Car of the Month : October 2006

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those motor show star cars?

We have – and when we heard from site reader, TOM MATTHEWS, and his left hand drive Rover 75 V8, which originally appeared at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show, and which now resides in Vilnius, Lithuania, we had to find out more…

Tom tells his car’s story for…

Show star

Gold works so well on the Rover 75 V8…

AT the Geneva Motor Show 2004, MG Rover announced the launch of the Rover 75 V8 saloon and put on display a Left Hand Drive Connoisseur SE in Chatsworth Monogram with Monogram interior. After Geneva, the show car (chassis number 215) returned to the UK and spent time on display at the Longbridge Visitors’ Centre and was used for various shows and publicity events before I bought it in September last year through an MGR Dealership in the UK.

The Geneva car was the third LHD Rover 75 I had bought from the UK and was by far the most exciting. My earlier Rover 75s, a 2.0 manual and a 2.5 auto were both excellent cars and trouble free throughout the 3 years that I owned them. Buying the Geneva car was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.

The Rover 75 is a well-appreciated car in Lithuania and good examples still fetch good prices on the secondhand market. There are a lot of bad examples too, high kms imports from Germany and severely accident damaged and repaired vehicles. It is fortunate that the BMW/Rover dealership here in Vilnius continues to offer excellent service facilities for MGR cars. Their engineers are every bit as good as you will find in the UK and possibly more used to repairing rather than replacing components.

The Rover 75 V8 and MG ZT 260 is a bit an unknown quantity here. As far as I am aware my Rover V8 is the only one in Lithuania. The only other MG Rover V8 that is here for certain is an MG ZT-T auto LHD. It is probably the only LHD ZT-T auto ever built and I bought this car in the UK in April this year and also brought it out to Lithuania. The truth is I had come to like the Rover 75 V8 so much that I would like to try to keep it in its original showroom condition. The ZT-T 260 provides a practical alternative means of transport whilst still enjoying the performance and soundtrack of the big V8. I also run a Rover 75 2.5 manual, converted to LPG, which balances up my fuel costs.

It’s possibly too early to give any meaningful assessment of running these V8s in Central Europe. After I drove the Rover 75 V8 out here in November 2005 it spent most of the winter locked in the garage. We had a particularly severe winter with temperatures down to -27c and in truth I hadn’t felt like taking it out for a spin until the better weather arrived. I brought the ZT-T 260 out in April this year so I’ve now been able to use both V8s throughout a very pleasant summer and autumn.

We have some excellent roads here with little traffic once you are outside the Capital. Like most places it’s just needed to be mindful of speed limits and lurking policemen. My early impressions are of cars with stunning looks, excellent build and an exciting specification that just wants to be used.

Possibly unwise to say, but so far I’ve had no mechanical problems with either car. There are a few well-known precautionary measures that V8 owners can make, such as fitting a retaining clip to the fuel filter and carrying a spare fan belt. I also carry a spare wheel instead of a can of glue. It is very reassuring to know that back in the UK there are so many enthusiastic V8 owners and technical experts who are willing to share experience and to offer very sound, practical advice whenever it is needed.

One very good example was the discovery that the Rover 75 V8 was built with an experimental exhaust system without catalysts or centre silencer. Nic Fasci, a former MGR Homologation Engineer who worked on the V8s, typically came to the rescue. He located a complete new system for me and together with the supplying dealer arranged shipment out to Lithuania. I know I will need to have it fitted before its technical test becomes due but I know I’ll miss its special sound.

My sincere thanks to Nic, and everyone else, that make ownership of these rare cars such an enjoyable and rewarding experience.


Isn’t it nice when things just… work?

Looks in place at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius

Again – that front end works so much better than the standard item.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created 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.

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