Recovering A Dream

Oops, I did it again… A belated defence of the Rover 75.

All images: The author

My first contribution to Driven to Write, in the spring of 2018, was to recount the tale of my replacing a V6 Rover 75, following a brief period of ownership, with a new twin cylinder Fiat Panda (as different a car as one could imagine). It was a tale of disillusionment and naivety; of an enthusiast who had not driven regularly for many years aspiring to a car he had admired when new, which turned out to be not entirely suited to his present circumstances.

After a kind reception by the readers of this site, I wrote a follow-up article in which I reviewed my tuned twin-air turbo Panda in more detail; a car that delighted me daily for two and a half years, so much so that I could forgive its inaccurate claim one (very inconvenient) morning that it had mislaid its engine oil and the terrible dealer service that seems to come as standard with any Fiat group product. So why, given the above, is the Fiat now gone and have I bought another Rover 75?

The answer could, of course, simply be that I am highly consistent in my idiocy but I would like to propose a counter-argument and, in doing so, put in a good word for the 75; an unfairly maligned car whose undeserved reputation I fear my earlier article may have partially confirmed.

Here’s one I owned earlier. Image: Chris Elvin

This alternative argument concerns the issue of context and its importance in enjoying cars (hence why I think it might be of some interest to readers of this site). That different cars work in different contexts is obvious to all of us I think: The 1950s Lancia Aurelia B20 GT may have consistently occupied pole position in my dream garage for several decades now, but it’s obvious it wouldn’t work in the context of a daily runabout for a city dweller like me. It’s a car for high days and holidays, to be kept in a secure garage, not left out on the street.

My mistake with the first Rover several years ago was to ignore my own context as a driver: That I had become unused to driving regularly, that I had no experience with big-engined automatics, that I lived in a 17th century city centre with tiny lanes, tight corners and parking bays shorter than the length of the Rover… and most importantly, that a car like the 75 was simply not the right place to start my car owning career.

The little turbocharged twin-air Panda worked brilliantly for me because it alleviated all the concerns I had with the Rover. It was small and had great visibility, so perfect for where I lived. It had the familiarity of a manual gearbox and came with the reassurance of a manufacturer’s warranty for daily use (not that the Rover was ever unreliable, I hasten to add). Most importantly, especially once tuned, it was a genuinely enjoyable driver’s car: I loved it all the time I had it and stand by my glowing review of the car in these pages. It fitted the required context perfectly and allowed me to experience the ‘hot hatch’ phase of a driver’s career.

Nonetheless, after two and a half years of ownership, my own circumstances had changed considerably: I was once again used to driving frequently and a move out of the city centre meant that the roads around my home were now considerably less cramped. That move, combined with worsening motorway traffic, meant that public transport had become a more attractive option for the daily office commute and by the end of 2019 I wasn’t using the little Fiat much more than once a week.

At this point I decided to sell the Panda rather than let it stand on the street depreciating and ‘replaced’ it with a car sharing service: A shared VW Up, parked at the end of the road, became my occasional steed and positively surprised me with its chassis balance.

Of course, a car enthusiast without a car is by definition a restless soul and, in the midst of the Corona crisis, I found myself pondering the idea of owning a car primarily for enjoyment. My employer had already made it clear that going to the office every day of the week was a thing of the past, even once the crisis is over, so it seemed unlikely I would ever have to subject such a machine to a daily slog in traffic.

I thought about potential (reasonably practical and attainable) fun cars. Things like Alfas, Minis, Peugeot Coupés and classic Mercedes’ were added to the list, researched and (in several cases) scratched out again but, oddly, the car that kept returning to the forefront of my mind was the 2.5 litre Rover 75; the very car I had owned and rejected. The subconscious prompt for this was probably the local presence of an immaculate early 75 in Old English White that I could not help but cast jealous glances towards on my way to the supermarket.

I started to check out the online classifieds and found that the supply of good 75s was becoming scarce and their values inching up: In a few months of looking on and off I only found three high-spec 2.5 litre models with low mileage for their age. One of these was in an unappealing colour combination, one was priced very optimistically indeed and one looked just superb.

I told myself that returning to a car that hadn’t suited me would be absurd but by this point I was already at the ‘it can’t do any harm to take a look’ stage and still honestly expected a test drive to reconfirm that this wasn’t the car for me. An appointment was arranged and the little Up took me on the two hour journey to meet the Rover, confirming on the way that the smallest VW is thoroughly enjoyable to drive and has poor seats (they have no lower back support).

