Blog : Falling for the 75 yet?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Rover 75 1.8 - it's good and bad
Rover 75 1.8 - it's good and bad

It was nice getting back to my own car this week. After a week or so on the road in all manner of cars, the cosseting and relaxing 75 Connoisseur is a real pleasure to drive. It’s soft-riding, with big seats, smells nice inside, and seems to be delivering excellent fuel consumption into the bargain – perfect for a little commuting. Its lack of performance is a bit of a pain, but it does mean that I don’t end up trying to go quickly (what’s the point?) and that’s actually had a very positive effect on how relaxed I am when I get to my location.

I’ve yet to start any work on it, and haven’t even ordered my parts yet, but know that I’m going to crack on with the headgasket and top-end sooner, rather than later, because of two annoyances. It has a slight appetite for coolant (although there appears to be no contamination with the oil), and there’s an oil weep, which seems to result in plumes of smoke every time I get held up in traffic jams. Looking under the bonnet, I’d say there’s a leaky camshaft seal to deal with…

I’m counting down the days until I get the engine seen to, though… there’s not much fun in nursing a sick car, even if it does mean that right now, I am probably the world’s most relaxed driver.

But after a few weeks’ ownership, how do I feel about our latest project car? I must admit that 75s do grow on you, and although I’ve said many times in the past that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the style of the things, there’s no denying that they are (or were) a quality piece of kit (thanks, Wolfgang Reitzle), even when abused to within an inch of their life.

If the rain stops, I’ll be doing some work on the old girl, and will let you know how it’s going.

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

31 Comments

  1. They are such a lovely looking car. I’d be tempted to see if you can colour-code the parking sensors though (and obviously paint the sills and lower bumper sections black!)

  2. I have always loved the styling of the Rover 75 and still think it cuts a dash of elegance on our roads compared to newer rivals.

    Will I buy one? Probably in the next couple of years as an occasional use car, particularly a 2.5 Connoisseur SE finished in Royal Blue pearlescent with the Sandstone interior and ideally fitted with 17-inch Meteor alloy wheels.

  3. 3 months on from purchasing mine and I am still smitten, these cars really are the bargain of the century. What I now want is that drivers side cup holder, Mike Humble has one and reckons they are as rare as rocking horse plop but I have a cunning plan which if it works I will share soon.

  4. I know the naturally aspirated 1.8 75 is hardly a hot rod. However, in 23,000 miles, I’ve never once thougt of mine as being too slow for my taste or my requirements. I simply never feel the need to stretch mine. I just enjoy the relaxed progress and it never actually feels slow.

  5. I drove a colleague 2000 Cowley built car when new. felt like the flywheel was cast from concrete, such was its reluctance to shed revs quickly. Must have been due to the need for the car to maintain momentum. Strange steering and handling too. Very comfortable, beautiful but far far far too ssssslllooow….

    Were the chassis tweaked when production moved to Longbridge?

    Would be tempted by a diesel/or one with a reliable torquey petrol engine.

  6. Simon – comment 4

    In the past week, I’ve seen two on the road side for sale. Both under a grand! One for £950, the other a 51 plate priced at £900. I pass this, the £900 one, on the way to work. I’ll stop for a closer look next week. A purchase wouldn’t be so unthinkable! And then there were two!!!!!

  7. James

    There is a reason for the slow to die off revs. The K series normally revs up and dies down like a motorbike, the stepper motor and software on MEMS3 is set up to bring the revs down slowly in order to make gearchanges smoother while also creating the “impression” of a larger torquey engine.

    Drive a 1.8 Freelander or 45 series and you will see what I mean. Whereby the 45 or even ZS will feel urgent, the 75 is so amazingly relaxed, even for such a small lump in a big car. Hope this makes sense?

  8. @James Godwin:

    To my knowledge there were no changes made to the chassis or suspension when production moved from Cowley to Longbridge over the summer of 2000.

