LET US pause a second and consider the Rover 600.
Why do I mention this? Well, it seems to us here, the Rover 600 has entered into that no-mans land of being a car that time forgot. I know for a fact it has plenty of fans, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to have generated the cultish following of other models in the Rover range.
And it’s an interesting phenonemon, not least because there are plenty of reasons why the 600 should be given wider recognition than it has. Perhaps the faults of the other models are part of their more widely accepted wider appeal.
For instance, the Rover 800 has something of a following with those who like a big, luxurious car, but don’t want to pay a lot for the privilege of owning one. You can pick them up for pennies, and yet – on the whole – they offer a very pleasant driving experience for those on a budget. The 200/400 models, also have a pretty strong following these days – thanks, in no small part to the performance of the turbocharged models, and a pleasingly classy, compact nature, which again, can be picked up for very little money.
The 600 seems to be neither one thing or the other – you can’t buy them for peanuts – and so, the hard-up won’t buy them. And, of course, it is only right, the 600 has a relatively strong (for a Rover) resale value – because it still stands up today, and is a very dependable package (surely more reliable than the 200/400 and 800).
The styling of the 600 has stood the test
of time far better than the 200/400 or
800, and it still looks pretty
It’s shame the 600 isn’t lauded by more people than it has been – because in many ways, it represented more of Rover hopes and ambitions than any other car it produced at the time. The real stand-out quality about the 600 is its styling of the 600, which – if anything – has stood the test of time far better than the 200/400 or 800, and it still looks contemporary today.
It’s a wonderfully resolved design and has an underlying classiness that the 800 never managed to achieve in any form, apart from the Coupe. It has a range of engines heavily biased towards Honda’s back catalogue, meaning no camshaft oil seal leaks or head gasket problems. And the only version in the range, which did use an in-house petrol engine was the vivdly quick 620Ti – and that looked just like any other 600. Not great if you wanted people to know your car packed 200PS.
If the 600 did have a problem, it was this – Richard Woolley’s styling was so successful, one inevitably came away from driving it disappointed – because its looks promised something more special. This wasn’t the case with the 620Ti, but that magic was never passed down to the rest of the range.
But why the 600 should be living in obscurity these days is still something of a mystery. Perhaps because it was so good, played against it… certainly compared with the 200/400 and 800, it’s an anodyne driving experience, but does that make it any less of a car?
Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the 600…
…after all, it’s the prototype 75.
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.