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I dont deliberately defy conventional thinking and make left-field choices just to prove people wrong. Rather I am a free thinker and like to experience life's pleasures and challenges for myself. So maybe thats why I bought my first Rover 820 Mk1-against all "advice". The car itself in very placid but smart RAF blue metallic (you know the colour) all safe and unthreatening looking, a bit like an M & S suit. The overall paintwork finish was pretty good for a Rover; deep and sleek like they say in the Berger advert.
Panel work was pretty acceptable too and definitely not as bad as legend persists. Interior wise you are presented with extremeley comfortable, highly adjustable and good quality velour seats. Swathes of plastic dash with walnut inserts lend to the implied quality of the car. Equipment levels were pretty decent too with a philips stereo and electric everything, trip computer and such all set in a roomy, somewhat homely environment. I would come to very much enjoy spending endless cruising miles in this and the many other 800 series I would own.
The engine starts with ease and purrs rather than bursts into life. A good, smooth gear change in the manual version "boasts" a somewhat confident if leisurely drive. On the road an accomplished ride and confident handling made the 820 feel a pretty safe place to be a feeling added too by the large but by no means ungainly size of the vehicle.
Performance is totally adequate for a big motorway cruiser. If you want performance then the Turbo/Vitesse models will deliver the goods. Fuel efficiency is pretty reasonable all round. I never felt I was paying over the odds for my driving experience.
Overall then the Rover 800 in any variant-and I've had them all (820,825,827,Turbo, Vitesse,Sterling) represents a safe, comfortable, economical and highly reliable choice of car. Much vaunted and indeed haunted by the inconsistency and vagueries of the Rover brand (and lets face it the whole British car industry) the 820 and 800 series in general do not deserve the bad reputation accorded them and especially do not deserve the slating they get from the very many I have encountered who have never even owned one but still have plenty to say on the matter.
Ive owned a lot of Rovers, 800's included and the Vitesse (sport) seems to bring all that is good, and bad about Rover together.
The electrical problems stay, as does endless rattles and squeks. The trim, while pretty simply isnt fitted properly.
BUT, mechanically they are sound. Infact underneath the rattles the car is superbly assembled (thanks to a mix of honda and Rover) Its strong, easily repaired from impacts and very reliable.
The best bit about the sport tho is the way Rover have done there own thing and dropped the honda engine, steering and suspension setups. The result is a shockingly competent big car.
The T16 turbo engine is fantastic, where in the smaller cars its dynamite in the bigger 800 it gives flexibilty its 6 cylinder rivals cant touch. I have a modded version of this engine which has been raced and is still going strong at 160k miles. Rumours of it being fragile are totally unfounded. They are tough, even if abused (I really do abuse mine).
AND.... it handles. Yep, a Rover 800 that can not only go round corners but do so well. It will hang onto many modern hot hatches. And it does so in style.
These cars can be picked up for next to nothing these days. Even by modern standerds they are impressive to drive.
Oh, and it comes with an LSD!
Poor brakes, infact there a joke.
Fuel consumption (very low geared)
Ropey electrics (fuse box)
To many rattles
Still struggles to keep its mass under control when thrown about
Chassis isnt rigid enough. Thanks Honda....
Superb handling for a big car, infact any car.
Powerful, flexible, tunable engine
Good straightline performance (low gearing helps here!)
Strong and well built
Cost nothing to buy, superb value
MY VITESSE TURBO COUPE,,98 R KNOWS HOW TO USE THE GAS BUT MINE DONT SEEM AS FAST AS SOME OF THE ONES QUOTED HERE,,MAYBE IVE JUST GOT USED TO THE POWERGEARBOX FULLY REBUILT BUT STILL WHINES IN FIRST WHEN U TAKE OFF,,MOST ANNOYINGONLY PROB IS WOOD TRIM ON DOORS IS STARTING TO COME AWAY,,RUST NOT A PROBLEMOH YES,,EVEN WITH A NEW CLUTCH I GET TTREMENDOUS CLUTCH JUDDER,,SOOOO HARSH ON TAKE UP,BUT U GET USED TO IT
Rover 820 Vitesse Sport
I've owned 3 of these cars. I'd have another any day; although I've no intention of ever getting rid of my current one-a 1998 saloon model in British Racing Green.
The Vitesse has been described as a poor man's Bentley (at least, the very scarce coupe version has) and while it's not quite as prestigous as a Bentley, a well kept Vitesse represents a far sounder investment than, say, a Jaguar XJ of around the same age. All cars depreciate, and big, thirsty cars do it best, so why buy a Jaguar that will cost you increasingly huge sums to run and maintain (and probably repair. A lot.) when less cash gets you something just as attractive, immeasurably rarer (How many Jags have you seen this week? How many Rover Vitesses?) and about a squillion times faster!! Fact is, and it's not broadly known, the 820 Vitesse is faster than just about everything!
