Blogs : October 2008
SPENT all of Saturday towing cars. Sounds like a dull way of spending time, but for me, it’s usually associated with some movement in my fleet of hopeless heaps. This time round, it was a case of borrowing the evo magazine’s Brian James trailer, strapping my old BX to it, and hoiking it North to visit its previous owner, John Simpson of Practical Classics magazine. The reason – to get its head gasket done, and to get it through another MoT, so it can provide another year of cheap, comfortable and practical motoring…
He lives in deepest Lincolnshire, and although my place looks quite close to his on the map – and on sat/nav, it says just over 50 miles, for some reason the journey took the best part of two hours there, and two hours back. I was moving the entire time, traffic was okay – so where the hell did the time go. Still, it was job done – and onto my next job.
Which was picking up my Cavalier from former colleague, Neil Campbell’s, house in Coventry. The car’s been there since around the time I left PC, and although we’ve tried several times to get the old girl running, it steadfastly refused to go. Fuelling looks like the problem, as the fuel filter is bone dry – and it doesn’t get near firing up. Still, I think the pump has been on its way out for quite some time.
So, firing up the sat/nav, I dialled in rural Lincolnshire to Coventry, and saw that it was just over 70 miles. No sweat. I called Neil, and told him to put the kettle on; I’d not be long. Well, blow me, if it didn’t take the best part of three hours to do the journey. Again, the there were no real traffic problems – so where did the time go? Am I missing something – was time warping at the weekend? Let me know – I’d love to hear your theories.
Oh, and before you ask – yes that car/trailer will be bringing my SD1 home from Poland, soon. I promise.
“Fancy a hatchback-
Time for Skoda
THIS time last year, I predicted that the world was on the brink of financial meltdown (well, okay, kind of), and that belt-tightening will be 2008’s new black. Well, here we are – everyone’s cutting their expenditure, and the banking system did go into a state of near collapse. It was actually a sentiment that I thought would be good for making a point – why buy a £45,000 car when a £20,000 one will do the job just as well?
The cars in question were a Volkswagen Phaeton, and Skoda Superb, and the outlet for my mad wittering was The Independent (when it had a motoring section). But in my conclusion, I stated that when push came to shove, I’d happily forego the perceived status of a plutocrat motor in favour of the earthier charms of the Superb. I believed it then, and I stand by those sentiments today.
|So, ditch the Audi – it looks like Skoda’s time may well have finally come…|
I’ve never hidden my admiration for Skoda – I find the Communist-era chariots the most interesting of all of the Iron Curtain motors; and I admire how VAG has turned around the marque’s fortunes to such a degree that I would take one of its products over the equivalent Volkswagen or Audi, any day of the week.
That point’s been brought home to me again today – when I managed to blag a lend of the new Superb. It’s no top-of-the-range example either, being the 1.8TSI version in Elegance trim – and gimmicky boot and troublesome throttle response aside, I find it difficult to find fault with the thing. And just to put it into context, over the past few months, a string of mid-liners has passed through my hands including the Honda Accord, Volvo V70, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and so on…
In fact, as we’re now officially in recession (like we didn’t know that anyway), I suspect that Skoda will probably do very well indeed, as people who must buy a new car (will there be that many, though?) choose to take the value, rather than premium, option. But, do you know what – sat inside and wafting along (the chassis is biased towards comfort, although it doesn’t lope quite as well as the last one), I couldn’t help but notice just how classy the cream and black decor actually was – and that it really didn’t seem like a value (as in sacrificial) alternative at all.
So, ditch the Audi – it looks like Skoda’s time may well have finally come…
THERE is a bold design connection that links the Ferrari Dino to the Renault Centre in Swindon, Wiltshire – neither object bears the logo of its famous manufacturer.
