Blog : This happened…

Craig Cheetham

Another new car has joined the Editor’s fleet during a period of ‘slimming down’ that hasn’t quite gone according to plan…

As purchased, Elmer was in tidy condition...
As purchased, Elmer was in tidy condition…

The new arrival is, to be fair, something I’ve fancied for a long time. However, it was only when researching survival numbers for my recent An endangered species? piece on this site that I realised how rare they’d become… Today, there are far fewer than 2500 Rover Metros left on the roads of the UK, so I took it upon myself to find a good one to add to my ‘will probably keep’ collection, which currently consists of a mint 32,000-mile Rover 214Si, a tidy 820 Vitesse and a, frankly, stunning 820e Fastback. None is everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re certainly my thing…

It was at the Tatton Park Classic Car Show last month, when gassing with some of my car mates over a few beers (which always tend to lubricate the old bidding finger), that I turned to eBay for inspiration. There, as we sat drinking, was a really tidy looking five-door M-reg Metro 1.1S in Flame Red which was pretty much in the same pricing ballpark as the wad of cash sitting in my desk drawer from the last car that I sold…

The eagle-eyed among you will, by now, have realised that I didn’t buy that car, as the one in the pictures is not a) red, b) a Metro S, c) a five-door or d) an M-reg. In the event, I was outbid in the dying seconds, but that just made me even more determined to find a good ‘un.

One exceptionally clean and tidy Rover Metro - once a sight on every street corner, but sadly no longer
One exceptionally clean and tidy Rover Metro – once a sight on every street corner, but sadly no longer

So I did. The good ‘un in  question being a Caribbean Blue 3-Door Metro Rio Grande, which I noticed was about 100 miles away from my house but, nonetheless, appeared to be in fine fettle. I added it to my watch list, and the very fact that every time I logged on to eBay I went back to view it again and look more closely at the pictures told me all I needed to know.

By the fifth viewing, I’d hit the best offer button. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the event, I also got lucky, for not only is the car a little belter, save for one missing indicator lens and a few microscopic rust patches that I’m going to get sorted straight away, but it also happened to be well known to my good friend Tanya Field, who is very well known in Austin Rover circles and was able to verify the car’s previous history. Until 2012, it had been in the custody of just one owner, who had used it locally in Oxford and had covered a mere 15,000 miles. It was then bought by a young local enthusiast, who has put over 25,000 on the clock but thoroughly enjoyed using it. He was a smashing lad, too, before anyone wants to give young drivers a bad name – and he’d clearly looked after ‘Elmer’, so called because of its number plate.

Interior is in exceptional order
Interior is in exceptional order

What have I bought? Well, a seemingly lovely, very original Metro in basic-ish Rio Grande trim – remote locking, but only four speeds and wind-down windows. It drives fantastically well, rides great and has cleaned up beautifully, despite the fact that the heavens opened within minutes of me getting the camera out after a valet.

What will I do with it? The same as I do with my 800s and 214 – light use to keep them ticking over, but pretty much aim to preserve as is… After all, there are only just over 2000 left and, as very few of them are in this kind of condition, it’s certainly worthy of preservation. Who’d have thought that a few years ago?

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Craig Cheetham


  1. Great work sir. There’s a low mileage 1992 214 Si with tiny mileage on ebay at this very moment which is tempting me in a similar manner……

  2. Now then, Craig, you consider a Metro like this to be rare, I spotted a car yesterday in Cockermouth that I thought had died out forever over ten years ago. A bog standard blue Citroen AX was sitting near Sainsburys on an L plate, complete with four speed gearbox( rare in basic new cars even in 1993) and the original radio/cassette with a few buttons missing. An interesting daily driver for someone, as it wasn’t concours with a few dings and scrapes, and a real rarity now.

    • Funnily enough I saw a fairly tidy late model AX on Sunday and soon after a Saxo, which also seems to be a once ubiquitous car that is disappearing quickly from the roads.

    • Few weeks ago I saw a Talbot Rancho in what appeared to be dailyish use in Gothenburg Sweden.

  3. I spotted an AX in the last week or 2, they certainly are getting rare to spot these days.

    IIRC the AX tooling was bought by Proton, but they weren’t sold outside the far east.

    I’ve not really noticed a drop on Saxo levels near me, but I imagine finding a non-chavved high spec one in years to come will be hard.

  4. Nice condition and will probably only go up in price as they get fewer and fewer. I ve got in my possession a zr 160 in xpower grey bought for £25 quid, very unloved and no mot. I ve replaced a lot of panels and parts bit by bit and she’s now looking really good, but at least I ve saved her from the dreaded Scrapman.
    Bought a zt 190 for 300 quid with 55 000 miles on her and needs new rear springs and an mot
    Latest purchase is a white 1992 rover 216 gti tc for 300 quid, again good condition but needs an mot , get this ,only 30 on the road and 41 on worn
    That’s one of the reasons for buying is they are rare now and that a local guy wanted to buy it for banger racing, so again, I like to think I’ve saved another Austin rover product from being melted down
    I m running out of room now lol

  5. Saxos are none too common now, probably due to the high crash rate by their owners and also their poor reliability( radiator failures were a well known problem as well as complicated electrics). It seems the baseball cap and rave music( why do they still persist with music most people gave up on in the nineties) type of driver go more for Fiestas and Corsas where I live.

    • Round my way the chavs moved onto Honda Civics, Peugeot 306 diesels and Volkswagens (Polos, Golfs, Boras)

  6. Just 2000 Rover Metro left? Is this rating excludes Rover 100 Series 1995~97……maybe I guess? What a shocking (number how many they left) it is.

  7. I didn’t even know that R6 Metros were available with four forward gears until now.

  8. Wanted to say, I’ve been admiring this collection in the local car park for a while. I live nearby, with a Y plate Rover 75 2.5 KV6 Connie SE with 250k on the clock, and just bought my “spare wheel” car, an M reg Metro 1.1 with 70k.

  9. Makes me feel old seeing the interior of that 1993 Metro with its four speed gearbox, lack of a rev counter, wind down windows and sparse dashboard. Reminds me of my first car, a Mark 2 Cavalier L, which was as basic as this, although it did have the optional tilt and slide sunroof fitted.

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