Our Cars : Mike Humble’s Rover 75 Connoisseur SE 2.0

Mike Humble didn’t need it, nor did he want it. But he’s bought it all the same – over to Mike for the fully nitty-gritty on this rather gorgeous Copperleaf Rover 75 Connoisseur SE.

Will this be the one?

A 2001 Rover 75 Connoisseur SE 2.0-litre KV6 in Copperleaf with dark ash leather joins the AROnline fleet. The car was formerly a motoring magazine project and MG Rover manager’s car

Rover 75: My last-chance saloon – quite literally!

In one way it’s good to be sitting here waffling on about old Rovers, and in another a voice in my head is repeatedly chanting the words ‘here we go again’. Things here in leafy Sussex have, of course, been rather Rover-light as of late and the last Rover in my incumbency was actually the boomerang 75 Club SE – oh, and on that subject, I’ll update you…

A number of folk have messaged me over recent times asking about what exactly happened to BD02EHY as, according to the databases, it ran out of MoT some time ago. The answer is simple – the car now happily resides in Milan and its owner, Professor Demetrious, is more than happy with her – he regularly updates me on progress.

Anyway, back the present. After owning a Saab, a Volvo then another Saab, we arrive full circle with another bloody 75 on the driveway. My self-enforced Rover sabbatical had been going rather well in all honesty – no shakes, twitches or other symptoms of cold Turkey had been remotely evident. That was until the filming of the Codename R40 DVD was finished. After seeing the rushes and then final rough cut of the finished presentation, I felt a certain amount of sorrow and pride after talking to so many key personnel who were all ex-Rover. All of a sudden, I had an urge to go out and get one but I kept strong, summoned up more will power and ignored a rash decision based on an emotional whimsy.

How I ended up with this one

One of the cars used in the film, and for those who have seen it, its the one Kevin Jones leans on as he tells of his experiences, was owned by Martyn Knowles. He is the Editor of Car Mechanics magazine and also technically happens to be my boss owing to my monthly column in said magazine. The car had been one of their project vehicles and, normally, once project conclusions have been reached, the cars tend to be sold off.

In this case, Martyn had kept the car on his driveway owing to an illness many of us suffer – Compulsive Rover Underdog Dysphoria or C.R.U.D for short. On many occasions, during the filming and afterwards, he’s tried his best to get me to take it off his hands… with no success. I was in love with my rather nippy Saab 93 Vector Sport which was merrily racking up the miles with little fuss or cause for concern. That was until a motor industry contact, who had bought the DVD, got in touch to say how much he enjoyed it and how emotional and passionate the folk who were interviewed were.

Then things took shape in that spooky way that indicates when things are meant to be. A former work colleague called asking if I knew anyone who was selling a car as he had blown the engine in his ageing Astra. Knowing of hardly any clunkers up for sale, he then asked if he could buy my Saab so some ‘phone calls were made, things started to snowball – and I now have a Rover 75 sitting on the drive.

Why go through it again?

I might have said it here before but there was no way I was prepared to go through the same emotional turmoil, and hard work not to mention expense as BD02EHY cost me. One of the main reasons of my previous refusal to get behind the wheel of a 75 again was that, unless I could quantify it and the owner before purchase, it was never going to happen. I have sold 75s before to brand loyalists and so-called enthusiasts and, on more than one occasion, they have come back unloved, broken… or both.

Buy a good one with even just a hint of past love adorned on them and they tend to be really great cars, or take a gamble on a knackered, unloved example and fritter your disposable income – your call my friend.

The 148bhp 2.0 KV6 isn’t fast, but it’s lively and makes some beautiful noises as the revs climb. Only 78,000 miles, fully serviced and all the cambelts done last year. No water leaks and no rattling VIS motors either – bliss!

Anyway, why should have I have to justify my madness to you lot? Sod yer’s. Seriously, though, the car is pretty much okay although some things need to be addressed before I’m totally happy. It’s a 2001 78,000 mile KV6 2.0 Connoisseur SE with three pedals and three former jockeys with the first one being a Rover Manager based at the old Longbridge Training College – latterly known as the Rover Learning Centre.