The 75 in question appeared to have emerged from a timewarp: Registered in early 2002 and having had two owners, it could have passed for a couple of years of years old; easily the best example I have ever seen. The car was that unfashionably light metallic blue that Rover launched with and, though not a colour I would ever have imagined choosing, it suited the car perfectly.

The immaculate interior was resplendent in contrasting dark blue ‘personal line’ leather upholstery and, crucially (thanks to a late 2001 build date just prior to the real bite of MG Rover’s ‘Project Drive’ cost cutting), complete with that huge slab of real walnut in the dash. A full service history was present and correct and the V6 had had its cambelts replaced on time. Would sir care for a test drive?

By now unsurprisingly, the car drove as well as it looked and its poise confirmed a long-held suspicion that the suspension on my previous 75 had been quite tired. So this was how the 75 was supposed to handle: The contemporary ‘best front-drive chassis in the world’ claims started to make sense. The 2.5 litre KV6 engine was its familiar smooth and woofly self, hiding its power behind a long and damped throttle pedal travel but ready to do the kickdown roar up a motorway entry ramp any time I chose, and the interior cosseted. The car felt utterly solid.

In a remarkable feat of self-control, I refrained from buying the 75 on the spot and instead made an appointment for the Rover specialist in Amsterdam to interrogate the dealer about its history and state but, barring unexpected horror stories, my mind was already made up. The horror stories failed to transpire and a short time later the car was mine, complete with a new service and APK (the Dutch equivalent of an MOT).

On the two hour drive back home, the 75 continued to impress and a little road trip two days later confirmed the positive impression yet again. Of course, during the first days, the odd little age-related imperfection surfaced that would require the Rover specialist’s ministrations, but given that said age was getting on for two decades these were very slight indeed. At no point did the feeling of fundamental solidity and reliability fade and so I started to feel that this was, after all, the right car for me.

So what has happened here: Is my ‘new’ 75 so much better than the old one that this can account for the radically different experience of driving and owning it? Of course not. The thing that has really changed is the context: I am no longer an inexperienced, nervous, born-again driver. I no longer live in such cramped inner city surroundings. I no longer need to sit in traffic every day for my commute.

Just as the little Panda turbo was perfect for the time I spent with it, the Rover, after all, may be perfect for me now. By judging the 75 by my previous, skewed, criteria, I did it an injustice for (even a couple of decades on from its youth) it really is a superb car that deserves to become a classic, a process I suspect has now begun. Though far too early to think of such things, I cannot help but nourish a hope that I might one day return to these virtual pages with a report akin to Sean Patrick’s superb long-term test of the Citroën SM, detailing my first decade with my second Rover.

The Rover 75’s essential qualities were entirely overshadowed by the PR disaster surrounding its launch, the trauma of BMW’s disengagement with the brand, the questionable decisions and cheapening of the product range by MG Rover’s management and the final tragedy of the company folding. Too few people noticed that Rover actually went out with a bang; the 75 was a thoroughly engineered, exceptionally refined, comfortable and enjoyable car.

The retro look may have been an acquired taste but with the distance of more than 20 years from launch (and the painful context of contemporary car design) it’s easier to look past details that some at the time considered twee and see the fundamental strength of the design. I challenge anyone to compare this to the contemporary S- and X-Type Jaguars and tell me the Rover isn’t in another league entirely: One of these cars is ageing very well indeed; the others aren’t.

So, I’m back to set the record straight and correct my earlier short-sighted assessment of the 75: Mea culpa, Rover.

Author: Chris Elvin

Appreciator of dead or dying marques. Drowns his sorrows with good wine.

55 thoughts on “Recovering A Dream”

  1. Here in our little Norman town there are two 75s in regular use.
    They’re similar in many ways to a Kappa, but with a better suspension set-up.
    The Kappa’s auto box has a Sport switch which holds the lower gear for longer and allows speedy mway entrances straight into the outside lane at 80mph.
    (It also has an Ice switch which starts you off in 2nd.)
    Kappa prices vary hugely, but I’m not sure they’ll be as collectable as the 75 is becoming.

