Unsung Heroes : Rover Metro/114 GTa

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

AROnline takes a another look at the cars which once littered the streets of blighty which now are vanishing fast.

We love the Rover Metro/100 and the mildy-sporting GTa proved that power isn’t everything when cheeky charm is in abundance. Mike Humble grabs the keys…


The little bounder

As cute as a Labrador puppy yet just as simple – the ultra popular Rover GTa

C’mon now folks, don’t laugh when you read this, but on my seemingly endless list of cars I want to own before I die, is the Rover 114GTa. My reason is a simple one, for a retro car to be fun, power is far from everything and the Metro range sums up the simple ‘wheel at each corner’ simplicity that never failed to put a smile on your face. The original Metro range, regardless of their alarming habit of turning into orange coloured flakes quicker than the railings along Blackpool seafront, were amazing fun to drive.

Even the poverty spec 1.0 base model, armed with a laughable 44bhp featuring less creature comfort and soft trim than a telephone kiosk, somehow managed to feel like the Enterprise jumping warp speed when thrashed within an inch of its life. The MG range introduced shortly after launch proved this formula as ‘Metro Mania’ hit the showrooms. Shortly before the end of the original Austin type Metro, amazingly, Rover did it again with the Metro GTa with the MG tune engine and the MG Turbo suspension and wheels.

Sadly, the original Metro could feel pretty shagged out by 60.000 miles of hard use, but I still reckon to this day, a fresh from the box1275cc Metro was a laugh a minute car you could really chuck around and make you feel years younger. Newer rivals such as the Uno & 205 had their own charm and abilities, but those chaps in Birmingham were fully qualified in making silk purses from you know what, and every Metro regardless of it being a Post Office van or the full fat MG Turbo had that certain driving spirit which made you forgive many of its shortcomings.

By 1990 however, the original Metro was so past its sell by date, it was starting to smell. Clever marketing and tempting finance offers kept the Metro on life support, but Ford had a new bun in the oven in the form of the Fiesta MK3, but all was not lost as Rover invested a small fortune to re-launch a Roverised replacement. But in true Steve Austin style, the new Metro gave nothing away at first glance, it was all purely modern under the skin – Rover had the technology… they had the capability… to build the worlds first, bionic car.

No longer hamstrung by the A series engine, which was so old that Noah had used one to run a bilge pump, the Metro now featured a range of K series engines ranging from an entry 1.1 up to a 1.4 twin cam. The other thorn in the Metro’s side was the gearbox which my history teacher claimed to be the inspiration for the Legend King Arthur’s Excalibur and the stone, pulling the sword was easier than getting reverse. A super slick gearbox which now featured an extra cog transformed the car from a nippy little town car into something you could drive everywhere… without compromise.

Those comfy front seats and repositioned steering column changed the driving position from a dodgem car to a proper car, and at last, the whole package felt strong and well screwed together. For me, the fact that from a squinting glance it looked similar to an Austin Metro made the car all the more impressive. In just 10 years the company had gone from a Union torn state owned disaster to a private owned concern with a vision, a future and a range of cars that people were actually queuing to buy, selling on pure merit rather than cost or patriotic whimsy.

The range topping GTi 16v was a cracking car, fast, nimble on its feet but expensive to buy and harsh on insurance premiums. Rover then opted to introduce a cooking model that still had a certain sporty feel but was considerably cheaper to run, buy and yet still have broad appeal. The GTa featured a sporty interior with a chunky steering wheel and hugging seats with steel wheels and low profile tyres adorned with some snazzy looking trims. Power came from an 8v 1.4 K series broadcasting 75bhp which was gutsy, economical and smooth, opposed to sounding like collapsing scaffolding which the old A+ engine could do when pushed to the upper limits.

As with Patrick McGoohan in the prisoner, the metro became a number, rather than a name as the Rover 100 series. The GTa continued as the 114 GTa, now featuring some super cute starfish effect alloys and a new style grille which looked good combined with the cars re-styled nose. Bumpers and exterior trim became colour coded as Rover tried to make the car an upmarket model. To a degree, they succeeded as the 114 was now visually out of style with fresher, bigger rivals like the new Corsa. Yet the range topping GTa & GSi continued to sell in good numbers and were both refined and a great laugh to steer proving that less sometimes really is more!

