Rover 75

22 Jun, 2005 12:15pm Richard Dredge

MG Rover may have gone bust, but does that mean a second-hand Rover 75 will do the same?

It might seem like madness to buy a car from a manufacturer which recently went bust - but that's simply not the case with the Rover 75. Even now it represents great value for money and, if you can live with the retro looks, it's good to drive and well put together.

Despite the firm's collapse, the 75 is still an excellent second-hand proposition - not least because you can now get so much more for your money. Buy a Tourer and you have a stylish load-carrier. And if you find sister firm MG's ZT260 V8, you'll get a bargain that's guaranteed to become a classic.

Prices

Values are still uncertain since the fall of MG Rover, but are set to stabilise shortly, levelling out at only a little below current prices. Reckon on paying £3,000 for an early 1.8-litre 75 with 60,000 miles on the clock. A 52-plate 2.5 V6 with 30,000 miles can be yours for £7,000, while a 15,000-mile 53-reg 2.0 CDT Tourer with automatic transmission is worth around £9,500.

What to look for

Don't pay over the odds for a recent second-hand 75, because there are some great deals to be had on brand new cars - £5,000 savings are common. Remember, 75s produced by MG Rover at Longbridge are better than those built by BMW at Oxford, and the handling is superior, too. The easiest way to distinguish a Longbridge example is that they have body-coloured sills rather than the Oxford-made cars' black ones.

Checklist

  • Interior: cabin can suffer water ingress (causing ECU problems), although this is fixed in later cars by a redesigned drainage system. Check drain points - there's one on each side, plus a centre one at the base of the pollen filter and ECU.
  • Electrics: ensure everything works, as problems are known. Be especially wary of SRS connector to seat, which can lead to the airbags failing; dealers can eradicate fault by retro-fitting revised connectors.
  • Engines: the 2.0 diesel and 2.5 V6 petrol units are reliable, but head gasket failure is known on 1.8 petrols because of low coolant capacity. Small leaks soon lead to overheating - the weakest point is the water-heated inlet manifold gasket.
  • Keys: make sure you get both master and ignition keys when you buy the car, and check neither of them has broken. Replacing them could cost you up to £150 apiece by the time the necessary reprogramming has been carried out.
  • Tyres: rubber often wears unevenly, especially at the rear. Some cars had misaligned suspension when new. Check back tyre wear on early models; best solution is to get a four-wheel alignment done. Front coil springs also prone to breaking.

Recalls

March 2000: Engine may cut out while the vehicle is being driven (Feb 1998-Oct 1999 cars).
July 2002: Front suspension spring problems (Dec 1998-Oct 1999 cars).
May 2004: Possible damage and deflation of tyre due to road spring (Oct 1999-Feb 2002 cars).

Owner comment

Mike McCabe from Milton Keynes, Bucks, has owned his 2.5 V6 for three years - and he loves it. The car is reliable, supremely comfortable and dif-ferent, and he isn't worried about the company's demise. "It's a real shame to see Rover go," he told us. "But there is no shortage of specialist knowledge to keep my motor maintained, and parts supply is assured for many years yet."

Verdict

Predictably, the failure of MG Rover has ensured that 75 residuals are lower than ever - so now, it's easy to scoop a bargain. It's reckoned that values have been slashed by up to a third since the manufacturer went bust, yet the cars are still well built and good to drive. For the price of a used (and possibly abused) Ford Mondeo or Peugeot 406, you could have a nearly or even brand new 75. If it was our money, we know which one we would rather buy... We like the well constructed and comfortable interior, enjoyable driving experience, superb value and long-distance refinement. But do make sure you have an aftermarket warranty and watch out for a shrinking dealer network, thirsty V6 engines and a tarnished image.

AEX 1,338
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