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Rover 800 (1986 - 1999)

Last updated 14 March 2013

 
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Model Timeline

September 1981
Austin Rover designer Gordon Sked formulates idea for a new car

Sked attended the Frankfurt motor show, a task that as a senior designer within BL, he would be expected to, but he was actually there on a fact-finding mission. Gordon Sked was in Frankfurt to get a feel for what the company’s rivals would be introducing onto the marketplace over the next year or so. As Gordon Sked observed in 1986, the class of ‘81 was, ‘a little aged and due for replacement, so our knowledge of what might be coming was the key.’

Sked came back from Frankfurt having seen the Ford Probe III, as well as the Opel Tech-1 and it was very obvious to them that from the look of these concept cars, the Europeans would be moving towards a more aerodynamic body style. This was only part of the story: the recently launched mark two BMW 5-Series demonstrated that mechanical and electronic sophistication were already moving forwards in leaps and bounds. Quite rightly, the company knew at this early stage of LM15 development that a re-body of the upcoming Montego would not be enough to produce a car that would be able to compete effectively against what was in the pipeline from the company’s rivals.

Ray Horrocks and Mark Snowdon soon surmised that the only way that Austin Rover would be able to develop a more sophisticated car was with help from Honda, who possessed the resources and ambition to produce an entirely new large car. Discussions with Honda, therefore, started following the Frankfurt expedition in September and along with the licence build Ballade arrangement; the matter of executive cars was discussed. Snowdon found that Honda were not only highly accommodating, but very keen to collaborate with Austin Rover because at the time Honda’s largest engined car in export markets was the 1602cc Accord model and they wanted to expand their presence in the USA, a Country that loves the big car.

Three stages of XX design First XX clay prototype completed in July 1982 was very recognisably a Rover 800. Many styling features made it through to production, most notably the “duotone” colour scheme and the appearance of an unbroken glasshouse. The headlamp and grille treatment resembled the later R8 Rover 200.

First XX clay prototype completed in July 1982 was very recognisably a Rover 800. Many styling features made it through to production, most notably the “duotone” colour scheme and the appearance of an unbroken glasshouse. The headlamp and grille treatment resembled the later R8 Rover 200.

Austin Rover XX “DEV 2” model on display in November 1982: the convex flanks of the earlier car were now removed, but this version of the car worried Gordon Sked because of its huge glass area, cab-forward stance and “size perception”.

Austin Rover XX “DEV 2” model on display in November 1982: the convex flanks of the earlier car were now removed, but this version of the car worried Gordon Sked because of its huge glass area, cab-forward stance and “size perception”.

DEV 3 prototype produced following the convergence of the XX and HX programmes in the early months of 1983. This design would amount to the definitive Rover 800, aside from a small change in dimensions.

DEV 3 prototype produced following the convergence of the XX and HX programmes in the early months of 1983. This design would amount to the definitive Rover 800, aside from a small change in dimensions.

The final result - clean profile of the early 800 is very evident in this shot – the uninterrupted beltline and clean treatment of the glasshouse being very evident here.

The final result - clean profile of the early 800 is very evident in this shot – the uninterrupted beltline and clean treatment of the glasshouse being very evident here.

November 1981
Honda and Austin Rover signed a co-operative deal

Discussions became more serious, intentions became firm plans and as a result, in November 1981, the Austin Rover-Honda XX letter of intent was signed between the two companies. The Austin Rover design team had not waited for the green light, however: they had already started work on executive car concepts following their first meeting with Honda in September and their thoughts turned to more aerodynamic solutions. This sentiment is reflected in Roy Axe’s statement that, ‘the question was whether we wanted to jump into that pot, steer clear of it, or take account of it; in the end, we decided to take account of it.’

The Director of Design’s reasoning was soon put into action when the design team at the new Axe studios at Canley started to draw their concepts for the new car. So, Austin Rover’s intention was for the design to reflect aerodynamic thinking, but at the same time, given the high regard the SD1 was still held in, any new car produced by the Canley team should bear more than a passing resemblance to its progenitor. The XX external designer Gordon Sked was quite vocal in his admiration for David Bache’s design. At the launch of the new car in July 1986, he opined, ‘Looks have never been a problem for the SD1. Even after ten years, it is still quite a handsome car, beautifully proportioned.’

