Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Our Cars : Another year of Club (SE) Class

With Pride Of Longbridge 2012 only days away, Mike Humble breaths a sigh of relief following a visit to a place even more traumatic than the dentist…

You guessed it…  the dreaded MoT!

Club Class Act? - Our project 75 soldiers on for another year.

As I think about this, I reckon I don’t have any phobias. Many people have a fear of spiders or mice while others may quiver in terror at the thought of being forced into a confined space – and no, I’m not referring to the last Thameslink Service from Kings Cross to Bedford on Friday night, even though many will nod in agreement at that last statement. But after some further pondering, scratch that, I do have just one phobia – and that is… the MoT test.

This has been mentioned on here before I know but, ask ‘er indoors about my restless and sleepless nights, my mood swings, chain-smoking, tea drinking and the appallingly bad language she has endured with the patience of a Saint in the eight years we have lived together – all thanks to the MoT.

Eight years? Crikey, you get less for manslaughter. Anyway, no matter how hard I try not to worry or tremble, cometh the day, cometh the test, part of me feels like an expectant father to be as I pace the floor and keep both hands in my pockets to avoid anyone spotting my crossed fingers – seriously. As a keen supporter of bangernomic motoring and also being responsible for 99% of the servicing and repairs of all the cars to feature my name on the V5, the failure of the test is a failure of me. That’s my take on it anyway and, having worked on and sold many, many heaps over the past 23 years, I think I have earned the right and gained some experience into spotting the grot – but, still, the pain and suffering during this annual hour of motoring torture never eases.

Work in progress for the MoT - The rear brakes seemed well below the required Swiss standards.

Well, the 75 went in for MoT this very morning – the first slot at 8.30am up the road in nearby, creepy Crawley. Like the way most men always use the same barber shop, I’m the same with testing cars. You build up a rapport with people and Steve Anderson, who formerly operated his own garage for many years, is my kind of bloke – he likes a brew and a fag, has a realistic view on motoring and doesn’t miss a trick either.

The best way to describe him is firm but also fair. In the past, he has tested Keith’s SD1 along with my ancient 214, 420, Freelander and one or two cars for people I have done the odd business transaction with over the last four years. Suffice to say; he knows that I won’t submit a heap of rubbish for the MoT, which dovetails nicely to the start of this paragraph – you build up a certain rapport with guys like these.

Pressing the 75 into squadron service back in November, with the exception of the previously documented work, the 75 has hardly stood still long enough for me to have a good crawl around underneath. I started having a thorough poke and prod last week, all the brakes were stripped down and cleaned up with attention given to the handbrake which seemed to have a bias towards the nearside. A previous garage had fitted new rear brakes and handbrake shoes, the latter had been incorrectly adjusted, so I started out with a view to stopping. Everything from the calliper sliders through to the back of the pads was treated to a dab of copper grease, the rear discs were removed and the handbrake shoes were correctly adjusted and de-glazed. All the brake pipes were cleaned up and greased, with the whole system also being bled up.

6ft in the air and the cry of "foot on the brake" from down below - Takes me back!

Considering the lack of love and affection the previous owners seemed to show, the underneath is rock solid and rust free – quite amazing considering a lot of time has been spent with the car residing on the South Coast. This is all testimony to the high standard of body engineering that was bestowed upon the 75 right from the drawing board. The shell is assembled properly while at the same time being immensely strong. This is easily demonstrated by lifting the car with a trolley jack and opening a rear door – try this with a Montego or Rover 800 and feel the difference. Tester Steve also remarked about how solid they feel compared to some rivals of the same era and, if a mechanic of 35 years standing can say that, then who am I to disagree with him. He is, of course, quite right but then we knew that didn’t we?

Mind you, there were a couple of advisory notes, one because the rear tyres are both getting near to being turned into playground flooring and the other for a few stone chips in the windscreen – not bad for a car just about to turn 10 in a few days time. So there you have it, the Project 75 has turned full circle from a filthy and smelly unloved car to a dependable, reliable daily driver which has surprisingly cost very little hard cash to pull around. With utmost honesty, I can say that everything required getting the 75 from an almost ugly Duckling to Swan scenario including purchase cost, has yet to encroach into a four figure sum, mainly requiring lots of patience and time. I did not buy the 75 as an investment either and anyone who thinks they can will be disappointed. It was simply bought on a whim and out of necessity.

