Our Cars : MoT time for Mike’s 75 – H2O not again!

Mike Humble


All fixed, tested and fully serviced - Time to enjoy at long last.
All fixed, tested and fully serviced – Time to enjoy at long last.

Well, after a period of healthy reliability after taking the Project 75 back under my wing it was time to take a good look over the car for its rapidly looming MoT. There was a brace of advisory comments from the last test pointing to some much worn front anti-roll bar drop links, and from my own inspections – a very poor handbrake that would barely hold the car still on the flat even left in gear – with four punctured tyres.

Despite the known foibles, I was pretty confident she would sail through with similar effort and grace as a cruise liner, but on the day when I was due to start the work – I hit a snag. We recently have had some of the hottest weather experienced moving down here in 2008 and hopping into the car to collect my ordered parts, the screen had a long arcing crack near the tax disc. It came via a stone chip near the wiper arm – no amount of Gavins resin would fix this, the screen (the original item) was scrap!

Arghh! - My poor old original screen got killed by the suns rays - Auto Windscreens did a cracking job of fitting the replacement though.
Arghh! – My poor old original screen got killed by the suns rays – Auto Windscreens did a cracking job of fitting the replacement though.

A call was made to our insurance company and the car was taken into Auto Windscreens who for the record did a swift and superb job even if they did lift me of £70 to cover the glass excess on the policy. They even managed to save my tax disc holder and obligatory Rover 75 owners National Trust membership sticker and the fitter even professed to be a secret fan of the 75 / ZT range as he rather proudly showed me a picture of his ZT-260. So job done and it was back to factors for the collection of parts.

The roll bar drop links are cheap as chips to purchase (around £15 per side) but thanks to way the top locating nut is positioned on the strut, they are a right b*gg** to replace if you don’t have a few tools, patience and some old fashioned initiative to call upon. Owing to fact the searing heat was more like Harare than Horsham, I swapped the combined toil of releasing fluid, ring spanners and skinned knuckles for a 6 inch electric angle grinder – like a knife through melted butter shall we say.

Half an hour either side saw the job done and the wheels bolted back on the car but I was glad the job was done. Next up was the dreadful handbrake which at first lead me think the cable compensator had bent – a fairly common R40 problem. A peer inside the rear discs revealed some life expired handbrake shoes so another visit to my local chap’s factor business gleaned me a box of new shoes for a tickle over £16.

The handbrake shoes were totally knackered. Sorted after a good clean up and some new shoes - a fiddly job that wreaks havoc on your knees!
The handbrake was totally knackered. Sorted after a good clean up and some new shoes – a fiddly job that wreaks havoc on your knees!

Once again, the job was done double quick and after de-glazing the drum that’s built into the disc, a perfect wheel locking handbrake was there at my disposal. All that was required was the obligatory greasing of the brake pipes and the usual visual stuff that goes hand in glove with a pre MoT. A call was made to my man at the garage and the next day I sauntered into to his office shoulders sagging, head low, keys in hand, feeling and looking like a condemned man on his way to the gallows.

Usually, I stay with the vehicle, pace the floor and do my bit to raise the share prices for Imperial Tobacco as he pokes, prods and pushes my car on his Bradbury ramp. Not this time sadly, I had to cadge a lift to work and suffer behind my desk hoping and praying the old girl would be fine. A while later the phone rings and I`m advised that its all over, the car’s ready to collect. Skipping into the black dust infested office the certificate is thrown into my hand.

But what’s this I see before me… an advisory? I must be slipping in my standards of MoT prep. There on the right hand side of the page reads; ADVISE – Coolant Leak so I ask if he’s sure its not just evaporation from the air-con unit – “not unless its orange coloured its not” he glibly retorts. We both meander over to the 75, its Moonstone paint glinting in the scorching sun and Steve pops the bonnet and shows me the coolant soaked belly try beneath the engine.

The water pump decided to fail after just two years - On the day of the MOT too!
A water leak from the bottom crank area signalled a dud water pump. On the day of the MOT test too!

As with many testers, my man is a world weary and experienced example and he went to explain how it was probably the start of a head gasket. I was not convinced by this and knew it was something else was awry, so after the kind offer of popping the car onto one of his two poster ramps a little investigation took place. To be fair though, my heart was in my mouth as the level in the overflow tank had dropped by a considerable amount in a car that has historically consumed zero coolant.

As a rule, a K series squirting water out is enough for most people to wince at the thought of swallowing the bitter pill that is an £800 head job. But the head was good and a new manifold was fitted too just recently so I knew what it would be without a moment of doubt – the water pump. Pulling back the wheel arch liner confirmed the steady drip of O.A.T coolant coming from behind the crankshaft pulley… not the end of the world eh?

Not really, but there is actually less room under the 75 bonnet than a K16 powered Rover 25 owing to the epic inner wings and chassis rail. Not only that but whoever designed the rear timing cover top bolt to go through the pump and into the cover needs a kick fairly and squarely in the fetlocks. It’s a right chew on as we from the North say that also requires moving the dipstick tube for clear access, having wrists like Ian Dury and the patience of Jobe.

To be fair, I had held back from replacing the timing belt until the recent surgery had proved be successful. Adding the water pump to this job adds another 30 – 45 minutes or so but there was a twinge of bitterness as I had changed pump just two years previously and below average mileage had been added since then. Unlucky and just one of those things I guess, so yet another call was put into Express Car Parts.

After being half roasted in the sun, the new pump and timing belt were fitted - Original parts too just for the record!
After being half roasted in the sun, the new pump and timing belt were eventually fitted – Original parts too just for the record!

What happened next can only be described as a prime example of The Law of Sod. Despite the reg number dictating the correct water pump, after getting home and unboxing it, guess what – It was the wrong one. Right box but wrong part so back into the company Golf for another journey to the parts counter whereby my trusty parts man tries to play a prank by saying another one was not on the shelf – let’s just say I did not find this funny and I became a touch… erm… emotional.

Well eventually, after a day being fried in the sun, spending most of the day with my hands wedged between the inner wing and the timing cover with half a ton of grit and antifreeze in my hair, the job got jobbed and once again everything is ticketty boo with the Rover 75 – a car of which I still enjoy every journey…

To celebrate another year of R40 luxury, I valeted the interior within an inch of its life - There's worse places to be I suppose.
To celebrate another year of R40 luxury, I valeted the interior within an inch of its life – There’s worse places to be I suppose.

For now at least!

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


  1. Designer’s Eh? – Sometimes, they have a knack of designing a simple part that “should” allow for simple maintenance, but manage to create – The Job from Hell instead.. 🙂

  2. Credit to you Mike, I’ve said it before, but this really must be one of the nicest looking 75’s around. Those subtle additions that you’ve added make a huge difference and add a touch a class to an already good looking car.
    Just demonstrates how “Project Drive” was a bad move by MG Rover…

  3. I’m chuckling myself silly at this thread as I’ve been there done that so many times before.

    How is it Motor Factors always give you the wrong belt kit for K series everytime even with a reg

    Who put that rearward facing bolt in the water pump and who ever refits it?

    Which bright spark put a fixing for the lower timing belt cover behind the PAS Belt tensioner?

    How is there less room under an R40 bonnet compared to R3 or HHR

    Glad you got it all sorted

  4. Cheers Ex Power

    I too lost the cover bolt in question… oops!

    Regarding the bolt behind the PAS tensioner…. 8mm using 1/4 inch drive / 6″ extension with a knuckle joint and an extendable magnetic probe does the trick!

  5. This car is looking better every time I see it, and more so now that it is in fine fettle once more, and that interior well need I say more.

    Great job once again.

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