Car of the Month : November 2014 – Jon Mower’s Rover 827 Si Fastback

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

Thanks for all the contributions for Car of the Month – we’ve now got enough to keep us going until… February! So please, keep ’em coming, or the feature’s return will be somewhat short-lived. Next month’s feature car harks from the BMC era, so this month we’ll drop in a relative modern.

Tongue out of cheek, November’s beauty is Jon Mower’s stunning Rover 827 Si, which is about as original as they come. Over to Jon to tell the story…

AROnline's editor has a BIG weakness for the lines of the XX fastback. We promise to make next month's COTM not an 800!
AROnline’s Editor has a BIG weakness for the lines of the XX fastback. We promise to make next month’s COTM not an 800!

Jon  Mower

When I passed my driving test back in 1989, I was determined to get into a car from BL/ARG. I ‘umm’ed and ‘ahhh’ed, and ended up with a Maestro 1.3L, which was followed a year later by a 1.6 Vanden Plas. Then came my first brand new car, a Mini 35. I was happy. I was buying cars that were made by what I classed as the best car company in the world.

How things have changed, and with hindsight (and sites like AROnline), how my initial thoughts were changed forever.

Two Rover 100s followed, a 220 Tomcat and two MG ZSs, one of which was AROnline’s Car of the Month in August 2004. Then it was all gone, a Jag, a Vauxhall and a MINI Countryman followed (and the less said about the MINI the better), so I decided to get rid of that and go back to my first love. I travelled all the way to Scotland to get him, my MK 1 Rover 827 Si Fastback. I won’t say the sale was a success as things were not as expected or promised, but for 800 quid, and with a boot full of spares (read rubbish, most of which had nothing to do with Rover), I at least had a Rover again.

Simon certainly passes the 10 paces test, but according to Jon all the panels need a little TLC
Simon certainly passes the 10 paces test, but according to Jon all the panels need a little TLC

Since we collected him, Simon, as we call him, has been trouble free, and has garnered a number of lovely comments from the car shows we have attended. There isn’t a panel that does not need something doing to it, but the interior is nearly mint, apart from the wood trim and one oddly coloured rear seatbelt. The comfort, silence and grace as he purrs along can’t be beaten, fuel consumption is a bit heavy, but not bad enough to have a tanker follow me around, the boot again is mint, the spare tyre has never been used and the jack is still in it’s shrink wrap.

The Honda V6 is as sweet as ever with only 41,000 genuine miles on the clock, though you do have to get used to the four speed auto – take it slow to change up and it is as smooth as anything, but if you’re more than generous with the accelerator pedal it does grab the next gear with a bit of a thud. This car is not a car to be driven like a hooligan, though, more of a nice, wafting experience.

Mk 1 800 interiors are nice places to be - seats are surprisingly supportive and the driving position excellent
Mk 1 800 interiors are nice places to be – seats are surprisingly supportive and the driving position excellent

Sitting on the drive, he still looks like a special car even after nearly 25 years, the wipers with the double wipe to drop down on the scuttle, the radio that does not like to keep its station, little oddities that bring a smile every time I start the car and drive it away – and are all part of the fun of owning something a little bit different.

Neat fastback lines and a punchy V6 - a great executive express of its era
Neat fastback lines and a punchy V6 – a great executive express of its era

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

16 Comments

  1. Great looking car, and interior looks particularly good, as others have said.

    Didn’t realise the 827Si model existed. Thought you had to go up to SLi to get the V6. Love the fact that this car came with the biggest engine you could get in the Rover range at the time (not counting LR/RR), but it still came with wheel trims and cloth seats. Nice anecdote to today’s small-engined cars rollin’ on massive alloy wheels.

  2. When I got the car, I was “misled” as to some issues, some of which I have sorted out, some I can’t. Unfortunately, disability means I can’t do some of the work that became apparent after I got him home.

    It is unfortunate that he is going, but to a very good home – a local car museum have agreed to take him in and look after him. When he goes, I will miss that thumping V6, smooth gear change, which I have now got perfectly right, and the oh-so comfortable seats.

