Concepts : Rover 75 Coupe

Coupe rennaissance

THIS was the car that Rover fans have been waiting for since the launch of the 75 in the autumn of 1998. The coupe version of what has been dubbed the best car in Rover’s history. Looking at the design proposal, it was hard not to be impressed with the saloon to coupe transformation, but then again, big coupes nearly always look better than their saloon counterparts. On the 75 Coupe, the transformation was amazingly well conceived – the roof line was stunning, and it gelled perfectly with the rest of the car.

The company’s design team wanted to mark the first 100 years of the Rover marque – and chose this project to do it in style. MG Rover was also deep in negotiations with SAIC at the time, and felt a glamorous car like this would have acted as a perfect showcase for its talents. This objective was achieved with the Rover 75 Coupe concept – and all aspects of its design – interior and exterior – impressed all who set eyes upon it.

The concept’s interior was conceived to capture the elegance of Rover, and as a result, strongly focused on Yew wood and Tan leather hide introducing the style of designer furniture into the automotive lounge, extending Rover’s trademark for a welcoming interior.

Peter Stevens, Rover’s design director at the time said: ‘I want people to turn away for a moment from post modern brutalism and to enjoy the elegant and timeless lines of the 75 Coupe’s design. The true character of a Rover comes from its ability to present a cosseting environment with comfort and refinement being the high priorities, elements that should be expressed in the form and detailing of the exterior of the car. Heritage is a great strength for a marque as it gives you the terms of reference and something to build on for the future. That is exactly how we saw the challenge of presenting a Rover concept in its Centenary year.’

If nothing else, it would have brought a touch of British elegance and understatement to the sub-£30K coupe market.

Such a shame…


Keith Adams


  1. A stunning looking car!

    Every effort should have been made to get this car into production. It could have been sold with a pretty hefty profit margin. I’m sure it would have sold in decent numbers and generated much needed funds – more than the X Power SV managed, surely.

    In fact I reckon a 75 Coupe would have been a better flagship model all round than the X Power SV. It was sufficiently glamorous and would have had a far greater market presence – an important factor in attracting investment.

  2. “Sub-£30K Coupe market”? Hardly. This would have likely had a premium price over a 2.5-litre Connoisseur SE saloon so would likely to have cost over £30K to recoup the cost of retooling sixty percent of the body pressings on what would have been a low volume addition to the 75 portfolio.

    A beautiful looking car that captured the real essence of timeless, elegant styling and good taste, which the Rover name was synonymous for. A potentially worthy flagship for the Rover 75 line-up and one that I hoped, could have been reserved for the Rover marque only.

  3. Why on earth did MGR mess about with utterly pointless projects like the rear wheel drive Mustang engined thing and that X-Power Ferrari wannabe, when they could have introduced the beautiful 75 Coupe, which would have been a true halo model with its combination of traditional looks and modern surfacing?

    It pains me to think how the opportunities MGR had were squandered time and time again, and I’m not even a big MGR fan (some cars were worthy of adoration and respect, like the Metro, Mini, R8 and SD1; others – like the utter tat they produced in the Seventies – were worthy of scorn.)

  4. I’ve owned 5 or 6 Rovers inc a 600 & a an 800 coupe – which was was superb !

    I followed it with a 75 Connoisseur SE also brilliant – but looking at the 75 coupe – well I’d order one tomorrow !

    Price bracket – say 35 – 40K [ the 75 V8 was listed at 30K + ]

  5. What a car!,such a shame it never got beyond the concept stage. I am sure it would have been well received and sold well.

    I currently own a 75 connoisseur Tourer absolutely brilliant car.

  6. It’s a fantastic looking car I’d have one in a heartbeat, but I can understand why Rover didn’t put it into production.
    Who would buy one? Coupes are generally sporting, and that’s not why you buy a Rover 75.
    I appreciate you have the P5 Coupe to look to for heritage, but I think it would have been better received as an MG (ZT-C maybe?).
    As a Rover, I think it would run the risk of being seen as neither fish nor foul, a bit like the 800.
    Just to clarify, I love the 800 coupe as well.

  7. The side window profile puts me in mind of my own Accord coupe. Which with leather, wood and US-style soft suspension, could very well have made the basis of a nice Rover product.

