Our Cars : Mike’s Rover 75 – a “Perfect Ten”

Happy times are here again as the Project Rover 75 passes yet another MoT… but, as Mike Humble explains,  this one is a milestone.


Before I go any further, I simply loath that East Riding beat-pop combo The Beautiful South – indeed, I also detested their previous incarnation The Housemartins. Going back a few stones ago, I had a girlfriend who played Happy Hour with such annoying frequency that I whipped the CD from the faithful Marantz and split it into more particles than an atom using a rolling pin on the kitchen bread board – I kid you not. Far better things have come out of Hull, in my opinion… the A63 springs to mind!

However, the song title used as the headline above is an apt one as the Rover 75 passes its tenth MoT since plopping off the Longbridge assembly track in 2002. I downloaded its MoT history from the VOSA website when I first bought the car on the south coast back in 2011 and she’s passed every MoT at the first attempt – not a bad record for what is, in all fairness, an old banger. Mind you, as is often the case, it was not without a couple of advisory matters that amounted to a little bit of play in a track rod end and a very minor leak from a connecting union on the power steering pump – for the record, both issues have now been sorted.

Its 10th MOT gets under way.
The Project Rover 75’s 10th MoT gets under way

It was quite an odd experience this time at my testing station. A former (very) long stock SD1 of Derek J Ketteringham Motors was parked round the back awaiting its air conditioning system overhaul and my tester Craig was keen to show me his new motor – a facelift ZT-190 saloon. Its a little tatty here and there but he told me what he paid for it and he won’t go wrong but it did seem a little strange as he picked my brains about certain aspects and finer points of an R40. Welcome to the fold Craig… I hope you enjoy it.

Anyway, getting back to mine, she’s racking up the miles, with nearly 95,000 clicks on the ivory-coloured dial, and is running really well. Fuel economy is just on the right side of acceptable, the engine is still as clean as a new one and I haven’t needed to add any water under the bonnet if you exclude the washer bottle. There have been some running repairs of a consumable nature in recent months such as new pads and discs both fore and aft, so this might explain why it’s been all quiet on the Rover front – simply writing “yes, she’s running fine” doesn’t make for an engaging article!

Parked around the back was this SD1 VDP that hid in the showroom of Derek J Ketteringham Motors Neasden for many years.
Parked around the back was this SD1 VDP which had been hidden in the showroom of Derek J Ketteringham Motors, Neasden for many years

However, the car still has to perform a key role in the Horsham household. The company Golf went back a few months ago so, apart from the odd test car here and there, this is my daily and only smoker (the AROnline Maestro lives here too, but that’s another tale) so I cannot accept anything else than good reliability. The supple and supportive seats still impress me as does the dual-zone climate control, the latter coming into its own in the recent scorching hot weather we have been blessed with down here – it showed 38 degrees last week!

Actually, the only let down with the Rover has been me. I had an overwhelming urge to buy a Cavalier Mk3 recently and one was lined up in nearby Hampshire – an N-plate 16v 2.0 GLSi none the less – but it slipped through my fingers. Working on a very strict “one out, one in” rule (Craig Cheetham could learn from this), the 75 was put on the open market. The very first caller came round, test drove it and left a £50 dipper with me but this was to be the last I saw of him and, indeed, the last he saw of his money. You’ve heard me use the term many times now – he was a messer!

It’s funny when I think of it though as this is the second time the 75 has succumbed to a messer but also it’s the second time profit has been made from them – in total £150. Believe me when I tell you the cheaper the car the bigger the heartache and, despite using all of my skills and craft when it comes to formatting an advert, the odd time-waster slips through the net. Despite my voice and text messages asking for an update, he’s never replied so this recent dunderhead has blown his bunts and, thanks to Mr. Hughes of West Sussex, Jacky and I enjoyed a lovely meal for two – thank you, Mr. Hughes!

Somehow I don't think a Mk3 Cavalier can hold a candle to this kind of interior presentation.
Somehow I don’t think a Mk3 Cavalier can hold a candle to this kind of interior presentation

I then had a call from a Polish gentleman who offered £600 over the ‘phone – he was duly told to wyrazny od rather promptly. This was then quickly followed by two callers who both made arrangements to view and both failed to show. By the time all this had taken place, the Cavalier had gone even though the vendor, who I knew, offered to hold on to it but I told him to take the first fist full of dollars. Another Cavalier came to my attention not far from Heathrow and the seller was offering to do some kind of deal for the Rover, but this also went rather pear-shaped.

