Car of the Month : February 2004

After some years in the executive car wilderness (thanks to underinvestment in marketing) Rover made a comeback to the bigtime with its new 75, which exploded onto the scene at the end of 1998.

Proclaimed as the most accomplished front wheel drive “executive” ever, the Rover 75 had literally millions of development miles behind it. It was also the most costly Rover to develop, thanks to the injection of hundreds of millions of BMW’s money into the programme. Happily for Rover, the end result was as good as it promised, and the 75 emerged as probably the best Rover ever made – without doubt, it was the most highly evolved…

This month’s car of the month is a very fine 29,000-mile example owned by Michael McCabe, and seeing it makes one wonder if MG Rover really needed to spend its money on the 75 facelift, when perhaps it should have saved it for something more vital… like the 45!

This 2001 Rover 75 Connoisseur V6 in Copperleaf pearlescent is a fine example of the breed… Richard Woolley’s design looks good from most angles, and unlike most cars, does not seem to be that “colour sensitive”.

Without doubt, the quintessential Rover 75 is the 2.5-litre KV6 powered version, on account of its pace and refinement. The smooth and soulful V6 engine is a joy to behold, and thanks to that extremely able chassis (optimized for comfort), posssesses nicely poised handling. Certainly, the interior is also a joy to behold, thanks to its individually tailored rear seats (just like a P6, only with more space) and cossetting front seats. The instruments also stand apart from the crowd, and as 75 2.0 KV6 owner Leslie Button says on the subject: “Why would you not like oval instruments? Round instruments with black dials is what everyone else has. It is those wonderful dials that sets the car apart. As a Rover 75 owner, I can assure you that they are wonderfully clear and when I give people lifts – especially at night – they are the number one thing that people comment on – and without exception the comments are positive.”

Michael absolutely cherishes his 75, and as an active member of the Rover Sport Register, he will happily extoll its virtues all day long. His example is An early Longbridge-built 75 Connoisseur, with the real wood dashboard cappings, full set of badges (the cost cutting had not started in 2001). In a very nice shade of Copperleaf Red, topped off with Union alloy wheels, it turns heads on the road.

Bought in early 2003 from a dealer in Aylesbury, Michael has pampered the car to the point of obsession: “My partner feels like she’s been divorced. She loves it but daren’t drive it in case she does something to it…” That pampering resulted in Michael’s car coming runner-up in class (1990 to 2003) at the Rover Sport Register 50th Anniversary Rally at Blenheim last summer.

This 75 is a credit to Michael, and it is good to see an example of what people are beginning to call “the classic 75” being so cherished…

Michael’s 75 on its way to runner-up in class in the 2003 Rover Sport Register concours event at Blenheim…

The interior

Uniquely inviting Rover 75 interior marks it out from all of its opposition…

Keith Adams
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