The Rover Metro/100-the best (spare) car in the real world?
I write this after completing a 200 mile journey from West Sussex back up to my home in Staffordshire. Its 10.35 at night yet I am not tired nor am I suffering from any backache whatsoever. For the past three weeks and 1200 miles, I’ve been driving, almost exclusively a 1996 Rover 100 Knightsbridge SE and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute behind the wheel.
The 100 is my Nan s car, bought new on 1 August 1996, and has remained in family custodianship ever since. Sadly she had to give up driving at 77 in 2005 and since then the car has become a spare or second car but every time the car has been called upon its been a trouper. Even before Nan packed in driving I can remember it being lent out to my Mum; Dad and I had dashed off to Birmingham as my other Nan had been rushed into hospital and this left my Mum and my sister stranded (the days when we only had 1 car!), Nan very kindly lent Mum the keys to MVT, although not before a thorough demonstration of all the car s features no doubt!
This car has been all over the UK and even to France for the Reims Champagne Tour in 2007 and in the last 16 years has only failed to proceed twice; once a weird electrical fault that was simply cured by checking every single electrical component on the car; and the HG finally went at 48k/14.5 years old although it still drove to the garage to be repaired!
Yes it has some surface rust on the arches but underneath its sound and the Hydragas could do with a pump up (easier said than done). My nan’s Rover 100 has some years left in her, and when polished up recently , by none other than AROnline’s master polisher Andrew Elphick, it still looks stunning in the lovely shade of Nightfire Red!
Okay, there are one or two little compromises you have to make with Rover 100 ownership; there is no PAS and very few had electric windows as standard but most of them (post 1993) did have remote central locking with an alarm and all 100 models had an immobiliser. Rear legroom is not generous (although probably better than a BINI) and whilst on paper the boot looks small it s a good shape and will take shopping or a suitcase for a weeks holiday.
Yes there is the NCAP result to ponder on but remember this, who actually has an accident just like the NCAP test, like any small car made in the 1980s it isn’t going to do as well as a 2012 Clio but they aren’t a complete death trap the 100 got an airbag and they all have side impact bars fitted and those high door sills help too and remember, unlike a modern car you can see out of it very well indeed so one hopes you will see the potential danger and avoid it!
They are all in the small engine tax bracket which is currently £135 a year, and you should be able to get 40 mpg from the petrol model without trying too hard, on a long run I managed to get 45 mpg and still do 65-70mph. The Peugeot derived diesel (1.4 in the Metro, 1.5 in the 100) can return over 60mpg.
So in summing up I wish to commend to this house the Rover Metro/100 as the ideal spare car for when you are between Bangernomic options or simply want to enjoy a car that s directly connected (or should that be suspended!) to the road, no PAS, no ABS, no TC etc, etc…
As for MVT well she s got 1 or 2 more weeks in daily duty mode before I go back to collect my latest Bangernomics car, a 2003 Omega 2.2 CD saloon. Yes it s a manual and only has four-cylinders but as my first non ‘firm’ car (and my first RWD) I am going to try it to see if I like it. But I m going to enjoy finding out!
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.