Our cars : Alexander’s Rover 800 – You Only Live Twice
I’m sure you think there must be an abandoned, dead 827 Vitesse in front of my place – given that, when I last wrote about the car around four months ago, I said that the car was so unreliable that I had simply stopped using it. But no – it’s gone. Under its own power the Vitesse went on to compete in the Rally Munich-Barcelona, which was why it had been bought in the first place.
However, as you can guess from my previous ramblings, there were still some tasks to complete before this could happen. Once I managed to free off some spare time, I finally got things rolling. First was a visit to a local testing station who offered a free safety check as part of a road safety campaign. No bad thing – seeing this was my first chance to have the car up on ramps and also to get brakes and suspension properly checked before deciding what needed to be done mechanically.
Anyway, as it turned out, it looked pretty good: no rust on the lower panels, all the suspension joints free of play, perfect front brakes. But also a torn CV-joint rubber and sticky rear brake calipers (not surprising – having seen the rusty brake discs). Lucky as I was, the car did not fail to start that day!
The Vitesse was then booked into a garage for a new CV gaiter, a set of rear discs and pads, freeing off the rear brakes, new belts (apart from the timing belt that looked recent) and a new thermostat. I kept my fingers crossed that they did not need to push it all the time due to it not-starting (as it turned out to happen quite often).
With the car in good mechanical condition, it was now my task to finally dive into the electrical problems plaguing this car. The PGM-FI main relay was believed to be the major culprit, so out it came for some fresh solder. Unlike on the R8, the removal of the relay is not really a 5 minute job so, while I was at it, I made sure all those connectors and multi-plugs on and around the fuse board were clean and connected safely. It made a major difference, the main relay clicked away as it should on the first try and many of the minor faults, like an erratic interior light, were resolved in one go…
Finally, in true James Bond-style, the car was just ready as my brother turned up to collect it. He had to leave without any further testing – just like BMC left many a car to be tested by the customer…
Oh, and, I hear you ask, did it make it to Barcelona? Yes, it did – and back. Without missing a beat, no overheating and no fluids that needed replacing – unlike the seemingly reliable competition from BMW or VW which suffered all sorts of problems, but that’s another story.
To cite a well known TV presenter: “The most unreliable car is the most reliable car in the world!”