eBay Find of the Week (Take 2) : Monogram Rover 45 1.6 iL

Craig Cheetham

Now here’s a curiosity… Okay, so it’s a 2003 Rover 45 1.6, and it’s in upper mid-spec iL trim. In other words, not exactly out of the ordinary.

Except for one thing…

Love it or loathe it, the Monogram Sceptre Chromactive paint is certainly distinctive
Love it or loathe it, the Monogram Sceptre Chromactive paint is certainly distinctive

This latest eBay discovery, which you can view here, is finished in MG Rover’s Monogram ‘Spectre’ paint. Depending on the angle from which you view it, it’s either purple, blue or green – and it’s certainly an eyeful.

The Monogram paint finishes were introduced in 2002 as a way of positioning the Rover and MG brands further upmarket, in a marketing model loosely based on that of the Range Rover ‘Autobiography’ line-up.

If there is another one in existence, we haven't seen it!
If there is another one in existence, we haven’t seen it!

Monogram paint wasn’t cheap on the 45 – in Spectre ‘Chromactive’ finish, as seen on this example, you’d have been looking at an extra £1,800 above list, which makes it even more bizarre that it’s on a mid-trim model.

With 85k on the clock, two previous owners and a long MoT, £650 is a reasonable price for a tidy, rot-free 45, which this appears to be. However, for one that’s truly unique (we very much doubt there’s another), it seems extremely cheap for a piece of MG Rover history that, for folly value alone, is probably well worth saving.

12 years ago, you'd have paid £1,800 to have this done to your 45
12 years ago, you’d have paid £1,800 to have this done to your 45

A good job I have no room at the inn…

The car is being offered for sale by Britannia Autos Limited in North London – call 0208 965 9873 if you want to get in there quickly…


Craig Cheetham


  1. I’ve always thought that the weird part of Spectre paint is the color range. It could just as easily be named “Healing Bruise.”

  2. It is terrible, it would work on a hotrod, but on a 45, how can I put this politely, not the coolest car in the world; it looks ridiculous.

  3. Thats different. Not seen one in that colour. I’ve seen a handful of Rover 200s in a purple/green type hue over the years though, but it’s been many years since I last saw one; think the MGF was available with the same colour too.

  4. I like it. Definitely something a bit different, when modern vehicles seem to be reverting to 70s colours (I’ve seen beige and brown brand new Audis, BMWs and MINIs!)

    When I had an Alfa Romeo, the previous owner had sprayed it a similar green – purple – bronze fliptone paint colour. I was told that it was similar to some MG paintwork. Was a nightmare to try and patch up scratches, the best I could do was green colourmagic.

  5. Would rather have a 45 from before Project Drive, but an interesting piece of history anyway. From the reg number that one might’ve been supplied new by SMC in Slough.

  6. I had a Platinum silver R45 1.6 Olympic S with the same Fission alloys. Have to say it looked better than this Monogram colour. I agree it’s unique in having Monogram paint option on a mid range car – not worth paying £1800 for that paint though.

  7. Pricey at the time but certainly adds novelty value today!

    Just shows, a 45 to many was a smashing car and worth adding expensive options to.

  8. There were quite a few Monogram paint cars at this year’s Pride of Longbridge, including a trio with a yellow/orange red flip – how many different types of polychromatic finishes were available

    Healing Bruise sounds nearly as bad as an early HHR green referred to internally as “pondwater” much to the chagrin of the (really nice bloke) responsible for developing new colour choices.

  9. @ Chris C. I think I recall the colour on the HHR you mean. Not sure of the name, but was it a khaki green shade?

    The colour schemes I really liked were the 2004/05 Rover 75 two tone options… I think they offered 7 or 8 alternatives. The only one I saw for real was black & firefrost red

  10. IIRC – They were a few models of 25 / 45 done in Monogram bought by dealers to have under the showroom spotlights in PVH dealers…. but at no extra cost to them.

  11. It was a brave move and I’m glad they did it. With dull metallic grey being the default choice now, I’d like to see a lot more of this sort of imaginative madness around on new cars!

