Blog: Europeans! Save your 75s!

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

image13-600x450

I’ve spent lots of time on European soil over the last 20-or so years, and one of the saddest phenomenon I’ve borne witness to is the disappearance of Rovers from the roads over there. Okay, so it’s something that’s happened with great gusto in the UK thanks to scrappage and our narcotic dependence on financed new cars but, over in Europe where old cars are more highly valued, for their future usefulness, and not just trade price, this is doubly sad.

I’m currently in France, where between 1980 and 2000, sales of Austin Rovers held up well in comparison with other markets – and, as yet, after four days of being here, I have yet to see any Rovers at all – the nearest being a Longbridge-made Honda Concerto TD. That’s disappointing, as generally, I’m guaranteed to see something K-Series powered, or wearing a longship – but, so far this year, it’s nada…

The non-appearance of the wonderful 75 is particularly disappointing. These cars chimed well with millennial European buyers, who related to the modern-retro look, and the whiff of ‘cool Britannia’. The 75, in particular, won friends in France, Italy and Germany because of its elegant styling, ambiance, and fine engineering and build quality.

So where are they now? Have they all been scrapped? Traded in and shipped to the former Eastern bloc? It would be good to hear from European Rover enthusiasts to put my mind at rest and assure me that a healthy number of 75s remain on the roads…

It’s been approaching a decade since the death of MG Rover in the UK and their disappearance from British roads has been shocking in its near completeness. But to lose these fine, and respected, cars (yes, they were in mainland Europe on the whole) in Europe is something that’s hard to bear.

If you’re a European MG Rover fan, and have cars you’re keeping hold of, AROnline would love to hear from you…

image14-600x450

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

61 Comments

    • Hi,here three Rover 75 in the garage….And that would be forever:
      Rover 75 Tourer Cdti 5000km
      Rover 75 Saloon V8 19000km
      MG ZT Saloon Cdti+ 6000km

  1. German Market 75’S tend to be smashed up in every other episode of Alarm Fur Cobra 11, Die Autobahn Polizei. As you can no doubt figure out this is one of those by the numbers cop shows on German TV that revolves around near enough every episode a large exec saloon, (Old Jag, 5 Series, and Rover 75 amongst others) will end up being totalled in the most spectacular way imaginable. In the early episodes it was SD1’s meeting their maker this way, now they have moved onto 75s because like most cars these days they are not being scrapped because they are rotten and/or time expired but because an electronic or dealer only part has gone wrong and it is uneconomical to fix. I lived in Germany for 11 years and for all the countries many virtues (My wife is German) car parts and repairs are shockingly expensive . It really does amaze how your average German can afford to run a car because contrary to what you read in the papers Germany may well be a rich country, but your average German (and I hope any reading this don’t take offence) are like the rest of us just trying to make the best of what they’ve got.

    • Ah you watch it also!!! I get it here in Switzerland too. In Zurich I see quite a few 75’s, actually in Langnau Am Albis there is a Vitesse parked outside a house and looks to be used daily. I think Emil Frey imported the Rovers back in the day. Swiss seemed to like them also.

  2. You still see quite a few old Rovers in Spain, notably the 200 series. There was a strong Rover main dealer in Denia on the Costa Blanca and they obviously did a good job on the locals. They only took down the large Rover badge from the fascia about 18 months ago, it having reverted to a second-hand dealership. Maybe it’s the kind climate, but the older Rovers seem to keep going there.

    • You are right, there are plenty of R3 generation 200 Series in the Canary Islands and Mallorca, usually in a base trim with steel wheels and the obligatory air conditioning.

      This year, while visiting Mallorca, I saw a few tired looking 75s, plus one immaculate facelift example near Alcudia which looked like it had just rolled off the assembly line. Late Rover 400s and pre-facelift MG ZRs are also a regular sight.

      Now really is the time to start raising awareness of the dwindling numbers of one of Rover’s best saloons, the 75. The Rover name might not be an active brand any more but it does not mean we have to forget about it or loose our commitment to preserving the many models that represented it. Life would be very dull and depressing for me without the regular sight of a surviving and well polished Rover – the more recent offerings from MG and even Land Rover are simply not enough compensation for me.

