Blog : The case for Bangernomics

Mike Humble

Does the 75 1.8 pass the bangernomics acid test? - We think so.
Does the 75 1.8 pass the Bangernomics acid test? We think so

I may have mentioned this before but, when I purchased the Rover 75, I never intended to keep it as a long-term smoker. The purchase price was so cheap considering the mileage that the original battle plan was to iron out the wrinkles, polish a bit of value into it, then sell it on for a tickle and move on to something else.

However, to concur with old Blue Eyes Mr Sinatra, it’s got right under my skin and deep in the heart of me. Never tiring of the swoops and curves, always appreciating that genuine feeling of rock solid structural engineering, I have not enjoyed Bangernomics so much in years.

It’s my four-wheeled automotive night nurse if you will – regardless of how bad a day you may have encountered, the journey home takes on an eerie soft focus. Sitting behind the wheel of a Rover 75 in comfort not unlike your living room, you never suffer from road rage or any other form of motoring anxiety – only a Saab has a similar effect for similar money. Even the clocks on the walnut dash seem to be calibrated akin to an old barometer, meaning that, whatever is going on in world outside, everything on this inside reads ‘fine’ – and I kind of like that… quite a lot.

The car has certainly earned its corn too – Eddie, as I call it, has now racked up a credible 14,500 miles since my ownership and 14,000 of those since I performed open heart surgery by means of fitting an upgraded head gasket and related components just after purchase opting to prevent rather than cure.

Well, I’m pleased to say that, with the exception of a minor ignition problem partly caused by a previous garage bodge, Eddie just keeps on providing reliable, comfortable and enjoyable transport allied to fairly decent fuel consumption too in the region of the high 30s.

The K-Series continues to supply reasonable economy with steadfast reliability and remains stain free – it’s so very easy to achieve too!

Anyway, as we all know, Keith moved on from his own 75 recently, citing its leisurely performance as the main reason for doing so and I kind of agree with that. However, for me, the car is not about whiz-bang performance or pin-sharp road manners, though I am certain that, had his example been a ZT160 or 75 turbo, he would still be in the club.My fitting of 18in wheels has indeed sharpened up the cornering with virtually no side effects on ride comfort, but as for performance? Well, let’s say that for car that weighs what it does, it’s adequate. To counteract this, I simply leave a few minutes earlier and enjoy the journey.

What about running costs over the past year excluding fuel, insurance and the usual donation to the Chancellor? Well, not a great deal has been required to keep the old fella trundling along. Running repairs consist of replacing the valve cover owing to a stripped thread in the cam sensor, one faulty spark plug and the battery which died without warning. The wheel upgrade was a direct swap that cost nothing, though I did have to purchase three tyres in order to stay legal. The ‘Hairpin’ rims could do with a refurb but, take five paces backwards, and they look fine while filling out the wheel arch spaces a treat.

Champagne style for Lemonade money? Bangernomics never made more sense

Running Costs and expenditure over 14,000 miles excluding fuel and legals

  • Battery(second hand) – £18
  • NGK Iridium spark plug – £4.98
  • Front brake pads – £24.51
  • Valve Cover with cam sensor – Donated FOC via life expired car
  • 2x Headlamp dip beam bulbs – £7.86
  • Oil Consumption – ½ litre
  • Coolant Consumption – Zero

There you have it, then – living proof that Bangernomics does work. Don’t believe the hype that a Rover 75 is an expensive car to run. The 1.8 and turbo offer a staggering amount of value, style and substance that rivals could not even come close to matching while a few dollars more will get you into the CDT model for those miserly drivers.

However, for those who wish to run a 75 and carry out their own tinkering and upgrades, the 1.8 Rover 75 or MG ZT are so DIY friendly and the only versions that won’t empty your wallet when it comes to routine servicing/repairs.

Mike Humble


  1. I run a fleet of 2 Saabs these days (a 93 diesel and a 900 Carlsson), but neither of them can touch the sense of serenity I got from driving my ZT160. I still lust after another one when I see them on the road.

  2. ” the car is not about whiz bang performance ” No, it isn’t. In the 20,000 miles I covered before signs of another HGF I never once felt that my same engine 75 was slow. I never once felt like pushing the car to extract every last ounce of performance. The car always encouraged relaxed, wafting progress. Hence, you never really became aware of its not overly huge power output.

  3. Lot of good petrol cars going for peanuts now.

    Not only 75s, Lexuseses, Jags and the likes.

    Or, if you are feeling particularly flush, 5k gets a Phaeton.
    Not usually a german car fan, but this is an absolute bargain for a rebodied Bentley. Understated too with it’s “is that a Passat?” looks, as approved by the BBC Director General on yesterdays 6 o clock news.

  4. I recommend that any petrol head studies the Phaeton hard… its a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship.

    A good 20 minutes on the Phaeton website is a must too!

  5. This is how we got our 94 Jaguar Sovereign X300 4lt, a fantastic car and the average mpg has been 25 mpg! Lots of bargains at the moment!

  6. Coudn’t agree more Mike. My 1.8 75 was bought as a “stopgap” and stayed for 6 years and nearly 60,000 miles. My uber cheap ZT-T 120 has been brilliant as a workhorse for the past year too. It still looks good in spite of it’s 8 Scottish winters and 114,000 miles.

  7. Stone me that Phaeton is cheap! That is a hell of a lot of car for the money. The cow and tree slices inside are probably worth more than that!

