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