12.000 miles user report
Until the 2000
appeared for pre-production road test in September last year, the possibility
that I might become a Rover owner had never occured to me; still less did it
seem likely that this union would be arranged within four months of that time.
My preferences and their product, I found, had converged abruptly and Rover had
opened up a new market far larger than they have yet been able to satisfy.
10th this year, 45 HLB was delivered to the office; it must have travelled from
Solihull to the London dealers on a transporter because there were only 41 miles
on the clock. The first few miles revealed nothing wrong with the finish and
only a handful of operating faults, listed in a separate panel, to which we
shall return presently. Meanwhile I was delighted to find that it need not be
sent back for its first (free) service until it had done 1.500 miles and
thereafter only at multiples of 5.000 miles. In between there was nothing to do
but glance occassionally at the various fluid levels; even this is very
undemanding because the plastic washer bottle is a sensibly large one and
although the cooling system is not sealed Iīve never yet had to add any water.
running-in instructions were much less pleasing. They said not to exceed 35-40
mph for 500 miles, which I found difficult to believe and still do. At least
this leisurely progress left the mind free of receiving impressions: the gearbox
sounded excessively noisy in second and third and the exhaust crackled loudly at
three separate resonant periods as it ran up the speed range; otherwise the car
seerned smoother and quieter than Motorīs road test Rover. In January the
excellence of the heater assumed considerable importance, but then the whole
heating and ventilating system is well planned for any time of the year: the two
facia grilles deliver a controllable volume of cold fresh air at breathing level
without any appreciable noise.
At this early
stage I began to think about indulging my personal likes and dislikes. The Rover
is a car which you drive on the gearbox and you must be able to operate
accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously with the right foot to drive fast
and smoothly and always be in the right gear. So an extension was made for the
pendant accelerator pedal - I think the pedal might well have been longer in the
first place because every now and then the toe of my size 8 shoe would slip off
its bottom edge.
I like seat
cushions to have a considerable backward slope so that gravity keeps the spine
firmly in contact with the squabs which, on the Rover, are very well shaped both
for lumbar and for lateral support. The manufacturers bolt the seat runners to
the floor through distance pieces with a few spare washers in the tool kit so
that, within limits, you can adjust the cushion angle to suit yourself. Since I
wanted to exceed these limits by about 50 I used longer front bolts
on the driving seat but I find the result most satisfactory and the difference
between driverīs and passengerīs seats is most noticeable on a really long "two
hours on, two hours off" journey. Not everybody likes this modification, at
least on first acquaintance, and if you prefer to sit upright rather than to
recline it is probably undesirable.
There are two
other things to which Iīm not entirely reconciled. One is the curved mirror
which gives a splendid panoramic view occupying the whole of the large rear
window but which lends false distance to following traffic and makes long range
recognition impossible. Even after nearly a year of growing "accustomed to its
face" I would gladly exchange it for a wider flat mirror. The other thing is the
short stubby gear lever - I believe that a lever some two or three inches
longer, raked backwards a little, would come in a more convenient place for
armīs length drivers and have a lighter (though longer) action.
miles the car was returned with a written list of delivery faults to the London
dealers who supplied it. The under-facia switch and the headlamp setting were
both corrected; quarter light wind noise and exhaust crackle, they assured me,
were both normal and nothing could be done about them. The driverīs door catch
was adjusted to such good effect that the combined efforts of two chargehands
and a night watchman failed to shut it at all. About this they were most
apologetic and said if I brought it back in the morning their body specialist
would put it right immediately. But, of course, it was much quicker to adjust it
at home (six minutes).
So far as I
could see all the other service work was done satisfactorily except that the
free play in the steering (about 1 1/2 in. at the rim) was not removed. The
bulkhead-mounted steering box is extremely accessible and adjustment is very
simple. If the front wheels are jacked up, as the handbook rightly recommends,
the job becomes rather tedious but, if you leave just a little free play to
ensure that the worm and follower are not too tightly meshed, the whole job
takes little longer than filling the windscreen washer bottle; I make a practice
of doing it every 5.000 miles or so and the improvement in steering is quite
miles the car was checked by Crypton equipment which revealed only a slight
error in contact breaker gap and ignition timing and an over-rich carburetter
setting. The engine is rather sensitive to mixture adjustment at low speeds and
if the nut of the SU is more than a flat or two from the correct setting the
tickover becomes lumpy and low speed running in top can be very jerky. Early
cars also suffered from a trouble well-known to all carburetter men by the
picturesque name of "Harry and Willy", a form of irregular running at
part-throttle which, in the Roverīs case, produced a to and fro surging motion
around 40 mph in top gear. This seems to have been cured now by a distributor
giving less vacuum advance.
compared with our road test car, are interesting: at this stage of its life, 45
HLB appeared to have better acceleration and almost identical fuel consumption
up to about 70 mph in top (say 3.500 rpm) but thereafter it fell away badly in
both respects and was no less than 7 1/2 mph down on maximum speed. It had led a
rather sheltered urban and suburban life with very little long-distance running.