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

83 Comments

  1. Ah, the K-series Metro GTA. Worth noting that the one to have is the early model with the big carb, quick rack and (IIRC) the lower gear ratios. Later models were just standard Metros with the GTA stickers and alloys…

    H708DFR was my one. Awesome little car once I had the radius arms sorted (they all do that, sir). Sold to a friend, from who it was stolen. Much later, after the insurance had stumped up, she found it parked up at a BP garage on the A12 near Mountnessing, where it had been for months according to the staff…

  2. I preferred the earlier GTa. I thought it was by far the best looking and best specified of the pre-Rover square Metros, with its Turbo suspension package and 1275 engine along with a bodykit, cross spoke alloys and clever use of black vinyl appliqué on the B and C pillars. It’s what the MG Metro should have been!

  3. There’s something about the Rover Metro/100 that I don’t like, despite it being a far better proposition than the earlier A series Metro. It’s probably the styling – I was never a fan of curvy 90s designs.

  4. Remember seeing the K-series Metro for the first time inside a shopping mall display (think it was Arnold Clark, biggest BL/Rover franchise in Glasgow at the time). Always remember feeling underwhelmed looking inside to see they had done next to nothing with the interior design – aside from the chunky R8 steering wheel, it was still the old Maestro/Montego switches and instrument pack, bare painted metal and tacky vinyl door cards.

  5. @ Steve Bailey
    Your Car brings back so many memories ! My Parents eventually became car owners and 3rd car down the line was a Red Mini Metro city PTN 620Y (I think?) They bought it from bit of a notorious Dealer (since moved on) and even had to go on the chuck for it!

    After a few years the floor literally rotted out and the front wings were hanging on in the odd corner, at the Time the original GTa came out so armed with rattle cans and Black Insulting Tape we tried to give it the same look…. To be fair it was an awful mess, it still had the 12″ tiny wheels that were lost in the body and the City smaller head lights with indicators/side lights in the bumper, but we did manage to find the rear spoiler, parcel shelf and side supports also another rear fog light, from a distance from the back didnt look too bad !

    We didnt keep it long after as it blew a hole in the Piston !

    Move forward a few years and working in a Rover dealer, I was stunned at the difference of the K series cars, the 1.4 16v was lethal, there was still too much old Metro in there! At the same time shame they still rotted away!

  6. BSD

    I really envy you,lads!

    All i can do is read the article and cry…

    The metro (AUSTIN) was sold here in Israel from 1982 to 1989,with the 1275cc engine in 3 and 5 doors,and in base and l versions only!

    Even when the 5 doors version arrived in to Israel in 1985,it still was only the 1.3 but this time in l version only.

    No other versions or engines came to Israel.

    So,i know about the Rover Metro/100 only from ARONLINE,and i can only feel sorry for knowing what great car we missed…

  7. So very nearly bagged a white 97 one, lost out over the fact he thought he was clever and was asking daft money. He called me back a fortnight later to accept my initial offer… to late, I’d bought the 75.

    As they say… if you snooze, you loose!

  8. My first car was a G-plate Rover Metro GTa (until then I had pootled around in my Mother’s Metro Mayfair (998cc A+ Engine).

    I bought my GTa at five and a bit years old from the ex-Austin/Morris dealers in my home town (the firm was actually owned by a Mr Morris). Why a Metro GTa? Well I have large feet and the Fiesta and Nova/Corsa (which all my friends were buying) were too small around the pedals. Also insurance was a steal because it only had 8V and wasn’t fuel injected. Oh and I fell in love with the car on the test drive – even though the hydraulic tappets were shot and the radio display didn’t work.

    My Metro was my daily driver for about four years, when I inherited a Pug 405. Tried half heartedly to sell through the local paper and the obligatory “for sale” sign in the window, but only had two tyre kickers round to view who complained that it was too rusty. In the end I just put my Metro in the garage, where it is still sitting to this day. Every couple of years or so I put it through the MOT and run about for a year, and still found that I loved driving my GTa best of all the cars I’ve driven. Now I have two small children and so my Metro has sat in the garage for the last four years (now drive a CR-V). At nearly 22 years old (the car that is) I’m in a quandry. Do I restore and keep, sell, or scrap (just got £165 from a scrappie for a non-runner Escort that was half that age)?

    P.S. if someone can explain how to upload photos I’ll send one of my Metro GTa when in her prime

  9. @Mark 12

    Whatever you do, don’t scrap it! The pre-90 GTa seems to be quite sought after – here’s one that was for sale for £1800:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Metro-GTA-Excellent-Condition-/290655461902?pt=Automobiles_UK&hash=item43ac6a620e#ht_1041wt_934

    In addition, there was a blue one with 65k on that was bidded up to about £1800, so a good one seems to be worth about that, dependent on condition. Get it on eBay or http://www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/ because someone will have it. Probably still worth a reasonable amount even it it wants restoration.

