2003 Rover 75
|Air Date||July 19, 2017|
We drive a 2003 Rover 75 in The U.K. It feels like a smaller American-ish car but with better handling. I was chuffed. Is that the right word? Chuffed.
[AUDIO FADE IN, MR. REGULAR:] Welcome to the RCR UK season. For the next month and a half, you’ll see cars representing people who were free to hang out with us, on an old airstrip in Essex, because it’s cheaper to rent a former RAF airfield than it was to get driver’s insurance for six cars, that’s why we filmed here. So here comes our first car. And why wouldn’t it be a Rover? --- INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!) UK’s best for UK shows, in UK cars, So, UK show, let’s go! --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR I’ve been waiting ten years to drive a car like this. Out of all the Rovers, it’s a Rover 75. It’s the last Rover that you can call a Rover. I mean, deep underneath, yes, it’s a BMW 3-series, but the uncle bitters, and the tweed, and the stuffy BROWN IS LAID OUT SO BLOOD-PUDDING THICK, you can’t tell. Oval. Round. Family. Cushiony. I am ready to settle into these seats, and think about our land of hope and glory. TOUCH MY CAR, DEAR(?), POINT OF SALE, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW WE DO THINGS HERE! 1.8 litre petrol turbo, manual transmission. Okay, in America, this engine-gearbox combination would be a mix for youth and raw-dogging, and sneaking into the girls’ locker room for second-base victory – never have Scott paper towels smelled so good. But here in the UK? Eh, 1.8 petrol-turbo old mans’ car, and stick-shift means nothing. I told Chris, the owner, moments after I sat down in this 2003 Rover 75, that this feels like an American car. It feels like a small Buick LeSabre, but with a bit of Japanese slickness, which is weird, right? Because it’s German and British. I suppose this is the way an American is trying to experience a modern British car – okay, it’s a mix of German and Japanese style, that’s the only language I have to describe this. Because you can mindlessly slap around the gear shift, like you would in a Honda, but it’s very quiet inside, like a German car. But my OCD is going nuts, because this speedo needle is moving in a circle, because that’s the only way that they could move, but it’s moving inside a oval gauge cluster! *sniff* So that means, the needle tip is far away at slow speeds, and then touching the numbers at cruising speeds, and then far away again at high speeds – STOP TOUCHING ME! Bugs on my neck, I don’t want you to kiss me- [TEXT: Bugs on my neck! // I don’t want you to kiss me.] I don’t even know you net(sic). [TEXT: Net?] I don’t know anything about youyouyou, and your bodybodybodybodybody means nothing to me! That’s what demisexuality is! Piss off! [TEXT: Piss off!] The license plate fills the holder, and you can get custom-shaped UK license plates here, that’s perfectly fine. You just have to pay extra for that. And the wood on the dash is real. And it has a tape deck, front and centre! What’s the British version of Lawrence Welle, because whatever that is, that’s going in here. Analogue clock, of course, check out the dome light, it looks kinda like a chandelier. And I’m learning more about this knob, the…the…the- learning- learning that adjustable headlights are a thing here, because everyone’s pulling trailers. But the hazard light button is way down on the centre console by the shifter, and that’s weird. But check out Chris – look, if you’re going to drive a pensioner’s car, and you’re in your twenties, you know a clean, low-mileage Rover 75, own it. Own the entire image. Own the clothes, own the diction, own the hoover. This is Chris’ daily, and he has no regrets. Rover 75 – for the guy that drinks bourbon in college. One look, and the Rover 75 is a car that’s easy to ridicule, if that’s where your mind is headed. It’s considered a pensioner’s car, as much in the same way as the Honda Jazz would be in the United Kingdom. With Rover standing in as the British Cadillac, or maybe you could think of it as the poor man’s Rolls Royce, or slightly-well-offer- I-I guess… a cheaper Jaguar as well. Jagwahwahwahah- [TEXT: Embrace my coal-region pronunciation.] It’s all mothballs and burgundy. But when I look at it, it looks like a pantomime Englishman. It’s a stiff-upper-lip, and a semi-annual greeting card to his mother. That’s the impression this car gives off from a distance. The Rover 75 is classy in an administrative sort of way - it’s a professor waiting for your graduate thesis with a red marker at the ready. But imagine the