Top tech man Steve Anderson puts the project 75 to the ultimate test.

I am actually pretty chuffed that Mr. Adams has bought one too and, between us, we shall prove that a 1.8 Rover 75 is the only model in the range you can genuinely run on a piggy bank budget. Yes, the 2.5 is an awesome battle cruiser when in full cry, but some of the routine service tasks are seriously specialist and way out of reach for many budding DIY owners.

The diesel is another fine unit, again, when in good fettle, but electrical problems and fuelling gremlins can easily empty your wallet and break your heart. The K-Series powered 1800cc unit is a capable and free spirited engine that can and will provide miles of smiles provided you adhere to the upgrades and modifications which are fairly simple but not too costly. To this day, I still find myself baffled at the public and often trade ignorance of this rough diamond of an engine considering it was first produced back in 1989.

I can’t wait for Keith’s Connie to arrive here in leafy Sussex so it can start all over again. Many thanks are due to Steve Anderson and the guys at Kipling Motorist Centre of Crawley!

Mike Humble

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
Mike Humble

27 Comments on "Our Cars : Another year of Club (SE) Class"

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  1. BobM BobM says:

    Great news Mike, though I wouldn’t have expected you to have any problems. I’vemost enjoyed your blogs about this car.

    With around a month left until the Cavalier comes up to its 18th MOT test I am not being hopeful – it was a mare getting it through the emissions test last year and its getting rustier than the Titanic. Well its worth a go pass or fail I suppose.

    I look forward to the stuff upcoming about Keiths R75 – the more I read the more I’m tempted by a suitably fettled 1.8 K 75.

  2. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    Don’t be soft BobM

    Take the plunge and do it! But please, form an orderly queue!

  3. Andrew says:

    I’ve run my 1.8 75 on a piggy bank budget for 4 years out of the seven years I’ve owned it. Having purchased the car in 2005 at under 3 years old, it’s had the HG done just as it was starting to go when it went in for it’s 60k/6 year service. Other than that, it’s cost peanuts to run. Brilliant car that’s slagged off by people who have never owned one or compare it to the bigger engine varients without taking into account running costs.

  4. Andrew says:

    To note: 4 of those seven years has consisted of being in University and college.

    Now if a student can run and look after one, anyone can.

  5. ChrisM says:

    we shall prove that a 1.8 Rover 75 is the only model in the range you can genuinely run on a piggy bank budget.<<

    Glad you've said that now! I've just this week taken delivery of my 1.8 75 – can you recommend anything that an enthusiastic novice with not too much spare time ought to get done in the first few weeks?

  6. Ianto Ianto says:

    Hopefully Keith can get his 75 to the Swiss standard.

  7. David Dawson says:

    Hallo!

    Following my 75’s Pre Longbridge Inspection it needs new anti roll bar bushes, links. Waiting for them to be delivered – no longer stocked by your average Motor Factors.

    Seems my car has suffered from today’s terrible road surfaces.

    Did you have any problems with suspension, Mike?

  8. David Dawson says:

    Mike, under your ownership, care I’m sure ‘BD 02 EHY’ will do a lot better than ‘soldier on’ !!

  9. Mike Humble Swiss Mike says:

    @ David

    Nope, no problems with the suspension though your problems are known albeit easy to fix. Remember to soak the rear drop links in diesel or releasing fluid the day before you crack them off!

    @ ChrisM

    Park brake, coolant quality @ plenum drain tubes

  10. Benny Ben Adams says:

    Fantastic news. I am however biased as mine was the 2.0 V6 which suited the lazy but powerful nature of a ‘Big Rover’ IMO. However lets not forget the most important thing is that this is another Rover being SAVED and not SCRAPPED. Most people would have baulked at spending any time or money on a 10 year old car and simply swapped it for some bland-o-box from Korea.

    Mike Humble for a mention in Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours? Probably won’t happen but it ought to!

  11. David Dawson says:

    Ben, above. I’m pretty sure my 75 would have been scrapped by another owner – certainly at the second HGF !

    Mike, I too suffer when my car is in the garage. Only for me it’s more frequent than the annual MOT. Having asked my garage to order the anti roll bar bits on Monday I was by today getting edgy! I had to know if they’d arrived and if the 75 could have them fitted TODAY!! So I rang the garage and unfortunately they still ain’t turned up. I can imagine the chat as I put the phone down – “Who was that?” “Oh, it was that impatient b*st*rd with the 75” !!

