Our Cars

Rob Brad­shaw’s Rover 75 and Steve Hole’s RPS RPX.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents - Rob Brad­shaw

The car you’re look­ing at in these pic­tures shouldn’t re­ally be here. In­deed, it al­ready had a death sen­tence when I res­cued it one Fri­day evening last sum­mer. I found it in, of all places, a lo­cal Face­book group, where it had been ac­quired by a banger racer for an all-diesel meet­ing.

He’d been tipped off about it by a breaker, to whom the car had been taken by its pre­vi­ous owner. The chap had got over a decade’s use from it, but with 205,000 miles on the clock, he re­ally couldn’t be both­ered with try­ing to shift it as a cheap car for sale – per­fectly un­der­stand­able when you have such a low-value ve­hi­cle and very lit­tle- time on your hands.

Add in the fact that the 75 had two il­le­gal tyres on the back, the heater/ air­con blower had packed up, there was a very loud knock from the front sus­pen­sion, the rear lamps were play­ing a game of disco lights and the ex­haust was blow­ing, for a non-me­chan­i­cally-minded per­son you’d be look­ing at a garage bill up­wards of £500 – or as much as the car would ever be worth.

On the plus side, it was a high-spec Con­nois­seur model in hand­some black with tan leather, so when the banger racer who’d bought it posted an ad­vert ask­ing if any­one wanted any parts from it (and hav­ing re­cently ac­quired a 75 Con­nois­seur petrol of my own, which is an­other story en­tirely), I agreed to pop over and have a look. Af­ter all, it had fac­tory floor mats in it, and the ones in my ‘posh’ 75 were thread­bare.

Be­tween me ar­rang­ing to have a look at the car and go­ing to view it, the banger racer had ac­quired a Ford Mondeo diesel es­tate, so when I got there he told me to make him an of­fer for the whole car, as he didn’t re­ally care which one he raced. The 75 had five weeks’ MOT left and ap­peared to be solid enough, so £175 later I was driv­ing it back home, a mo­bile source of use­ful parts to keep my 75 V6 on the road.

Or so I thought…

Ten miles into the jour­ney, it be­came ap­par­ent that the 75 CDT was in sur­pris­ingly good shape for its miles. The body was tidy save for some rust on the edge of the bon­net, and the in­te­rior was in­tact, al­beit a lit­tle shabby. I also had a full set of the cor­rect al­loys at my lock-up, which I’d taken as part pay­ment for some Jaguar bits and fig­ured might come in handy one day. This hap­pens to me quite a lot…

That was a chunk of the ex­pen­di­ture re­quired al­ready cov­ered, so I swapped the rear wheels and de­cided that, be­fore its fate was sealed, the 75 de­served one last shot at an MOT.

It failed – but not by any­where near as much as I’d ex­pected. In­deed, there were four things on the fail sheet: the danc­ing back lights, a non-work­ing wind­screen washer (I con­fess, I never tested it), the ex­haust blow (fully ex­pected) and ex­ces­sive play in the off­side lower balljoint. With the car on the ramps, it was ap­par­ent that the 75 was a far bet­ter car than I ex­pected it to be, so out came the tools.

First up was a new lower sus­pen­sion arm (this in­cor­po­rates the lower balljoint and is far eas­ier to re­place than try­ing to sep­a­rate the old unit). I found a Euro­pean-made pat­tern part for £45, which ap­pears to be of rea­son­able qual­ity, so we’ll see how it goes. The rear lights were fixed by sim­ply clean­ing up the con­nec­tions – there’s a pin­hole in the near­side rear light lens through which mois­ture is build­ing up, which I think is caus­ing the ter­mi­nals to cor­rode inside the lamp, so this will be re­placed as soon as I find a good sec­ond­hand unit. The wind­screen washer clearly hadn’t been used for some time, as ev­i­denced by the vile stench em­a­nat­ing from it, and I was also lucky enough to taste a mouth­ful of the washer bot­tle’s con­tents try­ing to as­sist grav­ity by suck­ing the liq­uid through what was clearly a blocked pipe. I’ve no idea what was block­ing it, but it’s safe to say it didn’t stay in my mouth for long.

That left me with one last thing to sort for the MOT: the ex­haust. Sim­ple? No. First of all, a cheap 75 ex­haust isn’t a thing that ex­ists. Mine had holed within the flexi sec­tion and was chuff­ing like a steam train, but was oth­er­wise solid and rot-free. Spend­ing up­wards of £200 on a com­plete sys­tem for a car that had cost me less than that to buy wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen. In the end, af­ter chat­ting with a spe­cial­ist breaker, I got hold of a front sec­tion and flexi-pipe that had been cut just north of the cat­alytic con­ver­tor, which I planned to sleeve and weld onto the back part of the old pipe.

For some rea­son, early 75s have three metal brack­ets across the ex­haust tun­nel, pre­sum­ably to stop the pipe drop­ping down if it works loose. Af­ter 16 years in place, these res­o­lutely re­fused to play ball when at­tached to a wrench. Big thanks, then, to the guys at the ev­er­help­ful Chat­teris Garage (01354 695080) in Cambs for get­ting out the an­gle grinder and re­mov­ing the of­fend­ing bracket to cut the pipe. With the new one welded in place, a new MOT was all that stood be­tween the 75 and the road. This time, it went through without a sin­gle ad­vi­sory. For a 16-year-old car with over 200,000 miles on the clock, that’s pretty im­pres­sive. Plus, the Bmw-de­rived M47 en­gine has a chain-driven cam, so there are no belt changes to worry about, as is of­ten the case with the V6s.

What next for the res­cued 75? Well, with star­ship mileage, I don’t ex­pect it to fly out the door if I sell it, and with 50+ mpg on of­fer, I don’t re­ally see much point. I’ll just keep it and run it for now, and save the V6 for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. I’ve al­ready made a start on try­ing to di­ag­nose the non-func­tion­ing fan. Af­ter con­tort­ing my­self head first into the pas­sen­ger footwell with a known good part from a donor car, I can al­ready con­firm that it isn’t the re­sis­tor pack, so I’ll try the blower mo­tor it­self next.

BMW en­gine has a chain-driven cam, but we re­placed the tired-look­ing al­ter­na­tor belt.

Worn cream leather gives cabin a homely ap­peal.

Heater re­sis­tor pack is be­hind the cen­tre con­sole and awk­ward to get to...

...we re­placed it with a known good one, but it didn’t work!

The £175 Rover 75 diesel isn’t that bad at 205,000 miles and now has a fresh MOT.

Black 75 is smart and hand­some... un­like its owner.

Lower wish­bones are a com­mon 75 weak spot. Let’s see how this pat­tern one holds up.

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