10.000 miles it had lost some of its edge at low rpm (although remaining as good
as the test car) but gained considerably at the top end. Maximum speed had risen
by 4 mph and high speed fuel consumption had improved. The loss in low speed
fuel figures is probably accounted for by the modified advance curve which we
have already mentioned.
would like a little more acceleration but I would be unwilling to get it by
lowering the final drive ratio and losing the present ability to cruise at an
unruffled 95-100 mph at a thousand rpm below the rev limit.
miles the brake fluid warning light started to flicker but this was only the
result of normal pad wear lowering the reservoir level. At the same time the
direction indicator switch failed for the first time - it happenend again at
11.000 miles and in both cases was replaced free. Judging by the difficulty of
finding a Rover agent with a new switch in stock, there must be a good steady
In June 45
HLB was scheduled for its first visit abroad, to report the Alpine Rally. The
whole 3.000 mile journey proved most instructive but it started in a rather
breathless sort of way. Three days before departure a grinding, grumbling in all
gears except top heralded the demise of the flexible roller spigot race which
connected the input and output shafts of early gearboxes. It was returned in
haste to Solihull and in the afternoon of departure day I collected it and drove
home rejoicing in a new gearbox of late specification which was in every way a
vast improvement on its predecessor. It now had a solid roller spigot race, it
was, if not silent, at least quiet in all the lower gears and it had a much
better change - lighter and more positive. A new final drive unit had been
installed at the same time because the original one was found to be leaking oil
on to the inboard rear brakes.
My wife and I
had a hasty meal, threw all the maps and luggage into the car and left Camberley
at 7.15 pm for the night boat from Newhaven to Dieppe. This is one of the
quickest methods of getting a long way in a short time, also one of the most
uncomfortable unless you arrive early enough to grab one of the better seats. We
didnīt and we spent the night sitting on hard wooden chairs round a small coffee
table. By 2.30 am we were free to leave Dieppe and, since there isnīt much to do
at that time, we left with the one who was only half asleep driving and the
other sleeping comfortably in a well-reclined passenger seat fitted with a
alternately in short spells to start with, longer ones later on, and keeping
down to 60-70 mph for the first 200 miles to run-in the new differential, we
headed southwards. There was one involuntary stop when the throttle linkage came
adrift. Hard breaking on a very bumpy downhill stretch had produced enough
forward movement of the engine to pull the drive rod out of its bulkhead bearing
but it took only a minute or two to force it back and bend the bearing forward
so that it wouldnīt happen again. We reached our target for the day far too
early and pressed on to have tea by the Mediterranean at les Saintes Maries. By
7.15 pm we had looked round the Camargue and motored back to Arles for the
and fifty miles, a channel crossing, some running-in and a bit of sight-seeing
in 24 hours, and at the end of it we were no more tired than at the beginning.
The only point in describing this journey is that it demonstrates the untiring
comfort of the car much better than a lot of words. The springing is superb, the
seats very comfortable, heating and ventilation are excellent in quantity,
distribution and controllability and will cope with a large temperature range
without the tiring noise of open windows. Also the Rover has the stability,
roadholding and brakes you need for easy relaxed driving. Those who have had the
experience, as I often have, of bounding along a non aménagé French road
not daring to go any faster whilst Citroens sweep past contemptuously will be
pleased to know that this doesnīt happen in the Rover.
thing worth noting about this journey is that the overall fuel consumption was
27 mpg and that means, with a 12-gallon tank and a facia reserve tap, that you
need refuel only at intervals of about 270-300 miles.
If the first
part of this trip illustrated comfort and convenience, the second part,
following the Rally round the Alps, put the accent more on roadholding and
handling. We picked up a third member of the crew and with three lots of luggage
in the boot this revealed a flaw in the suspension - when travelling fast on bad
roads with a heavy load there is insufficient bump movement at the back and
periodically the rubber stops come into operation. The bump rubbers are soft and
there is no jar or shock but the effect is enough to spoil the smoothness of the
back seat ride.
