In praise of the Rover

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Sir,

I was very glad to see Mr Napier’s letter about the popularity of Rovers in France published in your May issue. I would certainly endorse his remarks and add that one also sees a considerable number of these cars bearing the “TT” temporary registration plates, a fact that serves to underline the popularity of the marque with foreign visitors, quite a few Americans being among their number.

I spent a few weeks in Scandinavia recently, and was most impressed by the number of Rovers that were to be seen bearing the local licence plates. The Swedes, normally addicted to the products of Stuttgart and Detroit, not to mention Wolfsburg, seem to take kindly to these rugged, smooth-running, though somewhat uncomely machines, and the fact that they are bought at all is a tribute to their worth since Swedish roads are rough, to say the least. In Norway, road conditions are worse and the number of Rovers about is correspondingly greater. There must be more to this than the Viking Ship badge, so long the Rover insignia, even though this must needs delight the present-day descendants of the ancient Norsemen!

Now, the Rover is not a sports car even within the widest interpretation of the term, but there are facets to its character which are bound to have an appeal to the enthusiast-driver. A great many miles at the wheel of a fairly early “75” have shown me that it is far from the staid family conveyance that I originally imagined it to be, and that it possesses charm and worth in a satisfying blend of first rate engineering and extremely good manners. The handling, like beer, is an acquired taste, front-heavy and clumsy at first, one soon becomes accustomed to the pronounced understeer and very careful attention to the tyre pressures–28 in front and 24 aft— banishes tyre squeal and induces confidence and equanimity in the timid and the exasperated. The drill for quick cornering is simple : start turning the wheel earlier than normally and don’t lift the right foot. The bend will then be taken in a level, unflurried fashion that will surprise as well as delight. The gear-change takes a little getting used to, be it admitted, since only top and third are graced with synchromesh and the lack of a rev-counter allied to a high level of silence from the engine makes accurate judgment of layshaft speeds a fairly difficult task at first. But what a joy this gearbox is, with its vintage noises in bottom and reverse and silky action. A glance under the bonnet reveals the odd-shaped, well-finished, unobtrusive engine that propels this heavy car in no mean manner, provided that the revs are kept well up, and it is a satisfying piece of machinery.

Good taste is evident in the interior of the car wherever you look, and the plain minor controls have a pleasing, individual functionality so conspicuously lacking in most modern British cars. True, there are a few minor rattles and the rear seat tends to slide forward at times, leaving a space between the squab and the seat that cigarette packets fall into and coat tails get caught in, but apart from this there have been no other complaints in the car’s very hard life. The battery never seems to need topping up, thanks to its position under the rear seat which is the only one for this vital component. In direct contrast to this is the almost constant bone dry state of the battery of the Rover’s stablemate, a car which has this unit mounted on the scuttle where it merrily fries away all its distilled water in its own private oven under the bonnet.

The freedom from minor and major servicing bothers, the precision-built feel of the car, the lack of irritation from rattles and the like, the awe-inspiring smoothness of its progress, and the solidity of its build as well as the excellent finish of the paintwork and all its components combine to spell satisfied ownership to the Rover owner. These qualities, hidden or unobtrusive for the most part, make the Rover firm and faithful friends in whatever part of the world it goes to. Would that more firms in this country strove to emulate this fine example of British craftsmanship, and abandoned their slavish and unsuccessful imitations of the machines they make so well in Detroit.

I am, Yours, etc..

DA Stockland. London, NW11.

[This letter will no doubt be read in conjunction with the Rover 90 road-test in this issue. The present Rover 75 has synchromesh on second, third and top gears.—Eul