In mid 2011 I decided I needed a new daily driver. I knew that I wanted an MG-Rover vehicle, but I was undecided on exactly what I wanted. I was strangely drawn to Rover 75s for a 23 year old – especially as I would have prefered a 75 over the equivalent MG ZT. I had viewed a few 75s, but all the local ones had patchy histories, and generally were not in the best nick. One evening while trawling ebay a Rover 45 Impression S3 caught my eye, which appeared to be a one owner vehicle with a full service history. I pondered this vehicle for about a week before deciding I would go and see it. Speaking at length with the seller, it appeared to have a full history print out from the garage it was bought new from up until its current mileage – a shade over 58,000 miles – despite having no service book with the car.
Upon viewing the car it was obvious that if it were to be a keeper it would need some bodywork doing, but the interior was next to pristine. Just one mark on the driver’s side leather seat. There were a couple of little faults, such as the fan only working on setting 3 and 4, as well as the air con not working. Everything else worked. The car fired up fine from cold and sounded good. I drove it up and down the sellers drive – alas I had no insurance cover to take it on a proper drive. Everything seemed to move freely, and after a glance through the service history print out, and a call to the garage to verify it, made an offer of £550 which was accepted.
On the way home I was keeping a careful ear out for any noises, knocks, rattles, squeaks. I was pleasantly surprised to have driven the 15 miles back home with no ominous noises at all. The only fault I could find was wobbly brakes at the front. As soon as I got home I booked it in for discs and pads all round at a local tyre-fit place, and gave it a good wash off which it was in dire need of. On the drive to get the brakes done I was a little surprised how sluggish the car felt for its specification – the 1.8 K series engine, on paper, offers a 9.2 0-60 figure – although didn’t think any more of it. I got the car booked in for an MOT once the brakes were done – which it passed with no advisories.
About two weeks after the MOT I noticed that it was definitely drinking coolant, although there was no sign of any residue in the oil, or oil in (what was left of) the coolant. It was only when I left the car running and hunted around underneath the bonnet did I see a steady weep from the head gasket. Having had the brakes done, and enjoying the rest of the car, I opted to have the work done. There was already an entry in the service history for the headgasket – only 6000 miles (however, two years) ago with a note that the head hadn’t needed skimming. After consulting my friendly garage man, it was decided that the head had needed a skim and it hadn’t been done. £600 odd lighter, and one new MLS head gasket – as well as some preventative maintenance on the head – ‘Harold’ was back in service. Since then I have also had to correct several issues including: interior fan resistor, both coilpacks and HT leads, grumbly gearbox & a clutch.
Since having the work done the car’s performance has definitely become tighter, and the engine is running wonderfully after having the head work done. The K series engine in this car really is a peach. It’s refined and quiet, yet will punt the Rover along quite nicely with a nudge of the right foot.
I’ve been called all sorts of weird and wonderful names for even considering undertaking the work on Harold that I have. The truth is that the car got under my skin from the first drive home. The Rover 45 is a car I can’t quite work out – it’s rather eccentric. It’s longer than, for example, a Xsara Picasso, yet so utterly impractical. The up side of this is that the 45 feels like a home from home inside. The leather seats really are just as comfortable as the armchairs in my front room. Considering the flak that MG-Rover have always taken for the build of their vehicles, it certainly feels more solid than some of its contemporaries (yes, Vauxhall, I’m looking at you!).
I hope to have Harold in daily service for the next few years or so. I certainly won’t be parting with him at that point either, but he will have earned his place next to my Austin 1100, MG TF 160 &Rover 800 Vitesse in warm & dry storage, of course seeing use during the summer months!
The 45 has since been passed onto another member of the family.
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