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Car Of The Month :
August 2012

'Marmite' by Sworks

I first heard about this Rover 75 Contemporary SE within the owners club when another member, knowing I wanted a Trophy Yellow Tourer sent me a pm. Trophy Yellow ZTT’s are very rare so I had resigned myself to possibly not owning one in this colour. I am personally more a Rover fan over MG but had realised I would have to change brand if a car in my desired colour became available. When this car appeared within the club it was apparent that it had an interesting history as it was stickered up in ‘Battenberg’ colours and was, in fact a Rover! The car was originally commissioned by the Warwickshire Northampton air ambulance team and was One of Two.

I was undecided what to do due to what at the time was an unknown history and in early December 2011 I went to Turin with work and it was at this point whilst away that my wife and boss set about purchasing the car on my behalf, and it became my Christmas present! The first time I saw it was when I was ‘called out to look at a car’ at work, and it was there in the car-park, with my family!

Once the car was collected it was transferred to our private plate and all was well. It even came with a name from the seller ‘Marmite’ Over the next few weeks curiosity got the better of me and I decided to research it’s history to try and find out why a Rover had been painted an MG colour. I was very fortunate to find that the Warwickshire Northampton air ambulance service remembered my car well but unfortunately not much about as to what happened to the second of the pair, BX05XCF. The two cars had been painted Trophy Yellow to coincide with the helicopters colours. It became apparent that both cars were, effectively, the last two cars to leave the factory and be handed over in person by John Towers at a ceremony at Coombe Abbey.

The car was used by WNAA as a rapid response vehicle for when the helicopter was out of service or it was quicker to go by road to assess if the helicopter was needed or, indeed, if it was cheaper to go by car. A few stories about the car in service were forwarded onto me; some quite sad but unfortunately with the nature of the vehicle, this was always a possibility. I also received some photos taken by WNAA of the car in use, which I am grateful for, but I have been unable to find any photos of the handover. It was also thought that the car was seconded to RAF Cosford but this was later found to be untrue as they had used a ZTT.

Further investigation revealed that the car was going to be donated by ‘The Phoenix Four’ to WNAA as a gift. The colour chosen was already known to match the colour of the helicopter and it’s thought that a ‘Rover’ was used as a Contemporary SE spec car was required. The build was commissioned and the project started. Unfortunately MG Rover went into administration as the cars were built but before the cars could be handed over. With the company no longer owned by John Towers, John Edwards, Peter Beale and Nick Stevenson the four directors decided to meet the costs for the vehicles personally, hence the personal handover by John Towers.

The car has tinted windows for safety / security reasons and two ovals can be seen in the rear tailgate glass that were left for the ‘Blue’ lights that were fitted. These ovals were covered over to make less obvious and we were going to replace the rear screen tint but thought it better to leave as a reminder of the cars past.
We visited Pride of Longridge and the Rover Owners Club National Meet in April 2012, where we met an ex Longbridge worker that remembered the Two cars going down the line and being parked up once built, awaiting their fate! The search for more info continues…………..

Article written by member Sworks

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