Currently reading: James Ruppert: Rover 75s are tempting but treacherous
Classic? Banger? Rover's last luxury car starts at a poxy £350, though absent a service history. But a grand plus can net you a trouble-free one
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5 mins read
3 March 2020

We are in a strange place when it comes to the Rover 75. Is it a banger? Is it a classic? Either way, it appears to be hanging on for dear life in the real motoring world. There was a fabulous Reader’s Ride in our 22 January issue and, just the other day, reader Steve said he fancied a diesel one. Unsurprisingly, Steve can find only less than brilliant examples as the 75 slips in the netherworld of 27-owner examples with short MOTs. What is really out there, then?

The 75’s BMW diesel engine helps matters and, despite limited space in the rear seats, the car has over the years made a living in the rural private-hire game. First off is a 2004 CDTi Connoisseur SE at £350 with 130k miles. Foggy headlight glass and not much in the way of detail suggests that perhaps things are not going to be easy. Mind you, for £50 more, a 2003 CDT Club with almost 200k miles and a fair whack of MOT seems not half bad at all. Better still is a £595 2003 Club SE with just under 110k miles and a full service history.

Although there are a limited number of good ones around, I’m getting drawn into the madness of actually buying one of the last decent Rovers – and for less than £1000. That includes the later, facelifted ones, such as a 2004 Connoisseur CDTi SE auto for £895. They do need to be looked at up close, of course, which could change everything.

Tourers? I know there’s an issue with the tailgate fit on many of these estates. They don’t exactly have Volvo levels of luggage space, but they do look the part of a sophisticated spaniel mover. As a whole, they seem to go for closer to £1000 with an MOT and some prospects. So a 2004 2.0 CDTi Connoisseur SE Tourer with a 148k miles could be yours for £995.

As for petrols, the 1.8 has a reputation for letting its head gasket go, although I have known lots of owners to have trouble-free experiences. The 2.5 V6 is interesting and suits the nature of the 75 perfectly. A 2.5 Tourer from 2003 with 72k miles at £1275 seems to me like a lovely way to travel.

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These are Rover 75 bargains all, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of its sporty MG ZT sibling. A 2003 2.0 CDTi Plus would be great, even within a whisker of 200k miles – concrete proof that the BMW engine is the solid heart of this classy car. It’s priced at £895 and looks magnificent, going by the pictures. That’s good enough for me, but it is up to Steve. He will be spending his hard-earned on what is at the very least a 16-year-old Rover.

What we almost bought this week

 

Fiat Tipo 2.0 Sedicivalvole: With its galvanised body and spacious interior, the Tipo of 1988-95 was quite a thing. The Sedicivalvole (16-valve) hot hatch version packed 146bhp and was quicker than the VW Golf GTI. We saw this 1994 one in a collector’s garage. It has done 88,000 miles and is up for £4450. Not bad but it does need some work.

Tales from Ruppert's garage

BMW 320, mileage - 84,061: The Baby Shark is rather filthy at the moment. Not only does it need a clean, but I think the nearside sill is looking a bit red, too. However, there is the outstanding issue of the piece of body trim that separated itself from the shark-shaped one. Well, here it is, bent back a bit, so it doesn’t poke my eye out every time I go into the garage. A new part from Germany is €40 (roughly £34) plus postage. I have decided to tease mine back into shape. This may be the last time you see it, if and when I make a hash of it.

Reader's ride

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Volvo V70: Huge thanks to Craig for sharing this with us and making a fabulous case for buying the sort of cars we love. “I’m 28,” he says, “and have spent the past decade in small cars and hot hatches on PCP contracts. They were trouble-free but costly and constantly upgrading meant I never owned the car I had.

“A recent change of circumstances prompted a rethink: out with my Abarth 595 Competizione and in with something bigger, comfortable and automatic. I came across a five-cylinder diesel automatic Volvo V70 with just 160,000 miles on the clock for £1000.

“Driving around with heated seats on, dual-zone climate control, the 10-speaker CD stereo playing and the sunroof open, I can’t help feeling I have had a good win on the used car game. My mates, who drive A3s, 1 Series and A-Classes (like everyone these days), can only wonder what it’s like to have most of the kit that’s fitted on my Volvo, and I feel pretty smug not paying £300 a month for the privilege.

“All in all, I’ve got an ideal car and more cash in my pocket – and I haven’t sacrificed any modern comforts. A total win-win, and credit to your column, because I wouldn’t have had the nerve to do this without reading the experiences of you and other people.”

Readers' questions

Question: I’m looking for a hot hatch or saloon up to VW Golf size. Due to the appalling state of my local roads, it must be able to cope with potholes well. Also, it needs four or five doors and enough space in the back for two child seats. No SUVs, please! Any suggestions? Andy Gulliver, Battle

Answer: You say Golf-sized, and we can think of few cars better than exactly that model. You don’t mention a budget, but you can get a 2016-reg Mk7 GTI DSG 5dr with 40,000 miles for around £15,500. Or consider its sibling, the Skoda Octavia vRS, which has a roomier cabin and a bigger boot. A 2016-reg manual Octavia vRS with the same mileage is £2000 cheaper and would be our pick. JE

Question: I often find out about interesting motoring events after they’ve happened. Where can I find a comprehensive motoring calendar so I don’t miss out? Joe Shelley, Grimsby

Answer: Recently, in My Week In Cars, Steve Cropley gave events guide themotoringdiary.com the thumbs up. Check out carcal.co.uk, too. Our sibling magazine, Classic & Sports Car, has published a comprehensive 2020 events guide online; search ‘C&SC best classic car events guide’. Try classiccarevents.uk, too. JE

READ MORE

How MG Motor is driving its way back to the big time 

The MG Motors plan - and Longbridge's important role 

The man who built a Rover 75 Coupe

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Comments
4

3 March 2020

The Rover 75 is not, despite all the leather and wood, a luxury car - it has no more legroom in the back than a Ford Fiesta.  Also, the electrics are horrifically unreliable (I have a friend who owned one and anything that could go wrong with it did, so it was ruinously expensive to maintain.  After that car he only buys brand new cars with good warranties!).

Producing cars like this, it is no surprise that Rover went down the toilet.  Only a fool would buy one of these.

3 March 2020

My dad had a Rover 75 Tourer from new. It was the thirsty 2.5 K series version. A lovely car, but lacking in power. It was faultless. Nothing ever went wrong and it was the car he was most upset to see go.  

He then replaced it with a Jaguar XF tourer. That's was fine until he found it had a dodgy water seal and the boot filled with water. Fixed under warranty and he's not had a problem since but still the 75 was more reliable.

 

I on the other hand had a rubbish BMW 3 series that's had 3 recalls, blown a head gasket and cost me 2k to fix... don't tell me the Germans make more reliable cars!

3 March 2020

Can't be all bad then. One thing worth mentioning is the tax, V6 could be £300+ which is anoying you might only use them as  sunday only classic cherished car.

 

7 March 2020
I owned a metallic red Rover 75 1.8T Connoisseur SE for three years. I wasn't looking for one but it was such a bargain I couldn't resist. Like others', mine was faultless and it was very comfortable. Stood out in a car park, too; it's definitely not your generic German saloon. The only issue I had was the engine droning at high speeds - as I was doing more motorway miles I needed to switch to something better equipped for the job. I was tempted by a bigger engined version of the 75 but I saw an immaculate diesel Jaguar S-Type for sale and bought that instead.

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