The mechanic looks at Rover
Emergence of one make of car with such a high rating aroused such interest at
ROAD TEST that we felt it important to seek a completely objective opinion on
the mechanical merits of the machine. We therefore, through exhaustive inquiry,
located an independent garage owner who specializes in Rolls Royce, Bentley,
Jaguar and Rover. He is Mr. Anthony van der Ploeg, whose establishment is
located in West Los Angeles.
here at your shop we see a great many exotic machines. Obviously you specialize,
Tony tell us about your specialities.
spezialize in Rolls, Bentleys, Jaguars, Rovers and we do some Mercedes work.
your work essentially deals with the more exotic and primarily British machinery.
your accent shows a trace of the British influence but your name is certainly
anything but British, V-a-n d-e-r P-l-o-e-g. Tell us a little bit about yourself
and the name and your accent.
I came originally from Holland, came to Canada first about 15 years ago without
being able to speak English, I learned my English from two Scotch boys over
there, so I guess I may have picked up a trace of English and Scotch.
certainly anything but a Dutch accent and itīs very charming. Your background in
matters automotive; did you learn about cars in Europe or pick it up mostly in
started working on cars when I was 15 years old. Right after the war stopped in
was in Holland?
was in Holland and Iīve been working on automobiles ever since.
did it happen that you came to specialize in such as Rolls, Bentleys and Rovers?
when I worked in Montreal the dealer I worked for took on Rools Royce and asked
me if I would take a course in Rolls and do all the service work on Rolls over
here. So thatīs how I get started in Rolls Royce business which branched out
into other different cars.
essentially British makes. Now I see a few examples of the more expensive German
cars, such as the big Mercedes. Is there that much difference in the cars?
really, there are certain little things that may be diffently made on an English
car as compared to a German car. The cars basically are the same, all over
TEST magazine, among several of the other automobile publications, has given a
great deal of praise to the Rover. I see that you have several Rovers here in
the shop. Letīs talk for a minute about the Rover and the alleged excellence of
this particular car. I know itīs in the $4000.00 price range. Can you tell us
something about the features of the car from the standpoint of a man who works
on them? For example, what is the average frequency of repairs made on the
Rover carries a service handbook with that specifies that the car should be
serviced every 2.500 miles. Then every 5.000 miles there is what we call a big
service which includes tuning engines, and things like that. We find that if you
stick to this book you can avoid a lot of unnecessary repairs and youīll find
that there is very little work to be done on this car.
the Rover generally, if you take pretty good care of it seldom has anything go
among the things that inevitably must go wrong, because anything that has 10.000
parts in it, and a lot of those movable parts, things must fail from time to
time. What are the things that most often give trouble?
have had trouble with the brakes. The disc brakes are known to be squeaking
brakes and on the Rover in particular weīve had plenty of problems with this. We
have found some of them where the disc pads were sticking or the caliper was
sticking inside, especially the earlier ones, this seemed to be quite a problem.
They have corrected a lot of it now on the newer cars when theyīre coming
through with softer brake pads and a better braking system so we have gotten rid
of most of that problem.
is more of an annoyance isnīt it than a serious mechanical problem?
occasionally it would make the car pull on the brakes or if you had to make a
rapid stop it would pull the car either to the left or right.
of the things that is highly praised by the magazines writing about the Rover is
the superior braking ability of the car, when all is going right. Is it pretty
much borne out by your experience with the car?
Thatīs right, even with the squeaking brakes the brake action itself is just as
good as it could be.
Europeans have only recently come around to thinking in terms of automatic
transmissions and I know Rover sells a car with the automatic unit, is it
troublesome or up to now has it been relatively trouble free?
now the only thing weīve had to do in a Rover automatic transmission is an
adjustment on the linkage. The downshifts may have been a little rough. I was
absolutely amazed the first time I stepped into a Rover 2000 with automatic
transmission and found it had as much power as it does. Iīve always said that a
four cylinder engine shouldnīt be used with an automatic. Rover has certainly
proved me wrong on this point.
ones that I have driven are a little down on power compared with the stickshift
but it does seem to be an adequate unit.
think thatīs true especially if you handle it properly, you can shift from low
into the different gears, D1 and D2. Once you get to know the car you can drive
it just like the stickshift.
other problems that Rover owners encounter, in the mechanical line, can you
think of any additional that might crop up now and then?
had problems with the exhaust valves on the early ones. The metal used was too
soft and consequently there were quite a few that burned. The factory came out
with the heavier stellite valves which we are using now and that seems to have
solved the problem.
of the things the Rover people make a considerable advertising to-do about is
the alleged safety of the car. As a specialist who has gone over them from top
to bottom and from front to rear, what are the specific safety features built
into the Rover?
in particular is that in the event of a head-on collision the engine would go
under the car rather than coming in with you. The front end is designed so that
the engine will push itself down under rather than straight back. Also there is
the shock absorbing construction, the metal at front and rear is designed to
crumple up at a controlled rate. Iīm not just sure how it works but it does. The
protected location of the gas tank is another safety design.
it would appear that in your experience the Rover is a relatively trouble free
car and as long as the maintenance schedules are adhered to it should be a
pretty long lasting one. Is that right?
Anything else that you can think of, Tony, that might cause a Rover owner
of the things that we advise all of our customers to do is to change the
radiator hoses at least once a year. We find that the material the hoses are
made of apparently canīt stand our smoggy Los Angeles air. They kind of
disintegrate arfter a while.
there a replacement American size that would solve the problem or are the sizes
such that they have to be British parts?
have to use the British parts because the hoses are all different sizes and many
of them have one size on one end and a different size on the other.
long as the owner knows of the problem he can replace all the hoses as a matter
of routine maintenance and avoid an inconvenient let down.
would advise any Rover owner to carry a spare set before starting a long trip, a
fan belt too.
that all you can think of so far as special problems?
Otherwise we donīt seem to run into any major problems. Of course we
occasionally have little problems like the alternators when they first came out
but thatīs been ironed out. I canīt think of any others that have occurred. Of
course weīve had cars that have been mistreated, engines run out of oil,
transmissions shifted very badly, rear ends which werenīt checked and
consequently burned themselves out, that sort of thing. But these werenīt faults
with the car, just careless owners.
with sensible care, in your opinion, the Rover is a reasonably reliable machine?
would go even farther than that, I believe it is one of the finest motor cars
you very much, Tony van der Ploeg, for giving us your time and your expert
opinions on the Rover.
ROAD TEST / USA June 1968