    Your advice please, Mike – I assume the worn anti roll bar links, bushes will be directly responsible for the slight steering wheel play. I only notice this when the suspension is ‘working’ on uneven surfaces around town.

  12. David Dawson says:

    Ben, above. I’m pretty sure my 75 would have been scrapped by another owner – certainly at the second HGF !

    Mike, I too suffer when my car is in the garage. Only for me it’s more frequent than the annual MOT. Having asked my garage to order the anti roll bar bits on Monday I was by today getting edgy! I had to know if they’d arrived and if the 75 could have them fitted TODAY!! So I rang the garage and unfortunately they still ain’t turned up. I can imagine the chat as I put the phone down – “Who was that?” “Oh, it was that impatient b*st*rd with the 75” !!

    Your advice please, Mike – I assume the worn anti roll bar links, bushes will be directly responsible for the slight steering wheel play. I only notice this when the suspension is ‘working’ on uneven surfaces around town.

  13. Mike Humble Swiss Mike says:

    They certainly will contribute to that play, but also check the track rod ends for wear also.

  14. David Dawson says:

    Track rod ends were changed in December. Everything felt fine afterwards but play has returned.

  15. David Dawson says:

    More on SAVED as opposed to SCRAPPED –

    Regardless of any mechanical woes it may have, the very appearance, the physical presence of a 75 almost renders it ‘un-scrappable’.

  16. Tony says:

    MOT looming my 75 in a few weeks, I know how you feel. 24000 miles since the last one so far. I think it will need a pair of tyres on the back and the handbrake adjusting, but should be fine otherwise

  17. Tony says:

    I also get the steering wobble, so could need the track rod ends etc sorting out. Had this with my last 75 around the 100,000 mile mark. My current model is about about to roll past 90000

  18. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    Good news.

    Our 75 Club SE cost a total of £4.65 in repairs for the two MOT’s we put it through – one number plate bulb and one indicator bulb the following year. Didn’t do a huge number of mile sin it, but a testament to the quality if the car that it cost us so little to look after.

  19. Sam Mace Frankie the 75 nut says:

    Well done Mike! We always knew you could do it 🙂

  20. As nice as this motor is (and its very nice) I can never see myself getting a 75/ZT as a cheap daily driver. It’s not just the HGF problem (I drive a 45 1.8 so I’m used to that particular foible), it’s the added 75 specialities on top of that such as the clutch cylinders and fan controllers.

  21. dib says:

    That’s gotta be the stiffest chassis ever,I’ve never seen a car jacked up at the front to remove the rear wheel!

  22. Keith Andrews says:

    Rapport with an MOT station is key. -I used to have a great rapport with a local test station when I (presumably as some kind of punishment for my MANY sins) owned and drove no less than FIVE aircooled Volkswagens at the same time…

    If we allow ourselves the liberty of referring to Steve Anderson as “Mister Kipling”, we can probably say that…

    “Mister Kipling does do *exceedingly* nice brakes”

  23. Steve Bailey says:

    I wouldn’t mind a 75 as my next smoker. Trouble is, I fancy a 2.5 V6 automatic and I’m not sure that my overdraft would cope!

  24. Hilton D says:

    I didn’t doubt for a minute that your car would pass the MOT Mike – but as you say you can never be sure. When my last Focus had its first MOT, I checked the lights etc etc before going to the dealers.

    The only fault they found was a blown brakelight – now there’s a surprise! What a coincidence they didnt charge for the bulb.

  25. Mike says:

    Eight years of patience?

  26. Nick Chung says:

    Great Car well done!
    Interesting that you mentioned about the Body Torsional Rigidity when jacking. Worked at Body and Tool Engineering at Cowley during the ’90’s. The R40 was one of the first recipients of High Strength Steel. HSS proved to be a bit of a headache for the Pressed Tool Die Designers, Die makers and Try-out Fitters at Cowley but the results are impressive. Die Surfaces had to be hardened with chrome plating to prevent premature wear using HSS. The R40 was world class in respect to Body Design, leagues ahead of BMW who were still using drawing boards for Press Tool Design even as late as ’98

  27. Peter says:

    Good to see the 75 being appreciated. Bought my first a month ago (2003 1.8 Club SE with scrapes on all corners but full MOT) and very pleased so far, relaxed driving most of the time but quite capable of fun round the twisty bits when the mood strikes. And 38 mpg so far :¬)

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