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Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Rover 75 1.8 Connoisseur

A couple of weeks after the longest weekend’s work Mike Humble ever did putting right all of the wrongs in the engine bay of our Rover 75 1.8, you’ll be pleased to hear that the engine’s now running very well indeed. The inherent advantages of the K’s lightweight aluminium construction, open deck block and minimal amount of coolant make it a delight in town driving – it warms up quickly, easily beats 35mpg in traffic, and makes minimal noise in the process. I finally have confidence in it, too – watching the coolant and oil, it now seems to be using none of either, and that’s just how it should be. Basically, a good job done has pretty much saved this car from the banger track-cum-scrapyard.

So the business end is pretty much as it should be now, barring a couple of niggles. The idle speed isn’t settled, and after running OBD on it, there were some throttle position sensor codes. Mike seems to think that it’s down to having a replacement inlet manifold, which was secondhand and not mated to the car’s engine management. And that means the 75 needs a session on a T4 computer to reset its settings. Does anyone have one to hand?

Other than that, it’s all good. Now I’m reasonably confident in the engine, I can start thinking about getting the niggles sorted. First thing has to be the clonking front suspension. We need to get it on to the ramps and see what’s causing that. And also check out the brake lines – as I know these are a weak link on Rover 75s.

Rover 75 Interior

Then there’s the nice to fix things, such as the broken cup-holder (who the hell drinks while they drive?) in the front and rear, the front springs, which give the car an SUV right height at the front, the cracked rear and front bumpers, the missing chrome trim on three of the door cards – which have all been badly removed and refitted.

Thing is, though, what we have here is actually a great Bangernomics car. It cost very little to buy, and if you’re handy with a set of spanners and drivers, quite easy to DIY (typically – assuming you don’t get a butchered one like me), and the parts are all readily available off the shelf. Compared with your average Laguna or Vectra, your sub-£1000 Rover 75 will also feel pretty special to drive, with its boutique interior and solid dynamics. Yes, the 1.8’s acceleration is lethargic and it’s undergeared on the motorway, but you can service one of these effectively yourself, and run it on little more than a pittance…

Just try that with a V6 or CDT.

So… once the weather turns good, I’ll be looking at beautifying the Rover and ironing out the rest of its wrinkles. But for now, I think I’ll just enjoy a car with a cast iron headgasket. Touch wood (dashboard).

1.8-litre K-Series is now oil tight and coolant-dry.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk 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

40 Comments

  1. I have to say, not having seen a 75 interior for quite a while, it has really aged very well indeed, and apart from the small DIN E-sized stereo and lack of built-in Sat Nav, the facia looks like it could grace a contemporary Jag (but they’d have to loose the sepia-tinted dials though).

    Hope the engine holds together…

  2. Great work you two, it good to see such a lovely car being saved from the scrappers. The k series is a much maligned engine by those who dont know what they are talking about and this just goes to prove that with proper care and maintenance the k is a fantastic and reliable engine.

  3. @2: That’s an aftermarket stereo in the cheap and nasty Halfords fascia. Originally Keith’s car would have had the tailored “Symphony” head unit.

    Now Mike’s done his stuff I reckon you’ll be fine Keith. My 1.8 is still giving good service 6 years and 50k+ miles on.

    The clonking front suspension is usually the top mounts for the struts requiring replacement. If they’re original I can’t imagine there will be much left of them.

  4. @4, I agree, the original hifi filled the top of centre console, well, until another project drive took the nice-Alpine, if I remember- unit and replaced it whatever cost the least and filled the gap with a nasty bit of plastic like the picture above. There’s plenty original units on ebay for less than a tank of petrol!!! Go on Keith, indulge yourself….