Originally created as a sister for brand for Ferrari’s surfeit of twelve cylinders, the yellow Dino logo graced the first mid-engined Ferrari. (Borne of the Old man decreeing his customers might not be ready for this configuration in a road going-sports car). A striking design which shouted Ferrari, without so much as a single discreet badge proclaiming so. If Lord Foster, or his client Renault, contemplated the Pininfarina design from 1968 is unknown, however his brief stipulated these requirements – “becoming recognisable within your market, you must also become recognisable in the environment”. Effectively build a structure that says Renault without Renault actually being present. All this being achieved simply by the use of Renault’s corporate Yellow, allied to the Foster + Partners ‘playful’ structure.
Foster + Partners are today recognised world wide for architectural projects, from France’s Millau viaduct to London’s ‘Gherkin’ (the affectionate name for the Swiss RE building). Back in 1980 Foster’s most notable project to date was the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters – “the best bank building in the world”; the £8m Renault Centre arguably being “the best warehouse in the world”. (Or with tongue firmly in cheek, “the best Stanstead Airport development hack in the world”).
|Such was the Centre’s draw, it even secured a cameo appearance in the Renault fans’ favourite Bond outing View To A Kill|
Unusually the modular design owes praise to the architect’s nemesis – the local authority planner. Enthusiastically giving thumbs up to the blueprints, even though the 67 per cent coverage of the 16 acre site was well above the standard land density limits. The entire structure comprised of 42 individual, 24 square metre modules, suspended off 16 metre high masts. Each of these masts pierced the roof structure; glazed surrounding panels giving ample natural light. Totally self contained, the majority of the floor space was given over to parts storage complete with maintenance bays for employee training. Even the offices for regional retail and distribution staff came complete with Foster designed furnishings. The glazed reception gave a panoramic view through 4 metre square sheets of armoured Pilkington glass, strung on high tensile wire.
Those peering into the ‘Gallery’ were presented with the latest Renault range at floor level, an upwards gaze revealing bare painted body shells suspended from the roof beams. When devoid of the top of the range Trente or racy Fuego while used as a popular arts and social venue, wandering across the Gallery with the 1982 Car of The Year strung above your head, subliminally you never forgot where you were.
Period Renault advertising played heavily on the grade II listed backdrops, suckering prospective Renault customers into the world of hi-tech design, purchasable in the form of talking Renault 11’s with LCD instrument clusters. Such was the Centre’s draw, it even secured a cameo appearance in the Renault fans’ favourite Bond outing, View To A Kill.
The overall effect was graceful, yet contemporary – now 25 years after its opening by the French secretary of state for consumer affairs Madame Catherine Lalumiere, it still appears contemporary. After completion in 1983 accolades and industry praise were heaped on the partners design, winning both the coveted Financial Times’ ‘Architecture at work’, and Structural Steel awards. By 2001, commercial demands had changed and Renault relocated itself to the West Midlands, the Centre becoming the “Spectrum”. Despite lying dormant for almost four years, it is now home to a Ford distributor and digital media manufacturer.
Those in need of a Renault architectural fix need not despair however – drive to Paris and head toward L’Atelier Renault on the Champs-Élysées. Originally purchased by Louis Renault in 1910 for his companies Parisian base, after 1963 it became a bar come showroom. Today along with Citroen’s rival lifestyle building (fronted with double chevron glazing on the adjacent side of the Champs-Elysees) they make a pleasant place to absorb some French automotive ambience, even if the playfulness comes from watching the beautiful Parisians pouting, shouting and strutting.
Is the British Car Industry Dead?
I just wondered because when people ask me whether they can buy a British built hatchback from a British owned company, the very short answer is no. However, if you want a 1930s throwback (Morgan) or a car with no bodywork whatsoever (Ariel Atom) you are in luck. And of course we still make cars over here, except they all seem to be Japanese (Toyota, Nissan, Honda), or German (BMW MINI), or even American (Vauxhall). That’s a bit odd really as in 1945 we just happened to have the second largest car industry in the world. I thought that this needed investigating, so I sat down and wrote The British Car Industry – Our Part in its Downfall to see if there was anyone or anything I could blame, or was it simply our fault? And instead of simply writing from an academic perspective I used a real British family to explain what it was like to buy and run cars over the last 50 years, my own. In particular my Dad who patriotically bought British even after he accidently bought the worst car British Leyland ever made.
