20 Years Since The Rover 75 Launch

Wow! A personal blog from me after a long break!

As always I am grateful to the team at aronline.co.uk for this one!

Many readers here will know the rough story of Rover cars. Their real heyday in my opinion was the mid 80’s to mid 90’s. They made some cracking cars then such as the 200, 600 and my personal favourite the 800. Sold by British Aerospace to BMW and then sold by BMW to a management team comprising a number of people with strong links to the firm which then folded in 2005 and thus was really no more. The DTI published a big report (just over 800 pages)  which was fairly damming.

So lets move swiftly on. The Rover 75 was designed to replace two very excellent cars, the Rover 600 and the Rover 800 and was launched under BMW ownership. See this where I think it went wrong. You see the Rover 600 and the Rover 800 were good enough to challenge the BMW 3 Series and the BMW 5 series. Thus were a serious contender and competitor to the respective BMW’s if you were a person who a) wanted to be let out of side roads and b) uses indicators!

I believe that BMW were scared of this fact and perhaps didn’t allow Rover to develop the car to its full potential and thus kept a potential competitor at bay.

I remember about 2001/2002 taking a test drive in a Rover 75 (actually an MG ZT) as my company Ford was up for renewal. I remember a nice comfortable, competent car. I do not remember an amazing car. A car I would be happy having parked in my drive or in my company parking space. Indeed a car that would have more than coped with some of my 1,000 mile plus a week capers to visit clients and partners up and down the country. To be fair the real reason I didn’t plump for the Rover was my local dealer of the time. I didn’t trust them! Anyway I bought a competitor vehicle instead.

I had moved house by the time of the MG Rover collapse in 2005 and I had a bit of spare cash then. I was hoping that there would be a bit of a “fire sale” but this never materialised. I wish that at some point I was able to have completed a purchase.

There are dwindling numbers of these left on the roads now which is a shame.

To me this was always a good car, it was never an amazing car in the same way that the Rover 800 was.  I have so many fond memories of the Rover 800 and I have written about these cars here.

To think what could have been though. I remain convinced that the Rover 75/MG ZT could have been amazing, a few tweaks here, a few tweaks there, these could have turned  a good car into a great car. Would it have outpaced the Rover 800 in my affections? Maybe, Maybe Not. We will never know! Would a tweaked car have kept the wolf from the door of the collapse of MG Rover. Difficult one. I doubt it alone would have saved them but it might have helped slow things down or possibly be a part of a turnaround.

So there we have it.



The Modern Classics Debate

I am of course talking about my love affair with modern 1980’s, 1990’s cars and Jaguar motor cars of any age.

Catawiki’s modern classics auctions have regularly been a case of lose the credit card before visiting. They mainly have left hand drive stuff but there is some really great stuff in their auctions.

A quick look at eBay reveals from very nice cars that I could quite happily purchase. A beautiful Daimler is here. A Ford Sierra Cosworth is here. These are fanstastic cars. Definitely one that got away!

The things that these cars have in common is that these cars are rising in value so fast. Yes very good examples are so hard to find and this is reflected in pricing and values which is related to supply and demand.

My fear here is that these cars will end up being mothballed a bit too much. You see this is not just about the car being in mint condition and winning rosettes at a car show but about the occasion of the drive. You see with modern tastes and safety regulations. Cars that are as special as these will never be manufactured again with the same magic. This is what makes the drive such an occasion, not only is it an occasion but its fun too, as these cars drive differently and on a challenging road can also cause the driver some excitement.

This is the key point to me.  cars like these should be fun and exciting and these days should be not only an occasion but an event. They should be driven and enjoyed!

I still hanker after a Jaguar XJS convertible, in mint condition, preferably painted in British Racing Green, however prices are slipping that too far away from the grasp of my wallet! I do make one promise though. If I do manage to get my paws and accelerator foot on a Jaguar XJS not only will it be meticulously well maintained but it will be enjoyed and well driven!


PSA Et Opel? Pourquoi?????

I was sat my desk earlier catching up on the day’s business news of which there has been quite a bit today. Some oof it exciting and some of it not so.

The big one that caught my eye, was that PSA are in talks with General Motors to acquire Opel. Opel is General Motors’ European brand, in the UK they sell under the Vauxhall Name. PSA are known for Peugeot, Citroen and DS

This struck me as very odd and when I thought about this some more it concerned me even more. You see I have owned a few vauxhalls and driven the odd Citroen and quite a few Peugeot Hire cars. I usually seem to get saddled with Puegeot’s when Hertz or Avis run out of Fords or Vauxhall/Opel. In my opinion Peugeot have never got their mojo back since the 80’s. Am I the only one who remembers the 106 GTI, the 205 GTI and the bonkers 405 Mi16. In my opinion all very good and very capable cars that were very fast and a hoot to drive. Citroen? Well I have never really been a fan of these cars. A bit to far to the left field for my liking.

