Drive Story : Rover 800 and Audi 100

We’ve read the stories a million times before – pampered journo flies to Modena, picks up a supercar, wafts it across the Alps and on to Blighty. Gushing, worshipping prose follows and we all feel like we’ve lived the dream.

We like to do things differently here at AROnline and, in a fond tongue-in-cheek homage to Mel Nichols’ brilliant Convoy! story in February 1977’s CAR magazine, we do a 600-mile day driving from AROnline Towers in the East Midlands to collect a Rover 827SLi fastback in Whitley Bay and deliver it to its new owner in Blackpool.

Words: Keith Adams Pictures: Matthew Hayward

Convoy! Well, sort of…

Rover 800 meets Audi 100 - which would you have?
A sight that surely stirs the soul of any enthusiast…

MY clock radio wakes me from a troubled slumber – as per usual, my life’s measured in music. Much of yesterday had felt like a exciting prologue to what lay ahead and that had led to fitful sleep, only after a relaxing session with my Enya CDs. Ahead of me now lies a day of motoring nirvana, thanks to the promise of a trans-Pennine examination of exotic multi-cylinder action provided by the best engineers from Ingolstadt and Tokyo. Now, the morning’s here, and my senses are instantly alerted by the summer’s watery sun fighting its way through the curtains. Today, I’ll be driving a 1987 Audi 100 and a 1994 Rover 800. Today, my life will become whole.

Rewind a couple of months, and the plan was germinated. I’d been given a Rover 827SLi fastback by long time AROnline contributor, Achim Küpper, and, with a number of technical issues ably sorted by Steven Ward’s Village Lane Garage in Washington, the car now awaited my collection. However, a change in circumstances meant that there’d be little room at the inn for the magnificent car – and that meant offering out to the website’s loyal readership. After being literally overwhelmed by two offers, I decided that the new owner of the car should be my mate in Blackpool, Peter Lyle, who’d done me so many favours in the past – it only seemed right to return them by offering him the V6 powered wonder.

Heading north, the sense of adventure mounts with every turn of the wheel.
Heading north, the sense of adventure mounts with every turn of the wheel.

First, though, I need to get to Blackpool – a mere 200 miles from my place and, thanks to a stroke of utter good fortune, I’ll be undertaking the trip in a design icon that I’ve admired for many years. When launched in 1982, the C3 generation Audi 100 took the aerodynamic rulebook and skillfully threw it so far from the chasing pack that it took the rest of the industry years to catch up. We’re talking about a car that featured fully-flush glazing and a body so smooth that, even today, over 25 years on, there are plenty of new cars you can buy that are less slippery through the air.

My car, kindly lent to me by Octane colleague, Mark Dixon, is the top-of-the-range CD version and that means that, not only will I be travelling first class, but the fruity 2.2-litre five-pot puts out a full-fat 136bhp at 5700rpm. If that doesn’t sound much by today’s standards, remember that this car, which harks from what many consider to be Audi’s watershed era in terms of efficiency, weighs just over 1200kg. If you’re in any doubt about its efficacy, then consider this – the car I’m driving will keep up with a Rover 3500SD1 – easily – and then outrun it by 5mph on the Autobahn. Lord only knows how effective the turbocharged 200 is.

And so it proves…

Lancaster's Forton Services, and the Audi pauses for a break after a harsh work-out...
Lancaster’s Forton Services, and the Audi pauses for a break after a harsh work-out…

The expansive azure sky and the cool crispness of the day are perfect – and, even though it’s before 7.00am and it’s Bank Holiday Monday, I’m alert and looking forward to the drive north. First thing’s first, I need to head to Blackpool, and that means the dreaded A14/M16 crawl. However, the Audi’s the perfect companion for the trip and, even before I’m up to full speed, I’m quietly impressed – that five-cylinder engine delivers almost elastic torque and high speed cruising is quiet and composed. Time after time I find myself wondering why anyone needs a modern car, when 20-year olds are just as effective.

Sitting at the legal limit for mile after mile, 3500rpm dialled-in on that large rev counter, it’s hard not planting the throttle letting the Audi surge forwards but resist I must – our speed limit seems like a pathetic anachronism on a sunny holiday morning riding the deserted roller coaster. The A14 becomes the M6 and the miles roll effortlessly onwards – except I’ve managed to play once. The name Catthorpe Interchange might strike fear into the hearts of regular commuters but, when empty and with the lights in your favour, the East-West sweep becomes a challenging switchback, and it’s my playground.