    Personally though, I’d be quite tempted to restore it – it would only increase in value.

  10. I’ve always wondered why the Rover 100 never got the 111 bhp 1.6 K-Series engine for its range-topping model as a replacement for the Rover Metro GTi (on the continent at least if not in Britain due to the insurance premiums)?

    ITZHAK

    Out of interest, how is the Israeli public taking to Project Better Place in Israel as I was reading about Israel having automated battery-swap stations where electric cars (currently only the Renault Fluence ZE) can get their batteries replaced in 5 minutes.

  11. I must admit that I have a soft spot for the old Rover 100. I ran an early 1.1 Kensington for a few years as a second car and the thing ran and ran and only failed it’s MOT on rot. Which, as a sentimental fool, kept fixing. My cousin killed it in the end and I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven her.

    I keep looking for a clean GTa or a late 1.4 GSi (with the deadly airbag wheel oddly enough).

  12. Didn’t have a GTa but a 93 Tahiti Special (5 gears don’t you know!) it was a hoot, I was so impressed by how sturdy the whole thing felt, gripping the wheel everything felt tight, solid, tough and it drove brilliantly. We did a 3,000 mile trip around Europe without fault! I now have a very early miniMetro, I love it too, especially as it’s so rare and with only 5k miles on the clock, but the Rover Metro was infinitely superior and so much more fun. If any of you ever find yourself in the position of being able to save one (Austin or Rover) you really won’t regret it.

  13. I had 2 early MGs in the late 80s which gave me no end of bother. However a few years back I was offered an MOT’d 1994 111s for £400 and bought it. Absolutely no comparison between the two generations. I loved the build quality and I drove it as often as possible. Unfortunately I also hankered after an MG Metro and got a 1983 Opaline Green with low mileage and full history. Later a friend lost his job & needed wheels to run kids to school etc. Having 3 cars at this point, I was under pressure from my wife and seeing friends walking kids to school, I sold it for £400 having spent money on fixing small problems. End result -friend got new job MOT expired, no interest & sold for £80!!!
    When I asked he said he didn’t know I wanted it back & he would have given to me.
    Now.. £400 will just buy a good MOT failure!!!!!

  14. Great little cars – I never had a GTa `but I had a Metro City AAJ885Y as my first car and a 1.1L J107SOM as my second. Mum also had a 1990 Knightsbridge which was a limited edition at the same time as the original A series GTa.

    Remember being left for dead on straights by the then default 1.6Ls and then catching them through corners.

    Happy days.

  15. The mark two gta was not as quick as the mark one mg metro i think the ‘electronic’ distributor was ‘detuned’.The early carb rover metro gta’s with their close ratio gearboxes were rocket ships.The large tyres gave huge grip but combined with the front antiroll bar spoilt the superb handling of the rover metro.The front suspension of the rover metro is vastley different to the austin, with better geometry,steering and antidive geometry on the lower arms.Again i have to say the performance of the carb(non cat) gta’s were unbeleavable, they realy flew.

  16. They do crop up at the local auction, but are best avoided as they either have terminal rust or a blown head gasket; usually both.

    I used to buy and sell these around 10 years ago (if you look through the archives you may find my old blogs about them) but they didn’t fetch much even then.

  17. Been looking a metros recently whilst hunting for a mini and yes their prices are climbing..

    Most Austin metros have been raided for parts, ESP the 1.3’s, by the mini crowd, the rest have rusted away.

    Definitely a future and possibly the only 1980’s British classic!

  18. My story is similar to Rob B. I had a H reg early one too, rescued from Yorkshire for £200. Ran for several months before selling to 820Tickford (Richard) of this forum, sadly stolen (twice) and finally written off somewhere near West Brom.

    I then madly agreed to go halves on a K reg CVT version that had been in a bump. Scrapped shortly after as it was terminally bent.

    After 2 1120cc versions, the 1.4 seemed RAPID and with the quick rack and different ratios it was a great car.

    I’m told the GTi wasn’t as good as the GTa due to modifications made to the suspension by Rover, disrupting the purity of the Hydragas setup.

    If only Rover had taken the advice by NCAP, sorted the 100 and added a 116 GTa to the range.

