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Car Of The Month :
January 2015

Gentlemanís Club by Sidetops

I have worked in car sales for over 20 years, enjoying the benefits of company vehicles for most of that time. Times have changed and when the credit crunch of 2009 came things began to tighten up, I could no longer drive a fully expenses paid company vehicle anymore without paying tax for the privilege. The whole idea of a company car started to lose its appeal.

So in 2012 I began to search for a car of my own, checking for anything interesting we took in part exchange at work and trawling through used car advertisements for a half decent motor. After discounting several Ford Mondeos and a Peugeot 406 diesel estate, I thought about something from Mercedes or BMW, but they tend to cost quite a bit more, and of course you need to factor in higher running costs.

Obviously I'd never consider a Rover 75.....

Then one evening whilst popping out for fish and chips, we went in my friends Rover 75 2.5 V6 Connoisseur SE. As we travelled along it became apparent how beautifully finished and comfortable this car was, and actually didn't look that bad after all! Thinking that everyone might consider me far too young to drive a Rover 75, I decided to start looking for an MG ZT.

The first one that took my fancy was an X-Power grey ZT V6 situated in Coventry, had its cambelts replaced, with high specification and looked good value, but alas I missed out at the last minute on the famous auction site we know and love.

Next up was another X-Power grey ZT, but a 1.8T this time from Southampton, but on the morning of collection I received a phone call to say the EML had come on, apprehensive I declined to buy it, although a member now owns the car and it is apparently just fine! Next was a very clean ZT CDTi in Royal blue, quite expensive the owner wouldn't budge on price.

Finally I spotted a certain 2003 Rover 75 Connoisseur SE CDT auto in Wedgwood with cream leather. Not really of interest at first for obvious reasons, but I was attracted to the higher than usual specification, and decided to put in a cheeky offer. Predictably the seller came back and declined, so I decided one last offer of an extra £100 cash 'collecting tomorrow' and to my complete surprise he accepted!

Sunday morning we set off on the 170 mile journey from Newhaven to Solihull to collect this unknown Rover. Expecting the worst, I'll never forget my utter surprise to see it sitting in the driveway gleaming in the sun. A mature gentleman with a welcoming smile stepped outside to greet me. After giving a reasonable explanation for selling, he left me to have a good look around the car.

With all the cars I drive you'd expect this to feel just like any other, but sitting behind the wheel, trying to keep calm, heart beating rapidly I fell in love there and then. It soon became clear that it was in practically mint condition - result! We went for a test drive and all seemed good there as well, so after exchanging money, filling out the V5, a bit of a chat and a cup of tea, I took it away.

Proudly driving my new Rover 75 back home was an experience that will always remain in the memory. Astounded how smooth, quiet and comfortable it was while driving along the M40 south bound past Oxford, 75mph, cruise control on, 44mpg showing on the IPK, and listening to Elaine Paige on the radio, playing Nat King Cole's 'Stardust' This has become the cars theme tune, and whenever it is played, I think of the joy felt behind the wheel that day.

The Rover 75 already has a very high standard of specification having left the factory with options such as a sun roof, hi-line sat nav, 6 disc CD changer, power fold mirrors, xenon lights, heated washer jets, FBH with remote control and timer, wood and leather steering wheel, and rear parking sensors. Usually preferring to keep a car as it left the factory, just a few modifications have been carried out.

Walnut trim around the window and head lamp switches has been applied, and a set of Serpent alloy wheels fitted. The single tone horn was reminiscent of an Austin Metro, so having the extra horn fitted makes for a more stately presence! Having a 160 upgrade transforms the car. Initial acceleration is much more responsive, making pulling out of junctions a far safer experience rather than solely relying on prayer.

Mid-range performance has also been greatly enhanced, making for safer passing, and enabling a much smoother driving style. Fuel economy has been enhanced by about 10% overall, also automatic gear changes seem more responsive than before. I thoroughly recommend this upgrade to any diesel owner!

Of course it hasn't been all plain sailing; inevitably there have been a few issues that have needed to be dealt with, the same as with any car of this age. But thanks to this great club which put me in contact with Sean at Just 75's in Bexhill who has been excellent, and has a real passion for these cars, he keeps everything just as it should be and for a very reasonable cost too. Despite this, it is a very reliable car indeed.

The Rover 75 is my favourite car above all the flashy company cars I've driven. Maybe because itís not owned by anyone else or perhaps itís because of its character, or the way it makes me feel: comforted, safe, secure, happy and proud.

At the time of writing I have enjoyed 2 years and approximately 20,000 miles in this wonderful British made car, and always look forward to every journey in it. When walking away I always look back with much pride at this beautiful, stylish car. Someone once commented that driving a Rover 75 is like sitting in your favourite leather armchair, in a gentleman's club, travelling on a magic carpet. That just about sums the experience!

Article written by member Sidetops

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