The name Catthorpe Interchange might strike fear into the hearts of regular commuters, but when empty and with the lights in your favour, the East-West sweep becomes a challenging switchback, and it’s my playground…

I’d not seen the 1991 Ford Escort LX approaching from behind, such was his closing speed – as I approached the challenging left-hander that marked the start of Catthorpe, the Escort – already braking – drew alongside me, taking the natural racing line for the corner. Entering the braking zone for the corner, the Escort driver’s nerve held out longer than mine, going for his middle pedal when he was more than a clear car-length ahead of me.

With the mouth of the corner now almost upon us, and me adopting something resembling a sane speed for the corner, he sweeps across the front of me and takes the bend. We’re both fighting the bucking bronco – and, amazingly, it’s the Audi that looks more secure, despite the understeer and less-than-precise steering.

We’re now through the first phase of this challenging corner, and it’s time to negotiate the chicane that is supposed to calm traffic before it hits the long right-hander that loops onto the M6. Escort man hits it first and, with a huge shove on the brakes followed by some ham-fisted steering (or does the soggy Ford make all drivers look incompetent?) he’s through. Now it’s my turn and I forego the brakes, choosing to balance the car through the flick-flack. Holding third, the five-pot bellowing its sweet song, I feel like car and man are operating as a single entity. A mere half-turn of lock to the left, followed by a quick flick to centre, before a counter sweep to the right are all it takes to deftly clear the bend – and although the body roll unsettles us both, corrective lock and sensitivity are all that are needed to get the Audi back on the tail of the Escort.

The A66 offers up vistas of bleak beauty
The A66 offers up vistas of bleak beauty

Another flick to the right, full on in third, and we’re really moving now. I draw alongside the Escort – its yowling CVH now issuing a full battle cry – and I look across. Its owner looks across at me, smiles, and knows he’s beaten. As he backs off, I give him a full demonstration of the Audi’s mighty power, wringing its neck in fourth just so he can hear the hardened full-fat warble the stainless steel exhaust pipe’s issuing. I tell you, getting up to 70mph has never been so exciting…

Playtime over – and it’s back to 70mph cruising. I pass the two once-mighty automotive behemoths of Coventry and Birmingham, catching the odd glimpse of those tell-tale signs that industry used to reside there, and can’t help but feel a little mournful. No longer are there chimneys belching smoke into the atmosphere, proudly displaying their factories’ industriousness – they’ve been replaced by retail parks, office complexes and pinky-brown new-age conurbations. The West Midlands will never look the same again. Heading north and beyond, the Audi continues its relaxed cruise towards the mountains and, if it’s like its driver, it’ll be relishing the challenge.

the uphill twin-lane blacktop shines before us, like two arrow straight streams wending their way on a parallel course down the side of yet another Pennine undulation…

By the time we hit Blackpool, the weather’s starting to brood and even seeing the iconic Tower come into view fails to lift my disappointment at the greyness that’s spoiled what was once a very big sky. Still, it’s good to be in Blackpool – and to meet up with Pete. He stops short when he sees the car I’ve turned up in, obviously impressed. Despite coming across as all dour, you can see that he’s dying to get in and head across the A66 to the North East.

The uphill twin-lane blacktop shines before us, like two arrow straight streams wending their way on a parallel course down the side of yet another Pennine undulation…

Whitley Bay isn't loved by everyone...
Whitley Bay isn’t loved by everyone…

We hit the M55 and aim for the M6 northbound and the rain starts to kick in. I knew it was coming and expected it sooner than it happened – any trip in the UK during any month between January and December will be punctuated by rain’s playful patter, and it’s a part of life us Brits are most used to, but love discussing nonetheless. Pete’s not bothered though – he’s relishing the comfort the long-legged Audi gives him but can’t wait to get into his new Rover 800 and allow his fingers to playfully caress the padded safety steering wheel in front of him. He’ll have to wait, though. The A66 beckons.

The rain’s heavier now and, as we turn onto the A66, the uphill twin-lane blacktop shines before us, like two arrow straight streams wending their way on a parallel course down the side of yet another Pennine undulation. Powering up the slip road, the Audi scrabbling for grip, it’s soon clear that this is going to be an interesting section of the adventure – but excellent directional stability and a four-planted feel means that we can power on in confidence. Barrelling along at almost 70mph, we once again enter a happy place – and wonder if life can really get any better than this.