  2. That´s an interesting comparison, two large saloons from dead or moribund marques. I haven´t driven a 75 but I have had the chance to sample the Kappa. You might be right about the Kappa in relation to the 75; that said, the Kappa is still a very appealing car, in some ways very different to the Rover. It´s so exquisitely plain outside in comparison to the Rover. On the inside it is not so good but not bad. Rover did a good job of the 75s interior and it would have been great to see how that increased competence would have evolved had it all turned out differently. The Kappa´s is a compendium of contemporary design tropes – neither very conservative nor modernist but something almost offensivey inoffensive. I´d hate to have to choose between them – my inclination goes towards the Kappa though as long as it had no Alcantara inside and if it had the 4 cylinder turbo petrol.

    (The lamps on the Rover still bug me. On the back lamp there is the radius that meets a straight line. It really looks like they could not decide how to resolve it. And we´ve discussed the front lamp/bumper/wing concatenation before.

    I hope you enjoy the car though, Chris! Happy driving.

    1. The Kappa’s worst interior feature is that the wood is all plastic !
      I’ve had both leather and alcantara. Leather can be too hot or too cold (even with the effective heating).
      I prefer alcantara except that clumsy passengers can stain it with coffee, fruit juice etc.
      I like it being inoffensive: I needn’t look at anything, except foglamp switches, as I prefer to look out. Some have cruise control on the wheel.
      The turbo’s going to cost you: the only one that’s become collectable. But you get Viscodrive, the nearest you’ll get towards 4WD.

    2. An interesting comparison indeed; not one that had occurred to me. I have a soft spot for the Kappa coupé, as it somehow seemed like the sort of car Lancia should be making but have only seen one from afar. It’s fascinating how different people react differently to the same thing, aesthetically: I love the lamp treatment on the mk1 75 at both ends!

      Thanks for your comments, both.

  3. After all your head scratching, list crossing and I’ll guess at the odd sleepless moment or two, what a fine explanation you give us, Chris, thank you.
    As to the pale blue, it lovely to see some colour, especially on such an autumnal day and at least its not just boring ole grey or black.
    Enjoy the ride, Chris!

    1. Thank you for the kind commentary, I certainly am enjoying the Rover.

  4. nice car, have fun, if I were to buy an old, big car my choice would be Chris Bangle’s BMW 5 Series.

    1. Thanks. I like the Bangle-era 5 series too: Like the first Audi A6 (the first proper one, not the re-badged 100), it looks far more modern than its successors.

  5. Good morning Chris. Firstly, congratulations on your new 75 and thank your for sharing your rationale and experience with us in an illuminating and very nicely written piece.

    The pale blue metallic is actually an excellent colour for an older car in that it hides any minor scratches and age-related swirl marks well. Great to see that the car you found is an early twin-headlamp model, which us far better looking than the facelifted car and hasn’t been cheapened by the ‘Project Drive’ decontenting. The 75 was a thoroughly engineered and fine car and it seems you have managed to get hold of a lovely example.

    I wish you the best of luck with the 75 and look forward to reading further reports in due course.

    1. Thanks Daniel. That’s a very good practical point about the colour; I wouldn’t have thought of it myself. I am, in any case, very surprised how much I like the pale metallic blue on the 75. It’s not a colour I would ever have imagined liking but it really suits the car.

  6. Thank you Chris, both for a worthy defence of the ultimate Rover and for clarifying what ought to be obvious (but rarely is) about our individual preferences in motor cars at different points in our lives. Speaking of which, I note the Volvo 145 in the background of your first illustration – the spitting image of one I had in the early ’80s; same colour and even down to the ladder rack on which I used to transport 15-foot lengths of timber joists while filling the interior with building materials. Mine had the steering wheel on the proper side, though (Napoleon has a lot to answer for).
    But you’ve set me thinking – there’s just about enough room next to my Javelin to squeeze in a 75….

    1. A Jowett Javelin and a Rover 75… now there’s an appealing combination. You’ve got me thinking now about which car would occupy the second spot in my imaginary garage: P6? Auralia? Flavia? Probably a good thing the choice is strictly theoretical!

  7. Chris, you have my full enviousness and jealousy.
    This colour! Great.
    And a dark blue steering wheel. Wonderfull.

