS+ 120
A late mk1 is the worst of the line in terms of spec and build. By 2004, MGR had carried out lots of cost cutting changes to the 45, reducing the cars' quality considerably compared to early versions. Some of this was remedied with the mk2 but not by much.
The advantage of the mk2 is the modernised styling and far nicer interior. The main disadvantage is that the mk2 has revised electrics which, while offering more features, were less reliable. The suspension, steering, brakes, engines and seats were carried out with minimal changes.
Rust is more likely on these later cars due to the removal of various liners in the wheelarches but overall the 45 isn't as susceptible to rust as you may think. The main problem areas are around the floorplan at the base of the bulkhead where the subframe mounts, sills and wheelarches intersect. Rear arches can go too but this is less of an issue.
I personally would go for a mk2 over a late mk1 but it's important to take each car as you find it.