Road presence doesn't come much more impressive than this.
Road presence doesn’t come much more impressive than this.

In what seems like no time at all, Scotch Corner looms ahead and we realise that both the Audi and ourselves are in need of re-fuelling. At the service station, we pause to gather our thoughts on what has been an inspirational day so far – the highlights were to come of course, as the glittering prize of our Rover 800 lay ahead but, so far, cast in its supporting role, the Audi has so far done all that’s been asked of it– and plenty more besides. As Pete and drink our Costa Coffees and WHS issue chocolate delights, we look through the window at the Audi – knowing that its engine is still ticking intermittently as it cools down after such a hard session of sustained 60-65mph cruising.

Before things get too comfortable at the delightfully compact and friendly rest stop, we’re off again, hitting the A1 north, knowing that Whitley Bay is now well within our sights.

Within another hour, we’ve made it, and are getting ready to turn around again. Pete’s the first one to clap eyes on the 800 and, even from a couple of hundred metres, it’s easy to see that he’s impressed. We stop, and before I call Achim to let him know we’ve arrived, Pete’s jumping out and poring over his new car: “Is it a V6?” he asks before doing the full walk-around drinking every swage line, wrinkle and battle scar. Although it’s seen some action, there’s no disguising the heritage and class – and,in metallic grey, it not only looks grown-up in a way the Audi never could, but it broods a quiet malevolence that shouts ‘don’t mess’ to other road users.

The 136bhp Audi can't live with the 173bhp Rover.
The 136bhp Audi can’t live with the 173bhp Rover.

Achim comes out to greet us, his smiling face always welcoming. He’s German but has lived in the UK for a few years now and is as much of an Anglophile as you could imagine – it’s clear that the thoroughbred Rover’s attacks of various forms of recalcitrance are not lost on him at all. He fully understands the concept of British heritage and knows that, even though the central locking, alarm, ABS and windows only work intermittently, there’s a very good reason for this. The Audi, on the other hand, has a fully stocked inventory of working equipment – and, boy, is that boring. And Achim tells us this, time and time again…

Due to Achim’s schedule, we’ve only time for the briefest of catch-ups – and, before you know it, we’re on the road again, this time, heading South. What would you know, but the sun’s come out especially for us. Within five minutes of leaving, we’re in for the main event of the entire adventure – and that’s something I’ve been looking forward to since leaving Northamptonshire all those hours ago.

In a matter of seconds, we’re closing up on 40mph, and I’ve already realised that Honda’s V6 really is more than a match for the Audi five-pot…

The Tyne Tunnel could be described coldly as a two-lane toll vehicular tunnel under the River Tyne – but that would completely downplay what was to become our very own audio amplification chamber. Opened in 1967, and connecting North Shields with Howdon, the mile-long tunnel costs a mere £1.20 to travel through (a bargain at twice the price) – and,for drivers of Audi 100s and Rover 800s with blowing exhausts, it’s a rare treat in today’s sanitised world.

We go through in convoy – me leading the way, deliberately holding the Audi in a lower gear, sunroof and windows open just so I could hear that five-pot’s unique song. Pete’s got the message – he’s behind, keeps dropping back, then powering up behind me, just so I can hear the V6 wail it’s unique banshee cry. Boy, does it sound good. Time after time, he drops back, accelerates, and gives me a lesson in how engines should sound. Suddenly, my five-pot seems just a little duller. For the full effect, once we’re into clear daylight again, we make a return journey – it’s just as good the second time around…. and the third! However, before the lasting effects of carbon monoxide and petrol vapour get the better of us, we’re sprinting for the A1 again, and the glorious South.

Joining the Great North Road, it’s clear that both of us want to play, but Pete flashes us to pull over at the next services. He’s no fool and knows that on a long, high speed, run where 70mph may be neared at times, there’s no margin for error. He wants to make sure his steed is safe. We pull in and head for the lorry park, so we’ve all got room – and the bonnet of the Rover’s up. I’m hoping it’s not for the first time, as I know just how boring journeys are without breakdowns.

