Our Cars : 75 – things to do…

Keith Adams

Well, the Rover 75 Connoisseur is at home now, and my initial thoughts of this car being a complete shed were a little bit wide of the mark. Yes, it’s clear the car has lacked a little love recently (well, for quite a while), and there’s a long list of things to do (see below), but under the general grime, there lurks a perfectly usable and capable car. And that’s the idea – to demonstrate how a cheap 75 can be repaired and maintained to become a useful car; a suitable antidote to the general scrap-it policy that marks out the British approach to old car motoring.

It took a day to restore the paintwork’s lustre (T-Cut clay bar and Meguiar’s Techwax), and the interior took some cleaning, too. The seats were cleaned and fed by Glyptone’s finest products, and the dash was polished to within an inch of its life – and the genuine wood dashboard shined up a treat!

There’s a lot to do, though, before this 75’s good enough to take a critical female partner as a passenger in it – and here’s where it starts:

  • Uprated headgasket and oil-spray, cambelt, water pump and oil/filter service.
  • Coolant change.
  • Investigate erratic idling.
  • Re-secure battery.
  • Clonking suspension from the nearside front when applying steering lock.
  • Rear bumper impact damage. Replace the bumper with a secondhand spare.
  • Nearside sill damage.
  • Damaged driver’s seat and seatbelt that’s slow to retract.
  • All four door cards need removing and reattaching properly; missing lock knob needs fitting to driver’s door.
  • Replace broken cupholder.
  • Replace the sticking indicator stalk.
  • Repair inoperative electric mirror controls.
  • Replace broken key.
  • Replace missing kickplate trim.
  • Fix the non-functioning reversing lights.

The sticking electric windows and sunroof were soon sorted – by WD40 to clean, and then grease to lubricate.  Aside from this list of bits and bobs, I think the Linglong tyres need to go! I looked them up online, as I’d never heard of them, and the reviews are shocking. There’s one money-saving trick too far.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to do, but it’s as much about time and effort as it is money. It should be easy to locate most of the parts that need changing in the interior secondhand, while the damaged sill should look much better once they’re both painted black. The real money – and time – will go into getting the mechanics right.

And that means the headgasket will be changed, and the car future-proofed. And will probably see out the life of the car.


Keith Adams


  1. Keith, let me have a nose, I have a feeling I have a 75 key (well the remote part) in a draw somewhere which is in good condition but knackered internals which you should be able to put your internals into. I don’t think I binned it but anything is possible.

  2. If the seat belts are anything like bmw items of the same era, they will just need a good clean up with some spray and a cloth, and will then retract fine.

  3. @Shep “Looking forward to following the car’s progress, as I’m beginning to fancy a 75 of my own”
    That makes two of us!

  4. LingLongs – I think that these are only available in the UK from online retailer MyTyres. In their defence they are very cheap, I considered a pair for my 9-5 before coming to my senses and buying some Falkens instead. There has been a lot of talk about the rise of Chinese car manufacture, but little about tyres, of which there are many of the market and I suspect a significant number of UK cars have Chinese boots. If their cars have half the success of their tyres, then they are going to do very well in the UK market.

  5. Nice austerity theme here, very contemporary. Perhaps you should consider this as a dissertation subject for a MSc or Phd.

  6. When I read your ‘horror’ list I wondered whether the previous owner had actually liked this car, what with missing this and broken that.

    Apart from the mechanical and cosmetic attention required, the rest seems more manageable in shorter spare time. And for every job you complete, your appreciation of the Rover will increase each time.

    As Richard Woolley said: “I am convinced that this car will re-kindle a pride of ownership that, when you have parked it, will make you feel the need to glance back as you walk away. Above all, it has soul.”

  7. My key plays up on my 75, it locks from the key fob but you have to open with the key, no big deal but it would be nice to get it sorted, any ideas? Also when its started from cold, the engine tends to race a little harder than normal on the autochoke making pulling away a little tricky. Infact you don’t need to use the gas peddle for the first mile or so, any ideas anyone.

  8. I have been so very tempted by a 75 or MG equivalent here in the Antipodes. Keith & Mike’s chariots aren’t helping to douse the desires…

    My question to those with knowledge is this…As it was only the 2.5 V6 sold over here, what sort of issues do they have? Is it better to get a manual, which I prefer, but have heard so many clutch horror stories. Could those that know these cars please set me straight?

    By the way, all my cars have always been babied. And each manages a maximum of 8,000 km’s in a year.

    Any guidance is appreciated guys.

  9. @6 let me assure you,linglongs,nankang and iron man tyres are total shit,the firm i work banned them outright from our supplier list.Fair enough they are cheap but the make up of the compounds etc are never going to complement your cars braking and suspension systems,iron mans in particular are terrible-you end up convinced your wheel bearings are shagged.To be honest i would go with falken,hankook or kuhmo at the budget end they have a good wear/roadholding compromise.

  10. Re 11. The major specific issue with the V6 engine is the inlet manifold variable intake system. The two actuator motors that opens/closes the valves in the manifold, can fail due to oil contamination. The motors can be dismantled and repaired with the right skills, but new replacements are still available. The symptoms of motor failure are an engine that seems to lack response, but the car will drive perfectly fine – in fact many drivers have suffered this wihtout knowing.

    The flap valves inside the manifold can seize up, which is not repairable – new manifold required. I can’t say how common these failures are – suffice to say my 99k V6 hasn’t had problems.

    The cam belts are a big job (6 years or 96k miles whichever comes first). There are 3 belts – a large surpentine belt at the drivers side end of the engine, and the smaller ones at the other end (on both banks) joining the inlet and exhaust cams together. There is a lot of dismantling required and looks pretty daunting.