  19. I ran 3 Metro/100s during my uni days. The first was a £300 1991 1.1 S banger bought after my MK2 fiesta dissolved. It was an amazing little motor. You could drive it like an utter idiot and it would just keep gripping. I then had a real snotter of a 1993 1.1 C for a year before finding a 12 year old, 12,000 mile M-plate Rover 111i.

    It had done half it mileage in the 2-3 years before me buying it and it was a mint condition car. It would (given a tail wind and some gravity assistance) run off the end of its speedometer and was amazingly refined on long trips for what was a small runabout. It was only disposed of when my brother hit a car in it, but even then the shell stood up well to the serious whack it sustained.

  20. rover performed an absolute miracle when they roverised the metro,especially when the interconnection of the hydrogas system was altered(a configuration moulton intended in the first place that would have negated the need for four pot calipers up front on original)they handled brilliant and drove with refinement,a first class job yet again on a shoestring-thats brilliant british engineering solutions.

  21. A visual refresh (a la the R6X) and an interior that didn’t hark back to 1986 would have worked wonders for sales.

    The Metro/100 platform ran rings around the regular AX/106/Saxo models and was more than a match for the Fiesta MK3 and Cosra. The problem was that despite the mild re-styling it still looked like a 1980s car.

  22. @ Steve Bailey – lovely looking car that – knocks spots of a Nova SR any day!

    @ Mike Humble – very whitty article – really enjoyed reading it!

  23. Cheers Simon!

    @ IanS (11) – the gearbox was a similar unit to the R8, a Peugeot designed & Rover built unit designated as the R65. Blessed with a lovely short shift quality.

  24. A clever way to have a hot hatch without the criplling insurance bills of a GTi, the attention of the local joyriders( who probably thought it was a 1.1 pensioner special), and with typical low Metro running costs.

  25. Oh yes!! Early Rover Metro GTa’s. Probably one of the cars which most typified the early nineties Rover high point. A million miles from the Austin Metro and its quality feel was also a good distance from rival Fords, Vauxhalls etc.

    Would have loved a Rover Metro GTa when I was in my twenties!!

  26. Heres my baby. A 1997 Rover 114 GSI. I dont think I’d ever own another car as my daily drive if Metro’s were not so prone to rust in the usual areas. One day I’ll take her off the road and use her for weekends but until then we’re going to enjoy many more years of Metro motoring together!

    [img]http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u243/FRDCraig/c.jpg[/img]

  27. Another classic in its own right Mike with the perfect blend of four wheeled fix, fact, interesting info and side splitting humour thrown in for good measure! I bought my wife (girlfriend then) a Flame Red 1993 Metro 1.4Si to replace her unreliable Uno first car in the late 90’s. Although not a full spec GTa it had the perky 1.4 K’series missile lurking under the stubby bonnet, outrageously great fun ride and handling and never let her down in a few years of ownership before marriage and parenthood beckoned and the trusty little Metro had to make way for a roomier 416Si that could swallow the moon rover of a pram she wanted.

    At the time we had a flat in Willingdon (just north of Eastbourne) and I was working at Caffyns Rover in Preston Park. If I worked a Saturday I used to head over early and a few of us used to have beans on toast together and polish our cars to within an inch of their lives. I set a new record in the Metro for the dawn dash across the A27 which I never managed to beat in anything else until my MGF joined the fleet ten years ago. The passage of time, more responsibility and more traffic means I’d never get anywhere near those times these days or more likely would attract the wrong sort of attention from the boys in blue but by heck they were fun times.

    Several cars have passed through my dear lady wife’s hands since then (well careered, slipped and sometimes crashed actually) and whilst she remarked unfavourably about what she considered to be the garish red colour combination of bodywork and matching seatbelts when we bought it, she shed a tear when it went and reminded me that “she loved that little car” when I mentioned I had read this article. I never forget her complaining once that the steering wheel had a vibration and when I asked if she had hit a pothole or bumped a kerb recently, she responded indignantly, “oh no dear, I know when I’ve hit the kerb, because the stereo goes off” – Jesus, it’s no wonder I don’t have much hair left is it?

    RIP little Metro, not seen for a few years now but never forgotten!

  28. My flatmate had a 114 GTa five door in BRG a few years ago. It was a good car (the interior in particular was very pleasant), but it got nicked in Sheffield and was never seen again.