power trip when you finally get a hold of this marker yourself. Some men worked their entire lives to be cloaked in the armour of executive privilege. But you get that feeling with a Rover 75, that feeling that you belong on the other side of the velvet rope, even if you don’t look the part. The Rover 75 is an executive car that Rover produced from 1999 to 2005. Pretty much the length and duration of P.O.D.’s career. The car was born as a three-pronged assault on the British car market, with Rover developing a large saloon car, a car with considerably smaller frame, and the Rover 75. All three plans were ambitious in their own way, as Rover was looking in to muscle in on BMW territory. But only the Rover 75 made it out of production. The goal was to update the popular Rover 600 model that ran from 1993 to 1999. But Rover eventually scrapped the plan and started from scratch with the 75. This firm handshake comes all the way from the K-series line, and features a 1.8 litre turbo inline-four with electronic multi-port fuel injection, four valves-per-cylinder, and all 1.8s can be converted to run on liquified petroleum gas if that’s something that your dick gets hard for. As for this particular Rover, the engine makes 150 horsepower at 550 RPM and 215-pound feet of torque at 2100 RPM. Wait a minute, are these Imperial or Metric units? 150PS at 550 RPM, and 215 torque at 2100 RPM- hmm…anyway, it goes from 0 to 60 in 9.1 seconds, 30 miles an hour to 50 miles an hour in 7.1 seconds, and 50 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour in 7.4 seconds. Again, I’m offering numbers, because… well how can you convey an experience this gloriously straightforward? It’s performance is more or less in line with what you’d expect from a Diesel Car Magazines ‘Compact Executive Car of the Year for 2001’. But there’s a musty charm to it. You don’t really get these types of self-assured cars anymore. The Rover 75 knows what you’re thinking, and it doesn’t care. Their owners know what you’re thinking, and they don’t care. So how did Chris…a young guy, come to own a Rover 75? Well, his mom found this one car dealership in Bristol that was loaded with these new models that no-one bought. Chris didn’t intend to purchase this one, because if he had to get anything, he’d get the V6 model. But here was a 1.8T. So, he lowballed the dealer on the price, y’know, thinking nothing would happen, only for the dealer to call back his bluff, and accept the offer. So, Chris found himself with a 1.8 turbocharged Rover 75 that only had 93 miles on it, and this car hadn’t seen the open road from November 2004 to December 2011. And sure enough, as he got to driving it, Chris felt vindicated for his love for the Rover, and this going to be a bit of a running theme for the UK season. These people whose cars we filmed… there’s an even split between people who love their cars and people who are just sort-of tolerating them, but in the UK, everyone we filmed loved what they drove, from cars that cost from five, even six figures, to cars that maybe cost four, maybe. Rover was once the top-of-the-line regular car in the United Kingdom, but it was continuously bought out over the years, and moved downmarket, until it acquired a reputation as a car for a very particular niche. So particular in fact, that one couldn’t help but wonder who this type of car was supposed to appeal to. It became a quirky artefact of an age that seemed only to exist in the memories of Generation X, and their Countdown-watching grandparents. And over time, the Rover brand acquired cult status to where people of all ages want to drive on their own merits. And it speaks to the earnestness of the car culture in the United Kingdom – sure, you get the same dick-measuring that you see in the States, but while our time here was admittedly brief, we didn’t get that same sense of judgement that you tend to get when a guy in a Dodge Neon rolls up to Sheetz for the monthly Cars and Coffee, and parks amid all the Hondas. And I suppose that, out of all the nice things I would want to say about the United Kingdom, that’s probably the nicest. There’s remarkable sincerity in the car culture here. And while not everyone is necessarily driving his or her dream car, a dream car is whatever you’re willing to put that label on. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN, to the tune of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, Crowded House Poor man’s Rolls Royce, believe it’s Rover, Executive car ‘til ‘round ’05, Rover was sold off to British Leyland, But now they’re with Tata… ---