ROVER200 (SD3)

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…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHO­TOG­RA­PHY CCW ar­chive/Magic Car Pics

‘ 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.

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