Once bitten, twice shy? Okay, so to own the same car three times is a bit odd, but four times? Well, pour yourself a hot drink and get comfortable as ‘I wanna tell you a story!’
Mike Humble relates how he picked up Rover 75 BD02 EHY for the fourth time!
It started with a ‘phone call a few weeks ago. The Project Rover 75‘s then-current owner, John Pollard, had well and truly caught the R40 bug and he dropped a line to inform me he was considering a KV6-powered example. It looked like the trader he was dealing with had little appetite for the 1.8 Club SE as a part exchange, and would I be interested in taking it back under my wing? He offered it to me at a knockdown price only to call again an hour later to tell me a deal had been brokered.
During a shopping trip the other half asked me who kept ringing and why I kept sliding away when talking. I had to come clean and admit that, sadly, it didn’t involve another woman, but another car. Owing to a bout of illness and a financial shortfall, I’ve moved the 216GSi on, so why would I dare tell her we had the chance to buy our old Rover 75 back… for the fourth time. Half expecting a sore eardrum, the following dialogue with her surprised me no end.
Scuppered chances then a second bite of the cherry
She then came clean, thanks in part to a windfall from her job – and ruddy well deserved too, but unknown to me at the time, I could have the car if I wanted it that badly. Further probing (ahem) revealed that Jacky actually would like the car back in the fold. This, in hindsight, came as little surprise or shock to me. You see, we have been together for fourteen years this coming summer, and a stupid number of cars have lived in the household.
A good few of them have been company cars it must be said but the lion’s share have at one time or another featured my moniker on the V5 – in fact, so many that I often have to turn down the invitations for the DVLA Christmas dinner and dance. Anyway, getting back on track, out of all the cars I have owned, with some of them being real corkers, the Rover 75 is only one of two from literally dozens that she really liked to be in or to drive – an immaculate, end-of-the-line 620Ti being the other one of note.
But John had moved the car on to the trader, so that was that as they say… or was it? Fast forward a fortnight later and a call with a Stevenage area code comes through. Mr Pollard calls me to say he wasn’t rubbing salt in the wound to quote him but letting me know the car had appeared for sale on-line to have a look – if nothing else, purely out of interest.
Come on down… the price was right!
Indeed, the trader had the car up for grabs and taken some fairly good images… and, yes, I did feel that little bit sad. With the asking price being a fiver short of £1000, I reckoned the trader would stand half a chance of getting somewhere near that.
Now don’t laugh, any well-appointed saloon with a fully-documented heap of paperwork and history of this vintage has to be offered for this sum – after all, you can only bid downwards. But now the tale gets interesting, I knew exactly all the bones of the deal that John had signed up for – he’d told me, so I put the kettle on and started to sweet talk my other half.
To cut a long story down to something manageable, an extraordinary meeting was summoned with the board. The notion was put forward to view the car and purchase – ONLY if the price was right. With thoughts of Rover 75s, Leslie Crowther and Bruce Forsyth in my mind I set off to Wickford the following day.
Stopping off in Billericay to collect AROnline Contributor Andrew Elphick, who cannot refuse a good car caper, we arrived at the trader’s house. Apart from the wheels, the car pretty much looked, smelt and felt no different to the day I swapped it for the MintEgo almost three years ago. During the poking, prodding and spiel I played dumb as to who I really was.
The chap made a point of saying the car was well known in certain circles – poor old Andrew had to stifle his sniggering while all this was going on. The point arrived where it was time to take a test drive, thankfully the car drove just right and I was able to take it out on my own – quite trusting I thought for a small-sized motor trader.
One or two items required attention and, conscious of the fact I secretly knew the numbers, I had an absolute mental maximum I was going to pay. You really do have to remove the emotion from the equation – this is where new car customers tend to go wrong when haggling and I ran the same risk here. Anyway, we bidded and counter-bidded each other for a couple of minutes and, at first, I actually thought I was going to have to walk away empty handed at one point.
The chap’s honesty was quite alarming, he mentioned he was working to a very thin margin which I knew to be correct. So I threw one more bid into the ring and said I was a cash customer, the car would be collected pronto and everything would be tied up with no fuss. He thought for a moment, looked at my outstretched hand and gave it a tug, we had sealed the deal in the freezing cold. A deposit was left and both the battle and the deal was done – to the victor the reward!
Time to come clean
We were invited into the warmth of the house to write a receipt and I let slip by asking if John was pleased with his recently purchased 2.5 V6. Halfway through replying he paused and asked if I knew him – this had the potential to be uncomfortable. Explaining who I was etc. we ended up having a good laugh. He then cottoned on the massive print out of blog history that came with the car; “it was you all along” he chuckled and stated he was pleased the car was going to a good home.
To backtrack for a moment, I genuinely was prepared to walk away and it’s only parked outside the house for a singular reason – it was a fair price. Oh, okay then, the second reason – had I not bothered, the Project Rover 75 would for sure have ended up being bought as a distress purchase. Imagine my horror when bored and jabbing former registration numbers into the DVSA tax checker site 18 months from now, only to see its showing a red rectangle and cross against it.
As for the price and the trader taking a small hit in the pocket, it’s not uncommon for this to happen. He had actually been using the car as his own daily driver, but opted to chance his luck and move it on. Cheap cars tend to bring problematic customers as a rule, so he saw an opportunity for a fast sale with no grief. What you loose on the swings you gain on the roundabout as the saying goes. One thing was noticeable though, he seemed one of the most honest dealers I have encountered for a long time.
Just to make you laugh at my expense that little bit more, how about a bit of ‘well, I never for you.’ On the very day I was to collect the car another former owner and the chap who ends up owning my cars, Neil Rapsey, posted up on Facebook that it was three years to the day since I gave him a Ford Focus for my Rover 75. I was stunned by this as I am not the superstitious type as a rule, but how about this for something strange?
Compiling the list of jobs to do, but it’s looking good
Sitting on the drive at the trader’s house when we initially viewed the Rover was a Mk1 Nissan Qashqai. Not exactly front page news I hear you say, but how about if I tell you it was Andrew Elphick’s brother’s old car? The chances of all this and everything else dovetailing into place almost knocked us down using the proverbial feather. So much so that we had to calm down and take stock of everything by visiting a nearby Sainsbury’s for a traditional post-AROnline car caper full English breakfast.
So… am I stupid or is it destiny? One thing is for certain I, or more to the point we, are glad to have it back home. So much toil and work has gone into the 75, it’s not perfect and nor do I want it to be and I have no idea what plans there are for me to spring into action. It’s possibly the luckiest Rover 75 ever known, so for now I’m just going to cherish and care for it. As always the case with dodgy old cars, there are a few items which have pinged up on my fettling radar.
I best get cracking then!
- Battery requires replacing as its not holding a full charge
- Handbrake requires adjustment
- Temperamental front interior light
- Front drivers carpet kick strip missing
- Noticeable play somewhere in the steering / suspension
- Blown O/S dip beam bulb
- Both key fobs require new buttons fitting
- Both rear electric windows and electric mirrors temperamental in action
- Finally sort out the colour mismatch on the O/S wing, door and corner of the bumper
- Accessory 12v socket under centre armrest not working
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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