Allegro/Maxi/Marina – discuss…
So was it simply the truly terrible cars that were on offer at the time? Well actually the Allegro could have been a lot better if the design had not been interfered with and then the final product poorly built. The Maxi was a bit half baked and underdeveloped, but had masses of room inside and should have outsold the ‘Dagenham Dustbin’, or Cortina as it was called in the Ford showroom, by a million to one. Then when British Leyland tried to take on Ford with a basic car they came up with the dreary Marina. Even when we made cars as beautiful as the Triumph Stag which also sounded so sexy thanks to the V8, it still went wrong. Again it was an underdeveloped product that was badly built. Where we led the world in small car technology, like the Mini, not enough money was charged which meant it was always sold at a loss. Not a mistake BMW made with its own MINI.
Blame the buyers?
Certainly the British car buyer was not nearly as loyal as the French or Italian who also had to put up with some equally rubbish cars. The Lancia Gamma, Alfa Romeo ARNA, Renault 9 to name just a few that were truly horrible, but maybe the buyers were more easily pleased. In the UK the climate and salt on the roads could kill most cars in just a few years, but reliability became something of a novelty unless you bought Japanese or German. Although Hondas and Toyotas of the time looked gaudy and awkward, at least they started every morning. The Volkswagen Beetle may have been ancient and technically wrong, but again it didn’t break down and when the Golf arrived it was the answer to everyone’s dream, including my Dad. In all he bought five and he was not alone as British buyers demanded better products and value than BL could ever give them. However, even when the products were not that bad it was too late to win back buyers, as MG Rover discovered.
What about Her Majesty’s Press?
We (Motoring Hacks) are a cynical old bunch of doom mungers hence my title The British Car industry – Our Part in its Downfall. Few of us have ever designed a car, can barely drive and rarely have a constructive thing to say about anything really. Mr Clarkson can possibly be credited with killing the Vauxhall Vectra as a brand, though even his power is probably exaggerated. Actually most British Car magazines and newspapers have been relentlessly positive about anything built in the UK. It was actually journalists who told British Leyland not to put a square steering wheel in the Allegro and to do something about the Morris Marina’s wayward handling, but were ignored. Criticism was very low level in the ‘50s and ‘60s and only the fiercely independent Car magazine ever dared to suggest that a car was not very good.
What about the Workers?
Individually they were committed and decent people, but they were appallingly led. Union leaders thought they could create a Socialist paradise in the car factories and related suppliers but only caused anarchy. British Leyland may have looked stupid for having half a dozen suppliers for exhausts, but their reasoning was that when one inevitably went on strike then they could still get them somewhere else. Whilst Japan was pioneering lean production and just in time techniques, the factories had to stockpile. Derek Robinson became the whipping bloke for union activities and quite right too. It was only when he was sacked could BL get on with the important business of building the Mini Metro. The powerful unions sapped the work ethic, yet the clean, bright and we are all in this together Japanese factories are conclusive proof that the Brit worker can bolt together a world beating car like the Nissan Micra.
And finally there’s the Government…
Here is conclusive proof that you should not let a politician run a market stall, let alone a massive industry. The constant meddling started post war when new factories had to be built in deprived areas. Areas that had no tradition of heavy industry which may have helped employment but did nothing for build quality. Governments were also instrumental at prodding manufacturers to get into bed together and created BLMC and when that ultimately started to collapse, BL then became public property, with politicians directly in charge of the means of production. There you have one very powerful reason why cars built in the mid 1970s were so terrible as my Dad found out to his cost.
You still need to buy the book
The British Car Industry – Our Part in its Downfall has all this and whole lot more including lots of little black and white pictures and all the cars my Dad drove. I’d also like to know what you think went wrong with the British Car Industry, so log on to the forum and let’s get the debate started.
Finally, about bloody time
DRIVING home tonight, I noticed that petrol prices are starting to slide back into the realms of sensibility. The Shell station that I pass on my daily commute is proudly displaying 94.9p per litre for petrol, and 105.4p per litre for diesel. A year ago, we’d have been apalled by these prices, but all of a sudden, they don’t seem that bad at all.