For the first
time a team of Rover 2000s was competing in this Rally. Before it started I
think their drivers felt as I did that, although the roadholding is impeccable,
the size, weight, soft suspension and fairly low geared steering would make the
car less responsive and sprightly than one would wish for hurtling round narrow
mountain passes. To a limited extent this may be true but a lot of compensating
virtues soon revealed themselves. High gear ratios, all of them synchronized,
make first really useful for the sharpest hairpins and a 55 mph second gear (65
for a rally driver) is splendid for the bits between. The steering is light
enough for crossed-hands motoring to be practicable, the bumpy bits donīt
deflect the car off its course, it doesnīt roll much and it never does anything
vicious on dry roads nor, with the Pirelli Cinturatos, on wet ones. Moreover,
you have to go very fast to make them squeal, a virtue which I rate highly.
tracking is important: Although the handbook recommends 1/16 in. either side of
parallel the best steering, straight line stability and least sensitivity to
corss winds demands a toe-in of at least 1/16 in.
stage of the journey southwards over the mountains to Monte Carlo was conducted
at dead of night with my wife driving, our photographer George Moore navigating
and B.M.C. competition manager Stuart Turner, in furious pursuit with a B.M.C.
service car, feeling very pleasant with himself, as he said afterwards, because
he thought he was keeping up with Anne Hall in her retired rally car.
Occasionally I woke up to hear the brakes squealing, a thing they had never done
before. When we left Monte Carlo a few days later it becomes obvious that this
trip marked the retirement of the front pads from active service at the early
age of 9.000 miles. When youīve worn away as much pad as Mr. Dunlop considers
wise, his brake cylinders come up against stops so that you canīt grind the
metal parts away as well. On the other hand neither do you have any brakes on
that wheel and we had to content ourselves with rear brakes only for the 900
pads on disc front brakes always present a wear problem. If they have backplate
shields they run hot and wear quickly; if they donīt they get sprayed with mud
and grit from the opposite wheel. 45 HLB now has a new type of ventilated shield
on which we will report later.
10.000-mile service, the car went back to Solihull from which it emerged much
quieter. A new exhaust system removed its three-note raspberry and adjustment of
the quarter light pivots and rubber seals cured the wind noise. The boot lid was
persuaded to stay shut and the heater controls were re-adjusted to let air in at
high speed; crossing France in hot weather we had noticed that air flow through
the heater would suddenly cease above 80 mph due to air pressure on the heater
flap overriding the spring link which connects it to the air control lever.
listed in the separate panel but deserve a little explanation. Fuel consumption
has been amazingly consistent: even though conditions of use have varied from
Alpine storming to thousand mile periods devoted almost entirely to motoring in
and around London, it has seldom departed far from the overall average of 25.7
mpg. Oil consumption is about 500 miles to the pint.
Tyre wear was
plotted from measurements made on the centre line of the tread periphery.
Initially I was alarmed to find that the rate of wear at the back appeared to be
twice as great as that at the front but this turned out to be illusory; the rear
tyres, which are held upright by a de Dion axle and run at higher pressure, wear
initially in the centre of the tread while the front tyres run off the edges to
a rounded profile. For this reason I disagree with the practice of interchanging
front and rear covers which can upset the handling and steering qualities of the
car. It is good practice, however, to change them from side to side, reversing
the direction of rotation, in order to eliminate the saw-tooth block wear
arising from heavy braking.
The tyre wear
graph has been extended to 15.000 miles by which time all of them were down to
or below the 1-1 1/2 mm. tread depth at which they become unfit for use in heavy
rain. Unaccountably, one rear tyre wore out at 12.000 miles; the higher wear
rate of the others from 12.000 to 15.000 miles was caused by Continental
travelling with four passengers and 3 cwt. of luggage in the boot. Except when
heavily laden the tyre pressures have already been kept 1-2 lb. above the
recommended pressures; experiments with much higher pressures showed an
improvement in handling which was not enough to justify the increase in road
noise and harshness.
remains the most doubtful figure; a look at current advertisements shows that
the Rover still has a scarcity value which makes it almost nominal. We have used
a figure of Ģ250 which may be more typical when the supply position improves
than it is at the moment.
travelling really fast at night on unknown roads I was never entirely satisfied
by the range of the headlights. Four 5 3/4-in. lights are not noticeably better
than two normal 7-in. units; if you go abroad frequently, as I do, there is also
the problem of changing from left- to right-hand dipping (and back) which
necessiates changing the outer light units completely and re-setting them.