However, as I saunter over to Pete, he’s smiling. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the car – it’s pulling like a train,’ he shouts over the nicely ticking tappets and droning exhaust manifold. ‘Just checking the levels, that’s all.’ True to form, the windows aren’t working and the ABS light’s glowering angrily, but we both smile, as we know this’d not be a Rover 800 without those tell-tale character traits.

In a matter of seconds, we’re closing up on 40mph, and I’ve already realised that Honda’s V6 really is more than a match for the Audi five-pot…

Time to press on.

Keeping a straight face is difficult when you're having such fun.
Keeping a straight face is difficult when you’re having such fun.
This is the 800 Fastback's best angle.
This is the 800 Fastback’s best angle.

Leaving the services, with Pete ahead and me following, he finally opens the floodgates and floors the Rover. I know he’s done it instantly – the tail drops and the twin pipes chuff some smoke. Game on. I floor the Audi, almost in unison, and sweep through the gears in a fruitless attempt to keep up. First gear, second gear – I’m really motoring now and, as I flash past 30mph, already the Rover’s starting to declare itself as boss.

In a matter of seconds, we’re closing up on 40mph, and I’ve already realised that Honda’s V6 really is more than a match for the Audi five-pot – my keeping things floored is merely a lesson in academia. By the time we’ve dialled up the big numbers and 50mph’s come and gone, the Rover’s sprinting away, and I’m impressed…

After such excitement, getting back into the 65mph sprint-cruise almost seems like an anti-climax but pounding down the A1 in formation is a fun way to pass the time – we’recovering ground together and it’s interesting trying to imagine what other drivers in their family runabouts are thinking as these two highly strung Euro-Fighters hunt them down at such a rate of knots. The Rover, certainly, has plenty of road presence and, whenever we get embroiled with traffic, it carves through more effectively than a Harley Street surgeon on a time and motion study.

The 827 attacked and conquered the A66and mullered the M6 in a way that few similarly priced cars could have done. The Audi’s left trailing in its wake of unburned V-Power and, although both cars are accomplished long distance cruisers, it’s the Rover that comes across as more convincing at the job. The long day’s turning to dusk as we hit the Rover 800’s home stretch, the M55 to Blackpool and, as we drive for the coast, the red sky almost stops us in our tracks – it’s both beautiful and on a scale that humbles us. It seems fitting that. as the Rover’s finish line is in sight, it’s grey metallic paintwork takes on an almost luminous quality as the light plays tricks and dances across its finely sculpted flanks.

I finally pop a cassette into the Audi’s Blaupunkt tape deck – the song that comes on is almost prophetic. It’s The Eagles and Take It To The Limit. The lyrics are right on for the moment: “All alone at the end of the evening, And the bright lights have faded to blue… So put me on a highway, And show me a sign, And take it to the limit one more time.” For Pete, the journey’s over; for me, another 200-mile motorway squirt – but really the adventure ends now and it’s time for a dull return to reality. Time to play The Eagles just one more time…

Audi made it home in once piece...
Audi made it home in once piece…

But seriously…

We loved both cars – the Audi was a calm and efficient executive car and, with 170,000 miles on the clock, it still feels solid and capable of swallowing up continents whole. Given that these are now getting rare, and cheap examples are likely to be dog-rough, it’s wise to spend around £800-plus on a good example. Considering it’s 20 years old now, 30mpg, 125mph and a soundtrack to die for, are something to be praised…

There’s still, though, a lot to be said about the 827. It sounds great, goes well, and has an unusually well-judged automatic gearbox. Electrical problems are legion, of course, but can nearly always be traced to the fusebox so are generally nice and easy to fix. Good ones are starting to go up in value after a long run in the doldrums, but don’t expect values to rise quickly – not now fuel prices are doing what they’re doing.

And if you’re interested, the Audi’s now for sale. Drop us a line, but be quick, as it’s bound to go quickly!

Keith Adams


  1. Yoinks! a tough one to choose over, but I think the Audi has the edge maninly due to the carved from granite build quality and that off beat 5 pot engine note you never ever tire of!

  2. I’ve owned a C3 Audi 100, Audi 200 and a KV6 800. The Audi 100 was soulless but dependable over 160K miles – apart from total brake failure – which also happened to my 200. Apparently it’s a common fault. The 200 was extremely rapid – making my old SD1 Vitesse feel like a moped. the brakes and handling certainly didn’t match the power, with all that power the ocean-liner under-steer felt even worse. The Rover (to me) felt like a more enjoyable car to drive, the engine felt much stronger than the normally-aspirated Audi 5 pot – sadly the did suffered from many niggly problems – at least the head gaskets held out! Surprisingly the Audi 100 had a nicer ride than the 800 – I guess not surprising when you suddenly realise you’re driving a reworked Honda!

