Advert of the Week : When Idle met Mansell

Here’s a nice one. In selling Rover’s wide range of products in the late 1980s, Kevin Morley’s Marketing Department came up with this gem. The idea that Nigel Mansell would negotiate for his wife’s Metro, while overlooking a gorgeous Rover 800 Vitesse, is chucklesome enough, but the intervention of super-salesman Eric Idle is a stroke of genius.

The late cameo appearance from The Voice himself, Murray Walker, tops off the advert as a wonderful period piece – a prime slice of 1980s nostalgia. Enjoy the video…



Keith Adams


  1. Loved the Prost bit but I wonder, as an advertising copywriter, what Murray thought of the scripts, never mind the acting… Are any of those Special models left on the road?

  2. Fun adverts, but the idea of Nigel Mansell sitting in a Metro is bizarre. Having said that, 20 years later Renault had Thierry Henry advertising the Renault Clio!

  3. Was that Metro logo after the first minute ad an official marketing logo, or something created for the advert?

    Manufacturers strive for consistency and brand recognition in their adverts – any Audi / Ford etc. advert will end with the manufacturer logo big and proud, so to see this where the Austin-Rover ‘5 bar’ logo wasn’t even used seems strange to modern eyes.

    Or did they know that they would soon be dropping Austin and the Austin-Rover (and associated logo) moniker altogether, so were trying to foster recognition of the standalone vehicles themselves?
    (indeed as we all know the Maestro featured in the 2nd advert ended up in some sort of marqueless area with an AR logo shaped model name badge – Montego getting a shield shaped badge – but not a Rover – while Metro became a fully paid member of the marque)

  4. I remember these being on TV a lot in 1987-8, especially as I was getting into Formula 1 in a big way.

  5. What probably nobody remembers is Jasper Carrot ripping the piss out this advert on his Saturday night show at the time. “Why have Austin called this limited edition Metro and Maestro special?” “Because they promise they’ll start first thing in the morning”. Et cetera.

  6. I can see the points about a definite brand identity but…..

    Times have changed – I think most people knew that Metro, Maestro, Montego devoid of an Austin badge were produced by the once British Leyland. Somehow, the firm’s cars and its dealers formed part of a British society fabric. Somethang now lacking in today’s UK car market.
    Does anybody see what I mean? With a nostalgic head on, something now appears to be missing. None of today’s marques and dealer networks provide it.

  7. At the time there was the halo effect of Rover 800, the facelift SD3, post ’84 Metro, Maestro and Montego still relatively new, improving quality. The image wasn’t too bad – the idea of Nigel Mansell visiting an ARG showroom wasn’t so unbelievable.

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