In a surprise chain of events, Mike Humble has parted with the Rover 75 and plumped for yet another sensible and quintessentially British four door saloon.
But this one has that all important ‘X’ factor…
The obligatory hand over picture of the sealed deal involving Mike’s Rover 75 and John Pollard’s stunning Montego 1.6LX
It wasn’t supposed to happen, nor was it ever planned, but I am now the proud father of a 1991 Montego 1.6LX.
Well, to say it wasn’t planned isn’t strictly true as a recent high-powered meeting at AROnline Towers brought about the possibility of running two project cars of differing manufacturers – a twin test if you like. This still has yet to be confirmed but I had been keeping an eagle eye open for either a later model Montego or a Vauxhall Cavalier MkIII regardless of the outcome.
Why? Simple really… Without spending buckets of cash doing the imperfections on the Rover 75’s bodywork, there is very little to do in terms of making it 100%. Besides, there is also the fact that a sorted and reliable car doesn’t exactly make an interesting read for the many readers who clamour for some automotive mayhem.
The last Montego I owned was many hot summers ago – that was a dog rough 2.0 DLX estate bought for shirt buttons from a mate in the trade who took it in as a part exchange for a new Hyundai. Needless to say, it received the treatment and soon became a Trojan of a motor that eventually went to the great car park in the sky with a credible 274,000 miles on the clock – only a rear end shunt killed it off.
This is my second 1.6LX saloon. I owned the first one some time before the estate and that was an H-plate example, too. Again, that one only got scrapped after the person I sold it to fell out with his local residents, who seriously vandalised it with buckets of paint and then set the poor thing on fire.
Every inch a fleet special… The LX is well appointed for 1991 with electric mirrors, windows, roof and a half-decent Philips wireless. It’s very erm… blue but those multi-density foam seats (award winning did you know?) have no sign of sag and are super-snug to sit on. It genuinely feels and smells like a brand new Rover!
Okay, so what’s the story then? It was spotted at the BMC/BL Rally at Peterborough just the other weekend. Keith and I were mooching around looking for photogenic vehicles to snap and I literally fell in love at first sight. We both agreed it was a more than worthy Car of the Month – and I found myself chatting to the owner, John Pollard. He let it slip that he didn’t think it be a long-term vehicle for him. Further discussion took place both face to face and via email during my holiday to Norfolk, whereby I offered my Rover 75 as a solution to his uneasiness for smoking around in such a nice Montego on a daily basis.
That’s when events gathered pace – John requested a visit to leafy Horsham to examine the Rover thoroughly. The deal was struck there and then and we parted company owning each other’s wheels.
I’ve not even had chance to swap the insurance over as I type, but have attended to a few minor jobs to do so far, such as a non-illuminating clock and some rear lights that only work if you thumped the clusters. Out on the road, she runs quite well though there is a slight hesitation that seems to be caused by an over eager MoT tester who has set the HiF44E SU carb so lean that even Jack Spratt would complain about it.
The central locking refuses to do anything but make strange farting noise, and there is an odd squeak from the suspension somewhere behind – all in good time, as they say, but for a 25 year old car she’s in a shockingly good state of fettle. The only oily job seems to be the start of a minor oil leak from the camshaft carrier – can’t wait to sort that one out. I simply adore the S-Series power unit, especially when allied with the later PG1 gearbox.
The 1.6-litre S-Series is a cracking power plant, and this one has just 20,000 miles on the clock. It runs happily on unleaded, but seems a tad hesitant owing to the mixture being very weak. Slight top end tap and the start of a cam carrier oil leak but we’ll soon have it fettled to perfection
The car is in timewarp condition otherwise (although I loathe that expression, along with ‘Barn Find’). It has rock-solid wheelarches, no rust bleed in the rear three-quarter paintwork area and the dash has only the tiniest amount of warp. The paintwork is deep and glossy, and it smells exactly like a brand-new Montego. Despite lacking power steering, it shuffles from apex to apex surprisingly well – I never liked the method of the PAS, anyway, as it works via the camshaft pulley.
The brakes are decidedly average but work nonetheless and could do with a bleed up session. She’s far from perfect but a damn good 70 per cent of the way there [it’s more like 90 per cent, Mike – Ed], which is just how we like it on AROnline. All in all, it’s a beautiful car in a truly nice condition. I have promised John that I will love honour and cherish it, and all I can add as a suitable retort is that he does the same with the Rover 75 – but I have no doubt he will.
By the way, does anyone have a set of GSi or Countryman door timbers lying around? If so, please get in touch.