Given that we’re already in a recession (despite what economists will tell you – jobs are being lost now), and money’s going to be a lot harder to find during the next couple of years, I reckon fuel prices are going to have to slide a lot further before bigger cars are going to become desirable again.
Still, it’s nice to know that my recently purchased Saab Aero isn’t quite as silly a decision as it might have seemed when its fuel hovered around the 120p per litre mark. Let me know how you feel about fuel costs, and whether you feel confident about the future, dropping costs or not…
Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated
WELL, that was a busy week – so, apologies to anyone who may have been left wondering where on Earth the new content for AROnline was? I’ll say two words that anyone within publishing will understand – press week. It’s a stressful time that involves filling blank pages, chasing freelancers for copy, and generally getting the magazine into a fit state for sale. Luckily, Octane’s one of those places where everyone involved mucks in and works their socks off, but despite that, the outside world melts away as the focus turns on the one thing that matters: finishing the mag.
So, I’m not entirely sure what’s been happening in the real world. I heard snatches of a financial crisis on Radio 4’s Today programme, and that Lewis Hamilton went from Hero to Zero – and back again. But other than that, I’m not sure… It should be fun catching up!
What £500 buys you these days
IT’S a constant running theme on this website, but one that I can’t help returning to: how cheap cars can be – and often, are – just as useful as their expensive, new, counterparts. Take the Saab 9000 that I picked up from Preston last night – it’s MoT’d until next May, most of the electricals still work, it stops and steers in a straight line, and it still accelerates rapidly indeed. A year-or-so ago, I paid over £2000 for one of these – admittedly in much better condition. and slightly younger – and had many happy times in it (until the gearbox dropped a circlip and it went off the road to be fixed).
And on to now – with all the talk of recession, crunching credit, and expensive petrol, cars like this have rapidly become valueless. My ‘new’ example has 200,000 miles on the clock, but has been extremely well looked after (as all Aeros that have passed through my hands have), and probably still has loads of life left in it. And let’s face it, at a total outlay of £500, if it went bang tomorrow (and I doubt it will), there’s a rich seam of parts to be harvested for my own Abbott-tuned example. So, what are the plans for this one? I’d say as a winter smoker, and then see what happens…
Oh, and as for my Tomat and SD1; I’ve not forgotten about them. Updates coming soon, I hope!
Whats’a happening Mr Riley?
ALMOST six months ago, Russell Gowers interviewed a Mr William Riley, the man who had seemingly beaten NAC-MG to the finishing line in the race to get MG cars back out onto the roads. What has happened since then?
Well firstly, the TF is back, whether or not we believe that the majority of the 500 have been sold (and I don’t!) they are back on the roads with a far healthier number of dealers than previously divulged. Many of us have seen or drive one in the flesh and for the most part are happy with the finished result. Quality has improved greatly and it seems that the HG issues that once plagued any product fitted with a K-Series engine has now been banished to the history books (fingers crossed!)
How goes progress with Mr Riley?
Slow would be my word for it, he has got a number of obstacles to tackle, firstly the thorny issue of whether he actually has got the legal right to use the name ‘MG XPOWER’. His claims to be part of the great Riley motoring dynasty have been publicly refuted in a letter to the Financial Times earlier this year that has not yet had a retort printed from him. Therefore I found it odd to see him mentioned in a recent issue of Auto Express showing off his Roadster concept to the public when at this moment in time he may not have a Brand name to use and possibly no name to trade off the back of. His website www.mg-x-power.com is currently under construction and all queries are being directed to this address:
Worcs, Wr15 8JP, UK
Phone: +44 (0) 1584810421
Note the lack of Capitalisation on ‘house’ and on the second letter of the postcode. It all shouts amateur to me and if I was going to spend 70-90k of my money (in a Credit Crunch!) I would expect a little more professionalism.
I would also say that his lack of media ‘savvy’ is definitely a stumbling block to his future success, when interviewed by Russell he became rather bullish when the quality of the finish inside the SV was commented on. Maybe that’s his way of expressing himself but it won’t work as successfully as someone who plays up to the press.