  29. I worked at F.J.Keen and Sons (Rover main dealer in “Battersea” but with a South Lambeth postcode) in 1991 and had a Rover Metro GTa in BRG – H84TAA – as my demo. It was completely rebuilt into a new shell after someone rolled it in a field when a month old. I got it as their new Fleet Salesman when it was fresh out of the workshop having had at least 100 hours spent rebuilding it. The workshop boys did a good job – not a rattle or a shake and it went like a rocket. Perhaps the only handbuilt GTa ever??

  30. “it was still the old Maestro/Montego switches and instrument pack,”

    Well they’d done away with the Montego switches and fitted the R8 ones with the introduction of the K-Series, you’re right though the didn’t do much else.

    “@ IanS (11) – the gearbox was a similar unit to the R8, a Peugeot designed & Rover built unit designated as the R65. Blessed with a lovely short shift quality.”

    So no, you can’t use one to give your classic mini a 5 speed box (common question on mini forums)

    The Metro box was more than similar to the R8 box, they used the R65 box in some of the R8’s too. The same box also lived on in the first generation BMW mini, as the “Midland 5 speed”, still made at Longbridge East works.

  31. Had a 114 SLi for a year or so in the mid-90s – same as the GTA except 5 door and no red seatbelts. It was more than happy to keep up with an MX-5 through the twisties in Cumbria one afternoon – the driver of which was not pleased.

  32. BSD

    @ Nate (15) – BETTER PLACE is a good idea,problem is that many people will not go for it.
    The main reason is because BETTER PLACE has the monopoly for both selling the cars and selling/leasing the battery packs!

    Meaning that they can (and they will-according to several articles in the Israeli car media) charge as much as they want because once you bought their car-you are tied to them!
    the maintenance of the car is supposed to be held at their garages-not Renaul’t importer garages,and the battery packs can be bought/leased only at BETTER PLACE’s stations!

    And this is not the only curiosity!

    Let’s say that yo buy the Toyota prius plug-in.
    In order to charge it you need the charging socket at your home.
    well,the ISRAELI ELECTRIC COMPANY is using it’s loby to make sure by legislation that the sockets (home charging stations) will be sold only by the ISRAELI ELECTRIC COMPANY,and not only that-these charging stations will be controlled by a mini computer that will detect that the electricity used by the charging station is used for this purpose and not for domestic use-therefor you will be charged for it up to 4 times the cost of one Kw/h used for domestic use!!!

    And’if one will try to bypass it,one will need a certified electrician familiar with these home charging stations.
    And,of course,only employees of the ISRAELI ELECTRIC COMPANY will be qualified for these systems!

    And in both cases (BETTER PLACE and PLUG-IN),there is no government regulation over the prices taken by both companies!

    A few weeks ago,one of the Iaraeli internet car magazines made a comparison between the annual costs of the FLUENCE ZE and the FLUENCE 1.5 turbodiesel with dual cluch transmission (battery costs against diesel fuel costs)-and the turbodiesel was way more cheaper!

    Ihope this answers your questions.

  33. @ Mike Humble
    @ Dennis
    Thanks for the info. I’d wondered if such a gearbox would fit – clearly it did.
    Now heading into barmy mode – a 1.4 K-series Allegro might be an interesting Q-ship!

  34. Great cars. Guy I worked with had one, was like a wee go kart. Quite quick. His had a k+n filter.

    Always thought it would suit an MG badge. Perhaps the BMW overlords wouldn’t allow it?

  35. “Now heading into barmy mode – a 1.4 K-series Allegro might be an interesting Q-ship!”

    Well why stick with a Rover engine, there are arguably more robust engines out there. Micra 1.3 or 1.4 16valve lumps for example (they’re even a distant relative of the A-Series)

  36. I owned a Metro GTI and and was hugely impressed by it. It could out gun quite a few more popular ‘Hot Hatches ‘ of the day and always put a smile on my face . Its shamefull that the company did’nt build on the strength of sales that they had back then. I believe that when the death nell was sounded for the Rover 100 there was somthing like a 17 week waiting list when ordering.

  37. I had a 1997 114 5 door GSi for nearly 4 years in red like the title picture. In the beginning I loved the little car. It went very well, but recurring cylinder head failures, a failed gearbox (no it wasn’t abused at all), several failed door solonoids and a rotten floorpan despite a thorough waxoyling had me glad to be rid of it in the end vowing never to touch another Rover. Shame really. I’ve bought Japanese ever since on the strength of the bikes I own and never had another day’s trouble.

  38. “I owned a Metro GTI and and was hugely impressed by it. It could out gun quite a few more popular ‘Hot Hatches ‘ of the day and always put a smile on my face”

    There were two versions though, an 89bhp one and a 109bhp Mpi one.