Besides, after crawling round the M25 in mid-30’s temperatures, I was slowly beginning to change my mind –  as other motorists perspired more than Rolf Harris in a communal prison shower, I was drier than a Mexican’s espadrille and cooler than an April shower thanks to that dual-zone climate control. Some K-Series owners would go into sheer panic at the thought of a 15 mile M25 tailback but mine is a truly sorted example and the only small dial that moved was the fuel gauge. Arriving at the Cavalier owner’s cesspit (house) the area, the car and the owner were simply put not fit for purpose.

‘Er indoors summed it up nicely when I got back home that evening. Pointing at the front room window, she told me to look at the late afternoon sun glinting of the chrome grille and said: “Please, if just for me, don’t sell it!” They say behind every great man is a great woman and that’s certainly true with her. She doesn’t really get too involved with my car antics, but when she does stick her two-penneth’s worth into the equation, she’s rarely wrong. That’s why, for the time being at least, the Rover 75 is staying put.


Mike Humble


  1. I could do with a Jacky of my own if she encourages you to keep em. But ‘one in, one out?’. Pah. How else can you lend transport to a stricken mate if you’ve only got enough cars for yourself. Plus, I know you’re secretly enjoying the Maestro WAY too much…

    • Exactly this Craig. My SAAB’s currently on loan, I couldn’t do that if I needed it myself!

  2. I have a 52 plate 1.8 classic Se which needed a few things done to pass MOT, front springs, brakepads/shoes, brakepipes, was well worth it, car is reliable and has grown on er indoors, to the extent that it’ll need to another 75 if ever this one has to be replaced.

  3. Mike, I think the Mk3 Cav is probably all around one of the best cars that’s ever been made or ever will be made, but don’t for heaven’s sake trade that beautiful 75 for one !!

  4. Glad to hear the 75 is going to be kep. How good is the performance and refinement of the 1.8 in the 75 ? I have 45 1.8 and would like to upgrade one day .

  5. I still enjoy my 54 Conny SE Cdti, went to France last month, avg 49 mpg… One can only appreciate the sheer ease of drive and comfort of these cars. Just, only just, maybe next 75 will be a Contemporary, if I can find one with intact bolsters, seats look more supportive. Had to replace the front spring(and tyre!) and the EGR is now blanked, it seems that mpg’s on the rise, last tankfull returned 54.7, that’s 49L for 592 miles. Does any1 have a second hand “chip” that boosts power they don’t use and would sale?

    • Mate stuff chips, look up the 160bhp remap that an owner came up with. Mine has it and it transforms the car

  6. Top tips to pass MOT first time.

    1) click seatbelts into holder
    2) release Bonett and fuel filler catches
    3) wash and wax prior to test
    4) fill all fluids to max level


  7. Well Done.

    My 2002 diesel tourer (also Moonstone Green as it happens) has just returned to the road after 2 years on SORN and a surprisingly pain free experience it has proved to be. A couple of rear springs and front ARB drop links did the job and it has also cleaned up quite nicely. It still feels quite tight and the interior still looks the way it should.

  8. My diesels coming up for MOT soon, few knocks and rattles starting now. Every time I browse for a new car though….what else could i get for such little money?

  9. As ever Mike, your R75 looks great and mechanically too. I’m sure when you do sell it again, it will be to a true enthusiast.

    Just saw a facelift 2005MY 75 on a used car lot today. Was too far away to see the sticker price and outer condition, but it looked like a 3 figure sum. A shame that these cars are becoming rare… they still exude more character than the majority of today’s models.

  10. I know of a diesel 75 which the owner will take £500 for it. He advertised it a while back and got a couple of enquirers but no visits Its a maroonish red and seems to be a straight enough car just needing a couple of bushes for the test. Its about year 2000 in County Down.

    Nobody around here is interested in it which is a pity because it was driven by a now deceased old man and the 75 is just sitting outside in the rain. I guess the dark red colour keeps the rust back!

  11. Hello all,
    I’ve already let Mike know, but for anyone still interested in “Mike’s Rover 75” …. now, in my mind anyway, “John’s Rover 75!” 🙂 ….. she passed her 11th MOT yesterday with no advisories and nice compliments from the MOT man too.
    I’m hoping to get to the BMC /BL Day in Peterborough in August to see Mike and confirm BD 02 is still in good hands … even if he can’t show me my Mintego!
    Happy Roving..!

  12. I never see a badly used Rover 75 in the same way you’d see some clapped out Ford Mondeo smoking around until its owner decides it’s failed the MOT and time to be scrapped. It says something about the 75 that so many survive, and I also spotted an immaculate R reg 600 today. Clearly Rover got its act together with its bigger cars after the SD1 era and made cars that lasted.

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