News : Early low-mileage 800 Fastback at Anglia Car Auctions

Craig Cheetham

What must be one of the oldest surviving Rover 800 Fastbacks is set to go under the hammer at Anglia Car Auctions’ summer sale later this month.

Among the many more upmarket classics due to be sold at the ACA sale in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, the Oyster Beige 820e base model could easily find itself a little lost – but, with just 38,000 miles on the clock, it could also become a cracking bargain for someone.

The question is, what will happen when it goes under the hammer? Will it pale into insignificance alongside other exotica, or will the heady combination of poverty spec and the British Racing Mushroom paint job be enough to make those entranced by the atmosphere of the auction bid themselves silly for a little piece of Eighties nostalgia?

Find out on 23rd August. Alas, I’m on holiday that day, as it’s just down the road and I’d find it pretty hard to keep my bidding paw in my pocket if it looked like it was going cheaply!

820e front
Not many left like this – but what will auction-goers make of it?
Craig Cheetham


  1. Who knows? Two rival bidders who both used to own one…………

    I seem to remember a beige (perhaps a fraction darker than this) which looked surprisingly good.
    A base model, yes but the quality Rover feel of the time made it far from poverty spec

  2. As nice as it is to see the Roy Axe lines in their purist form, I find this as appealing as cactus on toast.

  3. Yup, the 820 Fastback. 101bhp of pure O-Series goodness under the bonnet. Launched in 1988 to introduce the joys of 800 ownership to lower-grade middle management.

    Pretty much the perfect replacement for the SD1 2000…

  4. I got an H reg 827SI, with just a sniff over 40,000 on the clock, all with original paperwork and stickers on all windows, apart from a few dinks and dents from previous owners, the interior is mint, and the exterior is not far away…

    and I have got to sell it 🙁

  5. Nice to see one in an unusual colour such as Oyster Beige, which was introduced from October 1988, for the 1989 Model Year.

    @ Dave Dawson:

    I have to agree with your comments that the quality Rover feel of the time made the base models far from being poverty specification. My father had a 1987 820i and despite no rear head restraints or wood in the door trims, it still felt plush and well made. Especially the doors which shut with a nice muffled thunk, deep pile carpets and armchairs as seats. Four years and 126,000 miles later its 2-litre M16i engine still felt spritely and eager, with everything still working without complaint and no trim wanting to fall on.

  6. a lot of the rover horror stories are pure myth made up by the likes of clarkson. i am an avid rover and sd1 fan had a v8 vanden plas for 24 years but i do always admire the 800, similar to the sd1 from certain angles but mechanically very different obviously. from another era and it shows, in a good way tho!!!

  7. Interesting that one of these has cropped up, instead of a Sterling or a Vitesse.
    Next up, an SD 1 2400 SD appears as these must be as rare as a Talbot Solara now.

  8. I’ve heard some early 800’s can have a few problems when the mileage has got into 6 figures & DIY repairs can be challenging in some areas.

  9. Still a nice looking car despite that colour. Yes the 820e had single point injection but wasn’t it an M series engine? I think all R800’s were fuel injected.

    • Yup, it’s an M-Series under the bonnet of this example. The single point injection is Austin-Rover’s own in-house work I believe – essentially a glorified carburettor.

      I’ve an 820Se Fastback slightly older than this beige example.

      The above mentioned O-Series powered Rover 820 base model was fitted with a carburettor…and also the only engine carried over from the SD1 (albeit mounted transversely, plus all the other differences!)

    • Yep, Austin Rover considered fitting the 3.9 V8 transversely with the GM440 auto trans. Don’t know if any were ever built, but it wouldn’t have had any advantage over the Honda 2.7.

  10. I think this car looks best in this spec- nice crisp lines and unfussy detailing. I think I’d be tempted if I had the cash to buy and run it, and somewhere to keep it.

  11. Heh, an 820e.

    Nasty looking plastic panels in the doors and around the gear gaiter where the wood veneer should be and wind up rear windows.

    Don’t disconnect the battery or let it go flat or the stupid injection system will not run properly until it is put on a specialist machine and set up again.

    Good luck finding someone who has said machine. . . .

  12. An F plate may well have the PAS pump sitting down the back of the engine and driven by the other end of the inlet camshaft.

    This cack design placed too much strain on the cambelt which led to many totalled engines at low mileages. This issue led to the M16 quickly obtaining a reputation for expensive unreliability – cambelt failure.

    As usual, it was resolved too late, when in 1988 the PAS pump was moved to the front of the engine and driven from the crank pulley as it should have been from launch.


  13. sounds like bmw like the idea tho!! timing chain at the back of the engine?? engine out to get at when the chain snaps. ie 1 series etc. oh and its 2014….

  14. Modern crash regulations are forcing makers with longitudinal engine layouts to move the cambelt (or chain) to the rear of the engine. You can thank the EU for this brilliant bit of legislation, it’s to do with pedestrian impact. Cheaper to put the cam actuation at the rear of the engine than fit an airbag to the bonnet. (Yes really, airbags cost £800 – £1,000 each but once you’ve designed the engine that way round the cost is negligible). That is also why bonnet lines are being raised to the point that you can no longer see out of the front of the car without a periscope (certain Fiat and Peugeot models particularly) and why almost everyone will need front parking sensors soon.

    As for the Rover 820. It would potentially make a nice runabout for someone if cheap! 38,000 miles is not like 3,800 and I imagine that there are still some similar ones tucked away owned by little old retired gentlemen.

    If the single point EFI gives trouble then just bolt on a couple of SUs! I have memories of stripping the fuel injection system off an old Maestro and retro-fitting twin SUs. Half an hour on a rolling road to get it set up and a manual choke — job done. 😉

  15. Sold an E reg 820 a lot of years ago. It had 140k miles on it and an AA patrol man came and had a test drive. When we got back he said ‘I was trying to find something wrong with it so I could knock you down in price, I cannot so here is the full money’.

  16. I would avoid this model ,it will go out of tune.I seem to remember their was a self tune if you pumped the pedal a certain way and it would plateau tune on idle, but I don’t think it was very succesful.

  17. i would have said that the rover v8 lump is a lot simpler and easy to fix than the complicated and impossible looking to work on honda v6??

  18. It’s on an F plate when the quality of these cars improved noticeably. I prefer the second generation as the detailing looks nicer and they moved away from the big Montego look.

    • I’ve got such mixed feelings there. I like the early ones purity and “it could be son of SD1” styling, although Roy Axe couldn’t resist getting his ruler out and making it look like he’d crossed the SD1 with a Hillman Hunter…

    • Still not heard who the buyer was. I can say it wasn’t the usual serial 800 collecting suspects and nor was it I. I already have a D-reg 820E saloon tucked away.

      The 820E wasn’t a bad car. I borrowed a G-reg example for a few months some years back after negotiating a price and collecting it on behalf the owner. I drove it from Romford to the Midland mostly up the M1 and M6. Despite not having been looked after very well and not having been serviced for a few years and having an idling problem, it still felt like it’s V6 stablemates at higher motorway speeds. I really couldn’t fault it.

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