    However, in the autumn of 2003, there was the availability of a sports suspension option although this is a very rare feature to have on a pre-facelift example due to a) it was no actively publicised in any literature until the summer of 2004 after the facelift cars had gone on sale, and b) the facelift cars were announced/launched during the third week of January 2004.

    I believe it was a tad firmer than the standard set-up and slightly more planted through the corners, although it was not to the extreme of that found on the standard or sports suspensions of the MG ZT.

  9. Ahaaa Mike, that makes sense as have driven other 1.8s and they didn’t have the same feature. It was a relaxing drive I give it that and am still tempted by one.

  10. I don’t have a issue with the handling, steering etc I suppose MGR’s theory was that if you wanted pin sharp they’d sell you a ZT. That in mind I would have thought it would be a straight forward process to upgrade a 75 to ZT spec?

  11. Coolant loss will probably be the inlet manifold gasket. The easiest way to check is fire up the engine and get it “lukewarm” (not cold, but not fully up to temp either) and feel between the manifold and the head for any drops of coolant.

  12. I’ve followed in your footsteps and bought a Rover 75 Club SE 1.8 with just 22,480 miles on the clock. It is the classic one owner car from new with a full service history and unfortunately the property of a deceased gentleman. The price of this indullgance on e-bay – 1300 pounds! my brother in law is buying my MG ZT 190 so keeping it in the family. The Rover is more me with the cosseting ride and quality interior. Looking forward to many years of enjoyable motoring

  13. Simon Weakley – comment 14

    That’s one hell of a find, Simon and a huge amount of car for 13,000 quid!

    Welcome to the 75 Club SE 1.8 ‘club’ !! My 53 plate example is about to hit 73,000. Only 22,000 – how cool is that!!

    Has it had any preventative work regards HGF ?

  14. I’ve also taken the plunge and buying a 52 plate 75 Connoisseur SE 2.0 V6, for the princely sum of £595 no MOT or tax but again from the estate of a deceased elderly lady. I pick it up on the 10th May

  15. There is part of an episode of ‘Driven’ on YT that offers a view of the 75 alongside its contemporaries; the Vectra and Mondeo. The latter two look dated even for the period whereas the 75 still looks good today. The Mondeo won the test, but only by using the top-of the range model.

  16. When I drove a manual 75 I didn’t think that there was much room for my feet when changing gear. Does anyone else find this?

  17. I’m currently being very much tempted by a very nice V6 Connoisseur. I just love the 75, much against my good judgement

  18. I’m sort of tempted by the idea of running a 75 (if I could afford one!) but at the time, when I had the money to buy one (or MG equivalent) I was less so.

    I think the problem for me is that the 75 was aimed clearly at the ‘over 50s’ market- with its retro cabin, etc (well at least Rover did retro far better than BMW with that overpriced and ridiculous abortion of a MINI), yet the MG version, with its garish ‘go faster’ cod-piece extrusions appeared to be aimed at Max Power reading teens, the sort who don’t know which way round their baseball cap is supposed to face…

    I wish they’d taken badge engineering one stage further, with a Riley variant that would be a happy medium between pipe and slippers and a ‘Fast and the Furious’ wannabe…

  19. Sorry meant to say ‘when I had the money to buy a nearly new one’. Wish there was an Edit funtion with this site!

  20. When the rather indifferent road tests of the new Saab 9-5 came out, I knew then that there was no hope. They reminded me of the tests of the 75 when it first came out. It was doomed to fail with such quotes as ‘last chance saloon’ and the slanted reviews by that toilet paper, otherwise known as Top Gear magazine despite the 75 having a lot of BMW DNA.

    Okay, comparing it with a C-class or 3-series, it was never going to win, but (with gritted teeth) not everyone is bothered about driving a sodding 3-series or C-Class and look like every other aspiring middle-manager on the bloody road.

