Our Cars : Meet the new Rover 75

Keith Adams

After the success Mike Humble’s had with his Rover 75 1.8 Club turning it into a desirable and dependable daily driver, I decided that, for AROnline‘s latest project, I’d do the same thing – except that, for all of the work that will undoubtedly be needed to do on it, we’ll detail it step by step – from the interior makeover to the headgasket replacement and upgrade, we’ll show you how it’s done, and demonstrate that, just because a Rover’s broke, it can’t be fixed – economically and cost-effectively.

Our Rover 75 1.8 Connoisseur’s nothing special. It was taken in part-exchange by AJF Motor Engineers Limited – and Adrian Fell hasn’t done anything to it in preparation for sale. I wanted it raw, I wanted it as is. I wanted a project.

Anyway, what about the car? It has 125,000 miles on the clock and looks like it’s hardly been loved by its last owner. The interior’s grimy, the original stereo is long gone, and every one of its four corners has been grazed, despite (or because of) its retro-fit parking radar – all in all, it’s suffering from a distinct lack of love. There’s also a couple of deep scars on one sill and some deep scratches adorning the bonnet and bootlid. The engine bay is filthy, with evidence of previous overheating, and a distinctly oily smell when warm. Oh, and yes, there’s a trace of the dreaded mayonnaise under the oil filler cap. But under all the mess, I can see potential – a wafty, comfortable, cheap to run, daily driver.

With that in mind, I check all of the fluid levels before the 50 mile trip home, and fire up the K-Series.

Like all 75s, this one has an uncanny ability to flatten the most lumpy of roads and make you feel incredibly relaxed. It’s nice inside, too. The black leather interior with grey piping looks good and the driver’s seat is comfortable with an excellent driving position. It’s a glacial performer, though, especially when the (working) air conditioning is working. But I guess, no one bought a Rover 75 1.8-litre to go quickly.

Issues – there’s a few. However, we’ll go into those after I’ve been through the car with a fine tooth comb. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into a decent project – but first, it’s off to chez Humble for a headgasket, oil rail and all the gubbins. Stay tuned…


Keith Adams


  1. Good luck with this, I liked my 02 1.8 tourer that I ran from new a decade ago.

    Replace the stereo asap

    I look forward to following the updates

  2. The parking sensors are aftermarket by the looks of them. Should have been colour coded by x reg.

    Also, the front NEVER had andy from the factory.

    Get a new smokestone steering wheel at the earliest opportunity.

    Still a nice car though. Love my 75 tourer

  3. I also see that someone has been rough removing the door cards in the past and that consequently the chrome rings round the interior handles are missing.

    Is the paint code MUM?

  4. Congratulation on your purchase Keith! As you.know from Mike’s 75 1.8 and my own 75 (7 years from earlier this month) the 1.8 is vastly.underrated by people who have never owned one. Maybe we should do a line up of the three 1.8 75s at PoL!

  5. That looks to be about average for your older 75’s by now – teetering on the edge of becoming a full-blown shed.

    Thankfully, putting right the bodges and damage will be fairly straight forward…and on a car like that is going to be very satisfying. You know there’s something special waiting to shine again.

    My first job would be to ditch that offensive looking after market head unit and surround. How cheap does that look?

    I would like to associate myself with the comment made in reply No.7. Get a good deal on clutch hydraulic components. The regularity of repairs here and the sheer expense really spoilt my period of 75 ownership.

  6. I love the piped leather interior, really smart. One question though – are all 75s that colour?

  7. That should scrub up well Keith. Welcome to the n/a 1.8 owners club. Having had 2 1.8s with less than caring previous owners I never cease to be amazed how well they take the abuse and clean up.

    Being such an early Longbridge car (and a Connie) it shouldn’t have many Project drive deletions either.

    I think describing the performance as “glacial” is a little unfair. Both of mine are certainly nippier than my CDT diesel was prior to CDTi upgrade. Other than on steep inclines with a full load, I find mine perform pretty well.

    Get that head gasket sorted and enjoy.

  8. I agree with Tim. The 1,8L isn’t gonna beat a ZS-V6, though I found it was adequate as a base engine, in 1999. On the flip side, it’s the only petrol 75 to reach 35mpg avg, and once on the go, 100 mph on m’way’s doddle…Stereo was changed maybe cos’ multi cd in glovebox was sticking like on mine! I ended up not fitting it back properly so it was easy to remove the box and take the cd out. Good luck, not much needed, you already know HGF’s got to be done ASAP, don’t forget a new water pump and cambelt for total piece of mind. I’m near envious!!!

  9. Can’t see what’s wrong with changing the stereo. It would have been a godawful cassette in those days. Get something else that takes and iPod connection and has DAB.

  10. Urrggghh! It’s got one of those horrible Philips radios, I fit them for a living and they are utter rubbish! Get a Sony, Alpine, JVC or Kenwood etc!!

  11. @ Mr Bushell

    Akin to fitting a 42″ plasma to the dining room wall of a stately home…. It simply isn’t right with a 75 to have a Saxoesque Wireless.

  12. The car photos look a bit better than the text description. Good luck with this car. Hopefully, we’ll be able to say “turned out nice again” when it’s restored!

