On more than one occasion I’ve been asked by my friends and family to explain why I want to own a Rover. To them, it’s a marque usually associated with your granddad – who takes it to Tesco and back for his shopping once a week. However, it’s straightforward for me – in my more youthful days (I’m 20 now), I accidentally came across AROnline while looking at old cars rather than doing my homework set that the day.
The appreciation of Rovers stuck, as did my new found interest in the Rover 416 and white Rover 400 which my neighbours owned during that time. As my taste of cars broadened during my teens, the modified Saxos and Fiestas which were all the rage were replaced with Aston Martin V8 Vantage XPacks, Monteverdis and Rovers, along with various classics. Like most kids that age I kept my mouth shut, as liking Rover was somewhat frowned upon, let alone to be spoken of in the playground during break.
It wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my secondary school days did I decide that I’d openly talk about the passion I had for Rovers . To most of my friends Rovers either existed as a platform to add bodykits and neons, or the classic cliché I mentioned earlier. During the late-’90s and even into the early 2000s I recall Rovers being disregarded by friends and family due to reliability and build quality claims. Whether this image stuck due to the media, I shall never know, but owning a Rover goes somewhat past the claims that circulated along with the ‘old man’ image.
I have a very good friend who owns a Rover 45 – many of you have seen his posts on Retro and Classic Cars previously and may have noticed that he may not meet the original cliché you thought went with Rovers. Scott takes a lot of pride in his 45 (HHR/Oyster to the anoraks amongst us), he spends many hours making sure that every little detail is perfect and presentable. The 45 offered character and charm where the competition didn’t and has aged well with time, unlike some of its counter-parts.
While I was growing up, my brother bought a Rover R8 216 in white. To him it was a run around for £500. The attraction of wanting a R8 became attainable in my mind, even if I didn’t have a driving licence, and while it wasn’t a GTi, only a touch of rust needed doing and it was an honest example for a few months before it was in the hands on the scrap man. Sure, it wasn’t mine, but it’s one of the Rovers that I’ll always remember and played a part in my early influences.
This brings me onto the Rover 45 1.6 Spirit and Rover 75 1.8 Club that have caught my interest as a replacement for my car, Atomic, the Mini. I have been chopping and changing my mind, but these two have stood out compared to the Audi A4 1.8T and BMW 520 E39 I had on the possibles list. Why, you’re probably asking, mechanically the 75 shares a lot in common with the BMW 3-Series along with shared diesel engines that have been de-tuned. The 75, much like the BMW 3-Series, is built to last, with retro touches and added gentleman’s flair that the competition don’t quite have. Sure, it may be reminiscent of Rovers of old but it offers all the modern comforts a driver demands. The perfect modern gentleman’s express without troubles of old? Quite possibly, yes.
Onto the Rover 45: Not an obvious candidate? To others, maybe not. My Godfather used to take me on trips out in his early Rover 416, which was an honest, yet reliable steed for his needs. Before I knew it, I had come round to the appeal of them. Certainly, the 45 won’t out-manoeuvre any Ford Focus or have the same reputation as the Mondeo or Passat but that isn’t what 45 is about. The 45 is the small, premium saloon that is often forgotten, with more character than you can throw a stick at and with a comfy ride that would put many of the competition to shame.
So yes, I may have not been bought up around many Rovers but I’ve long had an appreciation for the craftsmanship, the tales and interesting history the company has with cars that have more comfort than you’d find in a armchair.
Thank you AROnline for introducing me to Rover.
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.