    I think I’ve told the story before. Late December last year we had a blind date with a 75.
    We were looking for a limousine to tour the coasts of the seven seas.
    I found the car on this Internetz. A 1.8 with less than 100,000 km in a rare combination of a dark red paint with beige fabric inside – we absolutely wanted light fabric, no leather, it just sits better on fabric – a beige steering wheel and wooden dashboard. Almost like new inside. A few scratches on the outside. For just 1,500 euros it was an offer that we couldn’t refuse. We got us two extra keys (very expensive thanks to the immobilizer) and gave him a major inspection (thanks to the experienced workshop not quite as expensive).
    What a great looking car and what a great car to drive..
    The first trip was to be to Britain for a few weeks in early summer.
    Then the virus came and at some point we realized that traveling as we knew it until then would no longer be possible in the new normal.
    With a heavy heart we sold it again.

    1. Oh dear, what a sad end to your story! Thanks for your compliments, I am very pleased with the (rare) dark blue interior trim.

  8. I’ve always liked the Rover 75, and it was (and is) a good car. However, probably best just to enjoy it and put thoughts of it attaining classic status to one side. I’m afraid these cars may never become coveted and admired by a wider audience.

    1. Don’t worry, the car will get enough coveting just from me. 😉

  9. I believe that metallic blue is their Metallic Denim Blue, the best colour in the world and one- odd as it might seem that I used to respray my bicycle. It was a popular colour on AR cars for many years, typically seen if VdP versions of the M cars.

    The 75 is a fine car albeit one who’s pudding I think got rather over egged. It’s as though the beautifully nuanced work that Richard Woolley did on the 600 went to everbodies head. It always looked to me like a Volvo Amazon that had been inflated with a footpump and then had bits of Morphy Richards radios and Silver Cross prams flung at it to see what would stick.

    Your report has got me thinking about car makers “Doing retro”, Mercedes would never be accused of this as they’ve always cleaved to the same visual foundation. So many makers tack backwards and forwards with the wind of fashion though. It’s as though making a clean break with the past sets you up to eventually revisit your greatest hits once you realise that the new clothes don’t fit. Something like the 75 was probably inevitable once the P6 got it’s Fiat charter facelift in 1971.

    1. “It always looked to me like a Volvo Amazon that had been inflated with a footpump and then had bits of Morphy Richards radios and Silver Cross prams flung at it to see what would stick.” … So, you’re a fan? 😉

      More seriously; I have to disagree with you as regards Mercedes, at least in recent times. I feel they have disregarded their own design heritage and visual architecture in favour of following the latest fads. I suspect others here may agree with me.

  10. Chris yee-es and also no. With Mercedes they’ve stuck with something recognisable as a derivative of the 1950’s SL grill, even though there are elements of rolling in glitter. To my mind its the rigour and discipline that have been lost. Additionally I’d like them to go back to ribbed tail lights. The design language is still there, they have no need to raid their archive, it’s just the spelling grammar and punctuation of it that is woeful.

    I have a soft spot for the 75 despite my critique, not a soft enough spot to buy one though. Right now we are considering buying our first car in ages but despite it offering big stylish motoring on the cheap I haven’t considered the 75, at the moment I am about to make a pitch to my partner for an Alfa 159, which I suppose carries some of the same baggage as the R75 and and also has the same kind of champagne motoring on lemonade money aspect, as both cars seem to be languishing in pre-classic status.

    The 75 has aged way better than the Jaguar S type its just that I believe less is more rather than more is more, less chrome on the side is definitely more.

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on recent Mercedes (and the 75’s detailing) but I’m with you on the 159; lovely car, the visual design of which I actually prefer to the Giulia.

    2. The 159 is a good looking car; I don´t think I have to accept the argument it was not good to drive. Maybe it wasn´t as good as it could be but it was not as bad as a facial canker which is what the mags would have you believe.

    3. Be careful. No Alfa is champagne motoring for lemonade money. Parts are (sometimes frighteningly so) expensive and maintenance is time consuming if you don’t want to live off the substance. An(y) Alfa can’t be run on a shoestring budget if yiu dkn’t want to ruin the car.

  11. It is not easy to express wholehearted agreement about Mercedes. The values that impressed me as I was growing aware of car design (the 1980s) were gone by the time the first C-class turned up. Nearly nothing they have done since then meets the standards set by Sacco.
    If we can accept the idea of retro design, the 75 is a fair example marred only by two odd details (related to the lamps). Inside it very lovely.