So come on Mr Riley tell us what’s going on
It seems that car has again fallen into incapable hands. What began as the Mangusta could again have the Mustang-en
As for the MG name, I doubt he has the right to use it. That said, I think it would hurt SAIC more to take it away. Noone is buying an SV instead of an MG7, and it’s sort of like a halo model without the company actually having to build it.
He should’ve stuck with trying to use his own name-Riley
BMW I think never were bothered after the Rover brand had become defunct and bought by Ford in my own view because in Fords hands BMW knew they were safe from a new powerful car manufactur
taking orders on the Sagaris II…
I’m afraid I must also agree with Mr. Adams on this issue. A lack of care on something as important as your only face to the public doesn’t inspire much confidence
Don’t buy if you want a stress-free commute…
TODAY I had my most stressful commute in ages. You see, since I found myself tooling around in a Shelby Mustang a couple of weeks back, and learning all about self-restraint, I’d like to think that I’ve become the UK’s Slowest Driver (TM). So, this morning, I decided to take my E-registered Citroen AX GT to work, and drive it an manner that’s befitting of the traffic regulations, and not the hooligan way this car generally encourages its drivers to take.
Pottering along out highways and byways at just below the legal limit soon found my stress levels rising rapidly. Why? Because everyone, and I mean – everybody – who ended up behind me, decided to drive centimetres from my rear bumper. Those around me, generally mistook my car for a mobile target, aiming for me at every lane change, and if I did pass anyone, they’d inevitably get the hump and re-pass me…
Yet, if I’m in my Subaru Outback (08-plate and most presentable), I’m treated with courtesy and respect. The same in the Saab. Even my Cavalier is given space and time. So why not the AX? Is it a) invisible or b) so useless looking that people just want to see it off the road? Either way, for peace of mind, I should drive it quicker and run rings round the opposition come the corners.
But will those nice, friendly traffic officers see it that way, I wonder?
I’ve noticed this more and more recently. Drivers of certain cars (usually German) driving so close to me that I can’t even see their headlights
I know the feeling. I’m certain that when my early 827 is even slightly dirty, folk are not so courteous about waving one by at busy road ends. I’ve had the great privilege last week of driving a friends 57-reg XF and boy does one feel like royalty. No joke men and woman drivers alike pleasantly give way almost with a sense of satisfacti
The Xantia fares slightly better, my hypothesis being that from the rear, if you squint slightly, the upcurve above the lights on the bootlid looks slightly like that of the E36 316i repmobile.
My advice Keith – get the foot down in your pocket rocket, or get off the A roads, avoid the hassle and enjoy some back-road blasts on the way to work!
I was doing a mild 75 ish in the outside lane of the M1 North in my 97 Fester Ghia (white & rust, complete with blowing exhaust)ov
BTW if in Leeds ever, watch out for a small black Volvo (V50?) estate on a 57 plate…it
Why am I now looking?
IT’S good to drive a selection of cars – so far in 2008, I’ve had over 50 pass through my hands, and each one has been memorable for one reason or another (some brilliant, and some appalling). With the change in job has come a change in emphasis, with the more exotic coming my way – and I do hope that I continue to report on them in a dispassionate and even-handed way, whatever the engine under the bonnet and badge on the bootlid.
Anyway, despite that, there’s always something a bit special about climbing into your own car once in a while – and although my own principal cars are under the knife (the SD1 in Poland, and the Saab in Taunton) it doesn’t stop me thinking about what else to add to the fleet. Right now, thanks to Kevin Davis (see his blog on the 1st October, below), I’m constantly fantasizing about Rover 75s, and being wafted from place to place without a care in the world. In his blog, he says that these cars have now dipped into the £500 arena at auction, and that puts them well and truly into my price league once again.
|Right now, I’m constantly fantasizing about Rover 75s, and being wafted from place to place without a care in the world.|
A quick scout on Autotrader revealed the horrible truth – forecourts are full of them for around a grand or just under. Put in a bit of discount, and push for some warranty (yeah I know, but you never know) and I could be looking at owning another Rover 75, and none too painfully. The example pictured below, resides on a forecourt about 25 miles from my home, and as far as I know it’s been there for about three months. It’s a CDT version in Club spec, with 119,000 miles on the odo, and assuming everthing works, it looks quite tempting for the £1095 it’s currently advertised for. Call it £900 after arguments, and that’s a lot of car for the money.
