2005 Rover CityRover

2005 Rover CityRover

Forgive me for having been on a bit of a Rover binge lately, but for those who don’t know on 15th April 2005, the Rover Group finally ran out of money and Britain’s last volume car manufacturer disappeared forever. I remember well the BBC news reports showing workers being turned back at the gates of the Longbridge Plant in south Birmingham, their jobs finished and their cars ceased. In all, nearly 6,000 people in the Midlands were sacked upon the closure of Longbridge, and whilst Rover, a brand that had dated back to 1904 and had once been a symbol of pedigree British Motoring, finally died after a long and painful spell under British Leyland and ownership by BMW, MG was able to claw away from darkness thanks to Chinese investors, rescuing one of the most renowned and hallowed names in Motorsport history.

However, when it comes to what finally killed the Rover Company, what put the bullet into the back of their confused head, this is usually what people will choose. You’ve heard them all say this before, Auto Magazines, Fifth Gear, Top Gear, any other gear, they’ve all said the same thing, the CityRover was the evil that murdered Rover and the British Motor Industry.

But should we malign the little CityRover? Was it really the sole culprit?

I personally don’t think so, sure it didn’t help, but at the same time in order to understand Rover’s situation you have to go back to the early 90’s. In 1994 BMW bought Rover Group from British Aerospace and started to reorganise the poorly performing company and its damaged reputation under British Leyland. Throughout the decade the company either refurbished models from the 80’s such as the Range Rover, the Rover 200, 400 and 600, or replaced many former British Leyland Models such as the Montego, the Maestro and the Metro, whilst also developing new ones such as the Rover 75. Things were on a high note for the company, the cars were great, the quality was great, they were reliable, well performing, smooth, crisp, the motoring press more often than not lauded them for their precision and craftsmanship, with a style that harked back to the grand old days of British Motoring.

Sadly Grand Old Britain was seen less as a nostalgic roadtrip by potential British buyers, and more a crude attempt by BMW at stereotyping the British as Victorian relics of a dated and long dead social layout. Although older drivers and retired couples would buy them up in droves, the younger demographic wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole and Rover was losing a fortune. Things didn’t look good, the Metro wasn’t selling due to safety issues, the Mini was no longer a mass-production car and more a customer request novelty item, and while Land Rover and Range Rover were doing well in their own right, the Rover Company was haemorrhaging money and BMW lost all interest.

In 2000, BMW chose to break up Rover Group into its …

Chevrolet Monte Carlo 1972 (4920)

Chevrolet Monte Carlo 1972 (4920)

Manufacturer: Chevrolet Division of General Motors LLC, Detroit – U.S.A.
Type: Monte Carlo Series 13800 / 1H57 Sport Coupé
Engine: 5733cc L48 Turbo-Fire small block V-8 (90°)overhead valve (by GM)
Power: 167 bhp / 4.000 rpm
Speed: 175 km/h
Production time: 1970 – 1972
Production outlet: 180,819 (1972)
Production outlet: 439,393 (1970-1972 incl. 5,742 “SS 454”)
Curb weight: 1648 kg

Special:
– "Chevrolet: Building a Better Way To See The USA."
– This first generation "coke bottle styling" Monte Carlo, designed by Elliot Marantette "Pete" Estes and Dave Holls (codenamed “Concours”) and named for the city Monte Carlo in the Principality of Monaco, specifically the ward of Monte Carlo/Spélugues, is built on the same GM A-body platform intermediate-sized cars as the re-designed 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, is 23 cm taller than the Chevelle, only model was this Hardtop Coupé ( ’72 models were called Sport Coupé), only sold with a V-8 engine (wide choice) and has to compete with the new A-body Pontiac Grand Prix and the Ford Thunderbird.
– Only slight styling updates were made over the years.
– The rather ungainly rear an the 1970 labor strike at the Flint (Michigan) assembly plant, were probably guilty of poor sales, so the 1973 model was completely renewed.
– It has a fully synchronous three-speed manual gearbox, steering column shifter, a Rochester 7041113 dual downdraft carburettor, a 12-Volts electric system, distributor and coil ignition system, a 72 liter fuel tank, a single plate dry disc clutch and rear wheel drive.
– The box frame with crossbars chassis with steel body (by Fisher) has a 116 inch wheelbase, a Cadillac-like eggcrate / grid-textured grille, large, single headlamps mounted in square-shaped housings, hidden wipers, elm-burl dash panel inlays, fake wood trim dashboard, a bench seat , deep-twist carpeting, an electric clock, powered recirculating ball steering, front trapezoidal wishbones, independent ball joint with coil spring front sway bar suspension, longitudinal coil link rear suspension with lower trailing arms and upper differential for leading-trailing arms, telescopic shock absorbers all round, a semi-floating type rear axle, hypoid differential, 6×15 disc wheels, G78x15B bias-belted black sidewall tires, powered 11 inch ventilated disc brakes at the front and 9.5 inch self-adjusting drum brakes at the rear.
– A Turbo-Fire 350 CID 4-barrel carburettor, a 400 CID (6555cc) V-8 engine, a 454 CID (7440cc) V-8 engine , a Monte Carlo SS 454 package (with blacked-out rear body panel, front and rear stabilizer bars, dash controls with international symbol knobs, heavy-duty front and rear suspension, an automatic load-leveling rear suspension, "SS 454" badging, and rubber rear bumper inserts), a four-speed manual gearbox, an Automatic Torque-Drive, a Turbo Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic transmission (only on the SS 454), a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, power windows, power seats, variable-ratio power steering, Four Season Air Conditioning, speed control device, fender skirts, a light monitoring system, a four-spoke steering wheel, "rally" wheels, center console, full instrumentation, Strato bucket seats, a higher grade nylon (or vinyl) upholstery, cloth interior, full instrumentation, radio, AM/FM stereo radios …

