A few months back, our Ebay Find of the Week was a 2000 W-reg Rover 75. Ever since then, I’ve had a nagging desire to go out and rescue a 75 which had sunk to such low levels of residual value and give it a second chance, not least because, according to the DVLA Vehicle Enquiry Service, that blue 75 has been unlicensed since 17th February, four days before the MoT expired. Sadly, it’s unlikely to have survived…
A similar fate could have been lined up for the very car you see here. W103 PPX was advertised locally as Spares or Repair, with a long MoT. It wasn’t the best of ads – no photos, no indication of why it was spares or repair and no detail about the car at all. However, if you have the same level of blind faith that I do (and 90 per cent of the time have been generally lucky with), that’s often where you find the best bargains.
As I’ve said on here before, the last thing a man with more than 15 cars needs is another car but, on the other hand, £300 Rover 75s aren’t going to be around forever, and it seemed a relatively small investment with which to experiment. After all, not long ago, £300 was the going rate for a crusty, oil-soaked Maestro with build-your-own wheelarches and, while there’s plenty of love for the Maestro among AROnline fans (including me!), it’s hard not to identify with the Rover 75 as a vastly superior car.
My latest acquisition drives that home, too. For what’s currently sitting outside AROnline Towers alongside the stalwart family Discovery Td5 isn’t a bad car at all. It’s not perfect (far from it, in fact), but for the same price as a fortnight’s groceries (I have a big family…) it doesn’t half seem criminal that it’s worth so little.
So what did I buy? The car is a 2000 W Club 2.0 V6 Auto. Not the best engine, not the best spec – a typical of a run-of-the-mill used 75, with a few inbuilt traps for the unwitting punter to avoid… That said, I always go back to the initial investment in a car before judging it. For example, this example has covered 128k and had all of the belts done at 120k – great news indeed. However, had it come with no evidence of a cambelt change in recent years the equation purchase price+cost of replacement-value once done would have resulted in one conclusion only – wing it, keep ’em crossed and hope you get at least £300-worth of mileage out of it… It’s not (at this stage) a loved and cherished classic car, but one I will at least do my best to bring up to scratch…
My investigations into why it was spares or repair resulted in the owner – an extremely pleasant and friendly university lecturer – telling me that, since he’d had all the belts done last year (you should see the size of the bill!), it hadn’t run as smoothly as it could and there was a whiff of oily vapour coming from the back of the engine block. There is indeed – and, as I’m not an expert on these V6s, I’m hoping my diagnosis of a blocked crankcase breather is correct, though I haven’t had chance to have a proper nose around yet. Suggestions on a postcard please, though given that the car seems to start on the button, idle well and drive sufficiently smoothly, I’m hoping it’s nothing too drastic. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of head gasket trouble, and the fluid levels are all fairly constant with no signs of leakages from underneath.
Otherwise, it’s a smart and sound-looking car. The nearside rear door has a couple of shallow dents, and it has clearly had a replacement used rear bumper at some stage as there’s some of the Pewter Grey paint flaking off, revealing blue paint underneath. The cabin could do with a bloody good clean (the photos are of the car on Friday, when I acquired it) but is in smart enough condition, with only a tiny hole in one seat and some of the chrome plating flaking off the plastic on one door handle to detract from its overall pleasantry.
On the road, the 75 has all the hallmarks of one that has been properly cared for and maintained – it rides smoothly but firmly with the usual assured roadholding that’s typical of the breed. It may be a £300 car, but it doesn’t feel smooth, worn out or baggy at all. That’s testimony to the build quality of the 75 in the first place, but also proof that, although cheap, the car hasn’t been a victim of neglect.
I haven’t decided what to do with it yet, as I bought it for two simple reasons – 1. I was intrigued to see what a cheap Rover 75 really looked like (answer: pretty respectable) and 2. I wanted to make sure it didn’t get scrapped (which it very nearly did).
Job number one will be to investigate the oily smell after which I’m not entirely sure what happens next – I’ll just drive it until I’m bored, I suppose…. Another one ticked off the list, and already it’s starting to grow on me.