Car of the Month : July 2008

The Rover 400 was a disappointing replacement for the 200/400 range, but that hasn’t stopped Stephen Golder picking and choosing the best parts he can to upgrade his unusual Honda powered Automatic version.

One of the last of the line, you can guarantee this is one well-sorted example of the breed.

Words and Pictures: Stephen Golder

Auto anomaly

I BOUGHT my Honda-powered Rover 416 SLi Automatic from a guy in Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire, some 300 miles from where I live in Central Scotland, in June, 2007. The car was advertised on eBay but had been placed in the wrong section and I reckon that not many people saw the advert as a result of this mis-categorisation. Luckily for me, I did.

A major service, costing just over £500, had been carried not long before the car was sold to me. All good news and reassuring given the long drive that my Grandad and his brother had ahead of them to bring the car back home to me (I missed out on collecting the Rover). Needless to say, they made it back to Scotland without any problems.

When they arrived at the house in the car, it was love at first sight. I went out and had a look round, jumped in and took the car for a test drive. I had to get out and check the plates, as it did not seem like an eight-year old car. The next day, I fitted my Hairpin alloys from my previous 416 Auto and that dramatically improved the way the car looked. Even then, I knew there would be other plans for her, such as fitting chrome mirrors and door handles along with their colour-coded surrounds.

I also wanted to colour-code the side skirts and lower front- and rear-bumper trims, which are black as standard. The hunt was on and I soon found chrome door handles and mirrors from a Rover 45 Connoisseur that had sustained end damage. These were fitted a mere 16 days after I bought the car. I decided, in the end, to leave the bumper and side skirts alone.

However, while searching eBay, I came across a leather interior and thought to myself ‘why not?’ I drove down to Haxey in Doncaster with my grandfather, picked it up, and returned home. I fitted the interior myself and thought that was the end of my upgrade programme – but it was not.

The Hairpins stayed on the car until last month when, after picking up an advisory that a pair of front tyres were needed at the most recent MoT, I decided that, instead of paying £150 for a pair of front tyres, I’d buy some new MG ZS Mk2 11-Spoke instead. Sometimes, these little luxuries are needed.

I’ve decided it’s time to sell the car – reluctantly – but, before she goes, I’m going to give her a decent polish and wax so that the paint will be in A1 condition.

Is this another ‘FDH’ Rover?

According to AROnline reader, Paul Collins, it could well be.

I can’t be certain, but the 416 Auto may have some interesting history behind it.

Based in Devon, I have worked for MG Rover dealerships for 17 years leading up to the demise. During the late 1990s, imported vehicles were having an effect on the market and I remember being told of a competing dealer near Exeter/Chard who had purchased a number of 400s, which had originally been shipped abroad (Japan, if I remember correctly) didn’t sell, then were shipped back and sold off cheaply as a job-lot.

Now, if I’m right in thinking it is White Gold and has an additional ‘Rover’ word badge on the bootlid (both items that were only ever offered on the 400 range for export markets, UK cars had the word ‘Rover’ in the Viking shield badge at the top) and a number plate ending in ‘AOD’, which I think covers Exeter, then this is probably one of those cars.

Looks like it may have seen more of the world than the current owner realises!!


Booted 400s always looked better than their hatchback cousins

Leather interior was a cost-effective upgrade.

Stephen’s original Hairpin alloy wheels looked good.

Keith Adams

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