July 1982
Rover XX project began to take shape

So, a look was conceived and by July 1982, the Canley design studio had produced their first full-sized clay model. The first XX clay model produced was recognisably a Rover 800, carrying styling themes that would make it through to production, such as the top/bottom contrasting colour scheme and blackened A, B and C-Posts, which gave the car the appearance of having an uninterrupted glasshouse and its floating roof. Despite the proclamation made by Roy Axe that the new car would not be a slave to aerodynamics, the first incarnation of the XX was a rather characterless looking aero car with its smooth, featureless barrel shaped flanks and partially covered rear wheels. It did, however, attain an excellent aerodynamic performance when tested at the MIRA wind tunnel, achieving a co-efficient of drag measured at Cd 0.27.

Elements of the SD1 were added to the initial XX design to give the basic shape rather more character – and these can be seen in the swage lines along the flanks (treated in a rather fussier way than on the SD1), the ribbed rear lamp lenses and the long, slim headlamps which bracketed a droop-snooted, grille-less nose. Roy Axe was also quite determined to ensure that the style of the XX could be transferred onto future Rovers, as he believed that in order for a model range to be successful, there needed to be an element of a family look.

One surprising decision taken very early in the design stages was that unlike the Rover SD-1, the new car would be a three box saloon, rather than a hatchback. It may have seemed that this was an illogical decision for the company to take, but given that the XX was designed very much with a wider range of export markets than the SD1, it was felt that the more traditional layout was a more prestigious option especially in image conscious markets, such as Germany and the USA, where BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz ruled the roost.

The need to share a platform with Honda also led to some design compromises and the main one that Austin Rover engineers wished that they had not been saddled with was the need to build the car within a width stipulated by the Japanese. One major contribution to the feeling of space in any car is the width of its passenger cabin and because Japanese taxation laws demanded a narrower car, Austin Rover fought a losing battle with Honda to make the new car more commodious than the SD1. This initial difference of opinion between the two companies did make Austin Rover’s interior stylists shift their focus and re-examine the ambience of the interior – and the end result is one of this controversial car’s greatest assets.

Collaborative work between the Japanese and British engineering teams was soon underway and although the Japanese were taken aback by the fact that the British team had already produced a model in time for their first meeting, it did not sour relations between the two companies. Soon XX and HX (the codename for the Japanese version of the car) models were being prepared side by side at Canley and an excellent working relationship was soon struck up between both parties.

This did not stop Honda exerting pressure on Austin Rover to fill out the sides of the new car because the XX and HX would have to share chassis pick-up points. The Japanese felt that the Citroënesque tapering plan view that was so good aerodynamically (and subsequently would appear on the Mercedes-Benz 190) did not give the car enough road presence and so, the new Rover would have its dimensions subtlely altered. Variance on styling was inevitable, but whereas the initial agreement of November 1981 stipulated that the two cars would only have unique styling in the areas of front and rear overhangs, the actuality was that both Honda and Austin Rover found this to be an unworkable arrgement and because of this, entirely unique HX and XX styling proposals soon evolved – which happily left Rover and Honda with their own, very different cars.

Because Honda had no interest in producing a four-cylinder HX, structural differences between the two cars also soon became apparent; whereas Austin Rover felt a that a 2-litre version of the XX was essential to the cars success in the UK and Europe, its body needed to be engineered in order to accept the Roland Bertodo designed M16 engine as well as the Honda-built 2.5-Litre V6 engine, thus adding further complication. In terms of XX engines and because the V8 used in the Rover SD1 was so deeply unfashionable at the time, no real thought was put into employing this engine in the XX, which is a shame, given the less than suitable power and torque characteristics of the Honda V6 used in XX when it eventually appeared.

November 1982
Rover XX final shape decided

By November 1982, the next version of the XX (referred to as DEV 2) was produced as a full-sized glass fibre and clay styling buck. BL management flew out this model to Japan for evaluation by both companies’ top brass and although Axe and Sked were both happy with the detailing of the car, they still felt unhappy about the overall proportioning of the car. Both men agreed that further work was required and as Sked put it, DEV 2 looked, ‘a bit too soft, its size perception was worrying us slightly.’ The goal posts moved quickly and it did not take long for DEV 3, the final version of the XX, to appear some six months later.

