Blog: Am I missing something with the Rover R8?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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We rather like the Rover R8 around here – it’s blend of compact styling, classy looks and advanced engineering still tugs the old hear strings today, some 16-and-a-bit years after it was launched. An I’m not alone – in the search to find the best BMC>Rover car since the Mini, our readers voted it fourth, ahead of some pretty tasty machinery…

And rightly so, we say – the R8 was a pioneer in many ways. Certainly in terms of platform stretching: from the single floorpan, we arrived at a three- and five-door hatchback, a two-door Coupe, a Cabriolet and a vaguely ‘lifestyle’ estate. All that was missing was an MPV version – and could almost be talking about a current generation of family hold-all.

Well, a MPV version was actually sketched on the drawing board, eventually succumbing to the emerging Odin/Pathfinder project – but I digress.

I guess that’s why I’ve ended up buying another one. I’ve had a few before, and have yet to find one I didn’t find competent, efficient and likeable, and I’m hoping to do the same with my latest aquisition – a 416GTi, of 1990 vintage. The reason I picked it up was simple – I like them and I wanted another…

And let’s not forget the brilliant performance our similarly-engined 216GTi put in on the Staples2Naples run in 2004 – it performed so well, Alexander, Declan and me were frankly amazed…

Imagine my surprise when mentioning this to my work colleagues at CCW, I was met with a rather underwhelming reponse. Russ and Richard yawned, and Bill sighed… are they really that bad? Okay, I don’t buy cars to impress other people, I buy them because they intrigue me, but I remain baffled at these guys’ responses – it seems that it has aged badly, looks like a ‘council house car’, and will be a sackful of trouble.

And yet, when these cars were new, the magazines didn’t stop raving about them, and for a brief period they were pretty much as desirable as a BMW 3-Series or an Audi 80. So why has time been so unkind to the R8, and why does ‘the man on the street’ seem so unenamoured by them? It beats me, but I guess I’m not exactly unbiased…

Perhaps some of our readers could explain it to me…

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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