problems have now been resolved in a completely satisfactory way by using Cibié
replacement units. The dipping lights, which have normal bulbs, can be changed
from left- to right-hand dipping by removing them and moving a small lever on
the bulb-holder; this involves taking off the front grille, but the whole job
can be done in 20 minutes and leaves the setting undisturbed. The beam is
asymmetric - sharply cut off straight ahead with a long range up the kerb to
pick up the cyclists.
pair are Cibié quartz-iodine units which give a well-spread light of staggering
range - these are, in fact, by far the best lights which I have ever driven
behind. They could be improved even further by re-wiring of fitting relays to
eliminate the 1 1/2-volt drop which exists between the battery and the bulbs but
this seems hardly necessary now. Foglights are not easily chosen for the Rover -
to avoid interference with the headlights or the cooling airstream they should
go below the bumper where only rectangular units harmonize with the frontal
appearance and leave adequate ground clearance over high kerbs. These again are
Cibié and they have neat translucent plastic covers to protect them from
addition was made. Growing rather tired of sitting in traffic jams without
entertainment, I decided that a radio was essential and acquired a Pye 2000T
push-button set. Since Iīd never fitted a radio I bought a fitting kit and the
recommended roof aerial as well. You have to get behind the roof trim to bolt
the aerial on so I had this done professionally; the rest of the job is well
within the capacity of the average handyman because Rover have already provided
all the necessary holes, flanges and spaces for bolting it in place and the
terminals for electrical connections.
12.000 miles have reinforced rather than modified the views we expressed in our
road test. There was, however, a paragraph criticizing the standard of
mechanical refinement, part of which is worth quoting.
too, could well be less audible in second and third speeds and the engine
becomes rather fussy well before its generous 6.000 rpm limits is reached. We
have to make these remarks on the evidence of two pre-production samples
although we are well aware that substantial improvements may have been made by
the time production cars reach the public."
By the time
45 HLB was delivered the engine had become much quieter at high rpm - we believe
that the road test cars had experimental heat shields over the exhaust system
which resonated at high rpm. We have already remarked on the improvements made
to later gearboxes. A lighter change would be an improvement - the present one
needs little more than finger pressure for slow movements but offers
considerable resistance to rapid changes.
mounted quickly since the end of the recorded period so that the clock now shows
16.500 miles but it still feels like a new car; the engine sounds the same as it
did originally, there is no rust and there are no body rattles. There are, in
fact, only two signs of deterioration both of which first appeared before 12.000
miles: the front quarter light pivots have become loose enough to slightly when
they are open and the clutch engagement from rest has become juddery.
Comments from Rover:
car has clearly been driven hard, and in general we agree with the comments
running-in instructions have now been deleted from the service guide, and a
modified instruction giving general advice, with no restriction to 40 mph, has
been put into the instruction manual.
flat dipping mirror is available as an alternative, although this does, of
course, obscure full width view very much more than the curved mirror fitted as
have tried a longer gear lever, but did not like it as much. The gear lever
cannot be moved rearwards because it interferes with the handbrake, which in
turn is already as far rearwards as is practicable for short drivers.
improved exhaust system and ventilator window sealing rubbers fitted to this car
are now standard,
direction indicator switch is a standard proprietary article, and it is agreed
that it has not been reliable. It has been improved.
front wheel tracking instruction has now been modified to call for 0-3/32 in. of
Improved front brake shields have reduced front pad wear.
Modified adjustment on assembly has now cured the tendency for the heater air
flap to fly shut at high speed.
Cibié foglamps referred to will shortly be available as a factory fitting.
have now eliminated clutch jadder and can cure this on cars already built (it
now has been cured on this car).
Other ownersī views
We were able to find very few
Rover owners who had done enough miles to contribute useful experience and there
would be no point in analysing these statistically. Gearbox trouble,
differential oil leckage and direction indicator failure are apparently the main
weaknesses. Several drivers complained of the audible clonk from the linkage
which accompanies gear changes. A minority had suffered persistant brake squeal
- there seemed to be some evidence that these people seldom used the brakes very
hard. One owner disliked the plastic material used for some of the trim and
upholstery (the seats, of course, are leather) which he described as sticky and
liable to gather dirt.
So much for the complaints.
Overall impressions are generally most favourable. Most owners are delighted by
the Roverīs comfort (in the widest possible sense), visibility, economy and
quietness - with some reservations about noise at high rpm in the lower gears
which probably applies mainly to early cars. Opinions about the quality of
service vary with the agents concerned.
||at 4.000 miles
||at 14.000 miles
|overall fuel consumption
Motor / UK