"How I was bitten by the Rover Bug"

Personal Profile of Les and Gillian Vercoe
July 2000

My first association with Rovers was in the late 60's. I purchased a series 1 P6 as a business car. This would have been about 1966 and the car was a '2000' with manual transmission, maroon in colour and with about 9000 miles on the clock. It had black leather upholstery and carpets and was less than a year old. In those days I paid more than the new price, my recollection is about 1750 pounds.

This car was a beauty and I can remember a very fast trip to Rotorua to see Lady Hellaby about a private school in Auckland. She had donated the school to a Board of Trustees. We left Auckland at about 9-00am, had our meeting and were back in Auckland in time for afternoon tea.

I joined the Rover Car Club at this stage, but did not attend any functions and my membership eventually lapsed.

I had this car for about 18 months, but then hit a small culvert about 4-6 inches high on a road in Titirangi, badly damaging the left front suspension. The car was repaired but did not seem to be the same somehow, and I sold it a short time later. I think that I got my money back on the sale.

Apart from the odd drool, I did not have anything to do with Rovers for the next 30 years, although our son had a tired Rover 2000 automatic at one stage.

By 1997 we had joined the British Car Club and owned a 1951 Ford Prefect. We took this car to the 1997 rally held in Taupo over Queen's Birthday weekend. We came second in the run, but winter took hold on our way through the pine forests on the trip to Wellington. To get the windscreen wiper to work better on the driver's side, I had to take the arm off Gillian's side. If we kept all the windows closed the car fogged up, and if we wound one down part way, we got soaked. It was cold and Gillian developed a bad case of the grizzles. The upshot was an ultimatum. Either another waterproof car with a good heater, or no more winter rallies.

A week or two later there was a P4 Rover 100 advertised in the Auto Trader. The car was in Glen Eden and I went along with Clive Geary to have a look at it. The asking price was $2000. It had been standing outside for 5 years, but the interior of the car was remarkably dry. We bought it for $1400 and had it towed to D C Trial's garage in Glen Eden. The brakes were shot, brake fluid seeping through the pipes. $2200 later, we drove it in the first leg of the 'Link Trial'. It did not miss a beat, the heater worked fine, but the engine leaked about 4 litres of oil.

The following year we won the Navigation Trophy at the British Car Club National Rally in this car. We then re-joined the Auckland Rover Car Club.

Since then Gillian has replaced her lovely Toyota Hatchback with a very nice P6B Rover 3500 V8. She currently holds the title of 'Lady Westie, Hoon of the Year!'