1999 Rover 75

1999 Rover 75

Forgive me for having been on a bit of a Rover binge lately, but for those who don’t know on 15th April 2005, exactly 10 years ago, the Rover Group finally ran out of money and Britain’s last volume car manufacturer disappeared forever. I remember well the BBC news reports showing workers being turned back at the gates of the Longbridge Plant in south Birmingham, their jobs finished and their cars ceased. In all, nearly 6,000 people in the Midlands were sacked upon the closure of Longbridge, and whilst Rover, a brand that had dated back to 1904 and had once been a symbol of pedigree British Motoring, finally died after a long and painful spell under British Leyland and ownership by BMW, MG was able to claw away from darkness thanks to Chinese investors, rescuing one of the most renowned and hallowed names in Motorsport history.

This however was truly the last great Rover, and one that was a succulent blend of style and substance. Reliable, well priced, smooth riding and sweet, the Rover 75 was the embodiment of everything that was to be found in the everyman’s British motor car. But nowadays most people remember it as a prime example of how even though this car, as reliable, well performing and beautifully styled as it is, can be completely compromised by that all important part of the human psyche known as image…

The Rover 75 was unveiled in 1998 after 4 years of development, and was the first car to be launched by the company since the Rover 600 in 1993. In fact the car was built to replace both the Rover 600 and 800 to become the company’s flagship motor. The car was the last to be styled by world renowned coachbuilder Vanden Plas, famous for its distinguished chrome nose and luxurious internal styling. I remember well the style and profile of this mighty car, filled to the brim with soft leather seats and sublime wooden trim, built to emulate the mighty Rover P5 of the 1960’s, but with a fiery 4.6 Rover V8 under the hood for some extra grunt. It was perfect…

…trouble was nobody wanted it.

The main problem that killed the Rover 75 was its image. The car was designed to emulate grand old England, with that chrome and wooden trim making it look and feel very nostalgic. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, in fact I very much enjoy a look into the heritage of Britain and the Rover 75 strikes a chord with me, it’s very pretty, well styled and has a lovely feel to it, and many foreign buyers agree, with the 75 winning awards in Germany and France, as well as being dubbed the best car in the world by Italian stylists. The nostalgia of old England is something that foreigners love, they come to Britain in their droves to see old Castles and tour the quaint streets of our ancient cities. However, the only people who don’t like the …

1969 MG MGB

1969 MG MGB

Oh the MGB, the last great British Sports car?

A motor that refused to die even though British Leyland simply couldn’t stop messing around with it. The MGB is an example of a car that went from one of the most loved and lovable cars in British motoring, to what many describe as an empty husk broken and bent for legislation purposes. But the MGB would have its way in the end!

The story behind the MGB begins in 1962, when the car was designed to incorporate an innovative, modern style utilizing a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series. However components such as brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA with the B-Series engine having its origins in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength. Wind-up windows were standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. A parcel shelf was fitted behind the seats.

The car was powered by a BMC B-Series engine, producing 95hp and giving the car a 0-60 of 11 seconds, perhaps not the briskest acceleration, but of course this car was more a comfy little cruiser, ambling about the countryside in sedate fashion admiring the views. The MGB was also one of the first cars to feature controlled crumple zones designed to protect the driver and passenger in a 30 mph impact with an immovable barrier (200 ton).

The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. Wheel diameter dropped from 15 to 14 inches.

Upon its launch the MGB was given almost unanimous acclaim, largely due to its advanced and innovative design combined with its beautifully and sleek styling. Previous sports cars of the same calibre had always been levied with a reputation for their ropey nature, with a majority of previous models being simply remodelled versions of the MG’s and Triumphs that dated back to the end of and in some cases even before World War II. But the MG was different, and if I’m honest, a large part of its appeal is due to its small, low body, and it’s poky round headlights that make it look rather cute. It’s the kind of car you could give a name, preferably a girl’s one. Either way, the MGB sold in hundreds, disappearing off to all corners of the globe, touring the South of France, storming across the deserts …

1971 MG MGB GT

1971 MG MGB GT

Oh the MGB, the last great British Sports car?

A motor that refused to die even though British Leyland simply couldn’t stop messing around with it. The MGB is an example of a car that went from one of the most loved and lovable cars in British motoring, to what many describe as an empty husk broken and bent for legislation purposes. But the MGB would have its way in the end!

The story behind the MGB begins in 1962, when the car was designed to incorporate an innovative, modern style utilizing a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series. However components such as brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA with the B-Series engine having its origins in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength. Wind-up windows were standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. A parcel shelf was fitted behind the seats.

The car was powered by a BMC B-Series engine, producing 95hp and giving the car a 0-60 of 11 seconds, perhaps not the briskest acceleration, but of course this car was more a comfy little cruiser, ambling about the countryside in sedate fashion admiring the views. The MGB was also one of the first cars to feature controlled crumple zones designed to protect the driver and passenger in a 30 mph impact with an immovable barrier (200 ton).

The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. Wheel diameter dropped from 15 to 14 inches.

Upon its launch the MGB was given almost unanimous acclaim, largely due to its advanced and innovative design combined with its beautifully and sleek styling. Previous sports cars of the same calibre had always been levied with a reputation for their ropey nature, with a majority of previous models being simply remodelled versions of the MG’s and Triumphs that dated back to the end of and in some cases even before World War II. But the MG was different, and if I’m honest, a large part of its appeal is due to its small, low body, and it’s poky round headlights that make it look rather cute. It’s the kind of car you could give a name, preferably a girl’s one. Either way, the MGB sold in hundreds, disappearing off to all corners of the globe, touring the South of France, storming across the deserts …