Vauxhall’s and Opel’s on the other hand I have some history with. A company Omega I had for a while was a look alike for an unmarked police car and could go as fast as one! The dealers back in those days however were very much the brands achilies heel. The dealership was a horrid place to spend anytime unless you take pleasure from being treated like a third class citizen. Vauxhall and Opel have had their share of the doldrums as well. The Vectra motor car? The Less said about that  automotive mistake the better! Harking back to days gone by I have fond memories also of the Astra GTE and was a big fan of both their rallying an touring car endeavours. I have also driven  a large number of Vauxhall and Opel hire cars. In fairness to my earlier comment about the dealers I had a cause to visit my local dealer just over a month ago to take a look at two of their models that interest me as my current motor is up for renewal shortly. My, how things have changed an awful lot for the better!

This is where things get tricky. The Largest Car Manufacturer in the world I believe is Volkwagen. This includes Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini, Bentley and Porsche. Now this works because the group build a platform and then other models are built around it. So 1 platform will build cars for all oor some of the brands and maybe involved in more than one car per brand. For example: The A series platform is used for the following cars: Audi A3, Audi Q3, Audi TT, VW Golf, VW Jetta, VW Eos, VW Tiguan, VW Touran, VW Scirocco, SEAT León, SEAT Toledo, SEAT Altea, Škoda Octavia. Yes that’s right one platform for some of the most popular cars certainly in Europe! This where Volkswagen can derive economies of scale and tap in to markets, whre for example on the basis of price one brand may sell more than another. You only have to look at the list above to see how this can work given the number of “family” cars in that list.

This technique is where I can see this merger falling down. I cannot see things that are ripe for sharing between the two manufacturers to make things cost effective. My mind is wondering as to how a new supermini with a shared platform between Opel and PSA might turn out. Remember Opel have had some in my opinion bad history with platform sharing. Readers who are petrol heads of my generation will remember when Opel shoved the Vectra platform underneath Saab motor vehicles. I’m sorry in my opinion with wasn’t Opel’s finest hour either.

So really I am left with some head scratching as to how this all might pan out if the plan for PSA buy Opel comes to pass. I really do not know if it will work out for the best or how it will work. I am still considering Vauxhall for my pending vehicle replacement and they have a good chance of getting the gig at the moment.

I am happy to “park” this here and wait to see what happens.

Though on a final note I do have to say that I do feel for the thousands of Vauxhall workers in this country at the moment who are probably worried and waiting to see what this development holds for them and their jobs. That cannot be fun for them.

More bottle than United Dairies!

As a self confessed petrol head I do like hear of quality drives and missions involving cars, especially when they seem like doomed ideas and they come good. Those of my generation can certainly consider “The Liver Run” as a shining example (Google it if you haven’t heard about it. Its an amazing feat of driving. Another amazing feat of driving was passed to me this morning by the Aronline website. My thanks to Keith Adams as always for writing these excellent nuggets of content that I enjoy reading and sometime blogging about.

Anyway over 20 years ago, a journalist buys a Morris Marina for £190 in Loot (anyone remember Loot?)  and drives to Bosnia. What he did in Bosnia and how get got out of it is one amazing story against all the odds. I won’t spoil the story so please click on the link below to read it all.


I think you will agree once you have read the article that both man and machine had “more bottle than United Dairies”!

Where have 30 years gone?

My thanks to Keith Adams and the aronline team for signposting me to this one. I am amazed that it has been 30 years since the Rover 800 car hit the streets. I spent most of the mid 90’s inside one of these. It says a lot for the old adage “time flys”. These were a very good car in my opinion. A fast but docile executive express. Indeed it spent a lot of its life on the M1 motorway between London and Sheffield and knew the road well. Often you felt like the car wanted to be driven more and driven harder and when it came to hard driving it was certainly no shirker. Very, very comfortable often delivering me still feeling fresh and alert after many a 200 mile slog. On many occasions it acted as a high speed removal van, moving me and the entire contents of my flat around the country as i moved to pastures new. A faithful friend as well, the 140 bhp 2.0 litre engine pulling the car along at a fair lick. I remember one night taking the Longmoor roundabout at a stupid speed in one of these all the time it remained composed and extracted me from “the merde” by delivering me to my destination and the pile of crap I had awaiting me in a very respectable time indeed. Impressive as well aand designed to impress, some might say an image builder. Another of my favourites with one of these was arriving at an office building at 08:30 one morning, parking up outside reception and walking in and announcing myself to the front desk. The lovely receptionist asked me if my chauffeur was waiting for me. I said I had driven myself. Her response was, “I assumed by the car, that you didn’t drive yourself!” So thirty years on I still have good and very fond memories of these motors.

The ones that got away

Following a blog the other day on which I blogged about a dutch classic car auction site and some of the interesting metal they had. I received a number of messages and had a number of chats with friends and colleagues about classic cars. Unfortunately the DVLA have removed my licence for a while on medical grounds and these would be the vehicles that are top of my wish list to drive or to own. In no particular order.