  5. Ive always wondered how well these 1.8’s in the 75 perform. It sounds rather underpowered? I would be interested to see what others think. alex

  6. @8 To be honest,130 bhp engine in a car this size must be like the old BMW 518i,a tad underpowered to say the least,so give me the V6 or V8 anyday,even the Cdti is underpowered either purposely by BMW or owners not realising the MAF sensor or one of the fuel delivery pumps are down so for me 2.5 or above please.

  7. Looking good! I have to say that after the first six months of 1.8 Turbo ownership, I am rather taken by the K series. It has an impressive amount of torque from idle, more so than the 2.5 ltr six cylinder turbo diesel BMW that it replaced!

    If it weren’t for the fuel consumption, I’d say the 1.8T was the best choice of Rover 75. Good performance and great handling due to the reduced weight over the front wheels.

    Those leather seats look rather nice, might have to keep an eye out.

  8. Assuming the 1.8 engine is the same set up as the MGF/TF you can re-set the throttle position sensor, perhaps this will help with the idle. To reset the TPS, switch ignition on, and depress throttle fully five times in 20 seconds, and switch off for 10 seconds. This resets the TPS.

  9. @9 Having had 2 1.8 R40s and a CDT Diesel I can tell you that the 1.8 aquits itself quite well.

    OK it’s not going to suck you back in to your seat but it keeps up well with surrounding traffic and really only struggles when fully loaded on a very steep gradient. It’s certainly a lot better than the monmentally slow 115bhp CDT.

    As my driving is mostly trips of between 16 and 30 miles on rural roads I find the quick warm-up of the 1.8 makes it a better bet than the diesel as it’s more efficient for more of the journey.

    If I was still doing the big mileage I used to, my personal choice would be the 135bhp CDTi. The difference between CDT and CDTi is like night and day in both performance and economy.

  10. @MGFmad

    I’ve reset the TPS as suggested, and it’s improved things slightly, so thanks for that. It’s still not compensating enough when the aircon kicks in, but at least it’s not now stalling – and when the aircon’s off, I’m not having to run it at 1200rpm idle!

    A T4 reset can’t come soon enough 🙂

  11. Good to see the car coming along, Keith. My black Connoisseur has now been joined, to my wife’s great annoyance, by a dead Club V6 with blown main bearings, subsequently lightly crushed in our February 2011 earthquake while awaiting a new engine. Now it’s only good for parts: enter one crazy Rover owner with a death wish. After 293,000 kms and not much love it’s a bit tatty, but the Connoisseur has now inherited its dash trim and right rear door latch, fixing two of the problems I noted in my blog on the black car. Both cars have the Union alloys so I’ll mix and match to get the best 4 of the 8, and I’ve acquired a near-new pair of Michelins to stick in the garage for later. I’ve already more than made up my couple of hundred bucks!

  12. Some comments on 75 Interior quality. My tourer was an 03 plate. The plastic sill kick plates always came adrift. The the sun visors came off in your hand.
    Anybody else have these problems? I agree about the CTDI being a tad slugish ok when wound up
    I liked my time with my 75. It was in many respects very average car. Good looking but very much a reverse tardis car. Interior space in terms of ouside dimentions were poor. Ride was brill but handling feedback when pushing it down any good B road was crap. Possibly the best car ever to wear a Rover badge. I always enjoyed long motorway journeys in it

  13. Happy 75 driving Keith – I’m sure Mike’s work will be a long term fix!

    A question for you or Mike regarding my 1.8 K Series 75 –

    I’m suffering slight coolant loss again!!

    Mike, you were rather concerned at the bit of mayo in my expansion tank 2000 miles ago. However, I confirmed what I thought – this resulted from the head gasket BLOW 20,0000 miles ago. More thorough cleaning of the expansion tank and no mayo has returned.

    I have always run my car with air con on. However, it now needs ‘re-charging’ and so it’s been normal heating & ventilation for the past 3 or 4 weeks. A coolant check this morning and it needed about half a cup of coolant. Hasn’t needed any for ages! The coolant is perfectly clean, however.

    Any suggestions?

