Well, here we are in 2011 and Happy New Year to you all – I hope you enjoy this New Year and that your hopes and dreams all come to fruition!
I’ve been beavering away since Christmas on the old 25 and, to be fair, I have been doing various ‘betterment’ jobs on the old cronk ever since I bought it last Autumn. On the whole, but after a slightly troublesome start, my thoughts on my latest project car have been favourable but I will state that it’s nowhere near as full of character and resilience as my previous, ancient R8 214 SLi – which I still miss. The Rover 25 is by no means a bad car but it’s just not in the same league of quality as the previous front drive Rover cars such as the R8 & HH-R models.
Over the past few months, I have tried to add the features so cruelly removed by MG Rover’s Project Drive policy. These have included the fitting of the mock walnut trims to the dash and heater surround, a later valve cover with Rover branding, a yellow warning label on the PAS reservoir, Rover logos on the rear C-Pillars, a wiring cover to the MAP sensor on the inlet manifold and sound insulation to the passenger foot-well area.
Other numerous jobs have also been done along the way including the fitting of 5w dash bulbs instead of the previous 3w jobbies – now you can see the damn clocks properly in fading light. A subtle orange light has been wired into the ashtray – a feature last seen on a small Rover in the earliest of R8 GSi models, not true to form for the Rover 25, but hey, I like it. One of the jobs that really made a difference was lowering the ride height of the clutch pedal.
This common Rover trait is relatively simple to cure providing the clutch itself is in a good state. To run through the entire procedure on here is long winded but, by following a workshop manual, removal of the clutch pedal is not as scary as you may think and adjustment of the ride height is possible by altering the stop bolt on the top of the pedal – it transforms the driving experience because the clutch pedal is no longer 3in higher than the brake.
However, by far the most annoying thing on my car was its nasty steering wheel complete with crumbling rim – another late MG Rover feature which smudges the overall pleasure of the interior. Unfortunately, as with many components on later MG Rover products, quality suffered. I could bang on about the carpets, non-painted surfaces under the bonnet and so on, but MG Rover changed the suppliers of the steering wheel at the time the 200 changed to the 25.
The previous R3-shape Rover had a high quality, chunky steering wheel which looked good and tough even after high mileages. Change over to the 25 and the wheel is dimensionally the same, but the quality is vastly inferior. The rim itself has a very cheap gloss rubber trim which is very thin and is quickly damaged by acids and chemicals found in human sweat as well as hand creams. The result? The rim lacquer crumbles away exposing the foam rubber beneath which looks and feels horrid to the touch!
The replacement wheel was donated from a scrap R3 216 SLi which also has the added feature of a leather rim – more befitting the Rover marque. This wheel is totally interchangeable with the Rover 25 type and the only tools you need are 13 & 19mm sockets and a torx bit set.
PLEASE NOTE care and safety needs to be adhered to when removing or refitting the airbag! The difference out on the road is amazing – I no longer wince at the touch of horrible foam rubber as I twirl the wheel from lock to lock.
My final Project Drive reversal came in the form of fitting electric/heated door mirrors. One benefit of MG Rover’s cost-cutting was the fitting of common wiring looms which makes the fitting of items such as door mirrors or front fog lamps a doddle. Poke out the blanking trims and you will find wiring connectors for your mirror switch and front fog lamps. Investigate further and you will find wiring plugs for electric window motors behind the door cards – even if your’s is a base model!
I have also invested in a new battery as the old one was showing the signs of a dying cell and the alternator was making noises suggesting that heavy charging was taking place – prevention is better than the cure so they say. I have therefore ended up investing a bit of time and money in the car but it’s money well spent and I have every intention of trundling up the M40 for the next Pride Of Longbridge gathering.
Anyway, on a personal note, I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to the new friends and aquaintances I have made last year. I have also been chuffed and flattered by many of the comments made in response to my witterings and ramblings on this ever-growing and brilliant website. I intend to expand the subject of Leyland Trucks and Buses with the help of Andrew Elphick. It will take a little time, but it will happen.
To close, 2011 marks another chapter in my topsy-turvy world of all things Motor Trade-related. There is a possibilty that my experiences of and thoughts about the trade may go into print in a leading automotive publication. It’s all thanks to some of the people I have met and got to know during the last year. Everybody who contributes to this website, no matter how small or what its content may be, plays a massive part in the heritage and memory of the British Motor Industry – I am, as I’m sure you also are, very, very proud to be a part of it.
Here’s to 2011!