Blog : Rover 75 launch – where did the time go?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Rover 75 launch_Snapseed

Fourteen years ago today, Rover unveiled the production version of the 75 to the press in an expansive and ambitious event at Tower Bridge in London. It wasn’t the first time the car had been seen – it was officially unveiled at the previous year’s NEC Motor Show alongside the Jaguar S-Type. Yes, it had been shown early, but there was good reason for that – Rover wanted to spoil Jaguar’s launch, even if it meant showing its hand to the world six months early.

The NEC launch, of course, ended up being a disaster, with Bernd Pischetsrieder – the BMW Group’s boss – deciding to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by questioning Longbridge’s future and scuppering the 75’s chances before it had been driven by anyone outside of the company. Eight months on, we then had the overblown launch event starring scores of the cars, several with tuned horns to play along with a Dave Stewart rock opera played by the London Philharmonic orchestra, and violinist Vanessa Mae. In all, a strange and wonderful launch for a non-conformist retro/modern motor.

The problem was that, in reality, the Rover 75 was already doomed by this point, even if it had been awarded What Car? Car of the Year 1999. For those with shorter memories, compare its arrival on the market with that of the final Saab 9-5 – here was a make or break product, full of hope and potential, but who’s maker was already in the beginnings of its final death throes. The Independent on the day was realistic in its coverage.

It surmised that Rover would struggle to make money on it. ‘Making a success of the 75 will be a tall order. And if Rover does pull it off, then it will have to repeat the trick twice over with the next new models due off the production line – a new Mini due out at the end of next year and the replacement for the Rover 200/400 series, the R35, which is expected in 2002.’

Professor Garel Rhys said in the ‘paper: ‘There are plenty of BMW shareholders who wanted to see Rover Cars disposed off and they will become more vociferous if the 75 fails to deliver. In that case a sale to General Motors or Volkswagen is something that BMW would have to look at very seriously.’

Autocar‘s Hilton Holloway (then at CAR Magazine) was far more realistic – and on the money. ‘Unless there is a sudden leap in sales, I would be very, very worried. And if things don’t start to happen by February or March next year, I think they’re going to be seriously panicking.’ He was right – and, in May 2000, the company was sold to the Phoenix Consortium.

Enjoy this video of that day.

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

61 Comments

  1. I was at the NEC Motorshow, there was a big crowd around the new Jag but many just looked then walked by the new Rover, I even asked for a Brochure with a stunned Guy on reception and if I may was probably the nicest person at an event to give me the Launch Bumf, I think He could tell I wasn’t a customer, but was just so pleased anyone had shown an interest…

    However I hadn’t realised that BMW had given their “English Patient” The Death Warrant… All rather Sad Really.

  2. I remember the launch on TV News at London in June 99. Actually I was working there on a job at the time – but not at Tower Bridge. If I recall, the Beeb interviewed a Doctor who had bought one. Hard to think it happened 14 years ago!

  3. “In that case a sale to General Motors or Volkswagen is something that BMW would have to look at very seriously.”

    GM were having issues with their own premium brand Saab, asking them to use GM platforms which the Swedes usually re-engineered at huge cost.
    Nice analogy between the 75 and 9-5 btw, always thought the platform name of ‘Phoenix’ a little ironic….

    VW also have too many brands, though Rover may have ended up as a partner brand to Skoda, Skoda focusing on the likes of the Fabia / true budget end, the Octavia and Superb ending up being Rovers. The grille is quite close…

    A range of the Mini, 25/45 and 75 might have been interesting, though going into a Mini showroom, it looks closer to a nightclub or trendy clothes shop than a traditional car showroom.
    That is part of the ‘cool’ appeal that may not have rubbed off onto the larger cars (though it would’ve given a logical upgrade path rather than Hatchback -> Countryman -> 3 series)…

    As an aside, my other half overtook a Rover 75 on the motorway, and commented on ‘Arthur daley lookalike in his jaaaaag’, which is a bit of a reverse compliment to the car.

  4. I too was at the NEC that year, and Rover’s stand was a scrum round the 75, just meerly busy at Jagwahr – I seem to recall Jagwahr was having its wish washy colour palate period though.