  14. Further to my comment 16 –

    Is this more than a coincidence? Since new head gasket number two 20K miles ago I have only once before had the need to add coolant. This was also at a time when the car was running with the air conditioning switched off.

  15. @18 perhaps something “has a sweat on”when aircon is off as aircon fans are on when aircon is,another niggle i have found on MGF’s is the need to replace header tank cap because it started to get “belly ache in the cooling system.N.B. for information:MGF’s also have a heater matrix bleed nipple behind the plastic cover of front bulkhead.

  16. Thanks Francis! That’s the second time you’ve given me useful advice.

    I sometimes wonder – the number of times I spend concerned about my 75. Only yesterday colleagues were amused when they saw me spend lunch spprawled on the tarmac, my head viewing the underside of my engine. Still, wouldn’t things be dull if I drove an eight year old Mondeo instead!

  17. @20 you are welcome! a friend and i was talking today over a MG-ZT (130bhp)after engine replacement,the previous owner drove it until the block turned dark blue!anyway hes selling it now,but we both agreed as long as you check oil and water weekly,nothing should go wrong,or put another way,there is no reason why things should,in every cars handbook on the face of the earth it says check oil and water weekly-i have never been an hostage to fortune!catch it in time!

  18. Now had the air con re-charged and about 50 miles of solid urban driving with the Auto switch on have shown not a drop of coolant loss. Last week on normal heating & ventilation I used about a cup full over about 150 miles.

    Someone last night suggested that my heater matrix is leaking. Could they be right? Someone else suggested the water pump. When air con was off I noticed water on ground at gear box end of block but this only started to appear once switched off.

    However, I seem to have radiator fan problems now!!!! The air con centre I visited yesterday said the fan was not cutting in at all, not even with air con on. I’d been informed only a fortnight ago that the radiator fan WAS cutting in when the engine got too hot and that the air con was a separate fan – and this was by a Land Rover specialist!
    The conflicting advice is incredible – I visited the Land Rover place in the belief that the radiator fan should always be turning when air con is in use – Mike Humble has since confirmed this to be the case – thanks Mike – I needed some advice I could rely on!

  19. Forget the air con on or off bit – I didn’t know what I was talking about. Then again the various garages didn’t help much either!!

    Coolant is leaking from the bottom of the engine block, gearbox end. It only appears once engine has been off for some time.

    Heater matrix? Water pump? Bit of hose – nice & simple?!

  20. @23 check the steel pipe that run round the back of the engine,above gearbox area (the one with 8mm bleed screw,is it in good nick?is the water on the floor under car sweet tasting?(to confirm coolant/antifreze)has anyone carried out a pressure test?im curious as to why not! heater matrix leaks generally manifest themselves with pissed through carpets and lots of steam on windscreen,that said,it could leak from the aircon drainpipes underneath vehicle.

  21. They think it’s all (R)over….

    Mike’s over the phone diagnosis last night was correct. Right of gasket is wet. Land Rover Centre are adding gasket sealant on Thursday and I’m sad to say it’s then most likely goodbye ‘AD 53 LKE’.

  22. In the ever continuing saga…..

    “AD 53 LKE” comes off death row and, perhaps briefly, goes on to life support.

    Sourced a brand new expansion tank cap to replace the scrapyard one. This may have some bearing, even though the secondhand cap seemed ok.

    Oh, and also, if I do decide to add the ‘sealant of death’ I’ll do this myself. God, there’s a Haynes manual to hand and I’m not totally incapable!! This will also give greater flexibility.

    But, after 20,000 trouble free miles things have suddenly become rather difficult…..

  23. @29 why thank you!im but a small cog in the ARonline community and i am delighted to be of assistance,i never used to be a staunch AR product man,but the day MGR closed and i saw the human carnage walk through the gates for the last time it got me thinking about all the good things ARG did-the 75 and the K/KV6 engines,looked after they are not that bad at all,i have done hundreds of HGF,some comical-19 miles on the clock (freelander)to someone putting a cork in the header tank outlets and filling it with red inky water to disguise prior to sale HGF!

