Guest Blog: My Rover R8 is alright mate!

Benjamin Adams:

Benjamins nice looking R8 214 - I can vouch for this one, it used to be mine - twice! ED
Benjamins nice looking R8 214 – I can vouch for this one, it used to be mine – twice! ED

So I am the new owner of the Editors Rover 214, but for those who don’t know me, this is in fact my fourth Rover R8 model I have owned.

G776RGC was made in 1989 but for whatever reason wasn’t registered until May 1990 along with around 40 other Austin-Rover cars. Research has found it was registered alongside a Mini 998cc (G771) Maestro 1.3 (G772) R6 Metro 1.1 (G773) Montego Diesel Estate (G774) and an early 414 (G775). G777RGC does not look to have been issued.

What is very interesting is that the original number plates, that are still on the car to this day, display a telephone number of ’01 542 6221′, the code ’01’ was replaced by ‘071/081’ in 1990. This makes me think the car was ready for sale earlier with the plates made up but for whatever reason didn’t get sold to the customer until May.

Its pretty fair to say I am a big fan of ‘The Firm’ having owned no less than 3 R6 Metros, 3 R8s, 2 HH-Rs, a 25 a ZR, an early 75 and 3 800s in the last 12 years. Its not all been plain sailing, I swapped my 45 for an Omega and regretted it almost immediately, reliable it was not. I’m also a fan of the quirky having owned a Fiat Coupe 20v and a MK2 Chrysler Neon, a surprisingly good car, if utterly boring!

I can hear you asking why I commute in a car older than the average Hollyoaks character? I answer “why not?”

Rover’s R8 was groundbreaking in 1989 and is still today a very good car. It is a well made and well designed car. Being the 1.4 it is cheap to tax but being light and having no pesky catalytic converter its also pretty nippy, the 95bhp SPi engine manages 0-60 in 11.1 seconds which was excellent then and is still very credible today, in fact its quicker than a new Astra or Focus 1.4!

The later MPi 103bhp unit cut that 0-60 time down to 10 seconds. Its a little known fact that the MPi version made the ZR105 quicker than the MK4 2.0 Golf GTi !

Being an early SLi its not exactly weighed down with the ‘toys’, but what it does have is useful and worthy. I have central door locking and twin electric door mirrors (later SLi models were reduced to an electric passenger mirror and a manual driver’s side mirror) and a manual tilt/slide sunroof. Power steering was an optional extra that was not selected at the time but its only missed at parking speeds, the later alloys and larger 205 section tyres actually lighten the steering as well as improving its cornering abilities.

I do a daily commute across Staffordshire along a mix of A and B roads of around 55 miles a day. As good as the Neon and the Fiat were neither were particularly economical. The VED costs were prohibitivly high, especially on the Neon and both were £400+ a year to insure. By contrast the 214 is just £145 a year to tax and £240 a year to insure. Some people feel the need to spend thousands on a BlueWhatsit car to save a few quid, I think I’ve achieved similar for less than £800 outlay, on a long run it does around 42 mpg and 38 mpg on my commute which is a mix of A roads and country lanes.

Perhaps I’ve achieved the zenith-“BlueRinseMotion” Motoring?!

So what are my plans for the car? Simply to use and enjoy it, the clock says its undertaken 141,000 miles since May 1990 but the condition of the interior and the exterior suggest half that and I think this is testimony to 2 things; firstly the high quality standards Austin Rover worked to when building these early cars and secondly the love and attention lavished onto it by its previous owner, a Mr Michael Humble, a Rover Addict of Leafy Horsham, Sussex.

I have some proper rubber Rover floor mats to fit at some point and have upgraded the security (!), I may also fit an alarm just to give me a bit more peace of mind as I currently have to leave it in a side street 5 days a week. I am also investigating the possibility of upgrading the engine mounts as the design of the standard Rover item is basic and old fashioned (it dates back to the S-Series) and its resonance spoils the aural pleasure of the well cared for K-Series at tickover. Powerflex make a better one for the R3 which may fit as a lot of R3 and R8 stuff is interchangeable so in future blogs I will report back on my progress with this. I also intend to fit winter tyres to the original steel wheels come winter time as my commute can get a bit treacherous around the more rural routes in the Staffordshire Moorlands!

But for now let me say, if you are looking for an inexpensive way to drive ‘Club Class’ then sell your mundane mobile and treat yourself to one of the best cars ever to wear the Viking Longship. Now is even a better time to own, especially as the model now enters its 25th anniversary. I can’t wait for the cars birthday party next month at Gaydon… I’ll be there!


  1. I had a red J plater 414si in 1993. Rmember to this day paying £5,200 for it at The Great Trade Centre, London. A former Wadham Kenning lease car. Wonder if its still with us ? J918 OPG

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