As a replacement for the Rover SD1, the 800 should have hit the spot perfectly as it was very much a product of its time – it was sophisticated, powered by a range of multi-valve engines, and looked bang up to date. But those shiny new motors failed to deliver, and early build issues soon tarnished the car’s reputation.
The 2.5-litre Honda V6 was soon replaced by a torquier 2.7, and that transformed the Sterling and its new Vitesse stablemate into fast and effortless sporting saloons. Smart examples of the Honda-engined cars are now going up in value, yet there’s little upward movement for the smaller four-cylinder cars, while the newer KV6-powered cars are still too recent to attract a significant following. Coupes are probably the pick of the range, although they have other serious corrosion problems.
But all are cheap to buy – and the earlier pre-facelift XX model now looks sufficiently remote from contemporary cars to start being thought of in classic terms.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
The 800 emerged as the result of an ambitious programme to produce new Rover- and Honda-badged executive cars… However, the Japanese and British teams disagreed in so many areas that very little ended up being shared between the two cars in the end, thus re-shaping future projects Honda saves the day THE Rover SD1 was […]
Our man with the photos, Stuart Collins, pointed his camera in the direction of the production of a dealer video for the Rover 800. He tells the story to accompany the pictures – if you have the video, please get in touch.
Revamping a model is never an easy task, especially when you are constrained by budget and the need to retain the underpinnings from an existing car. However, as David Morgan highlights, in the case of the second-generation Rover 800 Series, the transformation gave it a greater presence in the executive market. The early-1990s was a promising […]
Turn up your Sony Trinitron, un-pause your Ferguson Videostar and enjoy this prime slice of 1980s nostalgia. 10 July 1986 was the launch date of the Rover 800 and, as you can see from this advert, its high-tech demeanor must have looked like something else, compared with the olde worlde charm of the outgoing Rover SD1. Mind […]
From the News archive 12 November 1981 Today in Tokyo, BL and Honda announced that they had reached an initial agreement to design and develop a car, code-named Project XX. The media were told that Project XX would be an 1800cc model pitted in the market just below the Rover SD1 range. Under the terms […]
The Rover 800 Series was a game-changer in so many ways for the Austin Rover Group. David Morgan reminisces about its importance in raising the profile of both the company and Rover marque itself. Nice car, the Rover 800 Series – elegant, understated and with a subtle reference to its predecessor, the SD1… At the same […]
Keith Adams Back in the late-1980s, Rover was trying very hard to make its products more aspirational – and, it has to be said that, for a brief period of time, anyway, the company was extremely successful at doing just this. In that spirit, this wonderful TV advert depicting the Rover 800 Vitesse in the […]
Craig Cheetham If I had the space, the time, the money… and I’m probably not the only one, but having recently acquired a Mk 1 800 (watch this space…) I can’t justify another. Any takers, then, for this poorly but lovely looking F-plater, for sale at Country Classics in Pewsey, Wilts? Bodily, it looks excellent, […]
Craig Cheetham What must be one of the oldest surviving Rover 800 Fastbacks is set to go under the hammer at Anglia Car Auctions’ summer sale later this month. Among the many more upmarket classics due to be sold at the ACA sale in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, the Oyster Beige 820e base model could easily […]
We’ve read the stories a million times before – pampered journo flies to Modena, picks up a supercar, wafts it across the Alps and on to Blighty. Gushing, worshipping prose follows and we all feel like we’ve lived the dream. We like to do things differently here at AROnline and, in a fond tongue-in-cheek homage […]
The XX and R17 versions of the 800 differed significantly over what constituted the performance model in each respective range… …and here’s the anomaly. FEW cars in Rover’s recent history have raised as many questions as the Rover 820 Turbo 16v: Was it developed by Rover Special Products? Why introduce a new engine variant so […]
Keith Adams It doesn’t happen often, but for 25 minutes last night, I was rendered speechless. What, you wonder had such an effect? I had the pleasure of watching the in-car footage from Tony Pond’s 100mph lap of the Manx TT track in the Isle of Man. Back in 1988, Rover wanted to ensure that […]
There have been plenty of stretched Rover 800s sold, but did you know that the factory developed one? The long… and short of it IN 1984, Rover and Jaguar parted company in a government-backed privatisation. It left Rover with a real dilemma – to surrender the director’s car market, or try and go head-to-head with […]
Designed for the US market, but introduced after the Sterling pull-out, the 800 Coupé was very much a car without a target audience. And here’s its story. Always the bridesmaid… THE future of Austin Rover looked brighter in 1982 than it did at any time in recent history; the green shoots of recovery were clearly […]
Early sketches by Steve Harper show that Rover was thinking big for its range topper… Heading for the big-time August 1983, and the Coupe takes shape. Steve Harper pegs the wheelbase at 2650mm. Simple coupe lines adopted for the US-focused model… And here’s the open-top version… November 1983, and Stephen Harper is clearly thinking advancement…
Some radical ideas were tried before settling for the pleasingly ambient interior of the Rover 800 Saloon interior sketches Coupe interior sketches January 1984, and thoughts have turned to the Coupe version of the Rover 800. This drawing by Stephen Harper has annotations explaining all the features, in English and Chinese. The unanotated version – […]
The 800 Fastback was an integral part of the XX design process, as these sketches by Steve Harper and clay models from the Canley Styling Studios clearly show. Development of the five-door might have come later in the programme, but it didn’t stop the final car looking stylish, desirable, and most importantly, fully integrated. Words: […]
The Rover 800 underwent a very interesting development programme, with much work being undertaken at Canley before the Austin Rover engineers and stylists ever got near Honda in Tokyo. Some of the advanced theme were toned down somewhat for production, but the end result was still very pleasing… In time, the Rover 800 will be […]
Startins borrowed a suitably gracious-sounding name from the Daimler marque for their stretched 800… THE Startins Regency was the first Rover-based limousine conversion to be aimed primarily (though not exclusively) at the funeral trade. Some three feet longer than the 827Si on which it was based, it offered seating for seven passengers, with traditional folding […]