  3. I’ve considered both, but Audis are very expensive to insure for what they are, especially for a young driver! Rovers are considerably cheaper.

  4. Some more sentimental nonsense claiming the Midlands are some sort of industrial wastelend. Have you yourself not acknowledged that JLR are now financially a bigger company than BL ever was? Has this very website not rejoiced in the news about the new JLR engine plant, the success of BMW at Hams Hall and other expansion at Castle Bromwich and Solihull? Just because we no longer have outdated factories staffed by a militant workforce building crap such as Allegros or Marinas or sticking bits of wood onto Hondas doesnt mean we dont have a vibrant Motor Industry!

  5. A couple of fine examples.
    The 100 from those long gone days when Audi were interesting – almost a German ‘Citroen’.
    The 800 looks magnificent and classy, especially in that shade of dark grey.

  6. What rubbish is this you’re talking? The Tyne Tunnel does not connect North Shields with Howdon – they’re both on the the north side of the river!

  7. I’m lucky enough to own both a 1998 820i Sterling and a 1986 200 Quattro Turbo Avant, both fantastic cars. It was great to see this article and I enjoy reading it. Thanks

  8. The Tyne Tunnel links Howdon with South Shields Keith, not North Shields. Speaking of Audis, my ’87 100CD had next to no electrical items working in the cabin by the time is was 6 years old, all but one electric window still worked, elec sunroof motor was kaput, central locking motors were gone in both front doors, yet my ’92 820si was still perfect, not one faulty circuit!

  9. Incidently, just a couple of days ago, I spotted an Audi of this type featuring the historic numberplate. So an early one and over 30 years old – it does look way to modern for this! The same applies to the Mercedes 190E though…

  10. Excellent.

    I had a type 43 Audi 200 in the early 2000’s. It looked magnificent with the 4 square headlights. Unfortunately it was a total rust bucket – all four doors had gone, and I had an endless stream of driveline problems such as CV joints to contend with. Sadly wrote it off and regret it to this day, really loved that car.

  11. Happy memories of the days when Audi’s were rare and not driven by aggressive, tailgating badge snobs.

  12. “Amazingly, it’s the Audi that looks more secure.” Looks like Keith hasn’t had the misfortune to drive a Mark 5 Ford Escort.

  13. @14

    I had the misfortune of owning an Orion based on the mk5 Escort.

    Given that the saloon bodyshell would’ve offered more structural rigidity than the hatch, it still felt like it wasn’t fully connected to the road.
    I remember once (childishly) taking a base spec Passat TDi repmobile at the lights (was confident as mine was an early Zeta/ec – the XR3 engine) – I near ended up in the side of him!

  14. Ace story, Keith. Will look out for the Rover round Blackpool. I have driven many 800’s (my dad worked for British Aerospace) and my favourite was a Mk 1b 2.7 Vitesse and a Mk2 Vitesse (super-fast). After the late ’89 upgrades, my dad had 3 Mk1b 800’s as company cars and not 1 of them put a foot wrong over 12k miles in a year (not even a blown bulb!). The facelift of ’91 made the car look classy and was a nice car for a few years before looking dated around the late ’90s. A much maligned car. As for the Audi, I recently bought a 5 cyl Audi but its a ’93 Cabby and I have to say, I love the sound of the 5 cyl, especially around the 3-4k revs!!! Both cars in this story are good and both have different merits. More of the same please!

  15. Two fantastic classics, and in the case of the Audi, one that’s little remembered now compared with the Quattro and the Coupe, but when launched in 1982, the 100 was light years ahead of the competition and still looks fantastic now.

  16. My uncle used to have a Audi 100 four pot and I remember how solid it was, when he moved up the ladder at Shell Mex he got a rare 200T-digital dash and all the trimmings, what a car.

  17. It’s amazing how well the Rover 800 has aged – the Audi looks positively plain and dull next to it and nowhere near as well finished. The 800 still has a pleasing shape which is helped by the resurgence of large sweeping hatchbacks that are filling the market again making this sort of shape quite familiar. It’s a testament to Rovers designers that the original run lasted almost 14 years and more so that some 15 years later still it looks this good.

