Rover on the Horizon - my Rover Story
Why my interest in
Rovers? Actually, I am interested in all cars, but particularly British
and European models. Rovers have always caught my eye, particularly as I
am always interested in cars that are a little bit different and unusual.
I also like the Citroen DS for much the same reason.
My late parents
were both English having immigrated to Australia in the early 1950’s,
moving to Tasmania in 1955. Dad originally came from Lincolnshire and Mum
came from Devon.
first car was an Austin 7. He can recall when he saw his very first car
as a young boy, he and a friend jumped off the road and hid in fright.
Mum had the dubious
distinction of sporting a small scar on her cheek after she hit the glass
division in her grandparent’s Daimler. Levi the chauffeur ran head-on
into a Rolls Royce in a narrow Devon lane. Mum remembers Levi taking her
and her brother for drives, tucking a blanket around their legs saying,
‘Are you warm enough Miss June and Master Peter?’
connection with Rovers started with my Uncle in England who was deputy
editor of the Daily Mail newspaper in London. It was customary for the
editor to be issued the current model Jaguar and the deputy the current
model Rover. I was green with envy when I saw the family snaps, featuring
a P6 2000, then a P6B, then an SD1, then an SE11 prior to his retirement.
The cars were
handed down the line within the hierarchy after 2 years. One of his
SE11’s was mysteriously abandoned near London Bridge station which gives
access to the continent and the employee has never been seen to this day.
My Uncle had a high
speed crash in one of his SE11’s returning to Gloucestershire on the
motorway one very wet Friday night. He mounted the Armco railing and the
car slid down on top of the barrier then launched itself into the path of
on-coming vehicles, being hit by one. The car was a write-off.
The Police gave him
a lift home and he casually walked inside to be greeted by his wife who
said, ‘You’re a little late dear’.
The officer said,
if he had not been in a Rover he may not have survived to tell the story.
My brother also had
a City Grey 1965 2000SC manual.
In 1975 I purchased
my first Rover. I was living in Sydney at the time and saw a 1970 P6B
automatic in Arden Green. I bought it. NSW rego. GWM 328, I wonder if it
is still surviving.
Alas, after about
12 months of ownership it started changing gears erratically and I
panicked. Had I known what I know now I would not have sold it as I know
the BW35’s are relatively cheap to overhaul.
My love for the P6
In 2000 I was
visiting the historic Woolmers property at Longford for an open day. The
VCCA (TAS) had a display but what I saw in the public car park was
definitely the most interesting car as far as I was concerned.
It was a 1975 P6B
3500S in Mexico Brown with full Huntsman vinyl roof with Sandalwood
leather trim. I was surprised to see a rare S in such good condition and
I had had never spotted this particular car before. I noted it had Tassie
plates but a Western Australian dealer’s sticker on the back window. I
concluded that it must be a new arrival.
I could not take my
eyes off it and after of a tour of the house I was back in the car park
checking it out, hoping the owners would return so I would have a chance
to speak with them.
Alas, they did not
return so I jotted down the registration number hoping I could find out
where the car lived.
Some time later I
tracked the car to a house in Longford, only a few kilometers from where I
had first seen it.
trepidation I knocked on the door and was greeted by a gentleman by the
name of Ron MORLEY. I told him about my interest in Rovers and explained
that I had spotted his at Woolmers. Fortunately, he was very keen to show
me the car and even took me for a drive. I could not believe it when he
said: ‘Would you like a drive?’ Would I what!
I was impressed as
to how well the car performed compared to the several automatics I had
driven. It actually pushed me back into my seat when I accelerated, and I
wasn’t even trying.
I met Ron’s wife
Sally and said should they ever decide to sell, would they do me the
honour of giving me first offer. They agreed and we exchanged details.
I learned that Ron
and Sally purchased the car new in Melbourne in April 1975. It was
manufactured in England in October, 1974. They had kept a file of receipts
for every cent spent on the car from day one.
The car had lived
in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth WA and then Tasmania. The car was driven
around Australia in 1983/84, travelling from Melbourne to Sydney, back to
Melbourne then to Adelaide and back to Sydney along the Murray River, then
to Brisbane, Cooktown then Darwin through the Barclay Tablelands, then to
Wyndum, Albany, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, then to Perth. The trip took a
total of 16 months. Ron and Sally slept in a tent along the way.
It was totally
refurbished in 1996 in WA, having a total panel-off re-spray in the
original colour, a new vinyl top and was re-upholstered in Connolly hide
replacing the original velour. A security system incorporating remote
central locking was fitted.
I kept in touch
with Ron and Sally about once a year just to check on how the Rover was
going. They continued to assure me that I had first offer and when they
were ready to sell they would be in touch. I did not push the matter as
at the time I did not have the cash or garage space; so the wait suited us
continued for 8 years from 2000-2008.
In 2003 the
National Rove came to Tassie and I was glad to assist the organizing
committee where I could. My idea of heaven was the evening the street
outside our house was lined with Rovers when my wife and I hosted a
welcome to Tassie meal for the participants.
In March 2008 I
rang Ron and said that I would be ready to take over the Rover whenever he
was ready, as I now had access to the cash and a spare lock-up garage. He
said they had since purchased a Honda CRV and the Rover had become a
second car and was not getting much use. He said he would discus it with
Sally and call me back at the end of the weekend.
It felt like a very
long weekend but eventually the phone rang. Ron said yes, they would sell
and they would be happy for me to buy the car.
I was about to
embark on my third successive visit to Melbourne for the B and E/RACV
Classic Showcase and they were expecting guests to stay so we agreed on a
price (accepted without quibble) and I said I would visit them in 3 weeks.
It was with much
excitement that my wife Lorraine drove me to Longford with a bank cheque
in hand. Ron and Sally met us and the Rover was in the garage having been
serviced, filled with fuel and professionally detailed. They had even
bought new Rover key rings for the two keys, one for each of us.
I was humbled to
say the least. After 34 years of ownership they were parting with a
family friend they clearly loved.
I assured them that
I would keep in touch and the car would visit regularly.
After a few
explanations and the handover of the file of receipts Ron said, ‘How about
we crack the champagne’. How could I resist! So we wet the Rovers head.
This is definitely the way to do business!
There were tears
all round as I headed off with a toot of the horn and a wave and I could
see them in the rear view mirror watching as I drove off.
I have since taken
the car back to show them. My wife and I presented them with a bouquet
of flowers and a framed group of photos of the car including a photo of
them standing in front of the car on the day we took it over. More tears.
Now, my proud
ownership has begun, backed up by the terrific support from the RCCA.