    ” Its shamefull that the company did’nt build on the strength of sales that they had back then. I believe that when the death nell was sounded for the Rover 100 there was somthing like a 17 week waiting list when ordering.”

    Don’t forget though, the reason the death nell sounded was the appalling crash test results it got, it folded up like a tin can, the mini did better in a head on. That waiting list vanished overnight.

    Sadly while the Rover Metro wasn’t a bad car, and managed to remain competitive, by the time the Rover 100 came out it was well and truly outclassed in terms of it’s 18 year old body shell. If it had received it’s new bodyshell in 1990 then i’m sure it would have been a class leader.

  39. “rotten floorpan despite a thorough waxoyling had me glad to be rid of it in the end vowing never to touch another Rover”

    That’s just the kind of thing that damaged Rover’s reputation. The Metro’s ancient bodyshell was always going to be a rust problem, the other Rover’s (other than the mini) were all modern bodies which didn’t rust.

    Obviously Rover lost future sales from you, because of the experience you had from an outdated model, their other cars were actually fine, but R100 damaged your opinion, i wonder how many others thought the same.

  40. there was a a Metro on trademe a while back (it was probably a rover 100 of sorts) with an 1.8K engine, an easy fit apparently. interesting 🙂 and in any case the Rover 100 or metro with 5 doors was agood looking car. alex

  41. There was a chance in the 80s to make the Metro a world beater, but the company were broke, and Thatcher still held the purse strings. The Metro throughout its life was constantly starved of the development cash it needed to stay ahead of the game. The aged 1275 lump should have died around 1986 ish, and the lack of it being able to handle the green stuff hampered sales, thanks to it needing hardened valve seats, plus the lack of a 5th cog in the box, which all the rivals were fitting as standard in most models by around 1989. Only the very base Fiestas had 4 speeds by then. The K series was another weak link in the chain of the Roverised Metro, with the higher powered 1.4 having an appetite for head gaskets, and by then, even with the new nose, you could still tell it was a 1970s design, thanks to the poor ergonomics, and the exposed roof gutters, and square edged styling. The car had become very expensive to make too, with many bought in components from rival PSA, thus giving the car a high end sticker price.

  42. “The K series was another weak link in the chain of the Roverised Metro, with the higher powered 1.4 having an appetite for head gaskets, and by then, even with the new nose, you could still tell it was a 1970s design, thanks to the poor ergonomics, and the exposed roof gutters, and square edged styling. The car had become very expensive to make too, with many bought in components from rival PSA, thus giving the car a high end sticker price.”

    I have to say i disagree, yes it did need the proposed new body, but it was still very competitive in 1990, but by the time the Corsa B came out in 1993 it had the Metro outclassed in the packaging department, then the MK4 Fiesta in 1996 was probably the final nail in the coffin. The 1.4 engine wasn’t bad for headgaskets, yes they could go, but there weren’t that many of them. The 1.8 was a different matter.

    The gearbox was of a PSA design, however Rover had bought some then improved the design and sold the designs back to PSA, it effectively became a joint development, which is why Rover continued production of the R65 box after PSA had finished with it. The Diesel engines were bought in from PSA, but arguably it was cheaper to buy them in than design their own unit. The PSA powerplant was also a respected unit and good selling point.

    The body shell was the only real weak link, as that’s what caused the poor ergonomics, rust and dated (centre) styling.

  43. “there was a a Metro on trademe a while back (it was probably a rover 100 of sorts) with an 1.8K engine, an easy fit apparently. interesting ”

    Externally the 1.8 is the same size and used the same mountings as the 1.4 16valve, and was married to the same gearbox, so yes it’s pretty much a straight swap, providing you use what was originally a 1.4 16valve MPi car. Obviously the 1.8vvc lump is the best choice.

  44. I bought my ex girlfriend,a G reg flame red GTA Mk1, and I already made a comment another another MG feature and aggree with comment3, that the MG should have been in that guise, also I think that the red and black combination was the best looking GTa. I also bought a N reg Rover 114 GSi in very dark grey, I went for this particular year as the wooden trims in doors were not present in the later models. The model that my ex had already had the rear wheel arches replaced, as we know that was one of the failings of theb R 100 series. However, it was a very nice little car, much refined over the Mk 1 metros and when i had a chance to, I used to drive both cars. Mum had a Rover 114 Gta, was ideal for her. Regards Mark

  45. I would aggree, that the red and black conbination was the best lookers, I know its already been mentioned and noted that MG version may looked better in the GTA format.My ex friend had a g reg, in flame red, very nippy,she has a N reg rover 114GSi, nice car to drive,nice 5 speed box,we went for an N reg one as later models didnt have the wooden trims in the doors. Great feature as always, Regards Mark

  46. Why was it not possible to rustproof the shell?

    Would putting a galvanisation step into the process require a new assembly line? Would it have put costs up too much?