    It is DIYable, but you need to be confident and capable with the spanners. Locking tools for the cams are recommended in accounts I have read, but the job has been done without.

    By and large, the KV6 seems pretty robust and sounds great when given beans. I have owned my V6 for 3 years and a diesel 75 for 7, and they have both been very reliable motors,

    Otherwise mechanically, the V6 are pretty much the same as the others broadly speaking (brakes, suspension, gearbox, clutch, electrics, etc). Look on the Owners Club website for further details.

    There are 2 manuals available; a Haynes book (No.4292) and another which is a reprint of an MG Rover publication. Both are very useful, but there are some minor errors in the Haynes.

    Oh, and lastly, the vast amount of cash I pour down the black hole into the tank (at UK prices anyway)!

  11. David, Mike – Richard Woolley certainly was right.

    Glancing back to admire my 75 is still something I do extremely often. Soul it has in abundance!

  12. It certainly don’t appear to have had too much love recently. A lot will, however, be easy (and very satisfying) to put right.

    Paint has ‘come up’ well – this car will soon look ‘a million dollars’ !!

  13. @Aidan

    There’s a 66,000 mile 51 plate Club 2.0 V6 on sale for £1295 at a garage near me. So tempted, even though it will probably need the head gaskets doing in short order…

  14. Aidan/Shep – I spent a month looking for one and there are loads of good low mileage cars about. Mine is a 2.5 Club with 44k on the clock and I parted with just a grand for mine and it had had the the belts, brakes and clutch done over the past 12 months! I found loads like this. There was a lot of nice MG ZT 120’s around but good estates sell like hot cakes either 75 or ZT-T. I found the cloth trim cars wore better than the leather cars but a good leather car looks really smart. Its early days for me with my 75 but so far I am really impressed, its smooth, quick and not that bad on fuel for a big engined car. The build quality is just fantastic but I found the latter last of the line cars a little cheap feeling, lots of bits but….. There will be loads of armchair experts who will slag it off and yes Belt or HGF etc is expensive but isn’t it on all modern cars? I have a friend who has just had to spend £450 on two brake sensors on a 6 year old Celica and had to wait a fortnight for the parts! and my cousins 4 year old Galaxy has just had a new clutch at 60k which cost near enough what I spent on my 75. This page is full of classic car owners so resourcefulness is part and parcel of owning something no longer made. Buy a mint low mileage 75/ZT and look after it and it will give you years of automotive pleasure, go for it lads!

  15. The list of “work to do” looks extensive Keith, but if you are patient and beaver your way through it, the car will look and get better & better – like Mike’s. Best of luck!

  16. Linglong tyres!! The very name cunjures up images of cheap and potentially dangerous!!

    Looking at the list of things to do – it shows an attitude of neglect and replace as opposed to one of maintain, repair and keep. Good to see that trend now being reversed!!

  17. Re 17 The Rover range of cars were subject to “Project Drive” after the Phoenix group took over from BMW. What this amounted to was a cost saving programme, but in reality was a gradual descoping of fittings and gradual reduction in quality of certain items on the cars.

    Therefore the earliest built cars were the ones with the best quality fittings and equipment. For example, the dash changing from walnut veneer to walnut effect plastic in around late 2001. This creeping effect occured all over the cars through to the end.

  18. @12 – I was briefly tempted, but opted for Falkens instead, as a midrange tyre they are pretty good, and I can get two for my 9-5 for less than £180. Ling Longs, Sunnys, Nakangs, are certainly cheap but I couldn’t risk safety for the cost of a decent takeaway.

  19. Put two very cheapo tyres (can’t remember the make) on the front of mine last year – now the old Cav isn’t known for its handling prowess – but Christ, understeer at 1 mph in the wet is just frighteningly silly. A pair of almost new part-worn Toyos soon sorted that!

    I look forward to more updates on this (as I’ve said before) a 75/ZT is looking oh so tempting, well they always were to me, but if a “shoestring” ZT/75 is a possibility then I’m in!

  20. What an interesting read, and with some effort the paintwork on the 75 has come up beautifully. You must be very pleased with the end result.

    I put some cheap ‘Event’ tyres on my Mondeo as a temporary bodge to get the car through it’s MoT last year.

    I was sensible (I thought) and put them on the back swapping the expensive Michellin to the driving wheels but what a shocker.

    ESC light was flashing every time I went around a corner even in completely dry conditions and well within normal speeds for the road.

    Never again. Within a couple of weeks another pair of Michellin tyres back on. To hell with the expense – you can’t put a price on safety and 206hp plus cheap tyres is not a healthy mix.

  21. @16 If it’s a KV6 you’ll be very unlucky if it suffers HGF unless it’s been totally abused. 2.0 and 2.5 KV6 are very robust units in the 75; Rover 825 owners went through all the pain so you don’t have to.

  22. Enjoying the feature on the 75, great cars very under valued, I’m on my second and only sold the first as I bought one of the V8’s.

    @16 Agree with Tim’s post at 25, the KV6 engined 75/ZT are very reliable just make sure that the combelts have been changed when they should have been.

    @10 The unlocking problem is normally due to a faulty solenoid in the latch, it’s a “common problem” and also affects the Mini & LR models.
    The other problem you have with the idle on cold is engine dependant, if you’ve a petrol it’s normally caused by the IAC valve requiring cleaning.

  23. @23 & 24

    My 9-5 was a SAAB UK lease car before I bought it, at the last service they had fitted two front tyres which didn’t even have a brand name. I had exactly the same problem with the ASC whenever it was wet, scary! The Falkens are quite good but I would prefer Nexens, or better still Pirellis.

    When is someone going to expose the dangers associated with using these imferior chinese tyres. I wonder if there is a correlation between cars that they are fitted to and road accidents?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.