  5. I was there as well in 98. Just over a year later picked up a brand new Midnight blue 75 1.8 Club. Tax Free it was £7000 cheaper than the UK list price. A quick check on DVLA revealed it was still taxed until January this year. Anybody here own or know anything about V399 OKO?

  6. I was lucky enough to be travelling abroad during 1998-99 and so rushed to a newsagent in Hong Kong to find out which new arrival (Jag or Rover) looked like a winner. The S-Type, with it’s slab sides and toilet seat grille looked hideous, and still does come to that. The Rover 75 oozed class, combining retro charm with modern appeal. That interior still looks the business and those seats, particularly in leather were amazing. Hard to imagine then what has happened in the years since. Tears to a glass eye etc etc….

  7. Gosh, that video brings back memories. I was at Uni when the 75 was launched and I remember reading all the reports of Rover’s financial woes and thinking that they were just press sensationalism.

    Needless to say, all these years later I think differently about it. Such a sad story.

  8. I actually attended the Press Day of the 1998 British Motor Show and saw the 75 as it was unveiled. The interest in it was incredible and I remember spending what seemed like three very long minutes sat in the driver’s seat of one of the two examples finished in Wedgewood Blue. It really did spark off optimism in the product and what we could expect to see, now that Rover was no longer constrained by licensing agreements or ageing designs they could not afford to replace.

    I remember asking two specific questions: 1) how much will the range cost from? And, secondly, will there be a performance-derived Vitesse variant to follow? The gentleman I spoke to (a Mr Towers; although obviously not THAT one!) could not confirm anything about prices or sales delivery at the point, and would not be drawn on the availability of a Vitesse variant in the future.

    I never got to sit in the Jaguar S Type as the one I saw was suspended from the roof on a tilted platform. Not that it mattered that much, as the Rover’s styling, aire of confidence and feeling of quality had already won me over.

    I must buy one one day!

  9. In many ways the exchange rate did for Rover although BMW said their productivity was not good enough! Rover was losing money. If the Rover 75 had been sold through BMW dealers and the rest of the range (apart from MGf) abandoned then it may have worked with Mini coming alone in 2001. At launch price point with USA sales through BMW and then BMW new engines it would have worked – I am sure the styling was correct and that interior… fantastic car but spoiled by association with Rover 200/400.

  10. I still think B** messed up getting rid of the MG Rover marque, without Rover they are having to use their own badge on an ever downmarket range of vehicles, their CAT MPV due soon could seriously destroy it’s image.

  11. @10 Not sure if you read the Book Rover end of the Road?, It is written that the Exchange rate was indeed Killing Rover, However at the same time BMW were making Millions! Before I read the book I was under the impression The Bavarians were scared that Rover were getting too close for comfort i.e

    BMW 3 series Rover 400 series

    BMW 5 series Rover 600 series

    BMW 7 series Rover 800 series

    And then set out to undermine the range to distance it from themselves i.e. 25,45,75. We all know that the Rover range was in a different Market to BM, but you have to remember there are fewer petrol heads than buyers who just want something that looks OK and when looking at the equipment and price lists, on paper at least Rover I’m sure would of won (in theory?) with the possibility some potential would be BMW buyer’s would have jumped ships (just my daft opinion of course). And of course the Jewels in the Crown Land/Range Rover.

    However that book does fill in the missing gaps, It is one of Doom and Gloom but BMW does come out of it slightly better before I read it.

  12. Interesting to see the Jaguar-versus-Rover rivalry at play. With better management on both sides, they could have become the BMW and Mercedes-Benz of the UK. That attempt to show up the S-Type calls to mind the legendary Ford and GM rivalry, such as at the recent Detroit Motor Show, when Ford created a makeshift concept truck solely to rain on the parade of GM’s new K2XX pickups.

    Perhaps if it had been properly sorted for the North American market, the Rover 75 could have become a formidable rival to its second cousin (twice removed), the Acura TL. I don’t know if the KV6 engine was up to that task, though.

