Working on the proviso that prevention is better than the cure, Mike Humble spends some quality time with the 75 while also putting right some of the wrongs… she’s looking good!
Say what you will about the MG Rover cost cutting plan (Project Drive) which came into effect from 2002, but for a company where every penny mattered, MG Rover saved a small fortune, and maybe kept a few more people in gainful employment for a while longer at least. From a salesman’s point of view, we were barred from mentioning the numerous and complex deletions or revisions from the product range to the general public unless asked about it.
Everything – and I do mean everything – was scrutinised for viability and raw cost even right down to blanking caps on screw heads or the fitting of cigar lighters on 25/45 which quietly became a £15 optional extra. Rear anti roll bars were no longer fitted to 1.8 75s and our official party line was that it saved weight, ever been a passenger in a Rover 45 only to end up having cold feet? – you can blame that on the lack of rear floor heating ducts – the epic list of omitions and deletions is both extensive and worrying to read.
Anyone who has run their own business (myself included) will be all to aware of raw cost and how to control it, at the time many of us bemoaned this policy of taking a bit here and cutting a bit there, but in hindsight we now see how parlous things became with MGR but also how adept the production planners became in cutting build times and production costs.
Maybe if the same scrutinisations had been made with MGR’s previous incumbants ie: British Leyland/BAE/BMW et al, we would still be manufacturing and assembling cars in Longbridge rather than gluing them together with parts from a box – who knows. Rant over anyway.
Getting back on track (oddly, also the name of another cost cutting exercise from Inter-City Eastern Region circa 1987) my own 2002 75 Club SE is a pre project drive machine, but some items are missing that you would have found on earlier Cowley built cars: dark coloured body sills and engine denomination badges on the front doors for example.
On my home from work recently, I overtook a recovery vehicle belonging to a nearby massive breakers/salvage yard carrying a W-plate 75 on it’s back which had endured a terminal poke in bum. I was sure to pop by a day or two later to find the car among the other vehicles waiting for god pretty much intact, apart from the existing accident damage to the back end.
In the name of recycling, my smoker now sports rear C post badges – torpedo decals to the front and a pair of lovely looking chrome mirror caps for the earlier (and some say better looking) bullet type door mirrors. At the same time I also treated myself to the earlier type of engine cover with ROVER branding rather than the bland looking plain rectangle and a leather gear knob. What a difference these small changes make to the car, but as the saying goes; it’s the small things that matter – making a fine car look superb. All that needs doing now is to paint the lower parts of the bumpers and body sills in satin black – I can’t wait!
My 75 has now covered 54,000 miles on it’s original head gasket and being a firm supporter of the phrase prevention is better than the cure, I have taken the liberty of removing the head and sump in order to fit an uprated head set and oil rail. A nearby resident drives Caterhams among one or two tasty steeds, and kindly donated a modified oil rail to the cause with the proviso I write a feature as he is an avid reader of this site – cheers Bob.
Upon draining the coolant and oil, it was more than obvious that a good two-years has passed since it’s last service, the oil was as black as Satan’s underpants with the coolant looking as murky as the pond water we would collect Newts in as a child. Maybe I ought to write to Norris McWhirter with regards to the head gasket, as some 1.8 K series heads would fail within their first year let alone at nine years with mid-life mileage – a Guinness Record surely? though no doubt someone will prove me wrong.
While doing the work, the usual wanderers and dog walkers passed by remarking on the car generally and I am surprised at how receptive the public still are to the Rover 75, with one or two stopping for a chat. Comments such as ‘what a shame they came to this’ or ‘what a handsome car’, are still banded about when describing the 75 or ZT.
They are very much a 10 paces and turn car – you have to have one final glance over your shoulder be it after parking in Sainsbury’s or before closing the front door.
Considering how neutral I used to be towards these cars, I now find them soothing on the eye, and now with them being so utterly cheap, easy on the wallet providing it’s a good one. Even ‘er indoors likes to have a waltz round the block in the car at night – just so that she can gaze at the glowing dials – ridiculous sounding but true, maybe Rover should have featured a brass coal scuttle in the options list?
Well, everything went swimmingly, the head was straight and true, even the carbon build up at the bore tops was minimal, no slop in the cylinder liners or play in the water pump. My choice of head gasket is a multi layer steel type manufactured by Victor Reinz, having fitted many of these now with no comeback, I can wholeheartedly vouch for them and the quality is just superb – even the torque settings and tightening sequence is included in the packaging.
A friend fitted one of these two years back on his Freelander, last time I looked his mileage had clicked over to 170,000, some 50,000 miles since it was fitted. Some red type OAT antifreeze and 10w/40 oil with a filter finished the job off nicely, just in time for a long hot soak in the bath and Sunday tea.
To close, if anyone has a set of 75 mudflaps going spare at an acceptable price then please do get in touch via the Contact Us tab!
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
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