Our Cars : Meet the £300 Rover 75…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

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…

Not bad for three hundred quid, I'm sure you'll agree...
Not bad for three hundred quid, I’m sure you’ll agree…

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.

75 looks good from 10 paces... and it's still pretty smart close up
75 looks good from 10 paces… and it’s still pretty smart close up

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.

shallow parking dents mar rear door - anyone got a spare in Pewter Grey?
Shallow parking dents mar rear door – anyone got a spare in Pewter Grey?

 

Missing pian ton bumper reveals blue underneath - clearly the 75 has had a tap up the rear at some point...
Missing paint on bumper reveals blue underneath – clearly the 75 has had a tap up the rear at some point…

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.

The airbag light stays on - what're the odds its the under-seat connector?
The airbag light stays on – what are the odds its the under-seat connector?

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.

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Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

24 Comments

  1. I wonder if the rocker cover gasket is f**ked allowing oil to drip onto the manifolds.

    They get dry and brittle after a while.

    Ive never seen one of those engines….but Mike H would be the man

  2. You have done well there like taking rescued puppy from the pound. I think it might be hard to tell on the pictures, but is it a Cowley car (Black sills) ? They are getting rarer than rocking horse droppings.

  3. Looks like you you may have got yourself a real gem there. Fingers crossed…

    There are often oily smells from the engine of my own car.

    Another Rover in a similar colour.

    But it’s a 420 GSI that’s done a similar mileage, and I am convinced that the cause is as Jeremy describes.

    It’s a typical T series. But I’ve never heard of KV6 oil leaks.

    Hope your crankcase breather hunch is the cause of your 75’s problems.

    Meanwhile, do you think that an Italian Tune Up would help the car recover its composure and previous smoothness?

    • I’m a firm believer in the benefit of an Italian tune-up – It worked a treat for my Rover 800 Vitesse, which had been dormant for 12 years. It’s also, ahem, quite good fun 😉 Will let you know how I get on.

  4. Looks pretty tidy. I like the Pewter Grey. The interior looks identical to my old 75, right down to the tiny hole in the driver’s seat cushion!

    128k with no head gasket issues. Has it been replaced or is it simply a case of “if you look after them” ?

    • KV6 Post 800 series tend to be a pretty hardy engine in all fairness, but neglect will kill `em in no time.

      Keep an eye open for leaky stats and make sure you have a 24 carat guarantee ALL THREE cam belts have been done and they’ll run and run and run.

      2.0KV is a hoot – especially in manual form as they thrive on a damn good hammering owing to the short stroke.

  5. Looks a good car for £300, considering £300 is not a lot of bucks these days. Wonder what its retail price was back in 2000? pity the R75 is seen as a throwaway item these days like an old TV or fridge.

    Must have been a wonderful day for its original owner driving it out of the showroom…

  6. If I had a big hangar I’d be hoovering up 75’s and ZT’s to break/sell on in future years as surefire appreciating classics. There’s nothing quite like them from that era (even including S types).

  7. Another 75 saved from the clutches of doom !

    I just bought a 2001 75 Club SE last week with only 85,000 miles on the clock, 5 Months MOT and it cost me the princely sum of £150, big difference with mine is its a 1.8 K series with a possibly Knackered engine, Cam belt according to the AA but it is strangely still in one piece and has not snapped.

    If I cant get it going then I will store it away for parts for my 2003 Rover 75 daily driver, at the moment is sits at work looking pretty as I do not have the heart to take it to bits.

    These are massively underrated cars, just drive yours and enjoy wafting along !

    • Maybe we should have an AROnline whipround and see if we can find a big shed somewhere? Was that the really smart looking brown one on Ebay? Depends how brave you are, but breakers seem to be selling used 1.8 K-series engines for £150-200 at the minute…

  8. Its was not the one on eBay, it actually belonged to a customer of mine who just happened to mention his car had blown up, when we got chatting and he said it was a Rover 75 he had owned for 3 years I just had to have it !

    Been looking at engines on eBay, thought they may be a bit of a gamble, was going to just fit a new cam belt and keep my fingers crossed lol

  9. Why these cars are now going so cheap is incredible, they are a solid and well made car, recently a 75 2L V6 CONNOISSEUR on a Y plate sold at a local trader who is on E bay for £260, Ok it had a few scratches and a couple of small dents But 11 months MOT you cant go wrong.

    Maybe it’s the scare factor about Rovers being unreliable and parts hard to get, this is down to garages not knowing how to repair them or not wanting to know.

    Looking forward to the running reports.

    • I too have been surprised at the number of 75s now for sale at ‘banger’ money. It’s the general public perception, people who only know what they have heard in the wider media. They’ll all be going “oh, they blow their head gaskets, I won’t touch that”. Such people will then buy a pricier used car. It too will have characteristic faults, reliability issues but these will have been less publicised.
      I think it will be some time before 75 values recover from the perception of “It’s a Rover, K-Series, head gasket”. What other car is there where a wider public knows the engine’s name, code?

  10. Well done, looks great for the money. I run a Mondeo TDCi now, but really miss the 3 75s that i ran for approaching 200K miles between them

  11. A former £25,000 car for £300 – great despite its age and mileage. I’ve said it before and say it again, The Rover 75 always had “that look”. It still displays more character than many of today’s cars on our roads. Long may many of these classics survive…

  12. Cracking cars, non-petrolheads such as the other half mistake it for a pricey Jag!

    It cost nearly half what I spent getting brakes and calipers sorted on the Saab.

    Absolute bargain for such a big barge.

  13. I would buy one too, but I’ve nowhere to put it ! I have four cars already, one an MG TF 135 of 2010, with the N-series engine. I sold my 75 2.5 Club auto in 2007 to get an aluminium XJ6. I have to say the Jaguar has needed a lot more money spending on it.

  14. I bought the same model/year/spec on Ebay five years ago, spares or repairs for door lock mechanisms (cheaper option at the time).
    Turned out to be a better car than the one I was repairing, so put that one back on the road instead, and… still running well,
    No ball of fire agreed but then if you want a nippy 75 get a ZT.
    The oil smell will be the leaky rear cam end seal (g/box end)speaking from experience. Good buy, cars of this quality won’t be this cheap in the future.

  15. The oily smell on. KV6 is usually from a breather hose. The hose is in 3 pieces and runs across the top of the engine but under the cover. The T Piece usually goes brittle and breaks. Check it out. I had this on a number of KV6s that I ran

  16. I have a 2004 Rover 75 Tourer converted to LPG, and am very happy with it. It has saved the conversion costs in less than two years of motoring. Could this be a future way of keeping old 75s on the road? Apparently the K series engine is ideal, unlike the Ford engines (also in Jags)

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