The downside, of course, is the economy. These days, with petrol at £1 a litre, it probably seems a bit mental to even think about buying a car that will struggle to return any better than 22 mpg, but motoring in anything is pricey nowadays, and if this is the type of car you're after you can't get many better. Maintenence costs shouldn't be too high either, on a well kept Vitesse, as Rover cars are much better made than people seem to think. Potential buyers should, however, be prepared for the gearbox to need replacing at any mileage after 60000 (the differential bearings were sadly never up to the task of having up to 250 horsepower coursing through them), but any conscientious former keeper will have seen to this. For the same reason (sheer power!), the cooling system can cause head gasket failure, and hasty and improper attempts to rectify this (not having the cyl. head skimmed, pressure tested etc) effectively condemn the engine. Again, people who know and love these cars will have seen to this. Cambelt should be changed every 60000 miles, good quality 10w40 semi synthetic oil changed no more than every 8000.
The coolant temperature sensor, which can be bought for less than £20 & changed in 10 minutes is a common fault (manuf. by Lucas! Ask any auto electrician...)and may go unnoticed by many drivers, but it causes the ECU to richen the fuel mixture (sending fuel consumption into NASA territory!), so check the engine settles to an idle of about 850rpm once warmed. Also, be sure the turbocharger (a Garrett T25) is sound. Repair of it, even on an exchange basis is prohibitively expensive, replacement is astronomical money. This is why regular oil changes are essential.
Apart from that, the soundest buy you'll ever make. And you'll love how you're NEVER challenged to a 'race' by Imprezas, Cosworths, Golf GTis etc again!
i own a rover 820 vitesse sport, 95 car on a 96 plate and i love it i'm running 16psi with a moto-build piggy back CHIP to stop fuel cut off at 12psi and it flies top speed 161mph and 0-60 7 secs dead in a boat thats fast lol it also handles just as well as a hot hatch but i can also fit in the shopping and friends just hang on through the corners and you'll be fast
So the time came when I wanted to fulfil another of lifes ambitions and own a Jaguar. After about a year of enjoyable albeit expensive motoring the time came to change. 18 to the gallon just to go to work was a bit expensive on top of Southamptons ridiculous car park charges (£6.00per day) Anyhow getting back to the subject in hand I did a straight swap through Ebay of my 1990 XJ40 for a 1992 Rover 820 4 door automatic. Since that day I haven't looked back having since owned a 1994 5 door hatch 820 (bought on Ebay for £400 and then a 1997 Rover 820 again bought on Ebay for £500. It may seem that I change cars more often than England win at football, but this is purely to take advantage of recent bargain prices since the new ranges were introduced. Additionally the newer your car the better the spec. My current 1997 5 door hatch has everything electric, air con and is automatic. Even this on a run returns about 30mph as long as you aren't driving like Jenson Button on a Sunday afternoon. I guess arround town I get abount 26mpg.
I can quite honestly say in the four years I have been running around in Rover 820'sI have never had any problems. No doubt you have heard of oil leak problems and horrendous costs if the camnelt breaks, well if you buy a model after 1996 oil leaks are not really a problem and as long as you comply with the service recommendations neither should the cambelt.
Its a shame that Rover has gone to the wall. There is however a plus side as it has made these superb luxury cars originally around £18000 affordable to everyone.
LUXURY AT AFFORDABLE PRICES - BUY ROVER
I've owned '95 a Vitesse Sport Lux for two years. This is quite a rare version of the 800 in that it's specced out like a Sterling but has a 210bhp 2 litre turbo engine ( the same one you get in the 620ti ). I bought it from a main rover dealer when it had 30,000 miles and the depreciation had taken it from £25,000 to £9000 so I reckoned I got a bargain. It had everything I wanted at the time - it's very fast, with a top speed of 150mph and tremendous power through the mid range ( grp 17 insurance means it also attracts hefty premiums ) . Its got a full leather interior, electric everything and a 6 disc cd-player. On the downside, the finishing in the car has been poor. It rattles and squeaks more than it should and the dashboard housing expanded and buckled after a few hot weeks. Mechanically its been OK - I bought, and then extended a Rover guarantee and would strongly advise anyone else to do the same. The cost of the guarantee is about £280 pa but I've easily racked up more than that in bills. The main problems have been failed gaskets, a new power steering pump and a lot work done on the brakes. That may sound bad, but I've averaged 20,000 miles a year so overall not too shabby. In general 800s are bargain cars - they've got a poor 'style' image and are a bit old fashioned so prices are very low (the release of the rover75 crushed the prices on the very late models). But anything less than 5 years old with a good service record should prove reliable and, if you get a sterling/vitesse, a cut above the average lump for the same price.