Auction Watch : Ex-press Rover 75 V8 up for grabs

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A Rover 75 V8 which has covered just 33,700 miles from new and was originally one of four press demo cars used by MG Rover Group, has come up for sale and it could be yours…

Rover enthusiasts yearning for the return of a rear-wheel-drive Rover saloon complete with a V8 engine under the bonnet finally had something to celebrate in 2004 when cash-strapped MG Rover Group pulled the cover off this new flagship variant at the Geneva Motor Show. Aimed at motorists wanting effortless performance and the highest levels of luxury in the manner of a P5B 3.5-Litre rather than something more sporting like an SD1 Vitesse, the 75 V8 was an interesting blend of British style with American Ford V8 power.

When journalists were finally able to get behind the wheel for themselves in the late summer of 2004, it was a car that received mixed reviews although it still created a favourable impression amongst some road-testers. There were four examples available on MG Rover Group’s press demonstrator fleet, all saloons registered in August 2004 on near consecutive registration numbers. BW04 VVS was a Contemporary SE finished in the Monogram colour of Poseidon Chromactive, BW04 VVT was a Connoisseur SE finished in mainline Black, BW04 VVU was a Connoisseur SE finished in the Monogram colour of Chatsworth Supertallic, while BW04 VVX was a Contemporary SE finished in mainline Firefrost Red. All of them were specified with the extra cost option of 18-inch Vortex alloy wheels.

The Chatsworth example, which is currently for sale on eBay, left the assembly line on 10 June 2004 and would become one of the most widely used examples from the press fleet, featuring in road tests published in AROnline, Auto Express and the Daily Telegraph. It retained a standard Sandstone leather interior although the rest of its specification closely mirrored that of the Geneva Motor Show car.

One journalist who managed to get behind the wheel of BW04 VVU was AROnline Contributor David Morgan. He recalls: ‘I ‘phoned up MG Rover’s Press Office in late November 2004 to book one of the Rover 75 V8s, as I thought it would be an interesting car to review for the newspaper I worked for at the time compared to focusing on the more widely publicised MG ZT 260. I was given a delivery date in the third week of January 2005 and I chose the Chatsworth example over the one finished in Poseidon which was also available, as it would be an easier colour to photograph. In addition, I also prefer a cream leather interior which the Poseidon example didn’t have.’

Unlike other press demo cars, this one was loaned to David for five days rather than the usual full week due to a healthy number of bookings for it. Despite this, in that brief period it was a car he says he enjoyed driving, even though its three-speed automatic transmission with overdrive felt inefficient and dated when compared with those from rival manufacturers. ‘I actually missed it after it was collected and, as the driver drove away, I realised it had a lovely exhaust burble which wasn’t evident from inside the cabin. I’m so glad I was offered the opportunity to drive one,’ he continued.

David remembers this Rover had covered almost 6000 miles when he handed the keys back. It would remain on the MG Rover Group press fleet up until the company went into administration nearly three months later and was eventually sold off, along with the other V8 demonstrators, by the company’s Administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Chatsworth example was eventually bought by an unknown keeper who then sold it after a couple of years. The current eBay sales description for the car states that the present keeper acquired it in 2007. Interestingly, this description does not make any reference to it being a former press demo car, so we can only presume the current keeper isn’t aware of this. However, the photographs of the number plates suggest that at some point it was sold to one of these two keepers by well-known MG Rover Group dealer, AE Wilcox of Wickwar, South Gloucestershire.

Apart from a set of mudflaps being fitted after it had been sold off by MG Rover Group’s Administrators, the car looks to be completely standard. So, if you fancy one of the 167 Rover 75 V8s built and one with a particularly interesting provenance, you can visit online auction which runs until 15 June.

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