    In my mind, BMW’s are like the pupil at school who is so good at everything, you almost wish that they fail at something or get caught with drugs on them. BMW can’t seem to do any wrong even when they introduce new segment cars like the X6, 5 series GT and X1 which get lauded by the press despite appearing to be utterly pointless. Although it is good for car manufacturers to have a benchmark, I wish magazines would sometimes leave BMW out of tests for once.

    The 75 was essentially a good car and I recall seeing a rare V8 model in a car park the other day and thinking that it was a perfect descendant of the P6 3500. I believe the legendary Stuart Hall has one!

    • Jeremy Clarkson loathed everything to do with British Leyland and Rover due to a dodgy experience with an Allegro. Well, the Allegro might not have been great, but to pour cold water on the 75 was pointless as it was a good car and every one I see is still in immaculate condition. Also while the company did make some bad cars and the SD1 was badly let down by its build quality, how about the Triumph saloons, the Graham Day era cars, the Rover P6, the MG ZT, Daimler Limousine, generally regarded as classics now.

  21. I’m very pleased with my 32,000 mile 1.8 Connoisseur Se tourer bought three months ago. Fuel consumption not brilliant but mine is an auto and I drive mostly around town and up hills! Holds on to its’ lower gears for quite a long time so I think I’ll use the lower ratios a bit more rather than just Drive. Also the sport mode is useful and gives more control for overtaking and keeping up with traffic flow.
    Thanks Mike for the explanation as to why the K series in this car doesn’t rev as one would expect. It is certainly a relaxed drive.

  22. Stylingwise they’re elegant and a natural conclusion to the 600 styling cues.
    A gorgeous car for little money, though I don’t have much time these days to do jobs like HGs…

  23. If there is anyone after a diesel 75 in wine red there is one in Co.Down that has been off the road for a couple of years. Needs a few bushes/balljoints I believe.

  24. I’ve just admired the exterior styling and the luxurious interiors of the 75 for many years – then, on a visit to the National Motor Museum in the New Forest, Annie came across the model they have there. She was blown away by the interior and ‘presence’ of the car and asked me how much could we get one for. This is elementary I thought – we already have enough vehicles! we do not need another car!
    The lady persisted and I had to admit a really nice one might set us back 1.5 or 2k.
    This tenacious lady spent the next two weeks looking for the car that rang all the bells: must be local (that means within 300 miles), must be the 1.8K petrol (dispise diesels and once you’ve had an Alfa V6 you kind of don’t want something that must be second best), and it must be in really nice nick! It must have a light coloured interior with the nice wooden trim. Also, we wanted one that had not been to the moon and back.
    The chosen car was very local (40 miles round trip) and is in pearlescent dark blue – that is sometimes dark green or any shade in between. Interior is very light grey fabric ( but not that horrible velvety stuff) and it had done a whisker under 60k miles.
    Once we got it home we washed it and unbelievably cannot find a mark, scratch or dent anywhere save for a tiny black mark on the front bumper – and that might polish out. Interior is spotless too.
    She drives like a dream but after two days of ownership, I noticed that she hesitated when she was ‘floored’ – a thing I rarely do in today’s traffic conditions.
    A phone call to the dealer (expecting something like “what do you expect for peanut money?”) was actually “no problem, bring it back – I’ll lend you a courtesy car for however long it takes”.
    It took four days so we were really grateful for the car as I had subsequently taken the MG TD off the road and the 83 year old Woseley was throwing a hissy fit.
    The problem with the Rover was a coil pack but the mechanic noticed the second coil pack was the same age so he changed both for new ones – and then threw in a set of plugs for good measure.
    Anyway, we got the car back and she is a delight . There is a little old fashioned turbo lag but she’s no sluggard and is certainly quieter and has a better ride than any X or S type Jag I’ve ever been in.
    What did I pay? – a mere 1700 of our English pounds for a very British car (yeh, yeh, I know – they were owned by B*W – shhhhhhhhhh) car that we both love more than some we’ve had at 5 times the money!
    And yes, the head gaskets been upgraded and done………
    And I’ getting 32.5 mpg – blooming marvellous!

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