  18. Re-reading what I just put made me realise that the 800 shape is almost 30 years old!!!! unbelievable

  19. What a great story.

    Two great cars and hasn’t the Rover aged well but when did you last see one?

  20. @ 22, I still see a few 600s around, another excellent car, but haven’t seen an 800 for about five years. Sad as by the second generation, they were sorted executive cars and well loved by the government of the day. ( Wonder if the Major connection might have worked against them.)

  21. Also the Alan Partridge connection from the mid 1990s might not have helped!

    One of my Dad’s friends had quite an early 800 after he lost his company car & had to buy one for himself. It looked good in the very Hondaish metallic blue.

  22. There is a pristine white Audi 100/200 saloon like this in the village where my parents still live. The guy who owns it used to run the local garage (in a little converted forge) and I think he’s had it from new. I think its an 87.
    Really nice looking cars and they look well built – now all they are making are the Trailer Trash and knockoff SD1s all of which will be plastered to your rear bumper at 70mph.
    I wish there was a company around putting the modern engines into the old cars – kind of like Tatra used to do. Imagine, a Sceptre / 16/60 with the XUD or HDi 90hp engine.. or even, heaven forfend a Sceptre with the diddy little 12v 1300 petrol thats in my current car.

  23. In Malta a lot of classics have been re-engined over the years to keep them going.

    Even over here I’ve seen pictures of Morris Minor being fitted with a diesel unit.

  24. An interesting one would be a Volvo 240 and a Rover 2300. The Rover obviously was more stylish and more fun to drive, but the Volvo would have build quality and reliability on its side and to me Volvo carried on where Rover left off in the seventies, building very conservative, sturdy and well engineered cars.

  25. That Audi (and many subsequent VAG motors on that floorpan) are a great example of how VAG could make a silk purse from a sows ear. The basic architecture of that series of cars is appalling (FWD, longitudinal engine, terrible weight distribution, substandard handling), but the overall vehicle is rock solid and lasts for ever.

    Just look how far back those front wheels are from the front of the car. Open the bonnet, where’s the radiator?, there isn’t room in front of the engine, so it’s shoved over to one side!


  26. @8 Steve & Keith. Actually the Tyne Tunnel’s (there are now two of them) link Howdon with Jarrow (next town to So. Shields where I live.) The current toll charge for cars is £1.60 each way.

    Great article by the way… just goes to show these “so called old-timers” can still do the biz

  27. @28 True to a point
    However it is quite common on here, to talk about 1970’s cars and say “Oh they all rusted”
    The Rover 800 for a modern car is a world champion ruster 🙂

  28. @31, The rust comes as a surprise really, I just thought they were scrapped due to natural wastage, but saying that there are 75’s everywhere!

  29. I do know the 800s have some things that can go wrong that are big to sort out, such as the steering racks wearing out after 100k, & the cam belt tension adjustments are for “advanced users only”.

    I guess a lot have been scrapped because it was more than the car was worth to sort them out.

    The Audi 200 Turbos are supposed to be a labour of love to keep in running order, due to the complex design.

    The same with Renualt 25 Turbos & Saabs from the 1980s which often need an expert sort out any engine management problems.

  30. Thanks for the great article, I have owned 3 Rover 800’s with the Honda v6 engine they are a very under rated car. I currently own a 1994 Rover 800 Coupe a lovely car , nonthing better than cruising over the mountain roads in New Zealand seated in your leather heated arm chair while the lovely Honda v6 effordlessly takes you up the steep inclines. Lucky in New Zealand many Rovers imported in to the country when about 5 or 6 years old with very low mileages so this help extent the cars life , most are very high end models from Japan check out trade me NZ internet auction site look under Rover in the car section. I now live in Hong Kong but travel back to New Zealand 3 times a year to see family and drive my Lovely Rover of course 🙂 .

  31. Great article, nice read.

    Bit gloomy about the automotive West Midlands, Birmingham and Coventry though! Maybe the scale is smaller, but the industry is more healthy now than the ‘peak’ of the late 1960s/ early 1970s?