Those dreaded timing belts (including the drive-belt) were changed late in 2020 with genuine XPart branded stuff and even boasts a fairly decent lump of service history too. Most of the toys and goodies worked with the exception of a couple of minor things, but I’m working through the list.

The jury still huddles in a back room deciding if the build is better than a Cowley-built car, but what I can state is there are no squeaks, rattles and both the shut lines and paint quality are utterly superb. Being an early Longbridge transitional model, the only difference is the deletion of the satin black effect to the sills and bumpers – I might apply this, but what say you?  The originality impresses me too, even the windscreen is the original factory item proudly branded with Rover-Pilkington, so there’s no wonkily fitted windscreen edging trims done by a ham-fisted glass fitter to send my internal OCD meter needle flaying wildly.

How is it going so far?

Everything works as it should, right down to the power-operated rear sunblind. Even the steering wheel hasn’t succumbed to the usual worn and stained leather on the rim that usually spoils the vista of class

Am I happy so far? You betcha… and, despite it being tough to sell the idea to ‘er indoors, who had really bonded with the Saab, she likes this one – they really do look quite stunning in certain colours don’t they? But you already know that, don’t you.

Thankfully, there’s no rattling VIS motors (variable intake system), no chattering or faint chirping from a worn idler pulley, no dull exhaust blowing noise and the front suspension doesn’t clatter like a pack of wild ponies living in the flat above. It isn’t fast either, but what the hell – the engine noise though… wow… I’d genuinely forgotten what a glorious noise they make when idling or when singing away at 6000rpm.

As far as fixing, fettling and furnurkling matters… here’s what we have so far and that’s not bad for car that celebrated its 20th birthday early last week:

  • Broken sunroof blind clips – to do
  • Feeble Air-Con – sorted
  • Foggy headlamps – sorted
  • Power socket /cigar lighter insecure – sorted
  • Sticky cup holder action – to do
  • Chrome waist trim on rear N/S wing loose – to do
  • Both front door cards’ velour coming away – to do
  • Replace ageing front tyres – to do

As the sub-heading above says, the term last-chance saloon is rather fitting. Now is the time to act if you want a slice of R40 action as the good ones are starting to command stupid prices and the ropey ones either become donor cars or razor blades.

7 Comments

  1. One word Jealous! Beautiful colour and having driven a 93 (my brother owned one for 4 years) not a patch on the 75, except for its rapid acceleration.

  2. Looks great on the outside, inside and engine bay. I think Copperleaf red was the colour that replaced Nightfire red? I’ve owned 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 K series Rovers but never made it to a 2 Litre KV6.

    I always liked the 2 tone interiors and grey (or is it fawn?) steering wheel with wood trim on the dash and this one looks really elegant! Brilliant for a 21 year old car and couldn’t be in better hands now Mike has it. Good luck…

  3. Lovely colour combination.

    Car is spoilt by those grubby old rubber floor mats. Treat yourself to some nice carpet mats to smarten her up.

  4. Obv a man of taste and discernment. I never understood why these things never sold better. Borrowed one early in 2000 while out in New Zealand and admirers gathered wherever I parked it. “A Rover, eh? I remember those years ago.” Cue fond reminiscing of P5s and P6s. I loved the 75’s four headlight nose, generous chrome trim, old fashioned but modern instruments cluster, comfy seats, lots of wood ‘n’ leather, good handling but forgiving ride and a creamy smooth V6 mit automatic. BMW dealers forced to make space to sell ‘em were unenthusiastic and the then-CEO of the local distributor said only half in jest: “Write something nice, we need all the help we can get to sell them.” We know the rest. Great to still see so many in good hands such as yours. Enjoy.

  5. Looks like you have a stunner there sir. Proper wooden dashboard and all of the pre-Project-Drive horrors. And with the belt-change having been done, should last a good while too. Marvellous

  6. These were good cars regardless of what Jeremy Clarkson says. I still see a metallic blue 03 plate 75 and a 53 plate MG ZT estate in daily use and several more were running locally until a couple of years ago. Rather like its 1950s namesake, the 75 has lived up to the old Rover reputation for durability, something that couldn’t be said for the SD1.

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