Words / Pictures: Mike Humble
Almost another thousand clicks pass by on the 75’s digital readout. Its now my daily hack which is smooth, comfortable and never fails to impress – until today!
Yes, I know some of you out there will be chuckling at the heading of this latest ramble on the Rover 75 1.8 Club SE, but bear with me dear reader, it’s not all bad news. My journey to Worthing everyday consists of a nice waft southbound along the A24, and the Rover blends into the Sussex countryside just like the horse and cart in Constables – The Hayway. Both leafy Horsham and the seaside town of Worthing are populated by more than their fair share of older people many of which run Rovers of all types and models.
Indeed, my bus route consists of at least four or five examples of Rover 75 which I greet akin to seeing a Magpie each time I pass by as they enjoy the winter sunshine awaiting their next trip to Homebase. Next month sees my 40th birthday (though ‘er indoors will claim it’s my 70th) so now being on the brink of being in my forty-somethings, is the 75 a fitting craft to coccoon myself inside? Had I have been asked that question last year even a year ago, I would have answered – no!
Certain cars have that something which can be difficult or even nigh on impossible to explain, I would go as far as saying that just like good comedy,the effect can be spoilt by even trying to reason or pin point what that something is, but its there. Even after all the models chequered and sometimes tear jerking history, the Rover 75 is a classic example of a great design, not a masterpiece of say an E-type for example, but the reference to looking like a baby Jaguar surely must be taken as a form of flattery? – I think so.
The seats were designed to emulate the Rover P6 and if you look over to the passenger side outboard dashboard vent, the way the upper dash works as a hood, again, just like the same Rover of old – the styling cue is more than obvious to the eye. I watched a launch video recently, whereby a Rover design boffin proudly remarked that every day, the owner might spot another design cue or touch that they would admire or at least, appreciate – in part, he’s right too!
The font on the dials, the shape of the needles, the wonderful over-sized chunky door pulls, that little walnut hooding over the centre console akin to a Series 3 Jaguar XJ or Daimler, the little chrome trims around the instruments, and warning light display, that wonderful ornate looking interior light unit that reminds me of vintage coaches from the ’50s; and even that large chrome plated glovebox handle are all a celebration to the glory days of Rover cars, but all of which still function in a modern world and beneath that tribute to the era of bake-o-lite valve radios and spam – hides some amazing functions, serious technology and body engineering of utter brilliance. For example, only the other day, one of the tail light bulbs blew, heralded by an amber warning light on the dashboard.
Getting out of the car to check, I noticed that indeed the tail light had blown on the offside, but the ECU had switched a low current to the corrosponding brake light – thus emitting a 5w glow to compensate and retain legal dignity. Another nice touch is the way the wipers self select intermittent when you slow to a standstill when using slow wipe speed – all clever stuff!
You get a reminder of the impressive body strength by simply putting the car onto a trolley jack, ever tried opening a door on say a Montego, Maestro or 800 when jacked up on one side? sometimes the body flex of those cars would be so great, I have known people snap door handles try to open a door to move the steering wheel. And yet on the 75, it matters not one bit if the car is jacked up and the front or the rear, the door all open and close with that re-assuring clunk – a further reminder of the amazingly rigid shell and superb body engineering.
And what’s more, it’s British. I kind of feel ashamed that I never really appreciated the cars more when they were in production, having worked and sold them, you find you are on the gravy train just making money – never having the time to take stock and fully understand how good they ought to have been, rather than trying to placate another owner that was complaining about loss of coolant!
But time is a great healer, and yes, I adore the 75 seemingly like no other car I have owned before. But getting back to the rub regarding these cracks showing, I can sadly or gladly report, its nothing more than the nearside rear light cluster. Coming home from work in the Golf after the Rover was left in charge with ‘er indoors, I pulled onto the driveway, only for the headlights to catch a fleeting glimpse of a stonking great crack in the rear lamp lens.
I knew that my missus hadn’t done it, mainly down to the fact she is honest (too honest for a professional sales person) and would have phoned or sent a text. She was mortified once I pointed this out to her and the crack is just the right height for say the handlebars of a cycle, and after she mentioned she had popped to the local shops, I reckon this is how the damage occurred – either that, or she had un-wittingly reversed over a cyclist at great speed.
Oh well! another trip to the breakers yard beckons and another excuse to dig out my trusty Roveralls and socket set!
On a plus note, the 1.8-litre K-series never fails to give impressive fuel returns and the re-sealed camshaft carrier has nipped in the bud the slight oil leak. The engine which now benefits from a top quality Reinz MLS head gasket and stonger bottom oil rail continues give decent performance considering the cars immense bulk – but I still remain undecided about the bumper and sill satin black treatment, a choice I will make in time for April’s Longbridge event.