Rovers : they look cooler in France

Keith Adams 

French Rover 100 straight off the cover of a fashion magazine...

French Rover 100 straight off the cover of a fashion magazine...

AFTER A WEEK spent in France – relaxing and unwinding – I can officially say that British cars look cooler over there than in their homeland. Admittedly, spotting a Rover in France these days is no longer a frequent occurrence but there are still enough around to make that judgement. 

Maybe it’s the ‘plates – silver on black for the older ones just look so nice; or maybe it’s a case of them being used and abused in the way their designers intended. Maybe it’s just the laissez faire way they end up being slung on the roadside… 

Who knows? 

Anyway, whenever I spotted one of our cars there, it almost always seems to have been in a posed position, in order to flatter the photographer. The shame is, of course, that they are dying out slowly over there (and in the rest of Europe), with each passing year seemingly revealing increasingly badly dented examples. 

Still, cars last longer there, so maybe in another ten years’ time, when all the Rovers on UK roads have been replaced by some awful anodyne German ‘box’, there will still be a hardcore forever motoring in France. Who’d have thought that ten years ago? 

A Mini British Open: looking good in France

A Mini British Open: looking good in France

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

14 Comments on "Rovers : they look cooler in France"

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  1. Eamonn says:

    I was always amazed at the number of R8s in Northern France during the 1990s.

  2. Dennis says:

    Cars don’t rot so much in Southern France, but they tend to smash them up a lot more parking down there. Up north they look after cars a lot better – well the same as we do here, but the climate kills them just as ours does.

    They must have sold classic British roadsters by the train load! I counted 6 when I drove to Bordeaux the other year! The most popular accessory was the nudge bar kit – that’s understandable when you see the southerners’ method of parallel parking! Thankfully, my car was parked in a private underground car park while I was down there.

    I have a fantastic pic of a British roadster in Lille parked outside a jewellers which I think looks just like a brochure shot!

    Perhaps that explains why the photography for the Rover 75 brochure was done in the south of France…

  3. Dennis says:

    Eamonn :I was always amazed at the number of R8s in Northern France during the 1980s.

    I would have been too, seeing as they weren’t launched until 1989 🙂

  4. David 3500 says:

    I remember visiting Roscoff last year and getting excited when I saw a Rover 623Si in Pewter Grey. This engine size was never offered with the Si spec in the UK, so it was something of interest.

  5. Simon Hodgetts says:

    When I went to Milan a few years ago, I thought the same thing – British cars generally look cooler in Europe, small number plates maybe, but surely it must be more to do with the fact that you’re in a cool city. Hmm, Milan vs Coventry… no contest really!

  6. @Dennis
    I have now edited Eamonn’s comment on his behalf…

  7. Eamonn says:

    @Clive Goldthorp

    Thanks Clive. It was a slip of my finger. We had one of the first R8s after it was announced so I am well aware of when they were built 🙂

  8. Irish Rover says:

    I had my honeymoon in Disneyland Paris last September and I was curious to see how many Rovers I could come across. While we were waiting in the bus stand outside the resort’s TGV station for our connection, a 600 Series in BRG pulled up! Looked in real good shape! I did see one or two 45’s and while we were on a boat down the Seine I saw a Mini parked beside the river!

    Heaven!

  9. Dennis says:

    Eamonn :@Clive Goldthorp
    Thanks Clive. It was a slip of my finger. We had one of the first R8s after it was announced so I am well aware of when they were built

    Yes it was obviously a typing error on your part. I was only joking!

  10. Dennis says:

    David 3500 :I remember visiting Roscoff last year and getting excited when I saw a Rover 623Si in Pewter Grey. This engine size was never offered with the Si spec in the UK, so it was something of interest.

    It’s funny how you see some odd combinations in some markets, in most cases it’s because that’s what the local sales organisation has decided the buyers want. Sometimes it’s for technical reasons, for example the Volvo 240 was never available as a Turbo Diesel in RHD as the steering column was in the way of the turbo, so you could only get NA Diesels, europe got the option of TD’s.

  11. Dennis says:

    Simon Hodgetts :When I went to Milan a few years ago, I thought the same thing – British cars generally look cooler in Europe, small number plates maybe, but surely it must be more to do with the fact that you’re in a cool city. Hmm, Milan vs Coventry… no contest really!

    This is true, i mean see a 206CC in Nice with the top down it looks cool, see the same car in Blackpool…..
    I wonder though if the french think the oposite? I mean whereas we had the ‘Rover Metro Rio’ here for example, in France they had a ‘Rover Metro Brighton’. You could for example have a Citroen C5 Rennes, somehow sounds better than a Peugeot 206 Coventry….

  12. David 3500 :

    I remember visiting Roscoff last year and getting excited when I saw a Rover 623Si in Pewter Grey. This engine size was never offered with the Si spec in the UK, so it was something of interest.

    That’s easy: we didn’t get the GSi badge – the Si was the top of the range model equipped as well as or better than the GSi in the UK. The continental 827 Sterling was simply called 827 Si…

    France and the Netherlands now seem to be the countries where you can spot most Rovers. More than, at least, in the South East of England.

  13. David 3500 says:

    @Alexander Boucke
    That’s it, you’ve convinced me – I’m going hardcore Rover spotting in the Netherlands next year, rather than returning to the scenic delights of Gran Canaria (even though I spotted at least eight surviving Rovers built between 1996 and 2001)!

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