A little introduction first – I’ve been lurking around AROnline for a number of years now and have taken plenty out if it, so thought I would offer something in return.
I’m a serial AR enthusiast, having admired and, in some cases, lusted after the bread and butter that make this site so appealing to many of us. Rovers are my favoured brand and I’ve owned plenty over the years. I thought I would introduce you to my Bangernomics car of choice – my 2002 Rover 75 Connoisseur SE CDT Tourer. Yes, I know it’s got a BMW engine but this installation brought about a well-executed marriage of British design flair and teutonic reliability– surely a recipe for success?
After having sold my 1998 Range Rover P38 (everything about which I dearly miss except the fuel consumption!!), I needed a car for tip trips, towing and general tonking around in. FE02 YMP came up for sale on eBay, many miles away as they always seem to be, and was listed as a non-runner, with absolutely no history. I broke every rule in the car-buying book and took a punt, buying it sight unseen with an unconfirmed mileage and no idea of what I was getting. It duly arrived at my home address via a shiply request, bought and delivered for £350.
Upon arrival, first impressions were very good and, if all else failed, a number of tasty items that I didn’t know the car had could be sold enabling me recover my costs. It’s amazing how the price of retrofittable desirable options such as powerfold mirrors, tonneau dog net and fuel-burning heater can attract such silly money for such comparatively low value cars! Once fitted with a charged battery, I was greeted with an odometer reading of 182,000 miles which was a little concerning. The car cranked all day long but would not fire. A spray of easy start got it going – for a second or two!
The fault was finally traced to a flooded plenum chamber. Rover 75s have a twin bulkhead, between which sits the ECU. When the drainage holes become blocked with detritus, it’s only one downpour away from a drowned ECU. An email to a contact on the 75 forum ensured that a fully-programmed plug and play replacement ECU arrived with me a few days later. £140 well spent as it also included a 160bhp re-map! I’m always a bit wary of pushing an engine beyond what it was designed to do but, with this car, I made a well-informed exception. My 75’s original state of tune was a sedate 114bhp, the ZTs were treated to 135bhp but BMW did not allow Rover to use the full 160bhp state of tune. When new, this was reserved for their cars.
My new ECU afforded a first trip out in my budget hack. The car proudly wore its mileage and has been pressed into regular service since. It’s done plenty of dirty work, towed my P6 about, executed my 75 mile commute (on the occasions that my daily drive 75 has been off sick) passed its MoT without a sniff and has now racked up 194,000 miles. At £490, a home service and a pair of bushes I can’t complain really, in fact, quite the reverse. The remap also returns improved fuel economy and it’s averaged 56mpg over 12,000 miles. I must admit that I really love the old girl for all the characterful rattles and her slightly rough around the edges look.
However, is that where “the essence of Bangernomics” begins to fall apart? I’m driving her now with my heart, not my head, thus breaking the cardinal Bangernomics rule. In true Bangernomics style, this car is a consumable item and should really be only one big (or even medium) bill off the scrapyard, at which point I should dispose of it and take my chances with another clunker, just like you would with a dicky washing machine. I guess only time, and the size of the bill will tell. Or you could put it another way – the total expenditure on this car, including purchase, fuel, repairs, road tax and insurance is around half that of 12,000 miles worth of petrol the Range Rover would have consumed, so she owes me nothing. Perhaps I’ll treat her then when that bill arrives!!