Words: Keith Adams Photographs: Michael Hayward
After a couple of weeks spent languishing in the office car park, it seemed only fair to pull the Rover 75 from under its tree and spend some quality time together. Jumping in this wood-trimmed leather-lined exec is always a treat and, thanks to nice, healthy mechanicals, it didn’t surprise me that the thing burst into life as eagerly as if it’d been left overnight in a nice, warm garage.
Since our last update, there’s not been much to add. The replacement tappets are doing their job quietly and the engine may finally have settled down for the long haul. Taking the car out for a quick 50-mile canter across country reminded me just how good these cars can be – even if mine is on decrepit dampers, bushes and tyres. With a bit more of a settled life, I can finally get down to changing a few more bits and fixing its remaining foibles – like the variable idling (which has made a return).
On the road, one thing that does annoy me about the 75 – and there’s no getting away from it – is that it’s s-l-o-w in normal driving. The way the engine management is set-up, you feel it has a heavy flywheel and long gearing, which encourages you to adopt a lazy driving style. That results in early changes and a reliance on the torque curve. However, this unstressed feeling is totally misleading – because the gearing is actually too short and the engine delivers its best over 4000rpm. That’s why, if you really want to keep up with the flow, you really have to row it along revving it hard… despite what your senses are telling you.
It’s all a little confusing and unrewarding.
The proof is seen in this photo. Cross-check the road and engine speed. It’s approaching 3200rpm for 70mph – and that’s far too busy for what is otherwise a cossetting saloon. Compare that with my equally peaky Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer‘s 2100rpm at 70mph and you’ll get the idea but then, that car has six speeds. Time and time again, I found myself saying, ‘this needs to go and needs to be replaced by a manual 2.5-litre V6, if only for my sanity.’
Destination reached, I parked up and jumped out of the car – only to get a strong whiff of coolant. Sure enough, and with hissing and gurgling noises coming from the front of the car, I reckoned it might have lost a little coolant – surprising as I’d checked it before I left and it was fine. So, I quickly topped it up (with water, I’d bravely decided not to carry coolant with me), went for my walk in the country and put it out of my mind.
When I drove the car home, it gave no sign that anything was amiss but, again, once I’d switched off, I knew I had a leak. A look underneath the car confirmed the worst – it was steaming, hissing and gurgling again, only this time, it decided to leave a great big trail as I backed it onto the drive, fresh coolant lubricating the power steering belt in the process, so that I lost assistance as well. Smiling grimly, I jumped out, opened the bonnet and admired the drenched engine bay – the leak’s coming from the offside rear of the engine. I then closed the bonnet, hit the car with a branch and called Mike to cook up a plan.
And this is it… we’d planned to spend the weekend fettling my Lancia Integrale – so instead, we’ll spend a little time working on the Rover. I’m sanguine about it really – this is a Bangernomics car that’s now 13-years old and rubber coolant pipes wear out. Anyway, it’s a DIY proposition. It’s no big deal. Running it on Bangernomics principles dictates that we should start with a trip to the scrapper to source some good-looking used replacements – but I might just take a look at the price of a full set of new (silicone?) replacements in the meantime.
Mind you, as I’ve not actually located the leak yet and that it could be coming from the underside of the inlet manifold, it’s still too early to say. As they say, I’ll keep you posted.
But if you are selling a 75 V6, please don’t tell me*.
Update: 26 August
That was interesting! The leak had been traced to a split pipe that connects the inlet manifold to the top of the radiator and, as the cooling system pressurised, it opened up, literally dousing the engine bay in sticky OAT coolant. Once again, Mike Humble made use of the enormous scrap yard at Pease Pottage to collect a few bits and bobs to fix the 75’s latest malady, including a very healthy-looking replacement hose from an ’04 car. Let’s just hope that wasn’t a victim of overheating.
Fortunately, Mike also picked up a replacement top main hose – this was not the correct item on my car and very likely the cause of the air locks that caused so much grief when we bled the system following the headgasket change back in May. The coolant hoses didn’t take long to change and, while we were there, we trimmed down the over-long replacement overflow hose (Lord knows where that came from). However, once again, bleeding the cooling system proved troublesome and, once the engine came up to full temperature, the overflow hose failed, causing another pressurised fountain.
We duly removed that, finding that this hose wasn’t braided and also that it looked like it had been weakened and the rubber had become contaminated – perhaps from all the K-Seal that had been used in the past – so that was thrown away and a nice new piece of replacement hose was fitted. After a little more faffing, the cooling system looks to have been sorted. For now…
However, as Mike noted, the bottom hose didn’t look in great condition. Oh, and we still need to change that serpentine belt.
Still, at least it’s on the road again…