Rover Refinement

It is fashionable these days to assess motor cars used by motoring writers at mileages of 12,000 and 24,000—don’t ask me why. The Editorial Rover 2000TC has been reported on at various times; not that there was much to report, because it had proved one of the most dependable cars I have ever experienced. The magic 24,000 miles came up in my home town on a Saturday morning, with the car dirt-streaked following one of its periodic fast journeys up from Wales. Again, there is very little to say. Any faults that have developed have been almost too trivial to mention, like the n/s oddments bin not always staying shut and the thermostat which should give the refinement of the choke-warning light coming on only if the engine is warm with mixture-enrichener in use, going on strike for a while. The universals on the de Dion drive-shafts have taken to clunking, the gear-lever is ridiculously stiff going into 1st, and the hand-brake tends to jump up a notch and bring in the brake-on warning light, to the alarm of nervously observant passengers. The clutch is sudden and heavy but has given no other anxiety.

Otherwise, I have no complaints. The oil consumption of the o.h.c. engine is quite remarkable. At 14,904 miles I did put in a pint of Castrol, more or less in self defence, but it normally uses none between 5,000-mile servicings at Seagrave Road, and as these are often spaced out at considerably greater intervals, the consumption can be called negligible. The Rover is hardly a friend of the lubricating oil barons! This may be a legacy of the engine seldom turning over faster than a leisurely 4,000 r.p.m., unless pressed in the lower gears; much as I prefer an o.h.c. power unit, I feel that only very occasionally is lightweight valve gear justified on a 2000TC!

Petrol thirst tended to fall to around 25 m.p.g. from the original 26-28 m.p.g., and even went as low as 20½ to 22 m.p.g. Since its last sojourn at Seagrave Road the old economy has been restored, with sometimes over 28 m.p.g., always better than 26 m.p.g., a frequent average being 27 m.p.g. It likes 101-octane fuel, but pinks so perceptibly on 99-octane that it should be possible to save 1d. a gallon instead of paying an extra 2d. since the Budget without harming the bowl-in-crown pistons. I hasten to add that this is a personal view, with which the Rover engineers may not concur.

Tyre life is fairly heavy. The original Pirelli Cinturatos were replaced with a new set at 14,700 miles, as there was not much tread left on them. After 9,300 miles the two back tyres are more than half worn, the o/s front half worn and the n/s front rather less so, checked with a P.C.L. tread measurer. I see, using my Dunlop gauge, that Rover inflate them considerably higher than the handbook recommendations, especially at the front—perhaps to compensate for steering which is heavy and suffers from oversteer?

The only time the 2000TC let me down was when a water plate leaked away the anti-freeze at Christmas. Otherwise it has been not only one of the most reliable cars I have had but one of the most dependable in always starting no matter how cold the overnight parking.

So far as I know the brakes have not yet had new pads but they remain efficient although feeling less progressive than they did originally, so that renewals will probably be needed at the 25,000-mile service. But they have never needed pedal-pumping and do not squeal.

There is no need to deal with the Rover’s merits, because I have commented on these in the earlier references to PGJ 108E. I am reminded, however, that refinement has long been a Royer hallmark. Moreover, no make, surely, has more survivals of models made over a decade ago, in regular everyday use? The splendid range of “aunties” from 60 to 105 (the Continental Correspondent has converted his Rover 90 into a useful pick-up truck) were dealt with in a special article in Motor Sport for May 1967. More recently a reader has sent me some pre-war Rover literature, from which I am reminded that the Company issued data in those days which had a touch of R.-.R. dignity about it—the little book of internal body dimensions on 12 h.p., 14 h.p. and Speed-14 h.p. chassis, the performance figures, which in 1934 were in m.p.h. and k.p.h., and the sober catalogues proclaiming them “one of Britain’s fine cars”. . . .

The Speed-14 of 1935 had what would now be called a “fastback” body but Rover referred to it as a streamlined coupé. The £278 12-h.p. saloon, which developed 48 b.h.p. at 4,200 r.p.m., was capable of nearly 70 m.p.h. in 1935, when the average top speed of all British closed cars tested by The Autocar was only 68.7 m.p.h. In those days Rovers had three-bearing crankshafts for their four-cylinder engines, a controlled free-wheel, constant-mesh 3rd and top gears, enclosed spare wheel, sun-roof, and were rust-proofed. They were finished, not in the curiously-named colours of today, but in blues, greys, greens, maroons or even in black, with darker shades on the upper panels, lining on the bodies, and upholstery matching or quietly contrasting. A tool drawer under the facia, Stevenson jacking, automatic chassis lubrication, a neat instrument panel with access to the back of it, soft hide upholstery, a petrol reserve tap, high-grade cabinet work and Avon silent-tread tyres are other Rover refinements recalled by these pre-war catalogues. Good cars!—W. B.