    The interior is perfect, apart from the aforementioned wood trim and rear seatbelt. It’s like going back in time, the over light power steering, the double wipe wipers to set back on the scuttle. I will miss him a great deal.

    So I will, once again, be Roverless, but hopefully not for long. I keep being tempted by a nice V8 75, but can I stand the fuel consumption, especially when the new car is allegedly able to do nearly 80 to the gallon?

  3. I used to love the auto transmission in my Dad’s 1991 827 Sterling. To use Sports mode you did not need engage the trigger-style gear selector button, just drag the lever down to ‘S’. Then, to go back in ‘Drive’, just push the lever up. The ‘S4’ switch was neatly located on the side of the transmission grip to press in order to bring in the fourth ratio when in Sports mode, with a confirmatory ‘S4’ light in the instrumentation binnacle. A very logical and simple arrangement which did not require lots of effort. Having a ‘Sports’ mode switch down on the transmission gaiter – as is the usual fashion – is definitely more of a distraction.

    Back to the featured car, and this is a very nice 1990 MY example. Even in Si guise it still exudes a sense of well-being and refinement.

  4. Your previous post indicates that you’ve got the hard shifting gear changes sorted. However, regardless of what you read anywhere else, these cars ABSOLUTELY must have the correct Honda “hondamatic” ATF. It’s not cheap but might be worth getting it changed to make sure as hard shifting on this box is indicative of the incorrect fluid. Rimmer bros sell it.

    • +1

      It is likely that at some point, someone has changed the transmission fluid and not replaced it with the Hondamatic.

      My Dad’s 827 Coupe, which we bought at 3 years old with 27,000 miles on the clock had a “thumpy” gear change which I knew was not as it should have been. Changed the fluid to Hondamatic and the difference was astounding, like a different gearbox.

  5. I found the 4 speed Honda autoboxes tend to take their time to downshift if you mash the pedal. But in a wafty big car, it suits it more to take its time shifting.

    A nice example of a rare car, the mk1 XX fastbacks really did give a huge nod to the SD1.

  6. Well, Today He went into the Doctors for his annual checkup (MOT), and came away with a completely clear pass, well, just one tyre has a nail in, but thats been sorted, so another year passes and another pass.

    Who says Rovers are Rubbish, I have had loads of Austins, Rovers and MG’s and loved the lot, none of which as caused me grief.

    • Yes indeed – my current ZR has been the most reliable, trouble free car I think I have ever owned, beating VAG cars previously owned by myself (and other family members) . Bought at nine years old, 29,000 miles. I have covered a further 30,000 miles in almost two and a half years. The only ‘trouble’ the car has caused in this time – a failed electric window mechanism. Big deal! It was ‘frosted up’ at the time too.

      The 75 before did have HGF issues but this was a result of previous neglect, poor repair, replacement. Totally reliable in other respects.

  7. The 827 Si was the entry model, you went without some of the luxuries for the Honda V6, which was a smooth and reliable engine, and better than the 2 litre. Also by 1990 most of the build quality and electrical issues had been resolved and the 800 had turned into a very nice car.

  8. Sad news, My health is taking a turn for the worse, and I cant afford to do anymore work to it, As much as I would love to see him go into a museum, I would also like for someone to take him on as a restoration, and do the bits i have not been able to do.

    If anyone would like to make me an offer, i am very happy to consider it, and I would like to know how the progression back to 100% condition goes, if not no worries, he will go to a museum and just sit there.

  9. Just wondering, what issues did you have when buying the car exactly? I’ve been stung before and I’m curious about this one. For example, you claim it’s one of the most original but appear to have missed that the seats and door cards don’t even match the dash…

  10. I am also curious as to the “issues” you had with this vehicle, also why you felt the need to put it through an MOT after it passed with no advisories in January ?
    As for the photos of the car parked on “your” driveway, I must say it does look fantastic given the similarity it has to the Haugh of Urr Parish Church car park here in South West Scotland!
    I really don’t understand your comment either of the panels needing some “TLC” as I saw the car regularly for at least 3 months before you purchased it and it was, at that point immaculate!!

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