Both teams were now designing pretty much their own cars, but the continued to work together – and Honda did benefit from the arrangement in much the same way that Austin Rover did. The HX was by far the largest car the company had ever designed and the company did benefit immensely from BL’s body engineering expertise. This meant that both companies did gain a lot from the whole programme, a fact that sometimes BL watchers did not always fully acknowledge, when discussing Honda. Because the two cars were in danger of becoming too far diverged from each other, the design and engineering of both cars were once again brought closer together at Canley during January 1983 in order to strictly maintain commonality in the two programmes. This step did bear fruit and although both teams felt that their engineering teams’ creative impulses were being reined in, it did mean that what was left of the programme would be conducted as a strictly joint venture.

One benefit of this change in tack was that when news from Japan was received that the dimensions of the Honda V6 differed to those that had been originally forwarded to the XX and HX teams, both Honda and Austin Rover engineers could move quickly by working together to rectify the situation. The newly-sized V6 would force a 9mm increase in the wheel track dimensions of both cars and it was Gordon Sked who took this set-back on board and turned it into an advantage by putting back some of the barrel sidedness of the original DEV 1 prototype. Honda on the other hand, took the easy way out and simply added wheel arch blisters reminiscent of those on the Audi URquattro to the existing body – hardly a fitting appendage for an executive car! Either way, Honda held their hands up for this uncommon error, and financially compensated Austin Rover for the trouble they had caused the British company. Be that as it may, Honda allegedly used the situation to their advantage according to one insider: ‘But I was told that they took advantage of their foreknowledge to pull the HX launch well ahead of XX.’

Of very real interest, however, was the four-cylinder engine being developed by Austin Rover, because it used the rather unimpressive O-Series unit as its starting point. Unlike the SD1, which relied on a range of physically large, torquey engines, the XX would make do with a highly-tuned version of an in-line 4-cylinder engine developed in two states of tune to replace those used in the Rover 2300 and 2600 models. Austin Rover would rely on Honda to produce a top of the range engine befitting of the task of replacing the much-loved V8 in the Rover 3500 – initially Honda failed in that task.

January 1983
New engines developed for the XX

Roland Bertodo tasked with producing new versions of the O-Series engine – the higher-powered version of the two would need to be able to extract at least 70bhp per litre (to put that into perspective, the standard O-Series engine managed 46bhp/litre). This was an extraordinarily tall order for his team to meet, given the fact that the O-Series engine in single carburettor 2-litre form delivered 93bhp at 4900rpm. Given that these objectives were tough enough to meet, there was also the ongoing issue of emissions regulations and how the new engines would be designed to meet them.

This required the new engine to be of lean-burn configuration, in order to meet upcoming emission regulations, whilst still being able to produce enough power and torque to propel this large bodied saloon in an effortless way demanded by executive car buyers. Needless to say, Bertodo realised that his team needed to design a twin-cam 16-valve cylinder head for the engine and also do away with carburettor induction, replacing it with fuel injection in both versions of the engine. In order to meet power, economy and mixture expectations, particular attention was paid to the design of the combustion chambers – and here, Bertodo went back to the future, borrowing the design of the 1973 Triumph Dolomite Sprint.

According to Bertodo, ‘Triumph people stumbled on the fact that it (the pent-roof combustion chamber design) gave very good economy, but they didn’t quite know why. We sat down at BL technology and devised flow rigs…. to discover why it was the best chamber. It gave the best combination of power, economy and low emission under lean burn conditions.’ So, whether traditionalists liked the Rover 800 or not, Spen King had his hand in at least one aspect of its design. The lower powered 2-Litre engine called the M16e (and M16i in 138bhp form) was also unusual in being offered with single-point fuel injection, which was a real rarity back in 1986. This system effectively worked as an electronic carburettor, the fuel injector being mounted on the throttle body, which meant that a single injector, electronically controlled could be used to fuel all four cylinders. In this form, the engine still developed a healthy 118bhp at 5600rpm.

Actually, the M16 engine was quite a remarkable achievement, given the humble starting point and less than generous development budget given to the team.

