I feel quite guilty about not getting something posted a bit sooner, but time has been against me. So here we have another Rover 200 (R8) model within our midst, and this one marks the fifth one I’ve owned – although one of those I had owned twice.
It’s been a slow start for this model, with money changing hands, and then it being rather unceremoniously parked up on the drive.
What exactly did I buy?
Despite what the number plate may lead you to think, it’s actually of 1990 vintage. But at least it’s pretty much launch spec, plus a few choice optional extras which include PAS, ABS, Alloys and an upgraded Philips radio cassette. Bought pretty much as spur of the moment affair, and requiring its fair share of fettling, progress hasn’t been as rapid compared with other project cars in my stewardship.
Sourced locally from another Rover apologist, I really should have been much more thorough in the old pre-purchase inspection. It drove reasonably well on the test drive, but come the day – or rather night when the handover took place some three weeks later – the rear brakes almost caught fire on the A23 northbound. It was a good job I pulled into a garage for a bottle of pop and noticed or they would have.
Anyway, that 20-odd-mile journey home confirmed the brakes were totally cream crackered. Plus, the faster you drove it, the cooler engine ran. Before even agreeing to purchase, I’d already noticed the radiator was living on borrowed time. So, my parts man had a rad on standby along with a medicinal thermostat. Not only were the brakes needing much love, the cooling system looked that way, too.
It didn’t start as well as I’d have liked
As you can imagine, ‘er indoors was banding around various phrases of comfort to my plight such as: ‘that’s a right one you’ve bought there,’ and, of course, the time-honoured: ‘if you think I’m driving that, you’re very much bloody mistaken!’ That’s what I like about my missus… always there with a soft shoulder to cry on with her gently spoken confidence building words of reassurance.
A few weeks passed, by which time I’d built up enough energy to change the radiator, flush out the coolant and replace the thermostat. Other jobs that required critical attention, such as the non-working cigar lighter and ashtray illumination, were also tackled in the same day. Once again, some time passed until the dreaded brakes were attended to – the only really costly job to tackle to date.
A thorough check found the driver’s side front and both rear brake calipers sticking. The front one responded to a good belt with a hammer, and the piston cleaning/greasing up. However, round at the back, I used my judgement – along with past experience to remove them. I then replaced them with a pair of new old stock items sourced for the laughably cheap price of just £63.
New pads all round were fitted as a precautionary measure, too. Besides, the rear ones were more brittle than a biscuit, and blacker than the bottom of a tandoori oven, thanks to the previous A23 smoke-a-thon. So, with a revitalised cooling system and anchors, the car was now good enough to use with relative confidence.
Then, there was another snag – by now the MoT was running out.
Testing times for the Rover
This brings me nicely up-to-speed, as the car (just about) flew through the MoT, albeit requiring some minor bodywork. As I type, the car has been sent up to Essex so that my Leyland Truck man Tony Gothard’s workshop boys can do their magic – call it a favour for a favour, if you like.
Prior to this, though, she’s been out and about and even managed to get up to Roverfest a few weeks back.
In true Rover/Honda fashion, it shifts like a stabbed rat, but burns more fuel than a moon rocket. That said, it’s great fun to drive, and gives many a new car a nasty surprise in the urban traffic light Grand Prix. That glorious D-Series 16-valve power unit just begs to driven… and driven hard. It has a sweet gearbox, and has still has that sumptuous Rover trim smell. Even the wireless is original and working.
I’m just waiting now for a Tilbury telephone call asking me collect the car, then perhaps I’ll sort out the Bedouin tent interior headlining. For now, here’s the run down of tasks taken care of so far:
- Replaced two and rebuilt one brake caliper(s)
- New brake pads front and rear
- Replaced radiator and thermostat
- Replaced blown bulbs to dash, ashtray and cigar lighter
- Freed off the jammed radio aerial
- Re-set distributor timing and replaced distributor O-ring seal
- Cleaned out washer jets and replaced washer bottle
- Sourced N/O/S fabric mats (genuine Rover)
- Replaced the intermittently faulty fuel pump relay
- Sorted out wonky low tone horn (by soaking with WD40 and thumping with small hammer)
- Rubbed down and satin blacked the wiper arms
- Refitted front bumper that had been pulled away from its side bracket (giffered)
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