Our Cars : Project HHR – and she just keeps plodding on

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Snatched, quite literally, from the jaws of the crusher, Mike’s Project HHR has had some adventures in the past couple of months. Reliability doesn’t make for the most interesting of reads but, in the cold, damp and miserable weather at this time of year, it’s all you could ever wish for in a car.


At the Classic Car Show in November – to be honest, that’s the last time it was polished and valeted

There’s nothing more pleasurable than trundling around in a car that costs less money than some people spend on training shoes. Project HHR has simply rattled around racking up some fairly hefty mileage since the top of the engine was pulled apart, mended and refitted. In fact, some 3000 miles have steadily clicked away on the odometer and the plucky little green machine hasn’t so much as missed a beat, even though I must confess it’s driven like it’s been stolen. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the HHR-type Rover, like a wart, it’s grown on me in recent months thanks to a supple ride and toast-yourself-to-death heater.

She’s even basked in the glory of the paying public at Birmingham’s NEC – the Rover 200 & 400 Owners Club asked me to place the car on its stand when the original 400 dropped out shortly before the show commenced. Flattered though I was, it caused absolute havoc owing to work commitments, not to mention the logistical nightmare of getting there and back. If that wasn’t bad enough the inside of the car looked like the contents of a Tandoori House hoover bag, so a thorough de-tox and valet had to take place. The run up and back went without a hitch and I thank all those who complimented me on the car and the website.


It’s still that clean under the bonnet after open heart surgery a little while back. It’s now nudging 70,000 miles and is running well – albeit slightly noisily. It begs to be driven HARD… and I do

So, is there any news to speak of? Well, the particularly offensive aftermarket Sony wireless has been replaced with the correct factory fit unit. The outgoing item was ceremoniously tossed onto the patio and beaten to death with a large hammer and duly slung into the recycling basket. I had considered putting it up on eBay but, rather like toothache, I wouldn’t inflict the pain onto my worst enemy let alone a random member of the general public and take money from them. Sadly, all my tapes are hidden in the loft and there was just one album that could be found to hand… Streetlife – The Best of Roxy Music – that’s been in the wireless since it was fitted.

My apologies, then, folks as the car has just been Rovering along as it should. It’s not all days of wine and roses, though. The small ends are rattling and tapping akin to a bucket of Meccano being hurled down a flight of concrete stairs. Once fully warmed up though, it quietens down and oil consumption amounts to little more than half a pint in 3500 miles and, as for the fuel economy, a genuine 40mpg average is easily achieved.

I have decided not to spend any more money on the car – it’s a cheap old workhorse and, if it goes bang, it goes bang, simple as… I might even venture into a rally with it (are you reading, Keith?) in the New Year – who knows what time will bring?

What’s her name? Virginia Plain!

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

5 Comments

  1. Great to read that your 414 has a new lease of life Mike… brings back memories of my own 414Si from 2001-04. That had 58K on it when I sold it and thankfully mostly trouble free and never broke down.

    All the best for 2017

  2. Hi Mike,

    If it does go bang, I hope it doesn’t leave you Stranded (probably only Roxy fans will get this!-)

    Btw…. the Rover 75 continues to go superbly.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year, everyone

    John

  3. Too much faint praise for the HHR, Why not tell it like it is, these are great cars sadly neglected by a public that just didn’t get it. I’ve had a 400 and 45 and while the 45 does handle better the actual grip and road holding is just as good in the 400 with a ride that short of a citron is just not matched by anything.

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