News : Amazing SD3 unearthed…

Craig Cheetham

Mind the cyclist, dear… because if you see this driving towards you, chances are you might take your eyes off the road for few moments…

Keeping Up Appearances very nicely after 25 years...
Keeping Up Appearances very nicely after 25 years…

Cheshire Auto Promotions’ two annual Tatton Park classic car shows are always good for unearthing the odd gem – the Car Mart section might not be huge, but for some reason there’s always something that turns up and leaves the likes of me and other fans of ‘ordinary’ transport a little gobsmacked.

Back in June, my attentions were swayed by a 12,000-mile Renault 9. But for the Tatton August show, it was the turn of Rover’s SD3 – or, more specifically, an F-reg 216 Vanden Plas that had been garaged from new and covered a mere 5,750 miles in 25 years.

DSCF8127 (800x600)

Clearly, I wasn’t the only person that coveted it, as the owner had sold it to an undisclosed buyer ten minutes before the show even opened to the public. Apparently, he’d accepted an offer just a shade under £3,000. That may sound quite a bit for a humble SD3, but where else are you going to find a car in such good condition, with such low mileage for a similar sum of money? I know from personal experience that the VdP version is also a really pleasant car to drive – lively, comfortable and with a well-appointed cabin. No wonder Hyacinth was smitten.

Only one other car had me thinking I could take it home with me this year, though, and that was much later – a 2005 MG ZS 120 with XPower styling kit. Love or loathe the 2004 facelift models, MG Rover’s last chance saloons are, by definition, extremely rare, especially with the XPower kit. Nice as this low-mileage example was, I’d suggest that if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it properly and go for the KV6 model – and that £1,995 is a trifle too much for a K-Series powered Rover 45 with wings and fins. If bought, kept and cherished then this would make a lovely ZS for someone – but, for now, I’ll hold out for a 180 in Firefrost Red if anyone has one going…

Good value or not at £1,995? Discuss...
Good value or not at £1,995? Discuss…


Craig Cheetham


  1. Years of trouble free motoring for a nice old man who wears carpet slippers…

    To be fair, cheap at less than 3k for the mileage & condition. Very nice and useable “classic”.

  2. I had a 213 and it was one of the most comfortable and pleasant to drive cars I ever owned. Also the Honda engine ensured it was very quiet and reliable.

  3. Looks nice… I always liked the original 200 series since it launched in 1984. My first experience of them was at the press launch in Northumberland (filming for BBC). Good to see there are a few that survived the breakers.

    Turning to the ZS – I owned a 53 plate ZS+120 in grey. Loved the car but only got £2000 part ex. in 2008. I agree with Craig, a ZS180 in Firefrost Red is a lovely colour too.

  4. The SD3 is great. There’s been a few tales now of low mileage, mint SD3s. There was at least one such example at this year’s POL.

    The ZS 120 seems a great buy to me. I like warm with brilliant handling as opposed to hot. Hence why I love my ZR 105 so, so much! What’s the mileage on it, the ZS?

    I never made either Tatton Park this year. Damn!! Hardly like I live a million miles away!

  5. The ZS 120 might not be as quick as a 180 but it still has good performance
    the engine has much better throttle response than the V6 and in this Day and age reasonable fuel consumption.

    The ZS is not a 45 with an MG badge on it, there are some very clever differences under the skin.

  6. That’s right Rob, the 120 does go well, and has the added benefit of being lighter on the front end than the 180 for an even sharper turn-in.
    2k isn’t far out for the ZS.
    Seen similar low mileage examples advertised for around 3k.

    What’s most interesting about this car is that it’s a hatch with the styling kit, normally the preserve of the saloon.

  7. I always considered the Rover 213 to be light years ahead of a 1.3 Maestro in terms of styling, refinement and reliability. Also if you were lucky and bought an older one with no rust, you got a very pleasant and cheap to run small family car. Certainly a Rover 213 S was a far better proposition than an Escort 1.3 L with its nasty looking interior and thrashy engine that dated back to 1968.

  8. I would prefer the sister car a The Honda Civic was the better car especially in 18 VTI guise. It would pull like a train better built and the VTEC bombproof also it would hold its money better. By the time Rover went bust is was almost two generations back on the Civic family tree. The facelifts of the 45 and ZS was a credible attempt to keep these ageing platforms going not forgetting Honda stopped supplying the dashboards and in addition powertrain was owned by BMW and Rover in the end had to Ford for gearboxes. The Dowry That BMW gave MG Rover should have been put into replacing the 45 and ZS not going racing at Le Mans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.