Our Cars : The Rover 25’s leaving an impression
Firstly, many thanks for the superb comments on my last blog regarding Dealership customer care or, in some cases, a distinct lack of it. My present other half is trying to talk me into writing a book about the plights of the salesman so, if any of you well-informed fans of this site would care to send me your tales of car buying from dealers, I would love to hear from you, all material will be credited – that is, of course, if there is sufficient interest. Simply get in touch via the “Contact Us’ tab in the Menu bar on the left of this page.
Well, fellow Roverites, my 25 has now covered a thousand miles since my ownership commenced – unfortunately, though, that ownership experience has not been as uneventful as Keith Adams’ with his Rover 620. I knew there were some outstanding items to be attended to since I purchased the car from a friend, but I honestly didn’t think I would spend as much time fettling and furnurkling as the car has needed. It’s like going back to the days when I had Marinas, Itals and MG Maestros… every weekend something needs oiling, tightening or tapping with a hammer!
I’m not complaining though, nor does the missus – how else, for example, would she have full control of the Sky+ handset? I’m sure that, before I bought this infernal 25, she honestly thought that Sky only ever broadcast The Professionals, The Sweeney and re-runs of Top Gear.
I am the first to admit that I do actually suffer from, if suffer is the right word, a very mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and no, before you ask, I don’t lock the front door 45 times or hop over every crack in the pavement either. No, what my behaviour amounts to is that I do a lot of things in a certain methodical order and can get over critical of myself with nothing ever seeming right or good enough. My family and close friends simply view it as me being fussy and eccentric.
This is one of the reasons I like to have a car that’s not perfect – even when I have run company cars, there has always been an old knacker parked in the garage or on the drive for me to wreak havoc on.
However, this weekend, the Rover 25 has been getting the works here in (very) leafy West Sussex. There have been a whole sheet of items I’ve been aching to get sorted, namely various squeaks, rattles and things not working. You see, as many of you in AROnline readerland will already know, Rover instigated a policy of adding value to the car, initially known as ‘Operation Teardown’ then renamed into a more palatable ‘Project Drive.’ The objective was to make the cars cheaper to build by removing certain parts or features which MG Rover thought the buying public wouldn’t mind or notice – this, in fact, played a vital role in saving the company hundreds of thousands of pounds in addition to making the company leaner.
These cost-cutting measures were eased in following the Phoenix take over of MG Rover back in 2000, but really took hold from mid-2003 onwards where some truly horrible changes were made during production – you only have to look at the wood garnish rail on any post-’03 Rover 45. Gone was the tasteful mock burr walnut to be replaced with a mock wood effect with the same quality found on a ’70s cheap hi fi. This cost-cutting, though sadly necessary, had some plus sides – for example, the wiring loom in the Rover 25 was the same unit regardless of trim level and, as a result, my 25 now sports a pair of electric/heated door mirrors…
Various money saving tactics were also employed where the eye couldn’t see – fewer clips were used to hold in items such as ancillary wiring and door trims, this being the main cause of the chorus of squeeks and rattles my dear little car had been suffering. By visiting my local breakers yard, I obtained some wiring clips, sound insulation and a pair of door tweeters from a 218Vi, the latter items transforming the sound coming from the Grundig Rover CD unit and the door speakers. The truly horrible ‘sports’ effect dash and heater surround trim have given way to the traditional Rover burr walnut from an early R3-shape 214 – these earlier facia trims were actually real wood and look superb on a sunny day.
Another annoying fault was the loose cigar lighter which would detach itself and come out of the centre console when you unplugged the satnav or phone charger. This was replaced with a new spare part found in the garage while, at the same time, I replaced the blown pin bulbs in the switches and added a neat little ashtray illumination last fitted on the very earliest of R8 200s. Some may say this is going overboard, but I reckon it makes the driving experience so much more pleasing, especially at night.
A dead Freelander kindly donated its stitched leather gearknob and this heavier than the standard item actually improves the quality of the gearchange too. The once well-known Rover badges on the rear 3/4 flanks that were deleted on later Rover cars now adorn the panels and the most annoying of all noises coming from the cheap-feeling fusebox cover has now been silenced, cured by glueing some black foam rubber to the back over the cover. Three hours of fettling has now given me one of the nicest driving experiences in a small hatchback. I simply cannot believe the refinement and smooth driving of these cute and curvy cars was once spoilt by a plethora of squeaks, chirps and rattles.
Overall fuel consumption seems to be in the high-’30s while no water/oil has been required. I’m now starting to enjoy this little car, but I am in need of a drivers’ side wing (paint code MNX) and a drivers’ side head lamp so, if anyone has one and wishes to pass it on, please get in touch!