    1. Parker´s summary is “Stunning styling, charismatic interior, great to drive, sporty nature, excellent diesel”. The demerits were ride quality and a cramped rear interior. At the time I remember it being seen as a big disappointment.

    2. I could easily perform a lecture with arguments against Mercedes for a whole evening, but to make a long story short, buying a 50 Grand Limousine (or Coupe) with the same Grill as a Cargo van is a No Go.

      Mercedes is from snooty people from Swabia (I know that, I grew up there) for customers in Asia, while the Rover 75 was from people with heart and feeling for people with sensuality from hearts.

      As for the Kappa, yes the wood is fake (shame!), but Alcantara is great, and very easy to clean. We have a Y (Tipo 840) with Alcantara in beige as a daily driver and it is always a pleasure to get into the vehicle. I easily can understand why all the others around us drive in such a bad mood. They sit on gray fabric or black leather and look into a coal mine. Their fault, they had a choice. No mercy.
      Just have a look at the picture above with the interior of Chris Rover. You just start to smile when you get in the car for sure. This is how you can live, this is how you can drive. Life can be wonderful sometimes.

  12. The 159 wagon is, in my view, a fantastic looking car, especially with some of the alloys sold with it. Not particularly spacious and a bit porky, but a pretty solid drive with the high geared Alfa steering. On my list of cars I wished I had bought.

    1. The spare parts supply for the 159 is called disastrous, and that means something in the disastrous spare parts supply in the Alfa universe.
      However, I can only speak for Germoney, where you are not allowed to mount a suitable and functioning exhaust on a car if it has not engraved the correct number. (And before any engravings of any kind of numbers there are a lot of reports/certificates – in a movie they would call it “protection money” – you can just shorten it down to bribes, but in Germoney we don´t the word bribes, we call it certificates.)
      In contrast, the spare parts supply for a Rover 75 is called heavenly.

    2. Spelling/typing mistakes, cannot be changed afterwards, but you know what I meant.

    3. It’s not just the 159 for which there are no more spare parts. Every car from the Fiat emporium that is older than a couple of years or was produced in smaller numbers is suffering from non-availability of parts.
      If you are unhappy enough to own a 916-series GTV/Spider or even a barchetta of Coupé Fiat you will find out that there are absoutely no more parts from Fiat. Things that can be sourced from third party suppliers like brake pads or cambelts are available at parts dealers but anything specific to the model is hopeless. Last year I changed the cambelt of my barchetta and as always the belt cover was cracked and had to be replaced. It took me two weeks to source a used one from a breaker. If I had to suffer this effort I’d look for an Alfa that’s more satisfying to drive than the 159., preferably something with the Busso V6

  13. Congratulations on the new car, Chris. Hope it works out well for you!

    To Fred’s point, to my mind the fact that Mercedes build commercials as well as passenger cars is actually a plus: it gives me the idea that my car was built by serious people for serious purposes. Completely irrational, I know. The existence of an Actros or a Sprinter isn’t going to prevent Daimler from value engineering a W204!

    1. In the Seventies BMW was running an advertising campaign showing a W109 next to a Mercedes truck and a BMW E3 with a BMW motorcycle. “Some car manufacturers are also producing trucks and some choose motorcycles as their second product line. Which car would you prefer?”

    2. Taking delivery of a fleet of new Mercedes buses in the mid-’80s cured me of any delusions that Mercedes were still building quality vehicles. Over-rated machines that failed to live up to the standards of much earlier examples; they guaranteed only to fail in service with embarrassingly monotonous regularity. Sorry Michael!

    3. I’ve no idea how they are regarded now, but an acquaintance of mine who is an electrician bought an early 00’s Mercedes Sprinter van second hand in 2005. The body and chassis corrosion that soon took hold was truly shocking. He replaced it with a Transit, which appeared much better built.

    4. Thanks for the congratulations Michael.

      The fact a review of the last Rover can easily lead to a discussion of the relative merits of Ford Transit and Mercedes vans is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back here.

  14. “In a remarkable feat of self-control, I refrained from buying the 75 on the spot”

    Very wise move. I follow the rule of never, never, never buy a used car (I only buy used) on the same first day I see it.

    The emotion of seeing a candidate car should not cloud the decision of the purchase, which must be taken (or not) at home, with the emotions caused by the car muted by time and space.