  1. Jaguar XJS 6.0 Convertible. There is something about these cars. I absolutely love them. Classic values for good ones are going through the roof. S-Jaguar-XJS-Convertible
  2. Toyota MR-2 Mk1. Always had a soft spot for these. I remember being picked up at Manchester Airport by a colleague who drove one and was amazed at how quickly we made it across northern country roads to a very important meeting. My flight was delayed and we were up against the wall on time. The MR2 definitely saved the day!mr2
  3. Ford Sierra Sapphire Cossworth. I remember these machines very well. Sharp handling and if you were too quick with a 2WD version this car could easily end up in the ditch 🙁 Find one that has been stolen is nearly impossible and finding a really nice one is very difficult. ford-sapphire-rs
  4. Mini Cooper. One of the last ones please 🙂 I did actually manage a drive in one of these. At the time I could not remember having so much fun sriving. It was the biggest hoot and left such a smile on my faceI really wish I could have bought one.minicooper
  5. Lotus Carlton. I can only dream about driving one of these especially in RHD form. What I wouldn’t want to dream about is how long it would take me to get done for speeding. One friend reckons I would lose my licence within one hour. If they give me licence back that is! Great car fantastic bit of kit. Rated better than a BMW M5 by some 🙂lotuscarlton
  6. Audi Quattro. What an icon after 30 years. I have heard so many special stories about these from people whi have been fortunate enough to own or drive one. A good drive across country in one of these would be a great few hours spent out of the house or office.

There are scores of other real world cars I could suggest such as the Nissan 200 sx, toyota celica BMW M3 E30, Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 but the ones above are my favourites of the era. I definitely missed the boat with these.  

So much classic metal in one place

Some readers of this blog will be only too well aware of my enduring love affair with classic 80’s and 90’s motor cars. I have been a member of some classic websites for some time, notably Pistonheads.On this site I am a massive fan of the Shed Of The Week feature, in which something off beam is found in the claasified for less than £1,000.

However I recently came across this auction site. Do have a look if you like this generation of motor car. Now I am not a great fan of auction sites, indeed I only use Ebay if I am desperate, however its been a while since I have seen so much classic metal in one place. Granted many of the vehicles are left hnd drive and there is a little dross and a few very over priced items as well. The only other downside is the trip to the mainland to pick the vehicle up and then having to drive it home.

My top picks from this particular page are the Jaguar XJS convertible, The Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth and the Lotus Elam M100. Proper 1980’s and early 1990’s classics 🙂

There are some clangers in there. Read the american stuff (I have never been a fan of american cars)  and 2 surprises from France. A Peugeot 505 V6 and a Renault 4 GTL.

The £100k dream garage

The Pistonheads website has a new feature called the £100k garage. I decided to have a go but then realised I probably wouldn’t get it published so for a bit of fun decided to write it up here. The aim is to spend a mythical £100k on cars! easy! Or is it?

I would love to hear your thoughts so please drop me a line here.

Start £100K

Type of car / Reason for buying: Executive express capable of taking clients and kit with me.

Chosen Vehicle: AUDI RS4 4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic (2013) Link. Price: £49, 950.

Balance: £50,050.

I really do believe this car ticks all the boxes the reason for purchase and the estate should swallow all my kit and stuff for work. I also have a soft spot for Audi’s. It would not look too out of place in any clients car park either.

Type of car / Reason for buying: Lets do the South of France and back in a long weekend.

Chosen Vehicle: Mercedes CL500, 2003. Link. Price:£7995.
Balance: £42,055

I have always had a soft spot for these and in my opinion these do make the best grand tourers and I really cannot object at this price.

Type of car / Reason for buying: Shopping trolley.

Chosen Vehicle: Volkswagen GOLF (MK5) R32 2006. Link. Price: £7995.
Balance: £34,060.

Even with my love of online shopping there are times that even I have to nip to Sainburys/B&Q/The local retail park so I might as well have some fun driving there and back to ease the pain of being the dreaded stores in the first place!

Type of car / Reason for buying: London Commuter

Chosen Vehicle: HONDA CBR 900RR-2 954 (2002). Link. Price £3550.

Balance: £30,510.

There is no way I would drive a car into Central London for any reason and I do hate South West Trains with a passion, so this is a perfect bet of kit to get me in and out sharpish 🙂

Type of car / Reason for buying: Fun car.

Chosen Vehicle: PORSCHE 987C CAYMAN S 3.4 24V. Link. Price £13,900

Balance: £16,610

I was considering a Porsche Boxster when I came across this Cayman its probably an early one but still represents an awful lot of car and fun for the price!

Type of car / Reason for buying: Mucking about with boats and hunting shooting and fishing.

Chosen Vehicle: LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER 3.0 Td6 VOGUE Auto 2003 (2003)
. Link. Price £12,995

Balance: £3615

Well I went straight out to do the good thing and find the most competent 4×4 there is from in my opinion the best makers of these vehicles in the world. Land Rover. I also wanted something a bit unusual if I could find it. The problem was finding one that looked like it hadn’t been pimped in a drug dealer stylee.

With a balance of £3615 I could have added a people carrier to the stable for when my 7 year old daughter and her mates needed ferrying around but my real regret is not having enough left for this bad boy.