Month: November 2009

Separated at birth?

The Rover SD1 and Rover 800 “fastback”. Granted, mine are ten years apart.. but production of them was only separated by a couple of years. Everything I’ve read suggests it’s a “complete coincidence” that the 800 looks just like an SD1 from the side.. but the SD1 was an amazingly popular car for how unreliable it was, so it’s not a surprise that a little influence crept in, I suppose.

The silver 800 is a 1991 827SLi.. one of the last 50 or so imported into the US. It’s got the end-of-shape body kit (most of which is still attached) and some other very bizarre options – like rear window blinds and one more window demister than you actually need. It’s also got 250k miles on it and the tappets rattle like anything when it’s cold.

Proper Minis are very expensive here.

…and no-one quite knows why. A decent 1970/1990 Mini will set you back a clear ten grand, which is ridiculous considering that you could buy ten of ’em in the UK for that. That’s why there’s a huge trade in importing them.. especially from Holland/France into (cough) Canada.

It’s now to the point where a BMW Mini actually costs less than a much, much older proper one.. which says a great deal for the lack of charm exhibited by the later Minis – and the phenomenal sales of “100% BMW Free” bumper stickers.

Frankenmanifold

So I currently have three Stags, all in various states of running. I have a Saffron Yellow 1972 that’s waiting for me to figure out how to get the front crossmember out.. I have a black (originally green) 1972 that’s engine-less.. and a black 1973 that’s got a 283 Chevrolet engine in it. It runs, but it needs some serious attention before it’s actually going to go anywhere.. but it does get a prize for “best custom exhaust EVER”:

I mean… look at it. Each downpipe has at least four joins in it, and it’s a 4-into-2-into-1 combination. It must’ve taken the poor guy that built this months to put it together.

He obviously got bored though.. because the custom exhaust just “ends” round about the rear subframe. I s’pose that was one join too many…

The car that started it…

….was a 1976 Triumph 2500S. It became mine in late 1997. After passing it at the scrapyard every day, Kim finally got tired of my constant griping about it and “part exchanged” one of our other slowly-rotting cars for it. So, in late December, it made the two-mile journey to our Kent house – under its own power, no less.

Given that this was the first of my “proper” cars, it was pretty much inevitable that it followed us to the US. Actually, it came first – in May 2004 – making the ferry journey via the Panama Canal to Seattle in about six weeks. So it’s buy CBD products a well-travelled car…

Rover’s second attempt

…at conquering the US – the Rover P6. Rover sold the P4/P5 in the US in limited quantities. Neither sold particularly well, mainly because it took an eternity for the P5B to make it to the US, and the P5 3-litre was painfully slow – especially with all that emissions junk stuck on it.

So, in 1969, the US got a “federalised” (read: “crippled”) version of the P6 2-litre.. and in 1970 the P6 3500s v8 finally made it over here. This is mine:

They sold pretty well.. and were very well-reviewed.. but despite the fact that the Rover v8 is fundamentally bombproof, it was good old British reliability that killed Rover off again in 1971.

The US-spec P6 v8’s were amazingly well-eqipped – A/C, electric windows, full leather interior, and Icelert (yes, really) as standard.  My P6 sat outside for a good seven years before I got it.. but fortunately the interior’s not too bad and those aluminium body panels really do help cars survive that little bit longer in the Northwest!

Why does no-one like the SD1?

I mean.. look at it.

Yes, it does look a bit like a cross between a Ferrari Daytona kit car and an Austin Maxi.. but it’s *soooo* comfortable.. and people really don’t expect a rusting British car to have a proper v8 in it. They also don’t expect the fact that it’s actually pretty reliable.

They were only sold in the US for one year – and depending on who you believe, there were somewhere between 500 and 700 imported in total.. most of which were automatics. Almost all of the “remaining” SD1s in the US were cannibalised for their engine and injection system, mainly because it fits perfectly in various MGs and Triumphs. I estimate there are maybe 40-50 left, and who knows how many of those are actually in running order.

Mine is a “late” 1980 – it was one of the very last imported – and is Richelieu Red, and came with a 5-speed manual ‘box, air conditioning, and a fitted sunroof. It’s in dire need of a paint job.. which is why it’s my winter project for 2009!

I have too many cars.

I figured I’d start with this one.. the point of this little page is to stop people asking me questions about how many cars I’ve got and what state they’re all in. At the last count, I have thirteen.. and all bar one have run at some point in the last year.

So let’s start with a picture of a red car with a yellow roof…