    I am a very practical man who owns a highly rational 2004 Toyota Avensis Diesel, but I must confess that I am in love with the timeless beauty and glamour of the Rover 75. Maybe some day I shall buy a 75 Station Wagon…it is a so beutiful car.

    1. Though not personally a fan of estate cars, the 75 conversion was very well done: One of the few where the window line works visually through the length of the car.

  15. Love my rover75 year off the line 2000 now year 2020 only 11430 on the clock not bad for a 20 year old car petrol automatic perhaps soon it will be worth the new selling price.

  16. I’ve said it before, but I think Richard Woolley is one of those underrated designers who seem forever in the shadow of the given marque’s design chief. He seems the master of the deftly sculptured flank, as witnessed on the 75 and also current Range Rover, which bows so beautifully towards the rear, stopping an otherwise big, boxy design from looking overly heavy and clumsy.

    I always liked the 75 and felt it was tragically and cruelly sniped at from launch. Yes, it was retro and the ‘lamps were a poor, late (I assume) change, but it was otherwise very nicely done and with the warmest interior design of its era (or since?).

    1. The 75 looked like Bernd Pischetsrieder’s idea of British style. It was more P4/P5 than P6/SD1 but at least it was different in looks and character. Its interior was wonderful and CAR was right when they stated that here Rover had out-bentleyed Bentley.
      At least in Continental Europe the 75 suffered from a couple of shortcomings.
      Its engines were either crap (K four), rattly (Diesel) or underpowered and thirsty (V6), it was eye wateringly expensive as soon as you added some options and it was sold through dubious dealers. Our local Rover dealer also sold Ladas, Caterhams and Lotuses from corrugated iron shed, hardly an environment for a BMW competitor.

    2. Regarding the headlamp treatment (I presume you are referring to the ‘cutout’ where many presume the indicator was supposed to go), I saw an image on ARonline (I think) of a very early styling model of the 75, predating the BMW years, in which this feature was already present, suggesting it was always supposed to be like that. On the other hand, I also saw a sketch in which the indicators were atop the front wings so who knows?

    3. Regarding Dave’s comment: The accounts I have read have convinced me that the visual design of the 75 was pure Rover, though I don’t doubt Bernd Pischetsrieder approved of it. I wouldn’t say that the KV6 was underpowered in 2.5 litre form (I have never experienced the 2 litre), though you are quite right about the car being expensive when fully-specced: The original owner of my 2.5 litre Sterling ticked all the boxes and the price listed on the registration doc was eye-watering.

      For anyone interested in a comprehensive account of the 75’s development and model history, I would recommend James Taylor’s ‘Rover 75 and MG ZT – The Complete Story’.

  17. A very involving article / comment content
    (commtent?)

    The essential appeal of the 75,
    in my eyes, is the amalgamation of two fascinating ingredients:
    1. Its Bentley-levels of material opulence in
    the interior, and 2. A dynamic envelope based on, essentially, E46 underpinnings,
    with the added
    benefit of the FWD-inevitable character-richer ‘steering feel language’.

    Those two are enough to gladly forgive any other drawbacks, which are anyway rather academic.

    The exquisite seat-of-pants feel that the E46-derived susp.travel generousity supplies, with that sumptous (and supremely assembled) cabin, are enough to forget the ordinary drivetrains’ nature.

    What puzzles me most, however, is how did such irony occur, that the 75 shares its name with arguably the most conceptually,
    diametrically opposed sedan : the equally numbered Alfa Settantacinque.

    Words cannot describe how absurdly different those two cars are, yet each of them is almost legendary with its relative credentials.

    Numerology, perhaps?

    1. Thanks for your commentary. The coincidence of the number being shared with Alfa’s iconic rear-drive saloon had honestly never struck me. The Rover, of course, was named after the original version of the P4. Not sure about the Alfa.

    2. Launched in 1985, the name/number of Alfa 75 was an unimaginative and easy tribute to the founding date of Alfa Romeo, 1910.
      So it appears to be just a coincidence.

    3. If you like journalism inspired by the catchiness of headlines, then the 75 versus the 75 would be a winner. If I ran a classic car magazine I´d be sure to put the two 75s up against one another. If I was in the same position I´d also demand a series of articles putting wildly different cars into giant tests on the grounds almost nobody considers like cars when planning to get a classic. My list of possible classics is really disparate: a Lancia Trevi, Buick Riviera (second last generation), Alfa Romeo Giulia (first series) and a Chevrolet Caprice classic and a Peugeot 604 are all potential dream cars. Does anyone really say “I´ll get myself a classic and will scientifically compare similar cars from the same period”. Probably not.