  13. Firstly congratulations on your purchase, A Connoisseur indeed with Union alloys…. Wow!
    I must agree with the others but only by the stereo surround. That must go! The stereo is always a personal thing, but the Halfords / Autoleads surround special is absolute rubbish. And must go to the bin!!

    Looking forward to the “restoration”

  14. looking forward to updates on the work you’re planning to do on it. Still hoping for a 75 myself, maybe later this year. Good luck with it Keith!

  15. great car, had my 147k mile 2001 1.8 tourer from new. Never had any clutch issues but 2 x HGF. They love regular oil change to help them last. The only other parts Ive replaced are rear discs, one set of pads and 2 springs. Aside from that, its all original and utterly reliable.

  16. Only 1.8? you guys have wimped out, should have gone for the full fat 2.5 V6! but seriously nice one I’ve had mine about 5 weeks now and I am really impressed with mine. Its a smooth drive, plenty of power and to be honest its not to bad on fuel and everything works. It needs a few scratches sorting out, a rear lense (chipped) and a chip repaired in the windscreen, all little jobs. These cars are seriously underrated.

  17. Well, I’ve commented much about my 75 1.8 Club SE in response to Mike Humble’s experiences. I look forward to reading about your car, Keith, and comparing notes.

    To summarise –

    Mine is a 53 plate and I’ve covered 22K miles in 20 months.
    Two HGFs in the first 4K miles but totally reliable since.
    Outside of the head gasket and more routine servicing the only replacements have been –

    – track rod ends
    – anti roll bar links, bushes to be replaced in days when
    parts arrive

    Enjoy your 75 ownership, Keith! – I’m sure you agree – special car, modest money…

  18. I’m still staggered at just how well designed the 75 interior is. I had a ride in an MG ZT V6 once – it just felt special. Love the trim combinations – German manufacturers take note – this is how to do it…….

  19. Nice! But it’s not a SD1.

    I am sure it will be something quite special by the time you finish with it.

  20. The 75 is still a good looking car all these years on, and in my view actually looks less retro now than it did back in 99.

  21. Warms the cockles of my heart to see one being “saved”. Good luck Keith!

    @ Adrian. Because the original one was nicked maybe?

  22. My comment 26

    Ok, so the cam belt was changed at the first HGF and a replacement radiator (second hand) fitted at the second HGF.
    Also, servicing has involved more than plugs,filters,oil, coolant. However, I class new exhaust back box and brake pads as routine on a car whose total milkeage is now 72K. So, all in all, I regard my 75 as reliable.

  23. I am interested at the comments re the fragile 75 clutch, Have I just been lucky? My 51 reg V6 saloon is on 99k and still the original, and my 02 reg CDT tourer had a new clutch at 85k due to the plate being worn out (I replaced the slave cylinder as well).

  24. Alasdair – no clutch change for my 75 yet – it’s a 1.8 with 72K miles under its belt. Smooth changes can sometimes be difficult but there has been no deterioration in my 22K miles of ownership. I’ve put any poor changes down to me, the driver! However, I too sometimes wonder when I read comments about clutch problems.

  25. My 75 is on 78k and still on the original clutch, working perfectly well. I know 78k isn’t mega mileage, but it does rather spin the argument that the clutches are abnormally weak on its head.

  26. My 75 is still on its original clutch at 85k (as long as the new owner hasn’t changed it in the last 3 weeks)

    My previous CDTi dispatched its clutch at 64k

  27. @34 The weakness is not the clutch itself, just the cheap plastic concentric slave cylinder that Rover specified to operate it. Other cars’ units are usually aluminium castings and last much better. The pain is of course if the slave cylinder goes pop then its a massive gearbox out job to change it.

  28. Keith, I see a great photo opportunity.

    Mike’s 75, mine and now yours! All three are 1.8, silver & pre 2004 facelift.

  29. I need more carrying capacity for my new business. Running a ZT saloon is great, but I can anticipate a 75 Tourer joining the fleet. I think wedgewood blue is best with sandstone interior. Prefer auto and would consider a 1.8, 2.5 KV6 or a CDTi. Best get looking although imagine there are some real bargains with the 1.8? Going to Pride of Longbridge. See some of you there?

  30. Re 38. My slave cylinder looked okay when I changed the clutch, but I replaced it anyway due to the reasons you alluded to (mega strip out). I note it was an AP product, and not a cheapo brand, so I would have expected better. The plate IIRC was a Valeo which was slipping badly, and was down to the rivets.

  31. I think AP built the part to what MGR specced (I don’t think the part is shared with any BMW units), and from the pics of the cylinders the spec probably read “make it as cheap as you can”.

  32. The clutch slave cylinder – tell me about it – in the process of doing mine today ! Made of toffee, papier mache and wallpaper paste. Apparently used on various BMWs Defenders and things. Still it does give you warning – it makes a nasty noise for a couple of weeks and empties the thimble that masquerades as a resevoir for the master cylinder. Mine is at just over 28k but it is undoubtedly an age thing for the plastic – it creeps and then the seals don’t. The whole car is a very pleasant experience. I have had mine for 2 years and this cylinder is the only failure to date. So whilst holding onto a block of wood – I intend to make it do another 5

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