Well the Rover 75 has been residing at Swiss Towers for one month and also has been pretty much in everyday usage. Has it been sweetness and light or otherwise? Mike Humble explains life so far with the project 75 Club SE.
As my opening gambit states, the Rover 75 Club SE has been with me for one month. Both my partner and I have been using it as much as we can, putting quite a few miles onto the clock. The 75 is a car of which in the past I have worked on, sold and driven many of, including the ZT models, too.
Like I have stated before, the 75 never bonded with my emotions, yes I thought and still do think it’s ever so pretty from virtually every angle. Overall build quality is light years ahead of anything Rover has built this side of a P5B, but it just seemed to lack that certain spark. At its launch, I found the 75 to be a little too quaint or twee, if you like, and when pressed for action on floating B-roads it failed to make you feel alive like a BMW or Alfa Romeo never failed to achieve. But thinking about it, the average customer that the 75 seemed to attract was either barely alive or never cared for handling that kept you on a knife edge!
Other aspects of the 75 did appeal, like the swathes of wood inside along with that lovely lashing of chrome along its flanks gave the car a genuine feeling of quality and heritage that the 800 and 600 series it replaced seem to woefully lack. The way that the outermost face vents are semi hooded by the upper dash padding seem to almost echo the style of the wonderful Rover P6 that came some 30 years before, even after 12 years, it’s a veritable feast of retro & technology all thanks to Richard Woolley.
The brakes are progressive and have ample anchor power and those compact yet eyebrow-looking quad headlamps are powerful in range. It truly feels a well-engineered and sturdy car, of which I seem to be admiring as the days and miles pass effortlessly by. There are of course, some items that frustrate or spoil the car. For example, the steering wheel is too large, the boot switch would be better off on the armrest rather than nearly being on the floor, and the CD changer robs the already small glovebox of any meaningful space. Oh, and there’s not enough room in the driver’s footwell area either.
None of the above makes the car a loathsome machine and maybe I’m nitpicking at things, but is anything perfect these days. One thing that is however, is the way the car behaves and gets on with life. Now this car was cheap, and I do mean seriously cheap, so I was hardly expecting that much from it, but with the exceptions of one or two minor items, I’m stumped if I can find anything else to worry about or warrant attention. It all feels well screwed together with close fitting shut lines and re-assuring thunks when closing the doors or boot – a far far cry from the Montego which was a car you almost get into without opening a door.
Readers will note from a previous mumbling of mine that I fitted an upgraded gasket and oil rail to the 1.8-litre K-Series engine as a purely precautionary measure. With the original clocking up 63,000 miles, there was a certain probability that either now or in the near future, it was bound to fail. So far so good as they say. And the oil and water consumption is zero. Also, speaking of consumption, I’m deeply impressed with its fuel economy too – quite amazing for such a bulky heavy car.
So what has been dealt with so far then? Well, the annoying number plate lamp that had a mind of its own has been re-soldered. The seats which were filthy and covered with ground in chocolate have been painstakingly scrubbed back to health, and a small yet visually noticeable crack in the dash veneer near one of the heater vents is now history.
Chrome mirrors adorn the car along with torpedo badges and I have thrown away the horrible boot trim with faded badge in favour for a pre 2000 type with ROVER embossed into the chrome. Initially, an older type branded valve cover was fitted, but after removing it again to clean up the spark plugs, clumsy oaf that I am stood on the damn thing and cracked it. So the old one has been re-fitted until I can find another one I know I have buried somewhere in the shed. Okay, so it’s not a V6 or 135 diesel, it’s certainly no ball of fire either, but I find the engine well insulated and torquey for what it is.
Its lovely to drive, simple to work on engine-wise, seemingly costs very little in fuel. And both my parents and `er indoors have told me I face castration if I was to sell it…. Any regrets?
None what so ever – so far!