  12. Back in October 2002 I was invited to a Rover Regional Press Day staged by MG Rover Group in Wiltshire. It was as the title suggests – a chance to drive the 2003 Model Year Rover models (i.e 25, 45 and 75) in their various engine size and trim level configurations. In the fleet of about twenty cars, over half of them featured a Monogram paint colour and they looked stunning. My favourite example at that time was a 75 2.5 Connoisseur SE Tourer finished in Mirage and fitted with 17-inch Meteor alloy wheels.

    The Monogram option was actually quite a popular option both in the home market and in export markets and actually returned a profit.

    The reference link with Land Rover’s Autobiography option is certainly true although the process by which each car was finished was very different. Rovers and MGs were briefly’removed’ from the mainline assembly line to be painted in a separate area before returning to mainline process. With a Range Rover, these were actually finished in black (Java Black micatallic from 1997) and progressed all the way to the final stage of assembly involving all components and trim being fitted. The vehicle was then taken off the end of the assembly line track and handed over to the Special Vehicles operation, who then carefully prepared the bodywork (except inside the door panels and in the engine bay) to be repainted. The bodywork was then hand-sprayed in either one of the special colors from the Autobiography colour palette or in an exact one-off colour match specified by the customer. Of course this method was extremely time consuming and meticulous, hence why it was such an expensive option on a Range Rover (a chromaflair paint option from the Autobiography colour palette was £10,000 in 2003).

    Genuine Range Rover Autobiographys – there are many ‘fakes’ out there – can be identified by their special Land Rover Special Vehicles contract plate riveted to the from slam panel and also featuring a black finish to the engine bay. Of course if you had specified a Range Rover Autobiography finished in black, then the only way to confirm its authenticity is by checking for the LRSV contract plate!

  13. I forgot to mention that I still have very fond memories of the Rover 75 V8 Connoisseur SE saloon press car finished in Chatsworth supertallic which MG Rover Group loaned to me in January 2005. Where are you now, BW04 VVU?

  14. David,
    According to the DVLA BW01 VVU is on a SORN so she is still alive if not well!!

  15. I bet no one paid £1800 for that paint. The car will probably have been specced by a dealer for stock encouraged by Rover to take these weird coloured cars. A hapless buyer would then have been offered the deal of a lifetime to take this orphan off the dealers hands.

    • Very unusual – I have not come across either a 25 or a 45 in a Monogram colour before now, although there were plenty of Rover 75s and the various MG models specified in such colours, so quite a lot of customers did pay the extra – in 2004 the basic supertallics were £600, with the Kinetic colurs at £1200, the chromactive at £1800 and the chromescent at £2000.

      I don’t think the appearance of Spectre on a mid trim 45 is out of the ordinary – the majority of Monogram coloured cars seem to be the most basic trim level – presumably the original customer had spent all their money on the paint rather than buying a car with a higher level of equipment.

      I doubt very much it was a dealer order – the whole idea of the Monogram scheme was for the end customer to specify their own combination of bespoke colours, options and accessories, and Monogram-only options were just available for a specific customer order. They were specifically not available for dealers to order for stock.

    • There were only two Mathew Wiliamson cars built – the Rover 25 Art car design concept unveiled at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show, and the Rover 25 Mathew Williamson LE which was finished in Chatsworth supertallic with an Alpaca leather interior, of which only one example was built. No other examples were built after these two and the Mathew Williamson name was not applied to any other projects with MG Rover Group or the Rover brand in general.

      Hope this helps.

  16. guess it was a way to pep up ageing model lines and make them a little more attractive, at least in show rooms. Doubt you could find many manufacturers doing this kind of thing at the price level of a mgr product other than maybe Nissan back in 2002 onwards. They really do stand out when colour options today are mostly just white, black and silver. Some of the colours work better than others however

  17. When I was in the trade in the late 90’s I talked to a Nissan dealer about painting these colours. he said they wouldn’t bother touching up the panel – they’d respray the whole panel as it was much easier, and the colour variation didn’t matter so much.

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