Review : Codename R40 – Rover 75/MG ZT DVD/Blu-ray

If you’ve read all there is to read about the Rover 75 here and elsewhere, and think you know all there is to know about Britain’s last chance saloon, here’s a great piece of media to add to your collection. John Clancy’s latest DVD-Video and Blu-ray Disc, called Code Name R40 is well worth a look – it really will give you more insight into the car’s development and subsequent troubled life.

Producer John Clancy enrolled our very own Mike Humble to gather some of the most important names in the Rover 75’s development and, in doing so, they have created and told the definitive story of the Rover 75/MG ZT.

Before I get down to brass tacks and review this video, it’s worth saying why it’s such a special event. For one, the 75’s in an interesting place from the historian’s perspective. It’s 25 years since the project got underway, but most of its main protagonists are alive and well to give their first-hand recollections of how it went together. That’s a fabulous position from which to build the full story.

And Mike, being Mike, he’s on first-name terms with most of these people – which was great for getting them together to tell us all there is to tell about the Rover 75. So, the contributors to this project read like a who’s who of R40. Appearing in the video are Peter Morgan – Rover Group R40 Project Director, Ron Brown – Rover Design Engineer, Denis Chick – MG Rover Director of Product Communications, Kevin Jones – MG Rover Product Manager, Rob Oldaker (above) – MG Rover Director of Product Development and Ian Pogson – MG Rover Engine Development Engineer.

When sitting down to watch Codename R40 – Rover 75/MG ZT, you need to give yourself plenty of time to take it all in. It’s a long and detailed account, backed with a bonus disc with additional, fuller, interview material. Mike has scripted a nicely descriptive account of the 75’s life, warts and all, and is used to great effect to thread the interview material together nicely – and it all makes really interesting viewing. It’s nicely edited, too, with a detailed understanding of the journey the 75 went through.

The important thing is that it does bring something new to the knowledge pool, bringing insight and knowledge to the story from people who were intimately involved with the project. There are images, too, that had not seen the light of day before. It’s not perfect, though, with some frustrating issues for the viewer that come with a low-budget labour of love such as this, such as poor sound on the interviews thanks to what looks like the lack of a decent microphone.

However, these are small niggles overall, and shouldn’t be a reason for you not to buy a copy. Overall, it’s definitely worth buying if you’re a fan of the car or the marque – or car development in general – and, rather like the 75, it’s a charismatic and engaging to the end.

Keith Adams
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  1. I note all the contributors listed are English, was any of the numerous BMW engineers that were involved were able to give their input? I think their input into the project, its objectives and the quality of the decision taking would have been very interesting.

    Also their view point in the “Turf War” between the CEO and CFO that led to the CFO at the car’s launch publicly sticking the knife into Rover and the Car would have been very interesting to have.

  2. Can’t wait to watch. A brilliant achievement by Mike Humble and the gang to produce this during these strange times.

  3. Having spent my entire career in Film & Video/TV production, this taster clip indicates that this is a quality programme.

    Very useful that it features so many people who were at the sharp end of the 75’s design and manufacturing. It will be an asset as an educational item for those interested in the automotive field.

  4. Mine arrived yesterday. Enjoyed watching from start to finish. What struck me most was just what a thoroughly decent bunch of gentlemen all those interviewees are. Their camaraderie, intelligence and passion for their craft come across throughout. It was uplifting and sad to watch. Sad to know that the company came so close but the market really didn’t care and that, in a way, what happened to the Rover group reflected a change in the values of the UK which we are all suffering from now.

  5. Very enjoyable video. A lot of “if onlys” spring to mind. The 75 was a good base to expand the entire range from in terms of quality and design.
    BMW should have stayed, reorganised the plants and staffing levels and also allowed Rover to expand MG into the USA without hamstringing Rover with their fear of Rover Group “stealing” sales from their own car range.

  6. Just ordered my copy, and I’m excited. I’ve not owned my car long, but it’s one of the nicest cars I’ve had, and I have a good few 🙂

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