It’s almost 30 years since production of Rover’s smart, compact saloon ended, but should you be tempted by the bargain prices? We certainly think so…
‘ You can now pick up a sound example of a 213 or 216 for under £1000’
Those who bemoaned the demise of the last Triumph car – the Acclaim – didn’t have to wait long for a replacement, but this time the new model sported Rover’s Viking badge on its nose. Launched in 1984, the Rover 200 (or SD3 to aficionados) was once again based on the Honda Ballade and offered buyers a neatly-styled saloon with upmarket pretentions.
A touch pricier than mainstream rivals like the Volkswagen Jetta and Ford Orion, there was a choice of two models – the 213 powered by a sweetspinning 1.3-litre Honda engine, or the 216 that utilised BL’s punchier but less refined S- Series motor.
You can now pick up a sound example of either for under £1000, which is a proper classic bargain, but the question is – should you?
Well, yes, becauses there was plenty to like about Rover’s new model, not least a comfortable and well-specced interior that definitely felt a cut above other rival saloon contenders. Most models came with smart seat fabrics and a smattering of glossy wood, and there was always the lure of the Vanden Plas model for some added plushness. And Rover didn’t forget those who liked something a bit sportier, the 216 Vitesse boasting a Lucas-injected 103bhp along with sports seats, a rear spoiler and natty cross-spoke alloys. But whichever model you opted for, the SD3 was a pleasant drive with a decent blend of ride and handling composure, something that wasn’t dented by the lack of power assistance for the steering. It wasn’t the roomiest saloon around and it quickly gained a reputation for appealing to the more mature buyer (did someone mention Hyacinth Bucket?), but we should hold neither of those things against it. Corrosion decimated their numbers, which makes this AngloJapanese Rover one worth saving.