  3. I live near Liège (Belgium)and I am not a 75 owner but I am proud of my 2003 MG ZT.
    Yes it is now 11 years old and if I need an other car I don’t know where I must look for. Maybe a secondhand 75 Tourer or an MG ZTT but yes it is true that it is not easy to find a good one here in Belgium
    One of my friends owns a 75 and an other one owns a 75 Longbridge.
    Like me they love these cars.
    The boss of the garage (an old MG Rover agent)where I go sometimes for maintenance said to me that the 75 or MG ZT owners keep their cars as long as possible waiting for an other car of the same class and the same Britishness.
    Can we hope this in a near future? Not sure.

  4. I recently spent a week or so in Ireland- Rovers aren’t overly common there (mostly 25s spotted). They do seem to like their French cars more for some reason.

    I’d imagine a softly-sprung 75 would suit Irish roads very well- not the best surfaces, plus Irish drivers tend to potter below the very restrictive speed limits.

  5. Quite sure You will see in Rome, still for a long time a 75 CDTi Connoisseur, an SD1 and a Wolseley 6/99

  6. Still see some 75s here in Southern Hungary, even passed a mint looking Hungarian plated LHD estate last weekend. Mostly diesel versions for obvious reasons and usually Green !
    Some RHD versions now on the roads,bought cheaply and brought back by Hungarians returned from working in the UK also.

  7. Yes, four years ago when I bought my 75 they were still such a common sight. Plenty around, well looked after, probably only on second owner. Now a pretty rare sighting but having said that I saw two tidy ones in convoy a couple of days back.

    Let’s face it though, we MGR drivers are a rare sight all round now! I reckon my forever gleaming ZR must now stand out to even non car enthusiasts.

  8. with my 25 year owned sd1 v8 vdp i feel completely on my own when out driving in the crewe area!! never se any. my son has an mg zr by the way very good car and nice looking. and my other son a nearly as rare mg maestro turbo. i love the 75s by the way, always have. would love a mustang powered one one day. lol. they are climbing in price tho..

  9. The problem is is that although some of us have a patriotic love for Rovers (and other British marques) others, including most foreigners see them for what they are, potentially unreliable, often badly made and latterly very flimsy cars that have no or very little spares back up with dated looks and dynamics. I’ve had my fair share of Rovers/MGs in my time and the cars built in the last five years of the company’s life were mostly fragile, flaky and outdated, now why would anyone without an emotional attachment to these cars actually want or keep one?!

    • ” foreigners see them for what they are, potentially unreliable, often badly made and latterly very flimsy cars that have no or very little spares back up with dated looks and dynamics ”

      My experience is totally to the contrary – my current ZR bought at 9 years old, 29k miles has been TOTALLY trouble free. OK, very well looked after for ALL its life but not a squeak out of her during the 27k miles I’ve added. Puts VAG products my family has owned to shame. Had no problems with spares. Can’t stop admiring the looks and dynamically fantastic!

      Also my previous 2003 75 was faultless apart from HGF resulting from previous neglect & shoddy repair. I was so keen to own a 75 I just turned a blind eye.

  10. Well I’m glad I have the Project 75, and I must say that I have noticed that, there are not many gracing our roads, but curiously the MG models are a more common sight.

    But early 75’s seem almost extinct in this part of the world.

  11. I always see loads of 75s in the Benelux countries, but I agree, Keith, that they’re dying out slowly in other European markets – though in Menorca recently I spotted one household that had a 75 Tourer, an 800 Fastback and a 216 Cabrio. Patriotic ex-pats, perhaps?

    Irrespective, I now know it’s time to buy a 75, as if I leave it too long they’ll all either be extinct or expensive. 2.5 V6 Connoisseur, please, as I don’t need frugality or low running costs if it’s just for high days and holidays.

    • Beware though, since the company that imported them went bust. This means that new parts are hard to obtain overhere… Also, avoid the ones built after 2005 since after BMW pulled out quality dropped dramaticly…

  12. In Manila a few years back I saw a Y-reg SD1 2600 parked in the street. They hadn’t bothered putting on Filipino license plates, they just left the original Brit Y reg plates on.

  13. Living in a medium sized town about 40km east of Frankfurt it would appear that we are quite lucky here. There are a number of MGF, MGTF, 200 (>99), 400, 25, 1 off MG ZS 190 which is in really great shape, a couple of MG ZR’s and Rover 75’s. I personally have a very run down 25 an MGF and I have just discovered a 216 convertible (K-series) which looks like I might have to add it to my collection.

