Car of the Month : November 2006
For a while, commentators have marked the Rover Tomcat out as a future classic. Well, we reckon they’re wrong… as they all ready are.
The car already has a cult following, and the best examples are already being cared for in a way that you simply don’t see with many other cars produced during this era. Tim Colley’s example is a particularly special – and we’re now left wondering just how many as good as this one are left.
Tim tells his story about why he bought this FDH Coupé.
We love the Rover R8 at www.austin-rover.co.uk, but the one that everyone is beginning to appreciate as a classic is the Tomcat Coupé version. And this one, owned by Tim Colley, is probably the nicest of the lot…
WE ALL know that the Rover 200 Coupé was never praised by the press for being the sweetest option in the Coupé class. Littered with talented opposition such as the VW Corrado and BMW 3-Series Coupé, the torquesteer-tastic Rover (in turbo form, anyway) was always going to struggle. But if we fast-forward ten years and review the situation, it’s clear that the muttering rotters were being unkind on the stylish Rover – and that buyers really saw through all that, and bought the car in large numbers, anyway…
Today, the nice one are disappearing fast on the back of declining values (when they start getting dog-eared) and the modification scene (some of which look very good – but others…) And that is why Tim’s example is such good example of the breed – it’s low mileage, utterly original, and as we found out after driving it recently, as tight as a drum.
In fact, when you get in Tim’s example, and ride it hard through the Warwickshire back lanes, it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that the press were giving the car a hard time – yes, it torquesteers, but given the power and the weight of the car, surely that should have been taken into account…? On high quality rubber, and driven correctly, it really shouldn’t be a problem at all – we’re all used to it now, thanks to the latter-day emergence of the 200bhp super-hatch…
Tim knows he always wanted one, recalling, “When I was only 11-years old, my parents needed a car in a hurry, so ended up buying my uncle’s H-Reg 416 GSi – which he was about to trade in for a Rover 600. It had already done 120,000 miles, and was intended just as a stop-gap until we got something much newer. However, when we got the car, it turned out to be a lot better than they’d anticipated. It was reliable, comfy and as my dad soon found out, it could really move, with acceleration almost comparable to an 8valve Mk2 Golf GTi.”
“After being very impressed by my parents old 416 GSi, I decided I also wanted one. Just out of interest i searched for “416GSi” on the internet and soon discovered they made a turbo. This was when i was about 12! I never really thought i’d be old enough to own/insure one while there were still some on the road, but thanks to a good insurance deal and the low prices these cars go for, I realised soon after turning 18, I could.
“Setting out to find a top spec, low mileage turbo, I concluded I wanted a Coupé since they seemed the best specced, a lot had air cononditioning, and they look fantastic. I found this one which is completely standard with a full history and has only covered 47,000 miles since new. It was on eBay and had attracted a lot of attention. Having been owned by a doctor and then a chap who had lived in London but just got a company car, it hadn’t been used much, suffering only from tired suspension (road humps!) and a few parking marks. A trip to Kettering to meet the seller’s father who had taken on the task of selling it to see it in the flesh left me making an offer the next day.
“I plan to sort out the small car park marks and scrapes, get a rear bumper re-spray, fit an original non-chrome grille, and keep it long term, and not as a daily driver. Hopefully as they become rarer it will go up in value.”
So, what’s the deal with these FDH Coupés?
THERE are a lot of urban myths attached to these so-called FDH Coupés, and we don’t know their full story as yet – but would love to hear from anyone within Rover at the time, who can fill in the gaps for us.
Essentially, there was a shipment of Coupés that was sent out to Japan – all turbos, and with every optional extra fitted. However, slow sales over there resulted in a shipment of around 300 being returned to England and re-registered. All were registered, Nxxx FDH, and were fully converted back to UK specification at the factory (wiring/lights etc) before being sold on to Rover Employees during 1998.
It still looks good even at a wet and windy Gaydon…
Oh, and that horrible, horrible Jaguar in the background…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.
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