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Old 21st November 2023, 13:00   #1
Reebs
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Cool Rover 75 at 25 - The International Press & Dealer Launches In Spain

With the 25th anniversary of the Launch of Rover 75 imminent and after having had a good chat with it's 'Father' at the NEC Classic Motor Show earlier this month, I thought it high time we took a deep dive and had a look back over how the car was presented to the world in detail for the first time.

The reading room at Gaydon Heritage Motor Museum has extensive archives detailing much of the planning and logistics on these two events and is well worth booking a visit, and that coupled with the memories of Peter Morgan the Rover 75 Project Director and some of his personal archive pictures, provides the basis of this thread.


Having 'revealed' to the world at the 1998 NEC Motor Show in Birmingham the new R40, the pressure was then on to organise a formal Press Event where journalists from around the world could look over the car with a fine tooth comb, and of course take a drive and be driven in it for themselves.

It was decided by the then BMW owned Rover Group to launch two separate events in late January and early February of 1999 to showcase the new design, the venue to be in Spain.

1) Seville Press Launch


The first event was organised to run over a 5 week period from Saturday 30th January until Saturday 6th March and was based at The Hacienda Benazuza 15 miles West of Seville. In that time, 875 journalists from 64 different countries attended.

49 roadworthy pre-production LHD cars were shipped out from Cowley consisting of 13 Atlantic Blue, 13 Arden Green, 7 Copperleaf Red, 6 Zircon Silver, 5 Moonstone Green, and 5 Wedgwood Blue cars of mixed trim and engine derivative. These were to be the dynamic Ride & Drive vehicles for the press to evaluate. In addition to these, there were 6 static display cars which would be parked at various locations, showcasing the many trim levels, and broad colour range available.

The Display Cars were as follows:

1) Wedgwood Blue 2.5 V6 manual LHD Connoisseur with Neptune Blue Leather, Sunroof, Wood Rimmed Steering Wheel, Telephone Bracket, Wood/Leather Gear Knob and dressed on one side with 17" Serpent Alloys, and on the other with 17" Meteor Wheels.

2) Dorchester Red 2.0 V6 Auto RHD Club.

Both of these cars along with an open chassis cutaway were positioned in the main presentation suite.


Here you can see both cars being prepared back stage prior to being put in final position. At this stage the Wedgwood car still has it's 15" Crown Alloys on.


3) White Gold 2.0 CDTi Auto LHD Club

4) Primrose Yellow 2.5 V6 Manual LHD Connoisseur with Deep Sea Green Leather interior, Headlamp Power Wash and 17" Serpent Alloys. Both of these cars were located outside in the court yard area.


Here is a clearer view of the Primrose car prior to shipment when it was used at an event in Gaydon with Peter Morgan standing front and centre


5) Zircon Silver 1.8 Manual LHD Classic which was parked at the lunch stop on the ride & drive tour.

6) Zircon Silver 1.8 Manual RHD Classic which was located at the P.M. coffee stop on the tour.

Ride & Drive Cars

Here you can see the line of Ride & Drive vehicles awaiting preparation including the 7 Copperleaf cars 4 of which were diesel and 3 V6


This Copperleaf, a Club with Ash Grey cloth interior is a CDTi with 15" Contour Alloy Wheels


The Press event days would generally start with the delegates arriving and after checking in, would be shown around the court yard display and on to their respective Ride & Drive cars where they would be taken on a pre-set route around the local area which involved a lunch stop point. Here they could inspect the LHD 1.8 Zircon car, then being allowed to take the wheel of their car, onto the P.M. Coffee stop to see the RHD Zircon 1.8, before finally returning to the Hacienda for the main presentation inside followed by dinner.

This process was repeated over multiple days with different journalists having the opportunity to enjoy the cars to the full.

Here is an example of one of the Zircon Silver Ride & Drive vehicles, it's a Club CDTi with Ash Grey cloth seats. It was the only diesel of the 6 Zircons, the others being three 2.0 V6 cars and two 2.5 V6s


The next picture from Peter's archive shows him standing between Nick Stephenson (at that time not one of the Phoenix Four) but Director of Rover Engineering, and Geoff Upex Rover Group Design Director. They are with another Ride & Drive car, this one being one of the three diesel Wedgwood Blues, the other two being a 2.0 V6 & 2.5 V6 derivative.