    @11 – I always thought BMW missed a trick by disposing of so many brands in the 2000 divestment. Just looking at how similar to the 1960s ADO16, ADO17 and Maxi the Countryman/Paceman duo appear, it strikes me that BMW could have retained the Austin brand and sold the Mini under it, perhaps alongside an R30-based Austin. The Countryman might not have suffered all the press ridicule it did for being “not-so-Mini” in that scenario.

    Really surprising that they failed to see any reason to keep the Austin brand, if only to prevent another owner doing something stupid with it and tarnishing Mini by association (eg. Phoenix’s mismanaged of Rover versus Land Rover).

  13. Under BAE Rover made consistent (and growing) profits, as soon as B** bought the company they made constant (and ever growing!) losses.
    It was the German firms complete ineptitude in running Rover that was at fault.

  14. I was a Facilities Manager responsible for company cars and advanced driving for all staff at the time of the 75 release. We had a list of possibles that included Volvo, Saab, Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes and Vauxhall. Almost all our guys wanted the new Jag – until they drove it. Everyone complained about road noise, hard seats and a hard ride. I think I’m right in saying that almost all the would be Jag owners chose the Rover once they had driven them both. I think the rest chose the ageing Volvo 240 series simply because they had had one before – or the Omega. We certainly never did have a Jag on the fleet and a few guys bought their 75’s from the lease company – rotten deal financially but they just wanted to keep their cars!
    As for servicing and costs – they were better financially than everything else except the Volvo – the half a dozen Mercs we had were a complete nightmare! We had around 100 cars in total.

  15. @12 – I very much doubt BMW lost a wink of sleep over the 400 of all things stealing sales from its soon to be launched E46 3 series in 98! I remember the 75 launch night at my local dealer. An old cyclops Rover on display, a string quartet playing in the corner of the showroom and a Primrose Yellow 75 amongst the new cars on display.

  16. @16, the 400 as mentioned was in a different Market, However Rover were on the rise at the time of take over “Hence another reason for the purchase” and again as mentioned The vast majority of Buyers don’t really care if their car has outstanding this or that ! so long as its is Ok in most departments, If Rover had progressed at the same rate it had done then BMW (I’m guessing) probably would have started to get uncomfortable, The 600 got close to the 3 series (certainly in the car park at least) and to many that’s all that counts.

  17. I worked at a dealership in Aug 1998 and Rover was properly goosed. The 800 was a joke and the range of K-series engines was proving to be a disaster. BMW should have launched 75 sooner and with their own engines. Oh, and it should have been substantially cheaper.

  18. People need to understand a few things about BMW’s relationship with Rover:

    BMW’s interest was primarily in aquiring the Mini name, and a (relatively) low cost manufacturing site. They was because they wanted to expand sales into a new niche, without risking damage to the BMW brand.

    BMW was appaled at the massive losses being sustained by the Rover Group, especially Land Rover. The warranty costs were massive. Far from being the ‘jewel in the crown’, Land Rover’s warranty was running in excess of £300 million. Large markets were effectivly closed to Land Rover because their products were so poor.

    BMW’s choice of Cowley over Longbridge was due to better end-of-line build quality, and a more compliant workforce.

  19. Good article. I was only 11 at this time but I remember having the What Car? edition with pre-launch S reg Wedgewood blue 75 and maroon S-Type. A gentleman up the road who was a school headmaster had the first one I saw in this area very soon after launch, a Wedgewood blue Club SE. I thought it looked great at the time in that colour with the Union alloys.

  20. @ Kev:

    “BMW was appaled at the massive losses being sustained by the Rover Group, especially Land Rover.”

    One of the key things to remember here is that BMW Group was judging Rover Group’s finances by its own accounting standards, which do not amortise investment over the same period as here in the UK. In 1998 no wonder the Rover Group was making a loss, as they had unveiled the new Series 2 Land Rover Discovery and of course the R40 Rover 75. BMW’s accounting procedure expected investment to be paid back through sales within twelve months, not three years.

    I am glad you brought up the subject of Land Rover’s warranty claims as this was more of a financial burden than falling sales within the Cars division.

  21. The trouble was BMW were sure what they did not want Rover to be, ie. a BMW, but they never were able to work out what they wanted a Rover to be.

