Words and photography: Mike Humble
The project 75 blots its copy book and gives the owner a mild heart attack. But thankfully, it’s all dealt with in Just A Minute!
I reckon the essay header is a fitting one to those who know and love the Rover marque. BBC Radio Four is of course preset number 4 on the in-car wireless receiver of the Project 75. Once a week, and about that certain time of an evening, if I am driving, Nicholas Parsons and his bandy gang of wordsmiths, entertain the masses with their comedic quiz show Just A Minute – the best way to describe the show is: Ovaltine for your ears.
Having owned a Rover 75 for almost two months now, a couple of things have caused me to ponder and take stock. Firstly – by my standards anyway – I have owned this car for a long time. And secondly – the 75 has seemingly slowed me down to a more sedate and enjoyable pace.
That latter sentiment was also noticed when I owned a SAAB 9000 CSE Anniversary a few years back. The more leisurely I drove the car, the more it rewarded me. Besides the saving in fuel, my change of driving style to a more relaxing manner makes you appreciate the journey that little bit more. And with the Rover 75 – it’s all about the drive than the arrival.
Yes, I know some of you will pooh-pooh the bulk of ‘what I wrote’ (doffs cap to Ernie Wise), but I’ll bet the majority of you have inkling at what I mean. Could I go back to something as small and cheeky as a 25, or hardy yet lacklustre as a 45? – I’m really not sure, but one thing in certain, and I am prepared to go on record by saying this – I am keeping the Rover 75.
But this all depends on the cars reliability – and just this afternoon, the 75 decided to throw a wobbly and almost send me into a mad panic. Enjoying a day off, I set about giving the car a good wash following some very cold icy mornings. After learning lessons from previous winter experiences, the council gritters have been out in force over these past couple of weeks.
Keeping those wheelarches free from salty muck is key to avoiding a crash course in Mig welding for those who keep their cars for the long term. Upon noting I was getting low on snouts (not converted to a pipe – yet) off I went up the road to my local paper shop to replenish. About half way there, there was an almighty hiccough from the engine.
This was quickly followed by another, and at this point issues of fuel pump O-rings or coolant flooding into the combustion chambers, were swimming round in my mind. So I twirled the 75’s leather clad wheel and drove straight home. By now the car was running on three cylinders and the yellow light of death was flashing – a sign of a serious ignition fault, for those who are unaware.
A quick rummage around in the shed had me find my OBD2 scanning tool – a vital piece of kit for a modern car owner, and a download of data from the ECU detected a random multiple misfire. At the same time as fitting the MLS head gasket for prevention purposes, I also fitted some new O.E spec NGK plugs, so I was confident the fault lay elsewhere.
Three bolts later, and the valve cover was off – and there in all its glory, staring you right in the face, was the problem. All it turned out to be was a plug lead that had come detached from the right hand coil pack, a simple yet odd little foible I have never seen happen before on these twin pack ignition systems before. Simply putting it down to pilot error when I put the head back together, I opened up the electrical contact at the end of the lead with a screwdriver a fraction for a tighter fit, and shoved the little blighter back on.
Clearing the code and firing up the engine, the K16 was once running again like a Swiss watch. The obligatory test drive via the paper shop confirmed all was perfect again, and my heart rate returned to normal.
So apart from this recent blot of the copybook with the only out of pocket money being spent on 6 months rent and 2 new tyres, running a Rover 75 continues to be an extremely pleasurable affair. I like it; ‘er indoors likes it; Stella my workshop cat likes it; and by reading some of your comments – you seem to like it too.
After some thought, I have decided not to go for the satin black treatment to the lower edges of the body work. Partly because my rattle can skills are hopeless and partly owing to my opinion that the lighter colour shows off the curves – but like the weather or by financial bribery, I can be subject to change!