Our cars : Mike’s Rover 214SLi – racking up the miles
I simply adore a car that requires a squirt of juice and a dab of throttle to operate. It is, after all, what we all need in a car – sheer reliability allied with a hint of character. There hasn’t really been anything to report on since the Rover’s return, with the exception of the off-side driveshaft that sheared the moment I swung onto the drive barely 48 hours after collecting it.
Since then, it’s been pressed into the usual daily smoker mode, the miles clicking by on the huge speedometer giving no cause for concern – not now, nor in the near future. Normally I wince at the term ‘timewarp car’, as many motor adverts claim to be such, when all they really are is a banger/clunker in decent condition. But my thoughts may be changing.
A few years have passed by since my last stewardship with the 214, and after a great deal of poking and prodding, there is very little to confirm the car had subsequently been passed on to two more owners. The paint still shines, while the mink-coloured interior still has that ‘Rover’ smell on a hot day. Only a droopy roof lining spoils the interior ambiance brought to you by the thick quality carpet, glowing burr walnut and those ever-supportive dual-density foam seats.
One or two items have been attended to however. The wireless had been changed to a modern Blaupunkt system which was, er, very blue. I say ‘blue’, because it was exactly that – a radio that was blue in colour. And it simply just had to go.
Prior to selling my old Citroen Xantia, I removed the Pioneer head- and changer-unit, and popped it into the under stairs cupboard (where all discerning gentlemen keep their illicit stash of automotive audio), with a view to throwing it into the Rover. In true Bangernomics style, when it actually came to doing the job, there was a snag. The fitted wireless is meant to be removed with the old ‘U’ shaped removal tool. Could I find it? Could I flip!
After destroying one of ‘er indoors’ coat hangers, cutting it with pliers and bending into a rudimentary tool in a Blue Peter style, it still refused to budge. All was not lost, however, as someone in the past had broken the cigar lighter barrel. Here was a good opportunity to whip out the centre console, and kill two birds with one stone.
Eight screws later the centre console and radio were removed, along with the wiring to the cigar lighter, and ashtray illumination. The cigar lighter had clearly been repaired before using super glue, so I remembered I had some bottles of rather good plastic repair glue called ‘Q-Bond’. If you have ever broken something trim wise and out of site (especially on something French), this stuff is top notch at repairing it.
You take your offending bits of troubled trim, add a drop or two of the glue then sprinkle the supplied magic powder onto the top of the glue and within five seconds they react with each other, make a little puff of smoke (honestly!) and then set rock hard. It’s not cheap at around £10, but if, like me, you drive an old dog – it’s invaluable stuff.
No longer does pulling out the Sat-Nav plug also drag the whole cigar lighter and pop the fuse. So after popping in a new bulb to the lighter and ashtray, I ripped out the radio, swapped over the securing cage, and fitted the retro-looking Pioneer head unit. The CD changer was mounted as highly as possible to the back of the rear seat (away from out of control toolboxes), and the data cable was neatly tucked under the kick plate trims. And voilà – a car radio that plays all my chosen mediums of wireless, tape and Compact Discs.
The console was gently eased back into the car and secured – job done! But this is what I like about the Rover R8 – it’s very well-assembled, and engineered, thus making jobs like this simple and straightforward. I’ve spent hours on other cars fitting radios.
So, apart from that, not a great deal has changed really. The rooflining that I’d replaced a few years back has sagged in the rear again, the electric mirror switch occasionally plays up (but I have a spare one from a Montego – same item different button), and the rear dampers seem to be tiring. None of the aforementioned detracts from what is a really nice and straight little Rover to swan around in.
Neighbours remember the car from before, and have commented how nice it is to see it back and, best of all, ‘er indoors likes driving it, which makes my life so much easier. It’s roomy with a well-sized boot, starts on the merest flick of the key, and has used no oil or water since I’ve taken on the stewardship again.
Welcome home old girl!
Former MG Rover Salesperson, Mechanic and Self Employed Motor Trader with companies including Henlys - Reg Vardy - Stratstone - Evans Halshaw & Phoenix Venture Holdings (retail)
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