Car of the Month : January 2009

Welcome to 2009, and it’s time for a Rover Vitesse for Car of The Month. We like to think that this website’s the spiritual home for these underrated large saloons, and it’s only fitting that we support the cause by offering up Ben Adams’ nicely original example for your delectation.

Considering it cost under £500, you’re looking at something of a bargain… Well, Ben seems happy with his purchase, and trusts it enough to get the bride to the church in time…

Words and pictures: Ben Adams


Refinement personified…

THE truth of the matter is that I didn’t go looking for another car, I was just on eBay and spotted this fine car for sale and felt the need to inform the forum that it was up for grabs. The 1989 XX-shaped Vitesse in a most interesting specification – Vitesse trim with the no-cost automatic transmission option. A refined executive express for pushy management types…

Time went on and it had hardly attracted any bids at all and I found myself more and more interested in buying this, and as if by fate I had a savings account mature and suddenly had some cash in my hands. Maybe its the ‘underdog’ thing that attracted me to the XX, it had replaced the SD1 but never really took to the hearts of the die-hard Rover fans in the same way and even today many refuse to regard it as a true Rover because of its Honda origins but I see past all that, I had grown up around this car and remembered seeing many on the roads, one of my fathers colleagues ran one well into the 21st century before replacing with a MG ZT-T.

I placed my bid and was quickly outdone (by someone else on AROnline) and tentatively placed another one for £310; time went on, and I started to think that I would get ‘sniped’ at the last minute and that would be that. A Tickford Turbo had also appeared on eBay at the time and I had started to take an interest in that.

The final day came and I won the auction, and a few days later I found myself on a train to Watford collecting it (unseen) from a car dealer. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. It was a 19-year old car and I was about to drive it back to Stafford on my own in what turned out to be the wettest day in September. But very quickly, the Vitesse allayed all my fears, it coped well with the bad weather and we easily made it home.

The car was registered originally to British Aerospace as a management car and clocked 24,000 in a mere 12 months. It was then sold through a Rover dealer in Hertfordshire to a couple who held onto the car until October 2006 when it was sold on to a local man who did less than 2000 miles in 23 months before coming into some money and part exchanging it at the garage where I bought it from. The history is very extensive with everything being done at the correct time and over £600 spent on the car in 2006-’07 just to keep it going. When I had it MoT’d in November it only needed one new tyre to pass.

Later this year the car has a special job to do when it will ferrying my cousin Ed to his wedding reception – for his bride we have managed to get a rather special Sterling saloon…

Posted in: 800, Car of the Month
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.

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