  8. What a car!! Absolute beauty currently have a 05 2.5 v6 connoisseur SE best car i have ever owned!!! BY A LONG WAY. Would love to have seen a 4.6 V8 75 Coupe 256bhp like the V8 saloon. Would have give the keys to my house for one.

  9. A baby Bentley… If they could have produced this at around £30k-£35k they would have been laughing… You have to question where MG Rover placed it efforts and where it could have…

  10. This car looks fantastic, exactly what a Rover should be like.
    Yet another “if only” story.
    It’s makes the blood boil, such a shame they didn’t get this into production. I’m sure it would have been in high demand..
    If JLR ever resurrects the “Rover” name. this is what a rover should look like.

  11. This amongst other nearly Rover cars would have been the companies salvation-how can you not fall in love with this beautiful,stunning concept?

  12. I don’t know why people place so much emphasis on this car only being worthy of carrying an MG badge when in reality it was a design concept to not only celebrate 100 years of Rover car production, but also showcase an interesting ‘halo’ model for the Rover marque.

    An MG ZT-C offering would have left me cold as there is no obvious lineage with MGs of old. I can never understand the mentality of those who automatically suggest that with every new bodystyle proposed by MG Rover Group there had to be an MG variant. The Longbridge-based manufacturer did not adopt this approach with the long wheelbase Rover 75 so why, in theory, not with the Coupe as well? Perhaps I am unique in not understanding the alleged ‘magnetism’ of the MG badge compared to Rover?

    The reality of this car was that it served to ‘whet the appetite’ of potential investors in the MG Rover Group business and would only have been feasible if it could have been sold in additional markets where MG Rover Group did not already have a presence, namely China. From a business perspective, this project would have been heavily dependent on the financial input of another partner and would have also involved redesigning at least fifty percent of the existing Rover’s 75 steel body panels (with the exception of the bootlid, bonnet and front wings). Did this make a sound business case for a car that was already six years old when this Coupe design concept was announced, and was already experiencing a decline in sales in the light of newer competition?

    Make no mistake, it was a stunning design concept that in more prosperous times and with a more secure future, would have been a worthy halo model for the Rover marque. As we all know, however, the reality could not have been further from this.

  13. Does anyone know if this car still exists?
    Presumably someone still owns this design & other concepts like this?

  14. @dzt103:

    The car still exists, albeit now wearing MG badges and a small bootlid spoiler courtesy of Nanjing Automobile Company in approximately 2006. The car is one of the heritage exhibits at MG Motor UK Ltd’s Longbridge assembly plant, alongside the 5 Millionth Rover.

  15. @ David 3500
    Thanks for that, I’m pleased the car is still around but less so that it was rebadged an MG. It fits the Rover name best, as you say thats what it was designed to be after all…

  16. It’s lovely, but I think we need to be realistic about it’s sales potential had they actually made it! If in any doubt look at the success or otherwise or the 800 Coupe, launched in a time when the Rover name had a great deal more respect that it did at the time this was on show.

  17. Wasn’t it mentioned in some quarters that the 75 Coupe could have been badged as a Riley? though I understand that BMW hold to rights to that brand name. A great looking car nevertheless regardless of what badge it might have worn.

    • BMW own, MINI, Riley & Triumph marques.

      Not sure about the Vanden Plas or Mayfair Coachbuilders, the 50% of Austin-Healey, or the marque / model Princess.

      Also own the rights to model names, Metro, Sprite, Ambassador.

  18. This and the other 75s should have been the only Rover. The 25, 45 should have been Austin. The Cityrover- Lord knows!!

    • That’s fair comment but by that time, the Morris & Austin brands had been dropped and “Austin Rover” as a group became just “Rover Group”. The aim of Rover was to make all their cars appear more upmarket (e.g the R8 ) and Rover was the name to attempt that.

      • The real problem is that the Rover name carried almost no weight outside of the UK. Where the name was known, for example in the US, it was a standing joke as being unreliable, badly made junk. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

        A far better choice would perhaps have been Triumph. At least this name was still looked upon fondly.