    The rear arches were always decidedly bubbly on a 100.

  47. Hi All,they are very easy to tune,i have a little rover 100 3 door,swopped a 1600 16v k series into it easily,its a straight swop for the 8 valve(multi point injection),only the exhaust is different but this is easily available,its the best fun car ive ever had,many of these little cars were lost due to scrappage,not many left,buy one now folks!!..

  48. “Why was it not possible to rustproof the shell?
    Would putting a galvanisation step into the process require a new assembly line? Would it have put costs up too much?
    The rear arches were always decidedly bubbly on a 100.”

    It was an ancient shell design, Rover didn’t have a galvanising process on site at the time. Most of the rust problems come from the shells actual design, the rear arches for example is a double skinned lip and a water trap. Modern cars put the join between the inner arch and the outer arch higher up where it doesn’t collect water. Doing that would have mean’t a redesign of the shell, jacking points were another rot trap, changing those would have meant more new tooling. Why spend money on an old cramped dated shell, If they were going to do all that then they might as well have designed an all new shell. Which they should have done in the first place.

  49. “The model that my ex had already had the rear wheel arches replaced, as we know that was one of the failings of theb R 100 series.”

    It was a failing on all the metro’s from day one, being as the arches were the same arches from day one.

    You can see the difference between the modern 1990’s front end and the late 70’s rear end. The back rotted the front didn’t.

  50. The passage of time, more responsibility and more traffic means I’d never get anywhere near those times these days or more likely would attract the wrong sort of attention from the boys in blue but by heck they were fun times.

    So its your fault theres a speed camera up there now!!!!

  51. My parents had one of the first standard 1300cc Metro’s it was brilliant on road. Talking of which I actually remember driving it fairly off road in Cumbria with my brother and it also did well. Then some moron stole and torched it. Next was an MG Metro Turbo and it was one of the best cars my parents ever had. At 60,000 mls I took it over and at 110,000 mls made the mistake of selling it. Last I heard, and this is a long time ago, it had managed to get to 150,000 mls on the first engine. Last in the line was a 114GTI and that was also a hoot to drive especially when surprising drivers of big German cars on alpine passes. Well that one went to Spain apparently and was followed by a 220 Turbo (Tomcat). Can’t beat British cars still driving them although beecoming increasingly difficult.

  52. “R65 is no where near tough enough for everyday use with that power”

    Though BMW used it with 130bhp in the Mini Cooper, but granted they did tend to fall apart. :p

  53. I’ve heard of people running VVCs with R65s but as you say it’s not the best idea for a long and trouble free life. A PG1 can be persuaded to fit using MGF parts and solves that problem.

  54. BSD

    After reading all the above comments,i envy you all even more!!!

    Here in the UK,if someone wants to improve his car (e.g. Rover 100),he can replace the engine with a bigger engine (from what i read-1.6 or even 1.8)!

    Not to mention improving older cars,e.g.replacing the A series engine with a K series one in an Austin Allegro…

    Well,here in Israel,i can only dream of such a thing!
    Doing things like these improvements is illegal,yes,illegal!!!

    If you want to install another engine,you can do so only if your car needs a new engine,and it can only be an engine of the same capacity!!!

    The only exception are if you have an older vehicle of only 4 makes (SUBARU LEONE UNTILL 1992,FORD SIERRA AND OPEL ASCONA),your engine needs replacing and it’s the 1.3 litre,only then you can install a bigger engine-but only 1.6 litre-and that’s it!

    Also,there is no government facility that can inspect technically improved vehicles and approve their legislation!
    The only facilities are private facilities that perform the MOT annual test and that’s it!

    Like i sad’i envy you lads!!!

    Ahh,a 1.6 16V Rover 100…
    Or a 1.4 K engined austin allegro (i think this car is extinct here in Israel)…

    A dream that will (apparently) never come true…

  55. BSD

    Sorry again!

    Iean that in the UK you can improve yourvehicles’unlike here in ISRAEL.

    therefor,Line 3 saying (Here in the UK” is correct!