  14. I’m the proud French owner of a couple of MG ZTs (one 190 and one 260) and despide seeing one good looking 75 parked next to the brasserie I was enjoying a meal in Paris this afternoon, I must admit MGs and Rovers are flying from the french streets and roads. There is still a strong support from enthousiasts but the fact is more and more are scrapped or exported in Eastern Europe or Africa, especially 75s, 45s and very old 200s. In places were the MG Rover dealer was a good one (for exemple in Arnage near Le Mans), you can still see loads on roads or carparks but Rover 75s and MG ZTs are endangered species this side of the channel.

    • Just north of Le Mans I spied a facelift ZT and Cowley 75 in the same morning! This was last week. This week I have found a 25 parked next to me twice in Normandy. Strugling to spot Xsara’s though, once common on the continent.

  15. I brought my 2004 ZT to France (Dordogne area) 2 years ago, and whilst you don’t see many ZT’s, you do see quite a number of 75’s, 200’s, and 400’s locally. The ZT is now on French plates, and being rare here, it attracts quite a few glances. I get most of my parts from Ebay, or Euro Parts, and seem to sort most problems when they arise. We use the ZT to ferry guests around for our photographic business, and they seem to love it!

  16. I’m the proud French owner of a 75 as well (dealer launch car) and a member of the French Rover club. I live near Paris and I can tell you it’s still quite common to see Rovers around here. Not a week goes by when I don’t see one on the road. The 75 is probably the most common sight of all (though Tourers are quite rare), MG ZTs and ZTT-T even rarer. Other common Rover sights include 200/25, 400/45 are less common, the R8 generation of 200 is still also quite a familiar sight considering the numbers in which they had sold.
    Yet this is also because there are still a few (3 or 4) XPart-affiliated garages within the Paris area. In other parts of France it is becoming increasingly difficult to find some reliable and knowledgeable Rover garages. People that don’t have the expertise to do things themselves or access to garages tend to dispose of their cars, be they Rovers or any other make. The government aids to buy new, less-polluting cars while disposing of their older ones also didn’t help.
    Yet I also know that there is a small, but very dedicated Rover community, let alone individuals, who want to keep on their cars as long as possible. This is certainly true of 75 owners. Several ex-Rover garages I’ve been in touch with over France, have told me that 75 owners still coming in for servicing want, for the better part of them, to hold on their cars for as long as possible.

  17. steve,,,,spares backup is fantastic i can get almost anything for my SD1 the mext day, rimmers bros…that goes for my sons cars too. where did you get that idea?? my friends nearly new focus is a car he finds hard to get spares for its 3 years old and he was told it was an old model now!! he had to wait for a alternator and take the front of the car apart to get at it!!

    • Indeed, spares situation even for older Rovers like R8 and 800 is between good and excellent in comparison to many other makes in the same bracket – try PSA for a bad example. Of course, if you want factory backup for every car regardless of age, you should buy a Mercedes – or Morgan!

  18. There are a few 75’s in my small town in Poland. My friend has a 2.5 V6 and he loves it! Rovers here are nearly as cheap as Daewoo’s here so they are very popular, cheap wheels with street cred and high quality. I nearly bought one myself. It was a 2001 75 1.8 Club SE with 130K miles on the clock, a lovely car, but with an avg of 30-35 MPG it was a bit too thirsty for me, being just 18 with little income. That would be a cracking first car! Sadly I’ve ended up with a Renault Megane Diesel…

  19. i wish a have the money to buy all those over complete rovers & mg’s here in holland… 😉 have now a 220 turbo coupe and 216 coupe, both 1993 in my garage so far… here in holland you got luckily a lot of enthusiastic mg & rover drivers & clubs… you still see of them on the road, even my girlfriend recognize them now 😉 now on sale a rover 45 v6 with low mileage and nice 400 tourer… i have no space and money left 🙂

  20. how unreliable are french cars if you think rovers are??? also look at the reputation mighty BMW now have, one of the worst engine failure records of present times ie cam chains snapping etc. rovers are no worse than most other modern cars look at DPF problems on diesels!!!