    4. There was a Peugeot 1007 behind my Rover 75 on the way home this afternoon, immediately prior to reading this comment. Clearly grounds for a comparative review.

  18. Interesting concepts, Mr. Herriott. I visualised such a cover of a classic car mag, and it’s really something, to be honest. Not just because of the nomenclature – both are incredibly succesful in attaining a ‘resolute Yes’ in the notoriously disharmonic circles of true enthusiasts.

    As for Classic car ownership (the passion driven one, not the Sine Nobilitatis / Collectorial), must be strongly linked to the most natural of human principles, the eroticism of denying age and rekindling joie d’vivre. That is what this phenomenon seems to be traditionally fuelled by.

    Nowadays, though, a growing, soon to be predominant, driving factor behind the Classic scene must be the horror of the average driving enthusiast when she/he is faced with the mechanical / sensory anonymity of most today’s transportation devices. It is mostly aimed at the ‘contemporary classic’,
    or ‘youngtimer’ category of interest.

    As generations grow to be less time-aware in the joie d’vivre sense, the former one will probably diminish, whereas the Contemporary Classic scene is likely to become saturated (inevitably mixing with the S.Nob. one.)

    1. There are some trying to relive lost youth with classic cars. For me it´s just the haptics and the aesthetics. Most of the cars I like were from before my childhood. I bought my XM before it even became a classic – it was just a cheap, big car of tiny worth.
      Maybe my idea of disparate car tests is pointless. I haven´t read any head to heads of classic groupings that do more than sum up the pros and cons of each. I´d rather enjoy re-running some of them though. Is the Peugeot 1007 as bad as it appeared at the time?

    2. Oops, posted this above by mistake and can’t delete it.. it was supposed to go here:

      There was a Peugeot 1007 behind my Rover 75 on the way home this afternoon, immediately prior to reading this comment. Clearly grounds for a comparative review.

  19. To me, the 1007 was a victim of the conventional motoring press having brand-prejudiced (traditionally epic) dynamic expectations
    of it.

    Whereas it was obviously meant to be a saviour
    of those poor, light-colour dressed urban dwellers’ souls, who regularly swear at the acrobatic egress/ingress in tiny parking spots.

    Just a pair of cosy, city-amiable sliding doors, with a bit of automotive content sandwiched between them.

    Being predominantly urban in its brief, it was probably intentional that the springing/damping was on the cushy side of well-judged.

    Those doors bringing extra weight at the least desirable point in the car, were its biggest dynamic culprit (felt top-heavy if you tried hard, which was not the point at all).

    If approached with a discipline towards what it was intended for, it’s a brilliant car in Diesel form (the weight being obviously a bit of a slug for the (perfect for the ’80s mass parameters)
    TU engine.

    Styling wise they are to be compared with e-Scooters and other unconventional ‘Mobility Devices’, as they are not a car in the traditional sense.

    Had they been approached thus by the ‘mono’-thinking motoring press, their success would be a different story altogether.

    I like the C-pillar (technically, B-pillar), viewed in isolation, not in the context of the entire side view.

    It has many wonderful design details, yet on the whole its proportions prevent it to look coherent.

    A Smart is much sweeter to look at, whereas a 2020 Ami Elec. is way less attractive.

    So, as an Urban Mobility Device, the 1007 might do very good today.

    Perhaps it was a case of arriving at the party 15 years too early.

    1. In one respect the apparent logic of the 1007’s sliding doors breaks down: if you park close to the driver’s side of a conventional vehicle, taking advantage of your sliding door to get out, there’s every chance you’ll prevent the driver of that vehicle getting back in, at least by the driver’s door.

      I always try to choose ‘end of line’ spaces in car parks and park off-centre, leaving as much space as possible on the side where another car is parked or might park. It’s not foolproof though: once, when I parked with the passenger side of my Boxster close to a wall, I returned to find a Transit van parked with its passenger side less than six inches from my driver’s door. After a ten-minute wait during which the errant van driver did not return, I realised that my only way to get back in was to lower the roof and driver’s door window using the key-fob and scramble in over the rear wing, not very dignified for a man of my mature years!

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