    VW – Skoda

    BMW – Rover

    compare and contrast !

  22. IF… (and this is dangerous territory) BMW kept Rover in tact and then went on with introducing the new MINI, and kept investing in a 400 succesor… Rover would probably have become a succesful company for BMW…

    But they didn’t…

  23. I don’t care what they say…..mike Rutherford had lovely hair then , he has lovely hair now

  24. It was effectively BMW shareholders and the Quandt family that pulled the plug on Rover,and its no use keep blaming the Rover men,BMW owned the outfit and would have done the due diligence not just waltzed in,couple that with the huge investment the Longbridge estate required,losses and pension liability its no wonder they flogged it to P4 for a tenner, with the £1Billion in assets,car stockpile and a bit of cash, taking Mini and CAD/CAM data they considered themselves getting off lightly.

  25. I saw the new 75 at the NEC, and wanted one straightaway, but couldn’t afford one for many years. Even when our company introduced a cash car allowance I still couldn’t afford one, so bought a used Mazda Xedos 9 which turned out to be the most reliable car I ever had, but totally anonymous.
    Then, at last, in 2007 with Rover dead for four years, used 75s were seriously cheap, so I bought a 75 Club SE 2.5 litre Auto for £4500, on around 40k miles. This turned out to be the best car I think I have EVER owned. It was a real beauty. I took it to France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and it rolled off the miles superbly including a very fast run on an Italian autostrada one Sunday morning on the way home. Anyway, getting on a bit, I fancied one of the aluminium Jaguar saloons, so in 2010, sold it and bought an XJ6 3 litre. This is a superb car, but even so, I still love that Rover, in fact when I bought the Jaguar I tried to see if I could keep the Rover as well, but had no room for it, so it went to a good owner for £1600 in immaculate nick. Lucky man !!

  26. Hi Keith,
    I know I only converted my VHS copy to digital and loaded it up to youtube but it is good to see this video being shared on a site I visit regularly. Keep up the good work.

  27. Had BMW really done its homework when it acquired Rover back in 1994? Had it realistically estimated the time required for Rover to achieve financial strength, independence?
    In the R8 era, Rover had turned round amazingly in terms of image & quality. However, it was still hardly strong in terms of financial resource. Having injected the funds Rover so badly needed to fund new models BMW then decided to pull out before reaping any of the rewards. Had BMW under estimated the time & funds required to sort Rover. Did BMW act too hastily in acquiring Rover, fearful of being swallowed up themselves?

  28. What the B** board simply failed to grasp was under the faded veneer, the long years of nationalisation and playing second fiddle to Honda, Rover engineers were some of the best in the world at producing first rate front wheel drive cars and pushing new ideas.
    Even today models like the Sandero Stepway can trace their genesis back to MGR products like the Streetwise, with much of JLRs resurgence being down to scores of ex-MGR engineers who have joined the company.
    Let us not forget either B** sold Rovers design base to Ford when they flogged Land Rover as well.

  29. I dont think BMW got where they are today or any other German corporation for that matter blithely buying a company and hoping/gambling for the best.

    Just reading Rover-end of the line shows some insight into this,some of the key players at BMW really wanted this venture to succeed,but they was up against the board and major shareholders. A billion isnt even breakfast at Ford or GM, thats what they fork out on one model alone.

    Whoever is the villian in an heartbreaking saga such as this,it was a slow motion disaster with its antecedance in the BMC/BLMC mergers.

    Probably Rovers best ever chance was when when BAE was at the helm,with truly superb cars with refinement no one could believe till they drove one. But greed and again shareholder interests (normally banks etc) and wet dream projects ruined any chance of this company going from strength to strength.Look what happened to Ferranti,GEC Marconi and ICI.

    I think we should exercise caution when traducing what SAIC is doing with MG, maybe they are appreciated more in China.

  30. There were a whole series of probably deliberate errors made by BMW. Firstly not exporting the MGF to the USA and secondly threatening to pull the plug on a brand new car. Sorry to say they were and are a bunch of tossers whose main claim to fame is the triumph of marketing over substance.

