Blog : Bringing it back from Romania

Keith Adams

We're bringing this Rover 216GTI from deepest darkest Romania. Wish us luck!
AROnline is bringing this Rover 216GTI from deepest darkest Romania. Wish us luck! (Photo: Rob Bambridge)

Banger rally Rover 216GTIs and I have history. Alexander Boucke, Declan Berridge and I competed in Staples2Naples 2004 in one (and came second!) and enjoyed every minute of it. I then sold the car for charity to another S2N’er Les Hedaux, before getting it back a couple of years ago. Then I sold it again… and got it back again… then sold it. I think H23 GDF may well have finally gone to that great scrapyard in the sky. But you never know.

Anyway, bear with me on this. Regular readers might know that Team AROnline was supposed to take part in RatRod 2011, a banger rally to Brasov in Romania – but due to work deadlines, and my own shocking lack of organisation, it never happened. My team mate, Andrew Elphick hitched a lift with Alex Sebbinger and Rhydian Edwards in their Montego 1.6L. And from my ‘phone call last night, it seems the chaps have made it to Romania, and are on the home run to Brasov right now. My involvement with the rally has therefore been, er, minimal… and I’m feeling a great sense of loss.

But Elphick came up with a plan that involved me. And I’m not complaining. So, on Saturday morning, I’m flying out to Bucharest (about 100 miles from the rally’s destination in Brasov), where I’ll be meeting Elphick, and driving home one of the rally’s cars. Before you get excited, I’m not bringing back the Montego , but I seem to have teamed up with Andrew to drive back a Rover 216GTI (nicknamed – for some daft reason – SLEGTi) that has been driven out by Steven Ward and his happy team. You can see a picture of that car above – which like all 216GTIs around AROnline seems to have lived a yo-yo life between friends during the past decade.

What is it about these cars?

Here's my idea of a route back from Bucharest. What do you think?
Here’s my idea of a route back from Bucharest. What do you think?

I have to say that the plan fills me with way more excitement than it should. After all, it’s a one-way ticket to Bucharest. I’ve not set a rendezvous with Elphick, and we don’t really have a plan. So I am flying in blind, and we’re driving this 20-year old 216GTI through the wild East. In true Banger Rally fashion, I’m not worried in the slightest. The 216’s reliability is better than average, and on the back of its 1700-mile trip out, I reckon we’ll be fine. What else excites me – more than ever – is visiting a country I’ve never been to before, and seeing what I hope are more interestingly alien backdrops to drive through.

Early reports that driving through the country aren’t as scary as they might be. ‘Like the south of France but less skilled,’ says Elphick. But when we chatted, he’d yet to find his way off the main roads. We shall see. Personally speaking, I can’t wait – and although I hope the 216 causes no problems, it’s a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. And that adds to the excitement.

Mad? Probably.

If I get the chance, I’ll blog my way back. If not, expect lots of words and pictures next week. If we get back!


Keith Adams


  1. Well Keith, that is my old sli that i had for 10 years or so, i was hoping to buy it back before it went on the rally,well it should make it back i put the engine in :)let me know more and how you get on and if it will still be up for grabs.

  2. Keith,

    you’ll be disappointed to hear that the car is not complete anymore… It’s missing two centre caps from the alloys since last week 😉 It’s probably still driveable though…

    Have a good trip!

  3. Whining like a bastard. Going to head home in it and see what happens. What could possibly go wrong?!

    As for H392UUY, by my reckoning it’s passed through the hands of the following AROnliners:

    Neil Rapsey
    Russ Gowers
    Rob Bambridge
    Robin Average
    Tim Colley

    Who next?

  4. In the picture above the 216GTI looks remarkably tidy. The word ‘banger’ hardly seems to fit. Imagine a Mk IV Escort parked alongside – at this point in time Rover’s superiority was immense!
    I’m getting back to that same old argument AGAIN!! Just how was the early nineties image and popularity lost rather than built upon?

  5. Keith,

    I think it needs a trip to West Africa so can I buy it on its return to take to Mali. Then it can return if a RoverPervert is happy to fly out to Bamako and pick it up.


  6. Julian Nowill – What is a ‘Rover Pervert’? I have heard of Rover enthusiasts but not perverts.

    A great example of a well regarded 1990s Rover. Give me this any day than something from Eastern Europe!

  7. Have fun in Ukraine! I was there two years ago. If you’re passing through L’viv, go to the central square by the opera house. There’s an excellent hotel across the street from the Taras Shevchenko monument; it’s a yellow building with a coffee house on the main floor. I stayed there two years ago and it was excellent with very Western hospitality (and Western toilets too!).

    Enjoy your trip! Being stuck in Canada, I don’t often get to see much of the Olde Worlde.

  8. The Rover was bought by me from Robin ‘Average’ used by Timmy, handed over to Ducky to commnute in when his ‘F clutch collapsed and prepared and stored at Dave Leader’s house, whos name now appears in the V5. It was subsequently sold via a Gentleman’s Agreement to Alex ‘Wedge’ who had to scrap the Austin Nonego (or Mongo to some)in Germany.

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