Rover 200 (SD3)
CHECK THAT TRIM
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.
NEGLECTED RUNNING GEAR
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.
CHECK THE STRUCTURE
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
HOW ARE THE PANELS?
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.
LOOK FOR LEAKS
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.