The converters : MacNeillie Rover 75s (1999-2005)

The Rover 75 was stretched rather successfully by MacNeillie & Sons following on from the 800-based Regency.

This led to the converter bagging the contract to build factory Vanden Plas conversions for MG Rover.


MacNeillie Regency: the longer 75

MacNeillie Rover Regency

In 1999, the 800-based Regency gave way to a new version based on the Rover 75, again available in six-door limousine form and aimed primarily at the funeral trade, although it could also be ordered with full armour-plating and bomb-resistance for the protection of more vulnerable occupants.

A hearse version was also built, extending the company’s share of the funeral trade.

MacNeillie Rover Hearse

Rover 75 Vanden Plas: factory approved

The spring of 2002 saw the announcement of an interesting new development: Rover were to revive the Vanden Plas badge on a long-wheelbase Rover 75 saloon, which would be available to order only. This conversion work was also carried out by MacNeillie, presumably on the strength of its experience in stretching the 75, and the high quality of its work.

The 75 Vanden Plas was based on the top-of-the-range 2.5-litre V6 Connoisseur, with an extra 200mm (around 8in) being added to its wheelbase and rear doors. As with the previous decade’s Rover 800 Vanden Plas (produced by Coleman Milne), this gave executive travellers ample leg-stretching room in the back, from where they could appreciate such thoughtful details as a pair of reading lights and a roof-mounted clock whose style echoed that of the example which could be found on the car’s dashboard.

Buyers opting for this flagship version were required to pay a reasonable premium of around £4500 over the list price of the ‘standard’ Connoisseur.

The MacNeillie-converted Rover 75 Vanden Plas: the extra 200mm incorporated into the rear doors does nothing to upset the car's graceful lines. In fact, from this angle, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish the car from the standard 75.
The MacNeillie-converted Rover 75 Vanden Plas: the extra 200mm incorporated into the rear doors does nothing to upset the car’s graceful lines. In fact, from this angle, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish the car from the standard 75
The longer rear doors are a little more evident when the car is viewed from behind – but only just.
The longer rear doors are a little more evident when the car is viewed from behind – but only just…
The already-sumptuous Connoisseur-specification interior was upgraded with a few extra luxury touches, although few of these are visible in this particular shot. The extra legroom afforded by the 200mm stretch can certainly be appreciated, though.
The already-sumptuous Connoisseur-specification interior was upgraded with a few extra luxury touches, although few of these are visible in this particular shot. The extra legroom afforded by the 200mm stretch can certainly be appreciated, though
Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

13 Comments

  1. Could Rover have just redesigned the 75 so that the LWB length became its standard length in order to better compete with the 5-Series class?

  2. I’ve often thought this as well, the “Rover 95”. Then again I thought that adding a hatchback to the “standard 75” might have been easy and allowed the car to become a little more practical for the hatch man 🙂

    • Totally agree Paul Idon’t think they made enough use of the platform. they should have had the saloon, estate, and then hatchback and coupe 75. They would have sold well in my opinion.

  3. Never seen a 75 Vanden Plas, but from the description and images here it looks a very comfortable spacious car. At a glance, the extra length is not that apparent. Just goes to show how it could have been developed into more versions had things not turned out as they did in 2005.

    In my town on Tyneside, there is a 75 driving round that has the full depth square grille but wearing a Roewe badge… unusual combo.

  4. I went to British Car Austions in Bedford to buy a 75 Connoisseur SE 2.5 KV6 The car looked superficially OK and the auction Catalogue made no mention of it being a McNeillie Conversion

    As the Auction progressed and the side of the car became more visible, the stretch rear doors became visible.

    I bought it and ran it for about a year.

    It turned out to be the ex Mayor of Stevenage`s official car.

    Unfortunately for an owner driver it was fairly useless although it did occasionally provoke comments from rear seat passengers.

    Wasnt there a name change with early cars not being referred to as Limousine or Vanden Plas?

    A more interesting car that I should have bought was a 4 inch stretch, left hand drive that was reputed to have been ex Geneva Motor Show and later used by John Towers

    It was obviously a prototype and the door gaps were poor on the rear

    A contractor working at Longbridge after the Chinese takeover had persuaded them to sell it to him!

    One that got away.

    • I can’t vouch that all long-wheelbase examples handled by McNellie & Son wore the Vanden Plas badge, although I certainly can say that the former press demo car registered in 2002 as 2 ROV definitely did. I had the pleasure of driving this Royal Blue example in October 2002 and it felt as nice and special to drive as any Rover 75 does. On the bootlid was a bright-effect ‘Vanden Plas’ badge.

      Therefore early examples definitely were referred to as the Vanden Plas.

    • That 4” stretched prototype probably ended up as the Roewe 750? A 4” stretch of the 75’s rear seat space was not the worst idea to come from BL>MG Rover…

      • Stretch versions of smaller sedans are pretty common in China, because it isn’t unusual for a professional to have a driver, but not an over the top limo.

  5. The first completed six-door limousine was delivered to Exeter City Council in July 2003 as the official car used by the Mayor of Exeter. It was powered by the 2.5-litre KV6 engine and finished in black paint with a Sandstone interior colourway.

    I remember when HM The Queen visited the University of Exeter in May 2012 to open a new building. As we were all waiting, all the university’s dignitaries arrived in either a Mercedes Benz E-Class or S-Class or an Audi A8. Representatives from Exeter City Council kept the Union Flag flying by turning up in the Rover 75 limousine which looked far more in keeping with this occasion. HM The Queen turned up in her coachbuilt Bentley, supported by officers from the Royal Protection Squad in an L322 Range Rover.

    The Rover 75 six-door limousine was disposed of approximately six years ago in preference to a standard wheelbase BMW 5 Series (the first foreign car used for this purpose since the 1960s when Exeter City Council started buying a car for official duties) and it is now residing with an enthusiast living in Ireland.

  6. @ David 3500, a great story, and I can remember the local mayor in Copeland having a Princess and Ambassador as the cars looked mayor like, were huge inside, and could carry three passengers in the back in comfort. The 75 was part of this tradition where a mayoral car had to look imposing and be able to carry back seat passengers in comfort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.