  8. As a former 75 and ZT-T owner I admire anyone who can make the bangernomics aregument work. However I think anyone thinking of going down this path has to consider a few points:

    1. How skilled are they with things mechnical in general?
    2. Do they have acces to a good range of tools and probably a covered area to work in.
    3. Do they know people who can help out on tricky issues?
    4. Do they know their way round scrap yerds?
    5. Economists cal this “opportunity cost”. It’s not only having the time to work on a banger, but alos wht else you could be doing with that time, like watching your kids grow up, doing interesting things, etc.
    6. You need a relaible pare car too.

    I fail on the first five of these isues so no way would I be prepared to go down the bangernomic route, but that doesn’t mean to say tht many people can’t do it.

    Oh nd one final thing: if you’re going to do it, make sure the car is interesting. 75s definitley fit this bill.

  9. I find myself wanting to buy a 75/ZT every time I read your Rover 75 update, Mike.
    I have to say the car looks great in photos, especially with the wheels upgraded.
    But the addition of the chrome & the matt black paint, just adds a little more class to an already good looking car.

    If you ever fancy selling, let us know 🙂

  10. Your 75 looks great Mike – outside and in! The Hairpin alloys and chrome mirrors add to that Sports saloon look too. Hard to believe its over 10 years old… doesn’t look it

  11. On another blog it has been commented that cheap, big cars like the Granada and Carlton have mostly disappeared since the nineties, but the Rover 75 is proof that you can buy a big car quite cheaply and one with a bit more character than an old people carrier. I dare say some of these are available for a grand now and so long as the car has been serviced every year and K series versions have had a head gasket change, it should prove reliable. Also I’d think a ten year old Rover 75 would prove far more characterful than an old Ford Galaxy as a family car.

  12. “Bangernomics” – running an older car for less than a new one. The cost of repairs, maintenance being less than depreciation on a new car and the finance required for one. That’s broadly how I understand the term anyway. However, I’m trying to come up with a new term – I mean the cars concerned are hardly bangers! Your 75 Mike makes my point perfectly. Banger? Hardly!! Perfection more like.

    What word, however, can replace banger? What’s the term for an older, pristine car?

  13. I know – I’m just trying to think of a term which both describes the monetary angle but also flatters, describes the cars more accurately. So far, however, a punchy, concise term eludes me…..

  14. @14. Glenn. I bought my 53 plate ZT-T 120 for just north of a grand. I’ve now put 10,000 very enjoyable miles on it. You can pick up running 75 Saloons for quite a bit less if you’re brave.

    There was a one owner 75 2.5 V6 auto Tourer on the ‘bay yesterday for £995 and it’s Connie SE Spec with lots of extras: Meteor Alloys, Intelligence Pack and Hi-Line SatNav. Raven Black with sandstone leather. Sold within 24 hours.

  15. I still think the 75/ZT has one of the best interiors ever designed – it’s not aged one jot, and still looks luxuriously understated.

  16. I forgot to add that Mike’s 75 engine space looks superb & clean too. My father was a Chief Marine Engineer and always liked keeping the Engine room tidy on board ship.

    Likewise, he looked after his own cars the same way and that trend has rubbed off on me.

  17. @11

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there. Bangernomics works if you can fix it yourself. Start paying garage labour charges and you might as well have bought a decent car to start with.


    I would ask if there was such a thing, but I won’t 🙂 That said if I was running a car on a budget, I’d avoid the 75 for despite having very low purchase price, it would only take one failure of a clutch cylinder, fan pack or other expensive bespoke component to make the car uneconomic. The 45 isn’t in the same league with regards to comfort and snob value, but mechanically it’s about as complicated as a potato.

  18. @18 Tim, there are a few locally and the owners seem to look after them. I would think even for the diesel V6 now most will sell for under two grand.
    On a slightly different note my sister has a Rover 45 Turbodiesel and apart from a few faults, has run perfectly for the last 2 years as it uses a proven PSA diesel engine. It still looks a lot classier than a Vauxhall Astra.

  19. Being able to carry out maintenance, repairs yourself obviously makes Bangernomics a very real option, a financially safe bet. For those paying for garage labour, like me, it’s a riskier option. However, it can still often be the best one –

    My 75 suffered two HGF’s. I incurred other expenses making the car ‘good as new’ when the second gasket replacement really was looking sound several thousand miles in. So, all in all, in my 25,000 miles of ownership I spent quite a bit.
    However, when you think the 75 only cost me £2500, less £1000 for my trade in, then overall two years classy motoring were not really that expensive. Just imagine the depreciation on a new executive saloon after two years!
    Now, with my mint, low mileage ZR I’m hoping to show further the advantage you can achieve with an older car. Also, it’s no banger!!!

  20. @19. Totally agree. The 75 especially brings back the old adage “it’s better to travel than to arrive”. I have yet to find such a perfect place to be when stuck on a motorway. 2 75s and a ZT-T later I never tire of them.

  21. @22

    Unless your sister’s 45 has seen some radical surgery then it’s running the L-series diesel, which is a Rover designed and built unit (and probably the only 90s MGR engine with no real problems).

  22. beautiful car, I’ve always liked Moonstone Green, looks the bee’s knees with the lower black-out

  23. Is there any other kind of motoring? I’ve been practising ‘bangernomics’ ever since I bought my last ‘modern’ car, a 1990 Rover 827 Vitesse back in ’92. Since then I have refused to buy anything newer, as to do so would probably be beyond me to fix it.

    At the moment I’m continuing to enjoy little nostalgia with an ’85 Audi GT coupe. Had one of these too back in the day when it was considered a ‘modern’ car, but will probably be fed up with it come this time next year.

    I might continue this nostalgia trip with another 827 Vitesse but you never know… could end up with an old Chrysler 180 if I can find one that’s still not disintegrated yet. :o)

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