The remaining breakdown of Ride & Drive cars were as follows:

3 x Moonstone Green 2.0 litre V6 (1 Connoisseur, and 2 Clubs)
2 x Moonstone Green 2.5 litre V6 Connoisseurs
7 x Atlantic Blue 1.8 (4 Classics, and 3 Clubs)
4 x Atlantic Blue CDTi (3 Classics, and 1 Club)
1 x Atlantic Blue 2.0 V6 Club
1 x Atlantic Blue 2.5 V6 Connoisseur
1 x Arden Green 1.8 Club
2 x Arden Green CDTi (1 Club, and 1 Connoisseur)
6 x Arden Green 2.0 V6 (1 Classic, 4 Clubs, and 1 Connoisseur)
4 x Arden Green 2.5 V6 Connoisseur

As a final reminder of the event, the Press were given a memento to keep on their desks


One of the British journalists to attend was James May on behalf of Top Gear, and you can see his review filmed in Seville below. He is in one of the 4 Arden Green LHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseurs. His example had Sandstone leather, a Sunroof, Headlamp Power Wash, and High Line Satellite Navigation. The item was original broadcast on BBC2 at 8:30pm on Thursday 18th March 1999.




And this is the review filmed at the Seville event from the team from the Granada Men & Motors Channel. Watch out for the Primrose Yellow Courtyard Display Car with it's Deep Sea Green Interior at the end too

This model is one of the 6 Zircon Silver Ride & Drive cars, and went onto be exported to Italy after the event. It's a 2.0 V6 Manual Club with Ash Grey Cloth interior, has a Sunroof, Cruise Control, Low Line Navigation, and Traction Control.



Click Here

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2) Jerez 'Sensation' Dealer Launch

Having hopefully won over the world's motoring press in Seville, a second team from Rover Group embarked on a charm offensive to woo as many Dealer Principles from around the world as possible by putting on a five week long display 70 miles further South in Jerez.


This event ran from Sunday 7th February to Monday 15th March 1999 and was held at The Monte Castillio Hotel Resort in Jerez. This time a completely different set of 125 Ride & Drive cars were shipped out from Cowley consisting of the following models:

26 x Arden Green 1.8 LHD Manual Club saloons with Deep Sea Green Cloth interiors
26 x Atlantic Blue 2.5 V6 LHD Manual Connoisseurs with Sandstone Leather seats
26 x Pewter Grey 2.0 V6 LHD Manual Connoisseurs with Aubergine Leather
27 x Wedgwood Blue 2.5 V6 LHD Auto Connoisseurs with Ash Grey Leather seats
20 x Zircon Silver CDTi LHD Manual Clubs with Neptune Blue Cloth


100 of these cars were parked up in rows alongside the runway at Jerez airport (with the other 25 held in reserve in case a 'hot spare' was needed throughout the whole event), the intention being to show the dealers the cars as their first sight from the air when landing.


Again, from Peter Morgan's photo collection, you can see all these S reg early Pre-production cars lined up in readiness, including some with unpainted reversing sensors




As the delegates disembarked the aircraft, these Ride & Drive cars were driven round in a consecutive line to meet and greet each dealer and their partner


Notice how even the order of the cars has been thought through, with them all arriving in a repeated sequence of Pewter Grey, Atlantic Blue, Wedgwood Blue, Zircon Silver and Arden Green.






Having cleared arrivals the dealers would then be driven the 15 minute journey to the hotel venue for dinner.

The following day, each dealer would be taken in their own Ride & Drive vehicle on a tour of the local area which included 5 stopping points on the way.


They were again allowed to take the wheel as well as being chauffeured during the tour.


At several of these stopping points, delegates had an opportunity to inspect a number of static display cars which had also been transported from the UK to Jerez.

There were 17 of these vehicles, and they consisted of the following:

1) Atlantic Blue Manual RHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseur with Sandstone Beige leather. This was the 'Reveal' car and similar to the Seville display, was positioned between a Wedgwood Blue Rover 25 mock up (Jewel), and a Steel Blue 45 (Oyster) in the main presentation area at The Monte Castillio. This car was specified with High Line Sat Nav, Headlamp Power Wash, Traction Control and Harmon Kardon Sound System.

2) British Racing Green Manual RHD CDTi Club with Sandstone cloth interior. This was fitted with 16" Union Alloy wheels.

3) Arran White Manual RHD 2.0 V6 Connoisseur with Ash Grey leather. This was fitted with Front Fog Lights and Low Line Sat Nav.

4) Primrose Yellow Manual RHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseur with Ash Grey leather. This car had High Line Navigation, 17" Meteor Alloys, Harmon Kardon Speaker System and Headlamp Power Wash.

5) Steel Blue Auto RHD 2.0 V6 Connoisseur with Neptune Blue leather interior. This was fitted with High Line Navigation, Cruise Control, Sunroof, Traction Control and 15" Y-Spoke Alloys.

Pictured left to right below are 5 more of the 17 static display cars:


6) Pewter Grey Manual RHD 1.8 Club with Aubergine cloth seats.

7) Tahiti Blue Manual RHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseur with Sandstone leather. This car was fitted with Headlamp Power Wash and Front Fog Lights.

8) Midnight Blue Manual RHD 1.8 Club with Sandstone cloth seats, and 16" Union Alloy Wheels.

