There’s something uniquely appealing about picking up a low-mileage classic car. It’s having all the joy of a new car, without, er, having to own a new car.
John Pollard’s Montego 1.6LX was pretty much a new car when he bought it 10 months ago – and today, it still feels and smells, like a box-fresh example, with a little more than 20,000 miles on the clock.
Words and photography: Keith Adams
By 1990, when John Pollard’s stunning Montego 1.6LX rolled out of Cowley, it’s fair to say that all of the production and engineering ‘issues’ which affected the original cars had long since been ironed out. With the 88.5MY facelift of 1988, the uprated switchgear, seats and improved colour pallette had breathed new life into Rover’s very capable, but hardly sexy, midliner.
Today, unless you’re an early car fetishist, these late-spec cars really are the most appealing. This one, for instance, comes with a tilt/slide sunroof, electric front windows, electric sunroof, electric mirrors and central locking – and that all important duotone paint job, which was all the rage back in the late-1980s. John has owned this car 10 months, and he’s clearly attached to it, as it’s polished to within an inch of its life, and aside from a single blib of rust on the rear screen base, it is to, all intents and purposes, a two-year old car.
We love it. So much so, that as we pore over it at the BMC/BL Rally at Peterborough, Mike Humble begins to talk Stevenage man John into selling it as it sits gleaming on the Maestro and Montego Owners Club area. Blimey!
S-Series engine is like new, with nary an oil leak to spoil the as-new feeling of this car
The ‘Roverised’ Montego came with Roveresque badging – but it was still an Austin
The 1.6LX was intended as the main ‘fleet special’, which meant equipment galore
John says, ‘I’ve done about 1500 miles in it since I’ve had it, and it’s given me trouble-free motoring. As I’ve taken early retirement, it’s nice to have a car to play around with and, although I’ve always had Triumphs, it seems that I have now become Montego man. And you can’t argue with the fact they’re easy to work on.’
Being the quintessential company car from the 1980s, you’d think that ex-fleet car man John is nostalgic for the Montego through having them back in the day. ‘I never used to like the Montego back in the day when I was on the company car ladder,’ he smiles. ‘I was a Cavalier man back then, I’m ashamed to say. But now I have one, you don’t see many on the road, it has a bit of character, I love it.’