We all know just how much of an underrated sporting saloon the Rover 620ti is – but back in the 1990s, Moss International tried to raise its profile by starting a sideline offering tuning parts… at a price.
Kevin Davis tells the story, and recounts a failure in bonded plastic and carbon fibre.
A kitch too far?
MOSS International was already adept at producing quality aftermarket products for cars such as the MGB, MGF, Rover SD1 and Mazda MX-5, and the company decided that the Rover 600 would be a lucrative addition to its portfolio. In 1998, it launched a range of enhancements for the 600 Series including damper packs, uprated brake kits, short throw gear lever, Recaro seats, carbon fibre interior trim, spoilers, alloy wheels, the list went on…
At that time there were very few, if any, specialists producing performance and styling enhancements for any Rover, so for Moss to produce a complete range for a specific Rover model was a brave move.
But there was a problem. The 600 was a successful model for Rover, but the average owner was far too mature to be interested in adding big spoilers, Recaro seats and carbon fibre trim. But for the few who were tempted, a look at the Moss price list soon had them choking on their Werthers Originals, for example:
· Carbon fibre trim £1000
· DTM door mirrors £250 each
· 620ti Silicone hose set (3) £340 (pictured)
· Ultimate brake kit £1500
· Recaro Ergomed front seat (each) £1174.49
It has to be said that most of the products that were available weren’t really worthwhile for the 600, except perhaps for the brake upgrade, but who’d pay £1500 for it? As it turned out, very few.
If Moss had made some worthwhile performance enhancements available, particularly for the Honda engined models, then they would probably have had more success with the 600, but to ask over £300 for set of bright red silicone hoses that would make very little, if any, difference to the performance was just silly.
The Moss Rover 600 was a failure because the customer base wasn’t there; sporting 620ti owners preferred the tasteful, discreet, stealth look over pram-handle spoilers and tarmac scraping suspension settings. Add to that the high cost – £6,000 could be spent with the tick of half a dozen boxes from the price list – come resale time, there would be little or no demand. The Moss 600 range was withdrawn in 2000 after just two years. Perhaps if Moss had chosen upgrades for the more popular Rover 200 Series, it could have been a different story.
For publicity, Moss took two Rover 600s and painted one in a garish yellow – actually a Mazda colour – and one in a metallic blue and they were both fitted with most of the products that were available from Moss.
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.