  31. 17:”Under BAE Rover made consistent (and growing) profits, as soon as B** bought the company they made constant (and ever growing!) losses.
    It was the German firms complete ineptitude in running Rover that was at fault.”

    Nope, it wasn’t just BMW. BAE may have made profits, but they did it in a very British way that killed the company. BAE invested as little as they could get away, very typical British ownership. They also devalued the Rover brand by slapping it on down market models like the Rover 200.

    Rover only survived by using Honda platforms, and the K-series required government money to get off the ground.

    So BMW got a hollowed out company, reliant on Honda tech, making overpriced products, being sold to an aging customer base.

    Oh BMW made mistakes, making the 75 soft and retro was stupid. The market wasn’t interested in that sort of car. More worried about protecting BMWs product line up, than Rover. However Rover was in trouble before BMW came along.

  32. @bartelbe:

    “Nope, it wasn’t just BMW. BAE may have made profits, but they did it in a very British way that killed the company. BAE invested as little as they could get away, very typical British ownership. They also devalued the Rover brand by slapping it on down market models like the Rover 200.

    Rover only survived by using Honda platforms, and the K-series required government money to get off the ground.”

    Very good points here which reinforce the continuation of previous research into the economic and social history issues that lead to our decline in car manufacturing. In other words, shareholders interested in quick returns and not being in it for the long-haul, let alone willing to give up part of their dividend to enable sufficient investment in a long term strategy whereby the company was sustainble and the product had a competitive life cycle.

    British Aerospace shareholders and the management were no different, with the sale of Rover Group assets not being invested back into Rover Group itself or new products. By the early 1990s, Rover Group was making profits, although they were not sufficient to enable the company to develop all-new models unaided or on a regular basis. New products had to be developed on a shoestring budget, either making extensive use of existing technology or being hampered by restrictive licensing agreements. Add in to this the growing needs of Land Rover for new models and more freqent updates to existing ones, and Rover Group was in a very vulnerable position. It would take signifcant investment, at least ten years of continuous development in changing the product range and production facilities to achieve, and by a very committed owner in it for the long haul.

  33. I was there – the 75 was head and shoulders better than the S-Type. I seem to remember it being the year that Clarkson caused some controversy over Korean car designers and eating dogs

  34. Simon – your right. As I said earlier the 75 was popular with our staff and the ‘soft’ aspect was so welcome after ever increasing hard options – the Merc of the day to boot. There is a tendency to look back and judge by what the public considered trendy by today’s standards. Back in the 75 days – nostalgia sold whether it was a rough riding noisy Jag or a luxuriously trimmed, leather-clad and very quiet Rover.
    I really do wonder about the agenda and motives of those who kick 7 bells out of a very good car just because it was a Rover. But then again, I’m a guilty of the same thing. I honestly believe that Audis are very good cars – but I hate them and wouldn’t have one as a gift! Shot me self in the foot yet again methinks! Tax’s me brain all this balanced thinking!

  35. Just saw a used 04 reg facelift R75 on the pavement today, priced at £995. The bodywork looked immaculate (obviously not sure about mechanicals). Just goes to show how depreciation has taken its toll on these cars.

  36. #34. Absolutely nothing happened to ICI . It was profitable to the end and was taken over by Akzo, rather to my regret as I was a substantial shareholder, didn’t need the cash, and enjoyed the good yield of dividends

  37. @43,So that would be Dutch ownership then? ICI was known as the bellweather of the British economy once upon a time,chemicals contributing some £40+ million a day if my memory serves me correctly.

  38. My sister has a Rover 45 diesel, which for all it is a bit tatty and might have to do soon as parts are getting expensive and rare, still looks a lot classier than a BMW 3 series from the same era, which is just black plastic everywhere. Also did I read in 1999 that some motoring writers considered the 75 to be a far better car than the new 5 series and BMW were furious?

