Buy­ing Guide

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

Rover 200 (SD3)


The in­te­ri­ors were smart when new and proved quite hard-wear­ing, but you’ll want to avoid any­thing too de­crepit. Find­ing re­place­ment parts isn’t easy, and the cost of a spe­cial­ist re-trim to sort tatty cloth, leather or wood­work will soon add up. Make sure that wa­ter leaks (es­pe­cially from around the sun­roof) haven’t caused dam­age or ac­cel­er­ated cor­ro­sion in the floor, and check that the in­stru­ments, switchgear, and light­ing are still in work­ing or­der. Sourc­ing re­place­ments can be dif­fi­cult and nig­gling prob­lems are com­mon as wiring and con­nec­tors de­grade over time. There’s noth­ing com­pli­cated about the Rover’s electrics – cer­tainly noth­ing that any good auto-elec­tri­cian couldn’t sort – but it’s worth check­ing for am­a­teur bodgery or badly-fit­ted ac­ces­sories.


The Rover’s steer­ing, brakes, and sus­pen­sion are all thor­oughly con­ven­tional with any prob­lems that arise usu­ally the re­sult ei­ther of ne­glect or gen­eral wear and tear. Be wary of seized and cor­roded brakes on cars that have barely moved, though. Con­sum­ables such as brake pads, discs, and ball joints are avail­able quite cheaply with the in­ter­net prov­ing a good source of bits, though it’s worth grab­bing them when they ap­pear. Age and rar­ity mean that it’s in­evitable that you might strug­gle to find some com­po­nents, though, so you may be re­liant on un­earthing new/old stock or sec­ond­hand bits – which is worth bear­ing in mind be­fore you take on any­thing that’s too me­chan­i­cally tired.


Struc­tural cor­ro­sion is a ma­jor con­cern, so check the sills, cabin and boot floors and jack­ing points thor­oughly. It’s also worth pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the sus­pen­sion mount­ing points as they can rot away with alarm­ing ease. If it’s rusty up top ex­pect it to be worse un­der­neath, so get­ting the car on a ramp is a wise move, and check that hor­rors aren’t be­ing hid­den by fresh un­der­seal.


Elec­tron­ics were also a bug-bear of the S-se­ries as they con­trolled the car­bu­ra­tion and ig­ni­tion. It was some­thing of a rev­o­lu­tion at the time, but faults with sen­sors and the ECU caused all man­ner of prob­lems, and they can be a pain to di­ag­nose and fix; be wary of a car that idles or runs poorly. EFi and Vitesse mod­els use Lu­cas fu­elin­jec­tion so the same warn­ing ap­plies, as spe­cial­ist at­ten­tion will be re­quired.


There’s lit­tle to worry about trans­mis­sion­wise be­cause both man­ual and au­to­matic ger­boxes (the lat­ter a Honda three-speed or ZF four-speed for the 213 and 216 re­spec­tively) were proven units. Be wary of odd noises or poor


Th­ese cars could rust when they were just a few years old, so it wasn’t long be­fore anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranties were ter­mi­nally breached. They’re cer­tainly no bet­ter to­day, so you’ll need to check ev­ery last inch of the panels, con­cen­trat­ing on the bot­toms of the doors, the edges of the front wings, the whee­larches, and the ex­trem­i­ties of the bon­net and boot lid. The wind­screen pil­lars go as well, and ma­jor bub­bling here prob­a­bly in­di­cates a car that’s be­yond sav­ing. Find­ing re­place­ment panels, bumpers, and ex­te­rior trim will mean a trawl for sec­ond­hand parts, so you’ll need to be pa­tient if you’re con­sid­er­ing tak­ing on a project. shift qual­ity, though, as find­ing parts for a re­build prob­a­bly won’t be be easy and the cost of a spe­cial­ist over­haul prob­a­bly won’t make sense on a cheap ex­am­ple. Oth­er­wise, just check for a worn clutch (which is cheap to re­place) and knock­ing CV joints.


The 1.3-litre Honda en­gine is a re­li­able per­former but check that cam belt changes haven’t been ne­glected. The en­gine is all-al­loy, so make sure that anti-freeze lev­els have been main­tained – look for murky coolant that could sig­nal in­ter­nal cor­ro­sion. The AustinRover S-se­ries en­gine used in the 216 isn’t quite as ro­bust and can suf­fer from noisy tap­pets, oil leaks from the top end, and cylin­der head gas­ket fail­ure. The poor de­sign of the en­gine breather sys­tem also al­lows con­den­sa­tion to build up, so look for ‘may­on­naise’ build­ing up un­der the oil filler cap.

Smart and spa­cious in­side, but parts are be­com­ing scarce.

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