Rover 75 – what did it do wrong?

A month and a half. That’s how long the Rover lasted. Was it a disaster then? Well, no, it wasn’t. The Rover 75 remains a very good, and wrongly slated example of what the British CAN do with a bit of investment and some actual build quality.

Rover estate diesel

Bye Bye Rover. Not my cup of tea!

The problem is though, the 75 is just too modern. It’s a right royal pain to work on, too many jobs are not DIY friendly and the overall driving experience is too modern too. I guess I just love older cars. Stuff from the 1980s and early 1990s represents absolute perfection to me. By this time, the car had advanced to the level that they were staggeringly competent, but they also were not overly complicated. That’s why the Peugeot 309 is the perfect replacement. No frills perhaps, but who really needs them? After all, electric windows require the ignition to be on (in most cases) which manual windows don’t. Hydraulic clutches are needlessly complicated. A cable is fine. Being able to heat and adjust the seats electrically might be nice, but think of the weight and wiring it adds.

Then there’s visibility. The Rover 75 feels like driving around in a 1970s supercar. The windscreen is like an arrowslit, but that’s generous compared to the view rearwards. Your neck muscles develop a good workout due to the amount of movement required to see around the enormous A posts. It had reverse parking sensors fitted – and it did need them!

Naturally, the driving experience is entirely devoid of sensation. That’s great if you’ve got 500 miles to do in 2 days, which I did, but those sort of trips are not a frequent thing. It’s a trade-off for sure. Relaxing or involving? You can rarely have both (I still reckon the Citroen BX is one of few cars to manage it).

Running a Rover can be horrendously expensive too. I must admit to not feeling that enamoured by the car when one owner explained how he’d spent about £1800 on his in a matter of months, replacing both the engine and the automatic gearbox! Sorry, but I can’t justify that sort of expenditure on a car, especially one I’m unlikely to keep long enough to get my money’s worth out of.

The Peugeot on the other hand is proving much more likeable. I’ve already had another tinkering session with it and when you can actually get at stuff, it really is a pleasure.

The strain is all too much

I love simple motoring. Today, the clutch cable snapped on the 2CV while we were out. It has been failing in stages for some time, with the adjustment jumping out every now and then. It just took me a while to work out why…

The last ‘jump’ today left all of about two strands of cable to operate the clutch with. I didn’t fancy my chances of making it home like that but as luck would have it, I had a clutch cable underneath the front seat as part of an emergency parts package for an overseas trip last year.

Eek! The 2CV's clutch cable doesn't quite snap

Eek! The 2CV’s clutch cable doesn’t quite snap

I didn’t have any tools, but thanks to having to frequently adjust the clutch due to the cable issue, the nuts were finger tight – so I began the operation. There’s not much to it really, the only difficulty being that your hands end up covered in gunky horrible oil. Soon, the new cable was in place and off we set! I’ll adjust it up correctly now it’s got us home and I have access to tools.

It made me glad that older cars can be so simple to work on. Instead of having to contemplate a lengthy wait for recovery, I could just swap the cable and be on my way. Lovely.