  39. @40 I’m with you on Audi. The ’83 100, the ’89 80/90, the A2 and the ’96 A6 are the high points. the current A4 is the Cortina for the noughties. I could have had a fully loaded one as a company car, but couldn’t bear the thought of driving something that is usually lodged up my arse on the Mway. The A3 is a particularly lazy car, usually driven badly. Almost all Audis these days are company car black- so being to avoid paying out for the optional metallic paint – which pushes the tax up. I’m not exactly free from company car cliche – I drive a 3-series coupe, but at least I specced metallic paint, and a red leather interior! (Be nice, I got rid of my Alfa 156, which I adored, for ze German car!)

  40. @Simon H

    The 3 series is the modern day RWD Cortina. The A4 being the modern day FWD Cavalier.

    The Capri sits somewhere between the A5 and your coupe.

    Almost all A4s you see have huge ‘Fleet hire’ dealer stickers / numberplate dealer marks.

    Not my cup of tea. I was in an A3 recently and found it very drab and cramped, less headroom than my old ZX had! The seats are like a church pew, and for the price of the things you’d imagine a nice satnav system, not a 1980s Amstrad Hifi style red LED CD player.

    They were once the German Citroen, being a bit different with aerodynamic saloon shapes, 4×4 rally cars etc. until VW realised they had a cash cow with the TT and pushed the brand up the price list, trendy types rejoiced.

    I always use the Audi-Apple analogy, Apple computer was once a leftfield choice for academics and hardcore fans, with the iMac/iPod onwards they became trendy, started pushing prices up, and are now the machine of choice for ‘new media’ types.

  41. A very nice comparison with the launch of the Rover 75 and the last Saab 9-5.

    Will M – The expectation GM had with Saab was that the Swedes would effectively just re-body existing group platforms, but I’d honestly ask if the GM2900, Epsilon and Epsilon 2 platforms were really the best starting points for premium car development. Saab’s engineers did a fantastic job with the less than class competitive platforms they were provided with.

  42. About five years ago Vauxhall launched the Insignia on that same site as Rover did with the 75 but without the big scale of rows of cars and a full Philharmonic orchestra. They did a mock UFO crash scene and the car dropping out of the UFO style capsule when a crane lifts it high above the crowd.

    Looking back at the Rover 75 launch it reminded me of new labours first years in power and hype of we are all cool Britannia also to give the 75 a boost Tony Bair stepped out of one in front of No 10. For violinist Vanessa Mae she looks a bit uncomfortable of the roof of one.

  43. @46 Simon
    My deepest commiserations – I could hardly believe what I was reading. You actually lost your beloved Alfa and had to downgrade to a 3 Series BM thingy. I think that with all the benefit fiddling and mis-use of government (our) money you deserve trauma counselling on the NHS and you would be rightfully entitled.
    On the up side, you can presumably go back to an Alfa at a later date but in the meantime, keep watching that Dangle thingy, you never know it might get prettier one day.
    (No it won’t – it’s German – added by Mrs Wolseley Man)

  44. @48, I cant see how the Epsilon 2 platform is not a success,used on over half of GM’s cars worldwide,developed at Opel.Far more of a success here than the Mondeo/Mazda 6 platform in any case.

  45. @51, I know what you mean about the Mondeo/Mazda 6 platform, Ford handed it to Volvo who stretched it for the V70 and S80 and neither of those seem to have really grabbed the perceived sales that the old 740/760 did here.

    Epsilon 2 is better than the original Epsilon, but there’s something about the Insignia I’m just not keen on. There again, I’m a Saab fan, so that might explain things!

  46. @52,I rue the day we lost SAAB,the very last 9-5 was nothing short of stunning in my eyes,Insignia in drag or not! Which to be honest is one of my favourite cars!

  47. I had planned to change our 04 plate facelifted 75 CDTi Tourer with 151k miles for a smaller motor cheaper to run and tax. But, when it came to it, just couldn’t part with it. There’s simply nothing out there that we like. I just won’t conform and buy an over rated Das Dull Auto from VW/Audi/BM*, Seat fills me with dread and a Skoda is a slightly less overpriced but still exceedingly dull V dub. I just can’t get excited about Vauxhall’s rebadged Opel range, and Ford is so bland.

    Our 75 has been utterly reliable, spacious, returns 44 average MPG around town, comfortable and nothing touches it for charm. I quite enjoy people knocking it because it’s a Rover, until they look closer and realise, actually it’s quite nice…..and unique. A refreshing alternative to a black inside and out Audi etc.