    In and around the West Midlands, still got JLR HQ (Coventry), engineering base (Gaydon, near Stratford)and several factories; Aston Martin (Gaydon), BMW (engines including new hybrids – Hams Hall, near Birmingham), MG Rover, plus Dennis Eagle (Leamington), Terex (assembly – Coventry), Thwaites Dumpers (manufacturing and HQ – Warwick), Geely London Taxi (Coventry) … plus UK HQ of PSA Peugeot Citroen (Coventry), UK HQ of Agco (Kenilworth), Volvo Truck UK HQ (Warwick), … and European Engineering HQ of Tata Motors (Tata Motors European Engineering Centre – Coventry), Ashok Leyland Euro Engineering HQ (MIRA, Nuneaton), Nissan taxi production (Exhall, near Coventry)… Caterpillar and Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley … JCB isn’t too far away in Uttoxeter … and this is before you add in the supply chain!!

  32. @ 35, While Rover, Reliant and Peugeot Talbot have gone, what remains is in very good health. No more is the West Midlands churning out oddities like the Reliant Robin and subsidy backed products from Ryton, Canley and Longbridge, which would have probably gone far earlier if it wasn’t for government subsidies backing products that weren’t very good. JLR are churning out desirable products that people want to buy, unlike the Austin Allegro.

  33. @36 But no mention of all those jobs that was lost, its ok to mention JLR ,of course, but they do not employ scores of tens of thousands in their factories like say Wolfsburg that is an entire city in itself which has serious numbers contributing to the manufacturing economy.

    Biggest news today is Tesco is shitting bricks over the growth of Aldi and Poundland and are prostituting themselves in the pound arena.

    Aye our economy is growing, and so are the gas bills.

  34. Interesting product for anything K-Series powered is Waterless coolant from a company called Evans. Idea is that it boils much higher than water so there is no pressurisation. All those poor K-series gaskets wont get so badly hammered and are less likely to give up the ghost. Its worth it just for that although the product is expensive it never needs to be changed and there is zero pressure in the cooling system so no pressure on gaskets, no hotspots, no hose leaks doing a passable impressions of a small geyser..
    Its available on ebay but its usually best to use the prep fluid first apparently..

  35. @ 38, Don’t get me wrong, Francis, I do remember the days when Longbridge employed 20,000 and British Leyland was the biggest manufacturer in Britain and the government was right to bail the company out in 1974. However, rather than British Leyland turning itself round like Volkswagen did at the same time with the Golf and government money, the unions continued to strike, quality got worse and market share went into terminal decline. Surely what remains, albeit on a smaller scale at Solihull and Castle Bromwich, is preferable to what came before, even if the loss of jobs was terrible for places like Birmingham and Coventry.
    However, your comments about supermarkets is probably correct. We need more factories and more research, although this sector is slowly coming back, than call centres and supermakets.

  36. @35, Ian,

    Don’t forget that evergreen just southwest of the West Midlands, Morgan Cars.

    Bless their bespoke cotton socks…

  37. It makes me sad reading about these two cars. My dad loved Audis and had two 80s before buying a 100 avant. The 80s were rust buckets but the 100 was a real step up. It was classy and felt really modern and solid as not many cars did in the mid 1980s. I loved cars as a kid and always went with my dad to help him buy the car, choosing the colour for example. After the 100 dad tried to buy a Saab 9000 but his company wouldn’t let him as Swedish cars were not allowed as Sweden was not part of the EEC then. He totally lost interest but was thinking of a BMW 520i. Being patriotic I stepped in and convinced him to buy a Rover 820i. Lovely to drive but the reliability was appalling. Strangely though my dad really took to Rovers after that and bought two 214is in succession. The 200 was a much more sorted car than the 800.

  38. The only issue I have with the Audi is the inadequate heater linked ventilation system, all four vents are linked to the heater, there is no chance of face level cool air on any heat setting and the flow is poor even with the noisy fan set at max.

    Advantage Rover, a much better heating / ventilation system with cool air to face level possible at low to mid range heat settings and effective air-con where equipped with it. Easier push button controls make it simple to choose where the airflow goes while the temperature lever makes it easily to obtain just the right temperature for your needs.

  39. The Audi 100 is like a German Rover, it looks fairly conservative, but the technology is advanced for the time( just like the Rover 2000 when it was launched, a 100 mph executive car, when most others were a lot slower) and it has the old Rover values of durability and reliability. Audi in this era seemed to be doing everything right, offering Germanic quality and driving ability for less money than BMW, and producing some truly good cars.

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