  21. MG Rover were killed (in my opinion) by the Great British public who love to knock themselves, and the media, namely Clarkson. Imagine clocking on, on a Monday morning, when Sunday evening was spent watching your’ product being slated! That mixed with the ‘Phoenix 4’ and you don’t stand a chance?

  22. paul, you are absolutely spot on, ive always said the same. we love trashing our own products for some reason. you dont see the AMERICANS do it, they love there cars so why do we do it??

  23. A week on, and I’ve seen one or two, but not as many as usual. I guess with all older cars, local knowledge is all, and if there’s a good garage nearby specialising in these cars, then the cars will remain on the roads. So, there are undoubtedly pockets of MGs and Rovers still going strong.

    But it’s good to know that there are European fans out there, who will maintain Britain’s finest for years to come.

    • Keith, as mentioned before, local knowledge is key, and so is the presence of former, strong Rover dealerships. Spending some time in the city of Epinal in France, where I used to live and am spending some vacation just now, I am still amazed at the number of Rover cars I’ve seen over the 24 hrs since I arrived. One MG ZT-T (those are rare in France), two 25s, two 400 HH-R, one 111 GSi, one 623Si, two 200 R8…
      The local ex-Rover dealership, who happens to be a friend of my dad’s, had very dynamic sales there in the 90s…as compared to overall Rover sales in France.

  24. @ Ant 80, at last someone else who thinks modern BMWs are rubbish. They have all the reliability of a Fiat Strada and use the same technology of that era( rwd), while charging the earth for what are quite ordinary cars inside and on the road. Like British Leyland in the seventies, they seem to brush off quality concerns and no doubt this will soon reflect in falling sales.

  25. yes glenn correct my boss had a bmw estate nothing but trouble, broken wires in the roof so no electrics £1000 for labour cost without the parts auto box ratios playing up all computer controlled of course, £500 just to look at, never was fixed!! tyre wear on one tyre? never corrected after 8 months sold it and lost a load of money!! constant faults. so much for the ultimate driving machine. bought a honda now had problems even with that!!

  26. @ Ant 80, one of my friends has a 1 series as a Motability car and the inside is like sitting in a 1975 Morris Marina, gloomy black plastic everywhere and the drive is no better than a 1.6 Ford Focus. At least with the Rovers, the interior was class, wood, chrome and quality fabrics and leather everywhere and it made you feel good.

  27. It is quite suprising that quite a few former dealers are still catering for MG Rovers. There is even a Dutch MG Rover dealerorganisation to guarantee the quality of spareparts and service. That is something that MG can build on if they ever plan to re-enter.

  28. Still quite a few 75S in Sweden. Local specialist tells me that they have a good reputation and people are willing to spend money on them to keep them in good order. Most seem to be the original pre Longbridge models. Check out “blocket.se” (a sort of Swedish Ebay)if you want one – the later and/or good ones are still going for around 60,000 SEK – about 5000 GBP.

  29. I was in Antwerp in 1990 and happened upon a Rover dealer who spoke excellent English. He said they couldn’t sell enough 200s and 400s.

  30. ……never see one in Denmark though. Although I was passed by an MG Metro on the way to work in Copenhagen about six months ago, and I also saw (even more exciting this!)a Montego a while back. BL used to have about 20% of the new car market in DK at one point….but they’ve all gone

  31. hi,
    my 75 died last year and when i get new job I will go for my 5 Austin or Rover hopefully.
    Between my uncle and father-in-law they keep still running 2 75 MKI, a MGF, a Rover 45 MKII and a 827 SI
    hope that the maker will be present for long time more in our premises!!

  32. I own a 75 in Spain and in my experience I see fewer Rovers/Land Rovers/Jaguars on the motorway than I do when I’m in town for some reason. I can drive for 3 hours between Valencia & Zaragoza and not see one, and then see a respectable number when I’m in the city itself. Currently there is no brand-new car on the market that I find more desirable than my Rover, and I won’t part with it until there is one.

    • Agreed. I counted MGs and Rovers seen on my 55 mile trip home form work on Thursday. Saw 22 in total – only one on the motorway – and 15 within 7 miles of home! Also found a supermarket car park with about 200 cars, but no Rovers or MGs – unthinkable a few years ago. Concentration of MGRs is now very uneven geographically – saw three parked in about 100m today in Coventry – but you might not see any in Amersham.