9) Moonstone Green Auto RHD 2.0 V6 Connoisseur with Aubergine leather. This car also had a Sunroof, Traction Control, Front Fog Lights and 16" Cross Spoke Alloys.

10) Copperleaf Red Manual RHD CDTi Club with Ash Grey cloth interior.

and in the foreground below are:


11) Damson Red Auto RHD 2.0 V6 Connoisseur with Sandstone Beige seats. This car was fitted with Front Fog Lights and Low Line Sat Nav.

12) Wedgwood Blue Manual RHD 1.8 Club with Ash Grey Cloth interior. This one was fitted with a Symphony Stereo and 6 CD Changer.

13) Raven Black Manual RHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseur with Sandstone leather seats. This car also had High Line Sat Nav, front Fog Lights and 15" Broad Spoke Alloy Wheels.

Then with their boots up:

14) Dorchester Red Auto RHD 2.5 V6 Connoisseur with Aubergine leather. This car had Head Lamp Power Wash, Front Fog Lights, and 16" Union Alloys.

15) White Gold Manual RHD 1.8 Club with Sandstone cloth seats. this one was also fitted with 16" Union Alloy Wheels.

Finally the two cars in the background to the left, were the 'Accessorised' display vehicles


16) Arden Green Manual RHD 2.0 V6 Connoisseur with Deep Sea Green leather interior. This car had Low Line Navigation, Front Fog lights, Painted Mud Flaps, Chrome Door Handle Finishers and 16" Cross Spoke Alloy Wheels.

17) Zircon Silver Manual RHD 1.8 Club with Neptune Blue Cloth seats. It was fitted with Painted Mud Flaps, Sunroof, Roof Bars and Ski Box, Chrome Door Handle Finishers and 15" Broad Spoke Alloys.


As you can see, they had the full spread of colours, trims, engine derivatives, optional equipment and accessories on display.

The 'Sensation' Dealer Event ran for 33 rotations and accommodated 6,500 delegates across the 5 week run.

Without doubt these two Launch events in Spain were the biggest undertaking Rover Group had ever mounted, such was the confidence in the product from Rover and BMW, confidence which paid off.
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Old 21st November 2023, 13:10   #2
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Cool

Interesting photos. Do we know how many of these cars have survived?
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Old 21st November 2023, 13:12   #3
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Great information!
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Old 21st November 2023, 13:35   #4
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Originally Posted by FLYING BANANA View Post
Interesting photos. Do we know how many of these cars have survived?
Unfortunately not, I wouldn’t imagine many are still alive. Remember these were all pre-production examples on S plates which weren’t really meant to escape into the wild, although as we know, some did.

Some of them stayed out in Europe and were shipped to foreign markets probably being used as Press or Demonstrator cars, and some came home to Rover in Birmingham.

Here are two Jerez Ride & Drive cars pictured back in England after the event



This one was used in a Rover Technicians Video about the Navigation system



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Old 21st November 2023, 15:39   #5
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I wonder what happened to the sister of my S reg. wonder if the old girl is running around Europe somewhere
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Old 21st November 2023, 16:28   #6
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I wonder what happened to the sister of my S reg. wonder if the old girl is running around Europe somewhere
I checked the registration and it came back with a Blue Rover 214 being out of MoT since 2009. I think that car may have long gone and it's AOX plate re-registered to another car by Rover?
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Old 21st November 2023, 17:07   #7
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Paul,
Thank you for your efforts in highlighting all this: fascinating stuff!

Did the dealer events result in a gift being given like the press one? [BTW: presume the base is an example of the walnut dashboard veneer?]
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Old 21st November 2023, 18:12   #8
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Did the dealer events result in a gift being given like the press one? [BTW: presume the base is an example of the walnut dashboard veneer?]
Not that I'm aware of or have been shown.

The Seville model was a Silver plated Pewter car mounted on similar wood to the dash.

This post by member Talago gives more detail....

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I was having a bit of a clear out and came across this in the roofspace.

It is a hand finished sliver plated pewter model of the Rover 75 which was given out as a gift at the 1999 International press launch in Seville, Spain.

It comes in a lovely blue box with the 75 logo on the lid....


The model is mounted on a plinth, similar wood to the 75 dash....


There is a certificate included. This is number 29 of only 700 made....


The complete package....


Close-up of side....


Close-up of front....


The model was made by Marque Models, who launched their own one a few years later. It came in the following package....


The Marque Models 75....


Base of the Marque Models plinth.....


Regards,

Colin
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Old 21st November 2023, 18:47   #9
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Not that I'm aware of or have been shown.

The Seville model was a Silver plated Pewter car mounted on similar wood to the dash.

This post by member Talago gives more detail....
I have both of them 😂
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Old 21st November 2023, 19:28   #10
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I have both of them 😂
Very cool and I'm not at all

Does yours have a limited edition number card?
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