    My appologies for the mistakes!…

  56. I’m sure there are a few people who drop a bigger engine in and don’t let on to the authorities…..

    Anecdotes of C20LET Novas still registered as 1.0s used to do the rounds.

  57. BSD

    @ 71.Will M
    In Israel it’s impossible because when you do the MOT test,the first thing they check is that the engine number in the car is the same as the number in the licence (when you replace your current engine with a new or second hand engine you need to have a new licence for yourcar with the number of the new engine written in it!).

  58. “In Israel it’s impossible because when you do the MOT test,the first thing they check is that the engine number in the car is the same as the number in the licence (when you replace your current engine with a new or second hand engine you need to have a new licence for yourcar with the number of the new engine written in it!).”

    Well that’s basically the case here, but you just send the vehicle registration document back to the government with the new engine number and they update it. Although things have been tightened up a lot lately.

  59. BSD

    @ 75.Dennis

    Here in Israel it is not that simple because the procedure is like that (and i have worked as a clerk in a KIA garage for a few years so i know how it goes):

    In case you need to replace your engine (and in the majority of cases it is an imported engine taken from a car that had a chasis accident and it’s engine was removed,and costs around 500 pounds! If you think of a new engine,say goodbye to up to 5,000 pounds-and in both cases i mean the price of only the engine!) you go to your garage,they take care of finding an engine for you from a spare parts importer,the engine is supplied with a note indicating it’s origin (country,the details of the car it was taken from and the mileage the car has done,and most important-the engine’s id number!),this note is signed & stamped by the garage,then you go to the head legislation office located in the city of HOLON near TEL_AVIV (even if you live on the other side of ISRAEL…),spend almost a whole day running here and there from one clerk to the other,and they issue a new vehicle licence with the id number of the new engine of your car.
    Meaning… that until you arrange the issue of a new licence to your car,you cannot pass the MOT test!!!

    Complicated,isn’t it?…

    Problem is,the warranty given to such 2nd hand engine is only 3 months.

    so,if your MOT test is 4 or 5 months after you have installed the engine with all the above procedure,everything worked well,but after 3.5 months the engine “passed away”,unless you go for an engine overhaule,once you have installed a new engine (2nd engine),you need to go through all the above legislation procedure all over again…

    Quite an experience,ha?…

  60. I used to like winding up Porsche 924/944 owners by pointing out all the VW bits (which was pretty much the whole car).

    I used to love the denial you got from them, even when you pointed to the VW logos moulded into everything.

    When you said to 924 owners they had a VW engine, the odd one would try and tell you it was an Audi engine, as if that was some how better. What really annoyed them was when you told them it was out of a VW van haha.

  61. My first car was a midnight blue three door D reg Metro 1.3 auto (I only have an auto license) I ran it for five years until the floor got too rusty. I replaced the eight year old Austin with a one year old Rover Metro 1.4 Li. The combination of the much improved hydrogas suspension, the K series engine and CVT gearbox made it an absolute joy to drive. It would zoom up a steep climb on the way to Biggin Hill well loaded when my old Austin Metro would run out of puff

  62. My flame red 1995 Rover 114 gta is certainly the best car ive ever owned yes its had rust etc all of which has been done by a great chap near Cirencester ! Now i feel totally proud when i take my car out. It gives me nothing but pleasure to drive so as far as im concerned long live the Rover 114 gta !

  63. Further to my last posting have just picked the car up from my chap in Cirencester and quite literally WOW what a car ! Looks totally fantastic and you would nt think the car is nearly 17 years old ! More like just driven out of the showroom. It is my belief we need to save what is left of these cars before it is too late .Yes i know some people dont like them but they are part of Rover’s heritage so i feel it my duty to preserve my car for as long as possible.So i will carry on polishing etc and just stand back and admire.!

  64. ” For me, the fact that from a squinting glance it looked similar to an Austin Metro made the car all the more impressive. ”

    Yes, the fact it was mechaniacally new, had much more of a quality feel but was still so obviously a Metro did give the car a special appeal.

    ” In just 10 years the company had gone from a Union torn state owned disaster to a private owned concern with a vision, a future and a range of cars that people were actually queuing to buy, selling on pure merit rather than cost or patriotic whimsy ”

    The turnaround was indeed incredible. How did BMW fail to consolidate, further this progress? Or, how could the government allow BMW to pull out. Could they not see that BMW viewing Rover as an attactive aquisition in 1994 had been an amazing development from the position in the seventies?

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