"How I was bitten by the Rover Bug"
Personal Profile of Paul Strong
ROVER - That magic word that sends women screaming and men poor!
Having been brought up on a diet of early English cars such as Hillman, Humber and the occasional Ford, I think all guys had to own a Ford sometime in their life.
I remember the day my brother-in-law brought home his first Rover, a 'Rover 100' in white with red leather trim. We all thought it was as flash as a Rolls Royce! All the trips to the beach etc. and the endless trips to the mechanic, it was old and a bit tired I guess. He then went on to own a Mark II - 3 litre. All this was happening in my early teens and all cars were important to me at that stage. But I would say that was when I fell for that grand old lady called a Rover, solid, quiet and just that wee bit special.
As time went on I became involved with more Rovers. One in particular that sticks in my mind was a 1966 3 Litre, once owned by an ex Governor General. It was British Racing Green with beige leather trim, and above all it had power steering. This was the first car with power steering I had ever driven and I was able to use this car for a whole weekend. I don't think I went to bed all that weekend, or even home for that matter. I just wanted to keep on driving it!
When in later years I decided to buy a Rover of my own, I looked at an early P6 2000, white with red leather trim. I took this car for a drive into the city only to run out of petrol, not knowing about the petrol reserve and ending up with a flat battery. So as a result of this and listening to everyone telling me that they were too expensive to run and maintain, I gave the whole idea away and bought a 1972 Avenger GLS, - another Hillman.
After this I went through a whole raft of the usual Japanese cars, reliable but totally devoid of any character and presence.
It was in late 1997 that I came upon what was to be my very first Rover, a 1988 Black 825i, an ex embassy car. Having driven this car and checking out all the usual things and falling in love with it, I decided to buy it from this very amicable car dealer in Howick. All this was done on Christmas Eve, so off I went to all the family functions one is required to attend at that time of the year, feeling very proud of my new purchase. All I got over that holiday period was everyone wanting to go for a ride in, or drive this flash car, including my brother-in-law which suited me just fine. Many a pleasant trip was taken in this car all over the North Island at the drop of a hat. I guess this really started my true love for these wonderful motorcars, even though this particular car was part Japanese, although I wasn't too worried about that at the time.
Having known Stephen Buckley for a few years I took this car over for him to see, and he introduced me to the Rover Car Club, - that is when the ROVER BUG really bit me. I went on to see many, many stunning Rovers and meet their very proud owners, and then decided I wanted another Rover as well. This seems to be the normal thing for Rover owners which I have since found out.
So having decided I wanted a P6 we started looking at V8's and the occasional '4'. I got sick of all the rough cars for sale out there and just gave up, when along came this ad in the Roverdom. A 1974 Rover 2200 TC, 1 owner having done an original 90,000 miles. She was living way down in Taumarunui, so after a phone call to the owners I decided a trip to see her was required. So gassing up the 800 and popping Mr Buckley on board off we went. It was a cold, wet, typical winter's day and it rained all the way there. As we pulled up in the drive, sitting in the garage was this Almond PG looking a bit dusty, but very tidy and rust free. After talking to the owner who had owned it for 25 years, (this car had also been purchased on Christmas Eve, in 1974), we were allowed to go for a drive, just Stephen and me. For those of you who know Stephen, he went over this car in his usual meticulous way, like he was the one buying it. He didn't miss a thing and believe me, this was very much appreciated as I was new to P6's
Off down the road we went and the first thing I noticed was the very heavy steering, this I was assured I would get used to? Stephen took over driving and promptly ran out of gas, commenting, as he pulled out the reserve control, on how nice and smooth this worked - was this a sign of how hungry she was? Yes I did get to use it on a couple of embarrassing occasions - they use about the same amount of petrol as aV8!
Anyway it was purchased and she became my second Rover. I arranged for Terry Roberts and Kurt Shields to take me down to pick it up the next weekend. On getting in and heading home I thought, This is going to be an interesting trip', and yes it was still raining and cold so I got to check out those enormous wipers P6's have, and a very good heater.
During the trip home this lovely Rover, who had by this time been named Hannah because of her HH number plate, decided to pump oil all over the place. This I later found out was from the gearbox, a faulty filler plug being the culprit!
Hannah became a little famous when the club was approached by the N Z Classic Car Magazine and asked to provide a Rover 2000 for an upcoming article. On learning that I had the 2200 they decided they would do a feature on this as it was a model about which very little was known. That article appeared in the November 1998 issue of which I have a copy, should anyone like to read it.
After having owned Hannah for a short while, the 825i decided to give up the ghost by way of its automatic transmission self destructing. This was going to be very expensive to repair with no guarantee that it would not happen again. (So much for Honda reliability!) Off it went to a nice car dealer to be replaced by a reliable little Hyundai Accent that is still my everyday drive car. I know of very few Rover owners who drive their car daily.
So was it time to look for another Rover? I think so. I was approached by a man who was driving a 1965 PG 2000, which had come to the end of its life and he wanted to buy another one. He saw Hannah and decided she was the one he wanted. As I was about to sell her this was a good opportunity for me so we exchanged money and parted ways. I may add he is a very happy owner, which is just as well as he lives just down the road from me, and he does drive her daily. So there I was with no Rovers at all once again, but not for long!
I have been given a very tidy 1963 P4 '95'. This car has been off the road for around five years and is in need of a brake and carb overhaul, as well as some of the inevitable RUST remedial work. However this will eventually be done and she will be back on the road in a couple of years. I don't want to rush this as this wonderful model deserves to be treated with respect.
But I still needed a Rover to drive, so I approached Tony Grigaitis our club secretary who has a nice tidy 1966 Rover 2000 SC he is considering selling. Having driven this car and liking what I saw I decided this is going to be my next Rover. I hope to have this car soon and once again be able to get involved in club runs and events as well as put this wonderful early pre face lift P6 back to all her original glory.
I wish all Rover owners the ongoing pleasure that we all experience with this wonderful quality English marque.