On more than one occasion I’ve been asked as to why I would like to own a Rover, usually the type associated with your granddad who takes it to Tesco and back for his shopping once a week. One very simple reason, in my more youthful days I accidentally came across AR Online (Austin Rover Online) while glancing through for a car I was researching instead of doing my homework set that the day. The appreciation of Rovers stuck, as did my new-found interest in my neighbours Rover 416 and white Rover 400 that they owned during that time.
As my taste of cars broadened during my teens, modified Saxos and Fiestas that were all the rage were replaced with Aston Martin V8 Vantage X Packs, Monteverdis and Rovers, along with various classics. I like most kids that age kept my mouth shut as Rover was somewhat frowned up to be liked, let alone to be spoken of in the playground during break. It wasn’t till I was nearing the end of my secondary school days did I decide that I’d openly talk about the passion I had for such a company going back to the British Leyland. To most of my friends Rovers either existed as a platform to add bodykits and neons, or the classic cliché I mentioned earlier.
The Rover R8 216 GTi, an underrated hatch by today’s standards.
During the late 90s and even into the early 2000s I recall Rovers being disregarded by friends and family due to reliability and build quality claims. Whether this image stuck due to the media, I shall never know, but owning a Rover goes somewhat past the claims that circulated along with the ‘old man’ image. I have a very good friend who owns a Rover 45; many of you have seen his posts on Retro and Classic Cars previously and may have noticed that he may not meet the original cliché you thought went with Rovers. Scott takes a lot of pride in his 45 (HHR to the anoraks amongst us), he spends many hours making sure that every little detail is perfect and presentable. The 45 offered character and charm where the competition didn’t, and has aged well with time unlike some of its counter-parts.
Claims of bad reliability didn’t put me off appreciating the Rover 75
While I was growing up my brother bought a Rover R8 216 in white, known to him as a just a run around for £500. The attraction of wanting a R8 became attainable in my mind, even if I didn’t have a driving license, and it wasn’t a GTi, with only a touch of rust needed doing it was an honest example for a few months before it was in the hands on the scrap man. Sure, it wasn’t mine but it’s one of the Rovers that I’ll always remember and played a part in my early influences.
This brings me onto the Rover 45 1.6 Spirit and Rover 75 1.8K Club that have taken an interest to me as a replacement for Atomic the Mini. I have been chopping and changing my mind on twitter a lot as many you may have noticed, but these two have stood out compared to the Audi A4 1.8T and BMW 520 E39 I had on the possible list. Why, you’re probably asking, mechanically the 75 shares a lot in common with the BMW 3 series along with shared diesel engines that have been de-tuned. The 75 much like the 3 series is built to last, with retro touches and added gentleman flare that the competition don’t quite have. Sure, it may be reminiscent of Rovers old but offers all the modern comforts a driver demands. The perfect modern gentleman express without troubles of old? Quite possibly, yes.
AR Online’s Rover 75 1.8 K series proves to be reliable
Onto the Rover 45: Not an obvious candidate? To others, may be not. My Godfather used to take me on trips out in his early Rover 416, which was an honest yet reliable steed for his needs. Before I knew it, I had come round to the appeal of them. Certainly, the 45 won’t outmanoeuvre any Ford Focus or have the same reputation as the Mondeo or Passat but that isn’t what 45 is about. The 45 is the small premium saloon that is often forgotten, with more character than you chew a stick out and with a comfy ride that would put many of the competition to shame.
.So yes, I may have not been bought up around many Rovers but I’ve long had an appreciation for the craftsmanship, the tales and interesting history the company has with cars that have more comfort than you’d fine in an armchair.
Thank you AR Online for introducing me to Rover.