Sam’s Sterling Bargain Buy.

SAM MACE:

The 820 Sterling - A reliable uncomplicated drive-line, loads of buttons and switches too. Its what Monkey motoring is all about
The 820 Sterling – a reliable uncomplicated driveline, loads of buttons and switches too. It’s what Monkey Motoring is all about

Monkey Motoring isn’t just about hum-drum family transport and cheap workhorses. Just spend a few minutes online and you’ll soon discover a plethora of big, luxurious barges out there for the price of a mid-range laptop.

Mostly though, these will be rough money traps which will take a lot of spanner time at best, and a trip to the weigh bridge after a few months at worse. Something like a Jag XJ which falls in the Monkey Motoring price bracket may be tempting, but even if you manage to find a good one, the fuel bills alone have the power to cripple you.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a car which had the old money charm, presence and character of an old Jag without the frightening complexity and the drinking problem?

It turns out there is – and it’s the Rover 820 Sterling.

Earlier this month I broke every rule in the used car book: I got excited, bought with my heart and bought the first car I viewed. But why not? There’s not exactly one on every forecourt, and a quick blast up the road showed it to be a smooth running car which drives just how a 67k car should. The bodywork is tidy(ish) and will require improvement rather than any heavy duty welding.

After some brief umming, ahhing and lip biting, a price of £680 was agreed and I slapped down a decent deposit there and then.

A week later the handover went as planned. Despite the car sitting doing nothing for a week in the dank January gloom, it started first time with no hesitation, much to everyone’s surprise. The 70 mile trip home was dispatched with ease, and before I knew it, I was back home, sipping tea looking at it out of the window. Not exactly blogging gold, but drama was what I didn’t want…Even if it would have been entertaining for our readers…

Since then I’ve not really stopped driving it. Its size takes a little bit of getting used to, but with practice it’s no more difficult to place on the road than a hatchback. The only draw back is the fact an 800’s nose is nearly as long as Concorde meaning pulling out of busy junctions is mostly done by creeping one inch at a time. Otherwise, the Sterling is as relaxing to drive as a luxo-barge should be. Knots of stress are eased out by the big Rover, and the evening rush hour is almost a pleasure. A decent stereo, 6 CD auto-changer, heated seats and brilliantly functioning air con make the Sterling an enjoyable place to spend time.

The Sterling gives you a damn good hiding for very little money while still looking Regal and special.
The Sterling gives you a damn good hiding for very little money while still looking regal and special.

Lastly, I must tackle the elephant in the room. That elephant having “Cook Pass Babtridge” spray painted down the side. Since Norfolk’s fictional radio ‘star’ Alan Partridge’s prized Rover 800 was vandalised, their image has been sullied somewhat. After collecting the Rover, I had this strange feeling that I was borrowing Alan Partridge’s car for the day. But after spending some more time with it, I’m starting to see it for what it is. A dignified (if flawed) luxurious mile muncher. My car being blue, apposed to Partridge’s gold example and the lack of graffiti probably helps my cause.

What next for my new toy? There’s a list as long as the wheelbase of jobs which needs doing, most urgent of which are the bubbles of rust appearing on the inner rear wings. I have accepted that it will need some money spent on it, but I think it will be worth it. This is a good car, and with some elbow grease, could be an excellent one. My plan is to have car fighting fit in time for Pride of Longbridge with perfect timing as this years celebration at Cofton Park will mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of MG-Rover.

Will old Rover turn out to be a dog, or will it provide Sterling service – only time will tell!


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