  24. Well the new cap don’t seem to have cured the problem. So this morning I bought a bottle of K Seal and cancelled my appointment with the Land Rover Centre.

    The car is actually driving fine and coolant loss remains slight. However, to be on the safe side I’m driving with heater on max and the windows open. My trip to and from work takes me through the Mersey Tunnel – not the best place to be with a failing head gasket!! Also, my feet are that warm it feels like I’m sat by an open fire!

    Clive Goldthorp contacted me last night with details of an absolute corker of a replacement 75 – couldnt believe my luck and it was local! However, rang the dealer this morning and it was already sold. Damn!!

    Francis, if you are still tuning in. I’m reluctant to add the K Seal. Since owning the 75 I have learnt much. However, when I bought it I didn’t realise there was addative in the coolant. I still have visions of coolant bubbling from the expansion tank cap. Hours after switch off, I can remember gurgling noises as I unscrewed the cap. None of this for the past 20K miles but could K seal see a return to these days??

  25. Last weekend I visited Peter Jones’ workshop hoping to get the right answer as to my 75’s current issues. He wasn’t about. As time was pressing I just went elsewhere. Peter, by the way, is the man who rescued me and replaced my gasket after HGF number two late boxing day 2010.

    Today, after a morning of replacement Rover searching, I decided to dig out my list of useful numbers and called Peter’s mobile. The man is a hero, the man is a legend.
    “AD 53 LKE” lives again!! He reassured me regarding my fears of K seal reulting in air locks, blockages and suggested a degree of head tightening if this don’t work. I may even try the head tightening first.

    I now think Peter Jones, Central Station, Birkenhead will become the only man on Mersyside with licence to touch my 75, even if this is practically speaking difficult because of where I work. His premises hardly look impressive but round here he has a good reputation. My Rover hero!!

  26. @31 K seal is prefectly safe to add to organic acid technology coolant,get a pressure test done!if the gauge falls within three minutes there is a leak,look for one while under pressure it should make itself obvious if not its internal,mate got an endoscope?whip it down spark plug hole to find cleanest piston-water/coolant leaking into a cylinder cleans carbon build up in a stroke,or you have a porous head,a pressure test is conclusive.

  27. not being that technically minded, I have often wondered if the T series engine would fit in a 75. It is an engine I trust and would have a 75 tomorrow if it had ever been fitted to one.

  28. Thanks, Francis. I’m confident in the K Seal now.

    The last week although stressful has actually turned out to be rather useful. I’ve learnt more tech stuff, made some new Rover contacts and started to think of replacing my 75 with it’s only true replacement – another 75!

  29. I’ve now got a bit of a dilema –

    Effectively, the 75 has been replaced by a mint ZR and finances say the 75 (still on the drive!) should go.
    The deal on the ZR was initially no trade in and then became a possible very modest amount for my 75. No! I’d keep her and sell her myself.

    However, things are not proving as simple as I had hoped –
    1. Can’t find a garage who will simply drive it away for MOT (insurance transferred to ZR). I don’t want to incurr hefty short term insurance or tow in charges.
    2. The MOT, due in two weeks, may require a new catalyst for a pass. Then again it may well not and AD 53 LKE could whiz through the test like last year.
    3. Then there’s the obvious issue of head gasket weep when cold. This has been cured by K Seal. The car is on her second NEW gasket already!
    4. Also, only two weeks road tax left.

    Oh, combined with my affection for the car, it’s a knotty one!!
    Any comments appreciated……

  30. @38 email me tomorrow and if you live in manchester area i can mot vehicle for you.(trade plates/insurance etc)

  31. The front cup holder in my Rover 75 recently came apart so I bought a replacement. I need someone’s guidance in fitting the replacement – help!!!

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