Our Cars : Project Rover 620Si
I’ve been saying for a while that the Rover 620 is the best used car (made by BMC>MG) in the real world and that, in time, I need to get myself another one. However, saying I’m going to do something and actually doing it are two different things and, as the weeks and months passed, I continued to find myself with a Saab 9000 Aero that needs a replacement gearbox and a Rover SD1 that wasn’t going anywhere. Something had to give.
There’s another issue, though, with buying a good, cheap Rover 600 these days and that’s one of supply. For those of you who aren’t too conversant with the ways of the gutter and the joys of sub-£500 motoring, there’s a real shortage of cars out there right now. Scrappage obviously took a lot of cars out of the system but, now that the price of scrap metal is on the rise again, what cars are out there are obviously being consumed to meet demand in China.
A quick trawl of the classifieds soon revealed that honest, cheap 600s aren’t exactly thick on the ground anymore. Those that you can find are either suffering from rusty wheelarches and bust driver’s window mechanisms or have 150,000-plus miles on them – or both. I wasn’t rushing to buy any of the dross that’s easily found on eBay or travelling 500-miles to look at an unknown quantity that might not be as described on Auto Trader.
I therefore decided not to go looking hard for one, but just to wait and see what turned up. A dangerous game, but one that usually works for the best. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself. This time, I was lucky – Andy Jones stuck an advert on the AROnline forum, offering his 620Si for a very reasonable £350. Given that, the day before, I’d been kerbcrawling for £500 cars for a friend of mine and all I could turn up were banged-up story-cars, this looked like the bargain of the century. Especially as I know Andy, had bought my Polski-Rover SD1 from him and sold a Metro Vanden Plas back in his direction… some say I came off that one better.
Anyway, without even asking for a trial or a look, I agreed to buy the car and found myself planning a trip to North Wales to go and collect it.
It always helps that you’re buying a car from someone you know and have, as in this instance, seen the car before. I also felt assured by knowing just how well Andy looks after his cars and so, when I arrived at his house to see the car for the first time since 2005, it was no surprise to clap eyes on a very straight 600-Series Rover, looking shiny and bright and predictably well cared for.
OK, so what did I get for my £350?
Well, it’s probably as good as it gets. The car is taxed until November and MoT’d until April 2011. There’s 91,000 miles on the odometer and a reassuringly fat service history. The silver paint is unblemished and the interior looks, feels and smells new. All of the electrics work, as does the remote keyfob, six-disc auto changer and the air conditioning, which continues to pump out an icy cold breeze.
Issues? Well, there was a slight exhaust rattle, vandal damage on the bootlid (which Andy had taken time to try and repair to stop it getting rusty), and one of the alloy wheels is in the boot as it’s shod with a bulging tyre. Shame, as there’s a full set of Goodyears on it.
On the 180-mile drive home, there were no issues to speak of. There’s some judderiness on clutch take-up and the idle’s a bit lumpy but, as Andy said, it probably needs a service. There’s some tyre vibration but, in daily use, you’ll never feel it as it happens at about 70mph! The rattling exhaust gave way to a fully-fledged blow, which would indicate to me that the flexi-pipe has cried enough, but I am hoping that I should be able to get one of these for reasonable money.
I’d like to find a full leather interior for it. My local scrap yard has one in for about £70, but am sure that shopping around might find me a better one. As for the wheels, I did think of fitting Rover 800 Vitesse Sport 17in items or, perhaps, 620ti wheels, but we’ll see how that goes, as I do like the understated looks of the car.
Further reports will follow but, if my hunch is correct, we’ll not be suffering any set-backs, given the ruggedness of these cars and its former history. However, if you know of any wheels going spare or happen to have seen a broken 600 with leather inside, do please get in touch, as this winter project might benefit from even more class…
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.