A well sorted example still feels contemporary to drive in many ways, and – let’s face it – is still a very nice place to sit in. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m talking myself into doing something silly. We’ll see what happens, and I am sure that I’ll see sense before the night’s out, but right now, a Rover 75 looks like a fun place to stick £1000…
£1095? What a steal! I currently have my eye on a 1994 Volvo 940 Wentworth estate in the same condition, with similar mileage and up for a similar price. I wonder which car would be the most satisfying to own?
If I could get a 75 Tourer for that sort of money, I’d snap it up straight away.
£1095? What a steal! I currently have my eye on a 1994 Volvo 940 Wentworth estate in the same condition, with similar mileage and up a similar price. I wonder which car would be the most satisfying to own?
If I could get a 75 Tourer for that sort of money, I’d snap it up straight away.
Be careful with the BMW diesel engine though, unless its been well maintained and run on regularly changed fully synthetic oil, had the crankcase breather filter changed regularly, then the turbo could be on its way out, which can be very expensive to fix by the time you have to clean the oil out of the intercoole
Also a KV6, sounds lovely, but what if the cambelts snap or need doing, writes it off instantly.
Think a K series 75 would be less complex, safer bet, even though there the old Head gasket could get you of course.
(Oh yes, he replaced the 75 with an X-type).
AROnline on video
SPENT an enjoyable rainy afternoon browsing around YouTube, looking at old car adverts. The reason was simple – ever since uploading the Roewe 550 Videos page, I’ve been meaning to add more from the extensive back catalogue available on the web. As you’ll see from the site homepage, I’ve already added the Rover 75/MG ZT (including that memorable viral ‘blow job’ ad for the ZT190), but there’s a number of others dotted around the site for you to find…
When there’s a representative number uploaded, I’ll do a full roll-out, but in the meantime, if you fancy going looking, you’ll find each car has (will have) it’s own entry in its index page. Do check the Maestro and Acclaim for starters, though, as they’re priceless!
We even had a visitor from Iraq…
DON’T worry, Big Brother isn’t watching you, but I have installed Google Analytics onto this site, in order to give me an idea about where everyone’s coming from, and how many of you there are. I must admit that I like the current site stats system on AROnline, which tells us directly how many people are connecting to the site and how they’re using it, but with Google, it’s good to get things represented a little more graphically.
One of the dashboard toys I like is the Map Overview, which shows clearly where everyone’s coming from (right down to a breakdown of cities, towns and villages) – and as you can see in the last week’s usage map (above), they’re coming from everywhere. Predictably, it’s the UK where most of the visitors hail from, and the US that comes in a distant second. But after that, I rather like the fact that Germany’s next up, and that the city where most are coming from is Munich. Does that mean there’s still considerable interest from the headquarters of BMW years after the occupation? If you’re reading us from BMW, do get in touch; I’d love to hear from you – I still want to see your R30 prototype, assuming it’s not been thrown out with the rubbish now.
I also hear that AROnline is banned in China – and, personally, I’d love to find out why. There are visitors from the People’s Republic and even one or two from Nanjing but, apparently, the majority of people there who want to see us can’t. I don’t think we’ve equated buying an MG7 to freeing the Tibetans, so what gives?
Are Sunday afternoons over?
Ah, the good old days…
Polishing the car, tinkering about, fitting some new speakers, dropping the oil. Is it over? Maybe.