    I remember James May reviewing it in ’99 and being critical of it’s retro style and gentleman’s club interior. He just didn’t get it, but I do, and I miss that not being on the market now. Please JLR, keep Jag as the forward looking, sporty, German car bashing range, bring back Rover for the retro, cluby, smooth, cosetting leather, walnut and chrome clad barge for wafting around in. Nobody did it better.

    The Rover 75, anything else is just ordinary.

  48. @Timbo:

    I like your sentiments towards the Rover 75 and the Rover marque in general. If I was in the same position as you – owning a Rover 75 – I would be asking exactly the same questions to myself. I’m afraid I have never really warmed to Jaguars (I’m not sure why) and as much as I love Land Rovers, a sports utility vehicle does stil have a distinctly different driving character to a ‘conventional’ saloon or estate.

    My advice to you would be to keep the 75 as it doing what you want it to, without showing any signs of faltering.

    If you are free this Sunday, why not bring it to Coughton Court, near Alcester, for the Rover Sports Register’s 60th anniversary rally?

  49. The R75 attracts a very loyal audience. Unfortunately, it’s not a very large section of the market who wanted something so retro and ‘wafting’, indeed MGR tried to dilute the retro nature of the 75 with their dodgy facelift…

    SAAB are dead, premium French cars effectively non existent, Italy make nothing in that segment, so clearly the German manufacturers are giving the public what they want, as happily JLR are as well.

  50. #43. Nothing happened to ICI? Really? The splitting of the old ICI into “new” ICI and Zeneca in 1993 was really rather stupid. This was purely precipitated by Hanson’s sniffing around ICI mainly due to the vast pension fund that had been built up. The split was engineered to separate the two “jewels in the crown” of ICI, namely Paints (into “new” ICI) and Pharmaceuticals (Zeneca). The other businesses were crudely split between the two as to generate two new businesses with roughly the same share price at separation (if I remember correctly the share price was around £7). The new ICI share price then consistently headed south over the next few years. The decision was then taken to sell of the profitable bulk chemicals and polymers businesses and concentrate on “specialty” chemicals, paying way over the odds for Unilever’s specialties businesses (Unilever must have been laughing themselves silly). AkzoNobel then waded in with a takeover offer which ICI accepted as the management had made such an unholy mess of the business.
    They would have been better off divesting the pharma business only in 93 – just look at BASF to see what ICI could have been (BASF divested their pharma business but kept the core of the business together). Really criminal what happened, similar to GEC (Lord Weinstock must have been turning in his grave over that).

  51. @maestrowoff

    See my earlier blog lamenting the lack of the large French car but advocating Jags as their successors 🙂

    It could be argued that the Chrysler 300 is something of a spiritual successor to big Fiats/Alfas of old…

    And the more I see Volvo S80s the more I think they’re a classy but not overly agressive big saloon.

  52. Hello David 3500, thanks for the invite to the rover event this Sunday. Sadly I can’t make it but hope every one has a good day out there.

    My other car (I use for business) is a face lifted Jag X-Type estate. It’s interesting comparing the two, surprisingly very different characters. The Jag is the more sporty obviously, but somehow the Rover has a 60’s Jag feel about it that you just can’t get elsewhere.

    In my view, the UK’s current taste for aggressive, hard style of big German car will pass and many will look back with sorrow at what was lost with the 75 and what it’s successors could have been. Though the following is only small, people do often say the 75 was in fact a very nice car and still has admirers 15 years later.

  53. Timbo @ 59
    Unfortunately the current trend for aggressive cars will remain until we get rid of the Audi and BMW set who drive them so aggressively.
    Darn it! That’s lost me the last few friends I have!

  54. You still see a lot of 75/ZT’s about, were they really all bad? Ageless styling, it was BMW who put the boot in, raiding the “BINI” and taking Land Rover technology for their own devices… The pesky Munich boys knew what they wanted and shafted the the group when sold off with nothing left in the kitty. MGR should have got back into bed with Honda, but I guess their fingers were burnt back in the 90s…

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