        • Compared to Chrysler, Ford and Chevrolet, Rover was and is a Jewel in the Crown of car making, The US buyer has no taste, if they did they would have purchased more Euro cars than the did/do, the US junk is bland, boring, and in some cases down right dangerous, I won’t mention the Tesla X that falls apart at the slightest accident, as was shown in press reports earlier this year…. and many other US branded cars that get recalled time and time again…

  19. Hi Hilton, yes absolutely but unforunately they ended up destroying the Rover brand. Maybe they should have done the same as per late Montego and Maestro badges.

  20. Perfect – and better looking than any heavy handed Mercedes, boring Audi’s or aggressive BMWs – of course it would have sold!

  21. Wasn’t this once suggested (by Pichetsreider?) as a Riley? Agree with the comments that it made more financial sense than mucking about making the MG SV but big coupes are poor sellers, eg Jaguar XJ5.3C and of course the Rover 800 coupe….. Could they have made it a folding hard top or even spun off a soft top version?

    • No, this car was not even thought of under his tenure, considering it is the MK II, both this and the MGTf Hard Top were only released just days before it all went pop, so were only in design & build the last few months, then why would he have “suggested” this as a Riley ?

    • I do recall the idea of a two-door Coupe version of the R40 Rover 75 to be sold under the Riley name being published in Auto Express magazine in late 1998/early 1999. Among its features created as an artist’s impression by Auto Express, was a reworked version of the chrome waistline strip which on the front wings incorporated direction indicators. However, within a few months of Auto Express running this story Pischetsreider had left the BMW Group and I have no idea whether the ‘Riley project’ ever got as far as being an actual project beyond what was being speculated at the time.

      The later one-off car unveiled by MG Rover Group in November 2004 was not related to the ‘Riley’ idea but instead was a clean sheet idea conceived under the direction of Peter Stevens to whet the appetite of potential investors in MG Rover Group, as well as celebrate 100 years of Rover car production. As we all know, this was actually built as a full-size display car.

  22. The roof and C pillar do not come from a 3 Series.

    An enthusiast once made their own take on a 75 coupe and borrowed a 3 Series roof to make the construction easier

  23. All these years on, that rear end of the coupe version is still one of the most purposeful, best looking and graceful of any car ever! (in my opinion, of course)

  24. My late Father and I both preferred Coupe style cars to the current huge crop of SUV’s. The Rover 75 Coupe concept looked great then and even in 2020 still does.

    I am most impressed with the Lloyd Viking 75C too (bearing a rebadged ZT series 2 grille… neat

  25. Yes Steven… that’s what I read in one of the mags too. I think the revival of the Riley marque on a R75 coupe would have been novel… but some might regard the Riley name as old hat?

  26. De-chrome it, fit engine turned stainless steel or aluminium in place of the wood on the inside, fit decent Recaro bucket seats with supportive side bolstering, gear it ‘short’ for performance, fit a high ratio steering rack.

    Offer it with decently named trim levels (not Connoisseur, which sounds dull, or Club which reminds me of low rent Vauxhall models).

    Taut suspension, a blacked out front grille, and it could have been an equivalent to the BMW M line or the original Mercedes-Benz AMG-tuned models.

    Alas Rover were still stuck with the comfortably-numb retirement home mindset…

    And as to Riley, the last Riley was sold in the very early 70s, so the name meant nothing to the 30 year old accountant or airline pilot who you would want to target such a car at.

    • Rover, never, ever, had a sports car.

      The TWR Rover SD1 3500 Vitesse that took part in Saloon Touring in the 80’s, is as close as it got.

      Even the BRM fitted with Rover’s Gas Turbine Engine that took part in Le Mans 24 hour Racing wasn’t a success.

      Riley, had a Racing pedigree. As did Alvis.

      It was the William Lyons & Donald Stokes axis in BL had killed off those Marques, first. With Austin-Healey, Mini-Cooper, to go soon after, as Donald Healey and Charles Cooper’s royalties were money going out of the group.

      Stokes then starved MG of any new funding. But first killed off their badge engineered models the Farina & ADO16.

      That, the Austin & Rover management axis within BL would kill off the Triumph marque after Stokes left says it all.

      Leaving Austin, Rover and badge engineered MG’s. (Jaguar & Daimler becoming independent in 1984)

      It was not for nothing that BMW kept Triumph, Riley, Mini and Rover (later sold to Ford for £6 Million, now owned by Land Rover).

      Also, model names Metro, Maxi, Dolomite, Spitfire, Stag and Sprite were kept.

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