Blog: A pleasant surprise

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists


HAD a run in a late spec Montego turbo diesel estate the other day and found myself wondering at how Austin-Rover managed to turn the rather ugly (‘Spiky’ as Roy Axe liked to say) saloon into this stylish and desirable workhorse.

In British Racing Green and on ‘Advantage’ alloys, it looked really rather nice – 1992 models had the fuller, deeper front bumper and roofbars, and the overall impression is of a well-developed and (dare I say it in this context?) classy car. But the company has always been pretty good at turning its saloons and hatchbacks into estates – think about which of its models looked better in estate form, and the list comes easy: Morris Marina, BMC Farina Cambridge/Oxford, Rover R8, Rover 75, the list goes on…

Of course, that hasn’t always been the case – and it is also rather easy to think of an ugly BMC>Rover estate car. Ladies and Gentlemen, we call the Allegro to the stand…

Would I have one? You bet I would – you could
fit an R8 in the boot…

Back to the Montego, and other aspects impressed. Its roominess, excellent visibility and chassis competence are taken as read, but it was its willingness that really made me sit up and notice. At the time of its launch, the Perkins Prima engine was cutting edge (for a diesel), featuring direct injection for improved efficiency. One thing it always lacked, though, was refinement…

Having said that, being run around in a 1992 example, with 156,000 miles on the clock was very educational. For one, it was quick – quicker than my 75 CDT on a local hill I test all my cars on, and I have to say the racket it made was no worse than any other diesel I’ve encountered of late. Overall, one has to wonder why these cars have all-but disappeared off the roads, because they have a lot to recommend them…

Would I have one? You bet I would – you could fit an R8 in the boot, and it handles and rides better than the (so called) classy car that replaced it.

Also, unlike the saloon, its looks don’t make me reach for a can of petrol and a match…

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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