"How I was bitten by the Rover Bug"

Personal Profile of Jan Phillips
July 2002

Prior to me meeting my husband Kevin in early 1995, the only thing I associated with the word "Rover" was a rather large dog! Although Kevin owned a P4 IO5S at the time - I only saw photographs at the time as it was undergoing a full restoration and was still sitting at the mechanic's workshop.

However, in August of that year my association (and love of most models) with Rover cars began when Kevin purchased his beautiful Arden-green P5B from David Merryweather. I accompanied Kevin to David's property and was so impressed with the car, I encouraged Kevin to buy it. To me, it was the nearest thing to a Rolls Royce that I would ever drive in. I just loved the spacious interior, the leather, the pull-out picnic tray in the back, the hidden tool kit in the front dash - I could go on, but this story isn't just about the P5B. We used this car (and Nick and joy's black P5) as a wedding car when we married in December 1995. I felt like the Queen herself on that day, and the car is part of my very special memories.

Eventually Kevin's P4 arrived back from the mechanic and painter and as the 50th anniversary of the P4 approached in October 1999, the pressure was on to have her ready for the display and party. With a lot of hard work by Kevin and 'forceful encouragement' (which he called nagging) from me, the car was ready for the display at Motat. We now had two stunning Rovers to use on the many events we attended.
By now Kevin had me bitten with the Classic Car bug. I had seen an MGW at the Waikato Car Show - red with cream leather interior and hood. I fell in love with it immediately, only deterred from purchasing it by the $30,000+ price tag. I was told that replica cars could be purchased at a fraction of the price and there was one available at the Turner's Classic and Prestige auctions coming up.

We turned up to this auction and test drove the T cars (there were two up for sale) but what a disappointment. One was obviously built for a giant - I couldn't reach the pedals even lying horizontally on the drivers seat, and the other's battery was dead and stalled when changing gears - having to be pushed back inside. Even though the price was right - the cars weren't. However at the auction was a rather nice two-tone P3. This was the first "old" Rover I had ever seen - up until then I had only seen P4's and newer. I was very impressed with the car and persuaded Kevin to let me bid on her. It needed quite a lot of attention - the rust in the back was particularly bad, so decided on a limit of $2,500. The bidding was so hard however, that we didn't even get to put in a bid and it was sold for nearer to $5,000.

It was by chance later in that year that when looking through the internet we came across a person with a P6 and a P1 for sale. "What does a P1 look like," we thought, so made a trip down to Waitoa to view it. It had just gone through a body-off restoration and was not yet roadworthy, but we were both taken with the two-tone blue and black paint job. The interior would need quite a lot of work and none of the electrics or chrome work had been reattached. The price was a bit high for the car's condition and we said we would think about it.
A couple of months later an advertisement was sent to us for inclusion in Roverdom for the sale of a two-tone green and black P2. This looked a much more attractive proposition as it was in a roadworthy condition and had very little that needed doing to it. At the time, it was living in Wellington - a good excuse for a holiday we thought.

We drove down to Wellington, prepared to buy the car if it was in as good condition as we had been led to believe (the owner said it was a bit rough). We were pleasantly surprised when we saw her - much better than a bit rough (although to be fair to its owner Allan, his other cars were of concours condition) and purchased her on the spot.

We now had a dilemma - should we purchase the P 1 as well? After much discussion, we decided to - we now had a matching pair. In fact the P1 (now named Petunia because of her blue colour and she is such a 'pet') is now perhaps our most reliable Rover (see Kevin's article re the National Rally).

I have now become such a Rover enthusiast that I am considering updating my beloved Nissan Cefiro for a Rover 825/827 coupe, and have been voted in as the Secretary for this club. However much to Kevin's dismay, I have not yet been convinced to enjoy driving in his (crusty) P6 - but that is another story.