  33. Hi
    I live in Slovenia and i own MGF, Rover 216gsi(wedge shape) and Rover Metro convertible. All three cars are almost unique in Slovenia because neither of them was newer sold as new in my country. MGF was imported from Germany, 216 from Austria and Metro from Italy. Most british cars in my country was imported from Italy. But still they are very rare, mainly you see only Rover 200. There are very few british cars enthusiasts in my country. I am probably one of the biggest :). The funny thing is that most people dont even recognize MG brand and they ask me where does it come from… By far most popular brands in my country are BMW and Audi. The biggest problem of owning a british car in Slovenia is that it is almost impossible to find spare parts and specialists to maintain them.
    There are only one MG Rover specialist in my county.

  34. ISTRA you are a true fan of the marques without doubt. in the uk we have all these specialists so we can get spares the next day if needed. you are the opposite but manage to keep 3 cars going, well done… great to hear from you.

  35. Just got back from 3 days in Paris, spotted two BL Minis, a 25, a 420SDi, and a 75 apparently driven by a used car dealer. Plus loads of Land/Range Rovers, a few Jags – including an Ftype coupe – and an Aston. No shortage of Brit cars then. Saw loads of Metros, but they were all tube trains..

  36. Take a look at the above mentioned website. There you will find a big crowd of Rover-75-enthusiasts. They are online for more than 12 years. Unfortunately too often ignored from the guys in Rover homeland UK.
    We often have massive problems to get spare parts from the UK because more and more sellers from UK will not send parts to Germany… Reasons for such a behavior are unknown.
    We offered to work together with the biggest Rover 75 forum in UK and guess what they said?
    No, thanks.
    So we are big enough to solve our problems with partners elsewhere also with help from a few friends in UK and a small rover 75 community there.
    So europeen (continental) enthusiasts are existing, our website has more than 6.000 users, most of them from Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium.

    • Drop me an email (keith@aronline.co.uk) and let me know what’s happening. I’m regularly taking parts to Germany for enthusiasts.

      Also, the implied attitude of the club is very disturbing.

    • Sorry to hear you have been experiencing this with UK-based 75 enthusiasts websites. Sadly this is not the first time I have heard this said about a certain 75-based forum/website. I have been attacked by one or two members on that forum (I have a different username) in the past who felt my knowledge of the Rover 75 was ‘not good enough’ to be posted and they made the point rather publicly. I now no longer visit it. Most members, however, are very helpful but it only takes one or two to upset the apple cart.

      It might be worth you trying to find the website called Everythingrover as the guy who runs it (Wynn) is very enthusiastic about all things Rover (and the MG versions) and may well be able to assist.

      As you say, it is about all enthusiasts working together collectively to ensure current and future owners will have ready access to new and high quality used spares in order to keep their cars on the road. Hopefully I will one day join the ranks of being a Rover 75 owner.

  37. I don’t know which website/forum is implied here, but I’m very surprised that such an attitude could be found amongst the 75 community. I’m a member of two clubs/forums dedicated to the 75 (the Owner’s Club and the Enthusiasts) and have never met with hostility from their managing team, quite the opposite in fact. Of course, such clubs being a gathering of human beings, not all individuals there are trustworthy.

  38. The Southern European countries tended to hang on to old cars as the rust didn’t get to them due to lack of salting of the roads (Malta still have plenty of mk1/2 Escorts!)

    I guess that while the 75 isn’t known for rust, it is known for issues such as HG, which can make a car uneconomical to run.

    @Bilbo

    Rovers didn’t sell too badly in Ireland, there isn’t an anti-anglo feeling that GM feared when they decided to market their products as Opel rather than Vauxhall…

    The Irish tend to like Japanese cars (though JDM import restrictions have tightened in recent years) and small French hatchbacks. And Nissan bloody Qashqais…

  39. Sometimes I drive several hundereds of kilometers in Germany without seeing any other Rover or MG, that makes me feel sad. Other times you see quite more than expected, depending where you are. Best places in Germany to see MGRs are Dresden, Nürnberg and the NRW-area.

    In my company 4 of 60 employees own a british car, at least one. I have at least six, sometimes more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.