Possibly due to the economic downturn, but possibly just natural selection, this week national chain Motor-World entered administration. Immediately, 95 branches out of 237 closed (leaving 300 out of work); a shame as those staff were usually fairly competent if you needed advice. Motor-World stores seemed to have swallowed up the old market place of Halfords’ high street branches and your (now not economically viable) local motor spares shop.
|So, where are we left when we’re out of Autosol, or need some new wiper blades and an air filter?|
Though China’s recent purge for steel has seen the decks cleared of cars in our price bracket, and environmental regulations are tightening up, the real problem is the percentage of folks who fiddle with cars is dwindling. As a rule, ten year old cars are not worn out, just passé.
Shift patterns mean Sunday is no longer a day off, and why wax the family wheels when you could sit watching Sky or playing on the Playstation? So, where are we left when we’re out of Autosol, or need some new wiper blades and an air filter? In the trade outlets; except they close at midday Saturday… the big question is will the enthusiastic motorist’s nemesis, Halfords, head the same way?
Is this the golden age of motoring – it might just be still.
As for polishing, every petrol station seems to be turning into a hand car wash, who for £4 will wash and wax your car. People wont spend the time, effort or money doing it themselves
I remember going into Halfrauds once asking for 5 litres of LHM and a drum of hydraflush
This is the second time Motor World have gone pop. The first time was when them & Charlie Browns were taken over by the parent company of Edmunds Walker commercial parts, and not long after the takeover, they hit the skids….M
I worked for Motor World for a year in 1994 and I found them to be over priced even with my staff discount.
Motor World lost their way I think, trying to sell too many different product lines, and trying to compete with the range Halfords sells, but in tiny high street locations
The best car accessory shop in my native Yorkshire, has always been Auto Spares Kippax, who I have found to be cheaper than anywhere else in the area…We need to support these places wherever we can
It’s such a shame
From that shiny beginning in 1998…
I STILL have the camcorder footage I took at the 1998 Motor Show at the NEC, recording the bright and shiny new Rover 75 2.5 V6 Connoisseur in Wedgewood blue rotating gracefully on the platform. The pictures here are from that footage. At that time hardly any motoring journalists had driven it, but its static qualities were enough for people to queue for a sit in it, with enthusiastic staff giving guided tours of the new car. It was the bold new face of Rover for the 21st Century.
Fast forward to 2008 and my, how things have changed. I was at my local car auction last week and there was a plethora of unloved and unwanted cars in the lot, but what particularly caught my eye was a Rover 75 in Wedgewood Blue in identical Connoisseur specification to the one at the ’98 Motor Show. Being a T-registered 1998 model with only 89k showing it was a fine example, with unmarked interior and bright and dent free paintwork. It was very nice.
Just before the 75 went through the hall a 1993 Fiesta 1.1LX came in, it also was very tidy with lots of MoT and enthusiastic bidding saw it sold for £525, which just goes to show that tidy, well cared for superminis are in demand. Then it was the 75’s turn.
|I was at my local car auction last week and there was a plethora of unloved and unwanted cars in the lot, but what particularly caught my eye was a Rover 75 in Wedgewood Blue|
A reasonable description from the auctioneer didn’t really spark anybody’s enthusiasm and a paltry half hearted bid of £200 started the bidding. Soon, people started to wake up as to how cheap this might be but by the time it got to £400 bidding started to waiver, and it eventually sold for £475. Almost brought a tear to my eye.
I know it’s effectively a 10-year-old banger, but all the hopes and dreams of Rover were hinged on the success of the Rover 75. Sadly, no one was really interested when they were £25,000 new, and no one is really interested now they are only £500. The fact is, it’s still a superbly engineered product and was well made, but people have long memories when it comes to the world of cars (just mention any BL product to someone), and it would seem that the 75 has already been consigned to a bygone era.
The 1998 dream of spotlighted, rotating platformed motor show stands and glass-plated showrooms has turned in 2008 to draughty auction hall reality. It’s enough to make you weep.
Still looks good today…
I was backpackin
I was amazed just how elegant the Rover looked compared to the clumsy retro detailing on the Jag. That interior just looked so inviting too.
And now a decade later Jaguar are finally building aa XF, the car that should have been the S-type and Rover is sadly no more.
Enough to bring tears to a glass eye…..
Sorry to be pedantic but a T registered car would have been registered betwee March and September 1999.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.