With Pride Of Longbridge 2012 only days away, Mike Humble breaths a sigh of relief following a visit to a place even more traumatic than the dentist…
You guessed it… the dreaded MoT!
As I think about this, I reckon I don’t have any phobias. Many people have a fear of spiders or mice while others may quiver in terror at the thought of being forced into a confined space – and no, I’m not referring to the last Thameslink Service from Kings Cross to Bedford on Friday night, even though many will nod in agreement at that last statement. But after some further pondering, scratch that, I do have just one phobia – and that is… the MoT test.
This has been mentioned on here before I know but, ask ‘er indoors about my restless and sleepless nights, my mood swings, chain-smoking, tea drinking and the appallingly bad language she has endured with the patience of a Saint in the eight years we have lived together – all thanks to the MoT.
Eight years? Crikey, you get less for manslaughter. Anyway, no matter how hard I try not to worry or tremble, cometh the day, cometh the test, part of me feels like an expectant father to be as I pace the floor and keep both hands in my pockets to avoid anyone spotting my crossed fingers – seriously. As a keen supporter of bangernomic motoring and also being responsible for 99% of the servicing and repairs of all the cars to feature my name on the V5, the failure of the test is a failure of me. That’s my take on it anyway and, having worked on and sold many, many heaps over the past 23 years, I think I have earned the right and gained some experience into spotting the grot – but, still, the pain and suffering during this annual hour of motoring torture never eases.
Well, the 75 went in for MoT this very morning – the first slot at 8.30am up the road in nearby, creepy Crawley. Like the way most men always use the same barber shop, I’m the same with testing cars. You build up a rapport with people and Steve Anderson, who formerly operated his own garage for many years, is my kind of bloke – he likes a brew and a fag, has a realistic view on motoring and doesn’t miss a trick either.
The best way to describe him is firm but also fair. In the past, he has tested Keith’s SD1 along with my ancient 214, 420, Freelander and one or two cars for people I have done the odd business transaction with over the last four years. Suffice to say; he knows that I won’t submit a heap of rubbish for the MoT, which dovetails nicely to the start of this paragraph – you build up a certain rapport with guys like these.
Pressing the 75 into squadron service back in November, with the exception of the previously documented work, the 75 has hardly stood still long enough for me to have a good crawl around underneath. I started having a thorough poke and prod last week, all the brakes were stripped down and cleaned up with attention given to the handbrake which seemed to have a bias towards the nearside. A previous garage had fitted new rear brakes and handbrake shoes, the latter had been incorrectly adjusted, so I started out with a view to stopping. Everything from the calliper sliders through to the back of the pads was treated to a dab of copper grease, the rear discs were removed and the handbrake shoes were correctly adjusted and de-glazed. All the brake pipes were cleaned up and greased, with the whole system also being bled up.
Considering the lack of love and affection the previous owners seemed to show, the underneath is rock solid and rust free – quite amazing considering a lot of time has been spent with the car residing on the South Coast. This is all testimony to the high standard of body engineering that was bestowed upon the 75 right from the drawing board. The shell is assembled properly while at the same time being immensely strong. This is easily demonstrated by lifting the car with a trolley jack and opening a rear door – try this with a Montego or Rover 800 and feel the difference. Tester Steve also remarked about how solid they feel compared to some rivals of the same era and, if a mechanic of 35 years standing can say that, then who am I to disagree with him. He is, of course, quite right but then we knew that didn’t we?
Mind you, there were a couple of advisory notes, one because the rear tyres are both getting near to being turned into playground flooring and the other for a few stone chips in the windscreen – not bad for a car just about to turn 10 in a few days time. So there you have it, the Project 75 has turned full circle from a filthy and smelly unloved car to a dependable, reliable daily driver which has surprisingly cost very little hard cash to pull around. With utmost honesty, I can say that everything required getting the 75 from an almost ugly Duckling to Swan scenario including purchase cost, has yet to encroach into a four figure sum, mainly requiring lots of patience and time. I did not buy the 75 as an investment either and anyone who thinks they can will be disappointed. It was simply bought on a whim and out of necessity.
I am actually pretty chuffed that Mr. Adams has bought one too and, between us, we shall prove that a 1.8 Rover 75 is the only model in the range you can genuinely run on a piggy bank budget. Yes, the 2.5 is an awesome battle cruiser when in full cry, but some of the routine service tasks are seriously specialist and way out of reach for many budding DIY owners.
The diesel is another fine unit, again, when in good fettle, but electrical problems and fuelling gremlins can easily empty your wallet and break your heart. The K-Series powered 1800cc unit is a capable and free spirited engine that can and will provide miles of smiles provided you adhere to the upgrades and modifications which are fairly simple but not too costly. To this day, I still find myself baffled at the public and often trade ignorance of this rough diamond of an engine considering it was first produced back in 1989.
I can’t wait for Keith’s Connie to arrive here in leafy Sussex so it can start all over again. Many thanks are due to Steve Anderson and the guys at Kipling Motorist Centre of Crawley!