This is a cautionary tale. A tale of car buying, and a tale of letting heart rule head at a crucial time.
It’s my tale. It also involves a 2001 Rover 75 CDT. The car you see in the pictures was mine, owned for all of two months during the summer of 2012.
Rovers get a lot of love on this site, and deservedly so. Objectively, my 75 was a great car. I liked the styling – still do, actually. It looks far more expensive than it has any right to, and it’s still one of the most distinctive saloon cars on British roads. It even wears its miles well – the chrome on mine was perfect, still shining like the day it left the Oxford factory it was built in.
Unlike many cars of its day, it had avoided the dreaded rust, too. Okay, so the car wasn’t visually perfect, and it was showing signs of a hard life externally. A rear wheel was heavily kerbed and the arch above it scraped, presumably from the same incident. The lacquer on the front bumper was peeling badly – difficult to see in the photos, but you can take my word for it.
I had no complaints about the interior either, once I’d removed the overpowering odour of whatever cleaning product the small Leeds garage I bought it from had used. They didn’t do a great job of cleaning it, instead coating every surface with a heavy layer of smelly dashboard wax.
But it looked good, at least. The wood on the dash really was genuine wood – before Rover started its cost-cutting and turned it to plastic. The leather wheel showed signs of ageing, but was nice to hold. And the seats were comfy, even though the driver seat height adjuster had broken on its highest setting – it’s lucky that I’m a relatively short chap.
Sadly, all was not well. I didn’t give the car as thorough test-drive as I should. I realised this when on the way home, it was pulling to one side. The tyres looked a bit second-hand too. These were quickly cured with a new set and a four-wheel alignment, but I spent even more having it serviced to re-start its patchy history.
A cracked rear spring also added to the cost, as did a new sensor to cure the permanently-on ABS light.
The money was stacking up, already adding another 50% to the price I’d spent on the car in the first place.
But worse still was the clutch. It was heavy for one, which isn’t so bad, but the pedal needed pressing to the end of its travel in order to change gear, suggesting all wasn’t well. At the service, they advised me that it’d do another few thousand miles before needing a new one, but this certainly wouldn’t be cheap.
I’d already made my decision: Not two months after buying it, the Rover would have to go. With an MOT and tax on the horizon, the costs would quickly get out of hand.
It’s my own fault, really. I can’t blame the 75 – it’d clearly seen a little neglect in the years previous to my ownership. I did my best with what I had, but I’d bought the car as a cheap motorway vehicle with good fuel consumption, and while the latter was great – around 50mpg or so from its BMW-sourced diesel, meaning around 700 miles on a tank – it’s no use having low fuel costs if everything else costs a fortune.
I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Fitting a new clutch – and anything else it might need – would be more than I could justify.
I certainly have no ill feelings to the 75. It was a nice car – for whomever bought it new, it would have been wonderful – but the example I bought didn’t do it justice. In the end, I sold it for a pittance, though it went to a good home – the buyer already owned another 75, and an MG ZT.
But please, take this as a warning: Do your research. Test drive a car properly before you buy it. If it needs anything expensive doing, decide early on whether you’re prepared to accept that financial burden. If not, walk away.
Will I buy another 75? Perhaps, one day. A V8 would be excellent. But at the moment, a large part of me wishes I’d spent my money more wisely, on something perhaps less distinctive, but with a better history.
After all, any car is better than no car.
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