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