This is especially apparent when compared to the original Honda V6 engine, which was also supplied in two states of tune, but tellingly it was engines’ torque figures that gave the game away: 163lb ft at 4000rpm for the automatic version and 160lb ft at a scarcely believable 5000rpm for the manual version. The engine itself was sweet and smooth, but unlike the V8 powered Rover 3500, which could double as a tree stump puller, the V6 versions of the XX would need to be revved in a most un-executive way to extract serious performance from. Rover and Honda were well aware of the deficiencies of this engine before it even reached production and worked feverishly on improving it, but the sales appeal of the V6 Rovers was certainly compromised by this initial version.

July 1983
New underpinnings completed

The Rover 800 laid bare: The car in the form that it was finally launched was probably somewhat different to the one that Austin Rover would have produced had they done so independently and given a free hand. Compromised this design may have been, but without Honda, there probably would have been no feasible replacement for the SD1 and for that reason, this collaborative venture should be applauded.

The Rover 800 laid bare: The car in the form that it was finally launched was probably somewhat different to the one that Austin Rover would have produced had they done so independently and given a free hand. Compromised this design may have been, but without Honda, there probably would have been no feasible replacement for the SD1 and for that reason, this collaborative venture should be applauded.

In terms of chassis configuration, Austin Rover and Honda were miles apart in what they thought was needed in order to produce a worthy chassis. Honda were lifelong advocates of the double wishbone school of suspension design, whereas Austin Rover wanted to cook up something more conventional, in order to free up much needed interior space. Honda, however, won this argument, but there was a certain amount of animated discussion involved in reaching this decision. Verdon Morris was Austin Rover’s head of chassis engineering at the time and oversaw the troubled chassis development of the XX and his take on the situation was this: ‘Certain meetings of minds were necessary to accommodate the compromises each company had to make to agree on the design of an executive car. Honda wanted technical excellence only, but Austin Rover wanted a good interior package as well.’

Because of Honda’s insistence that the car would have a low scuttle which led to a low bonnet line, traditional McPherson struts would not fit, so a complex and expensive double wishbone arrangement was settled on, but in true Honda tradition, there was only a limited amount of wheel travel available.

Because of this, as far as Austin Rover were concerned, ride quality was compromised from the beginning and as a result, this aspect of the car was at variance to how it might have been, had the British designed it. As it was, careful development of this layout by Rover did pay dividends and although this so-called collaborative deal ended up being more of a meeting of minds than anyone may have expected back in November 1981, the end result was certainly an improvement over the traditional layout of the SD1.

Once the main development of the car was completed, the decision was made to develop a hatchback version of the car – and because Gordon Sked’s design possessed a low and flat beltline, the conversion to this format would prove to be a rather straightforward process. Marketing the car would prove to be a more sensitive issue, being juggled repeatedly by the marketing department after the appointment of Graham Day in May 1986. However, the five-door version would not prove to be the only variation of the XX: Unlike the SD-1 before it, the new executive car was created very much with the US market in mind and because extensive market research undertaken in the run up to the US launch of the car unearthed the fact that the Americans wanted a Personal version of the car – in other words a two door coupé – the design team at Canley started work on such a car.

April 1985
Rover concept CCV shown at Turin show

The first fruits of this labour would be shown to the world in April 1986, with the unveiling of the Rover CCV (Coupé Concept Vehicle), which acted as a showcase for the talents of the Austin Rover design team. The car dropped less than subtle hints to the world’s press about the upcoming new Rover and also demonstrated that the company was seriously evaluating the idea of producing a new, big coupé.

The Canley design team, headed by Roy Axe had also successfully produced a car that managed to make the automotive community as a whole, sit up and take notice of the company. Much was made of the fact that if the car gained a favourable reception, it would be put into limited production – In truth, that decision had already been made, the existence of the car being used as a carrot with which to lure American dealers to join the ARCONA (Austin Rover Cars Of North America) dealer network.

Visually very appealing, the Richard Hamblin designed Mk1 800 dashboard was lauded by all who drove it - this photograph demonstrates how well the Sterling is illuminated at night...

Visually very appealing, the Richard Hamblin designed Mk1 800 dashboard was lauded by all who drove it - this photograph demonstrates how well the Sterling is illuminated at night...

July 1986
Rover 800 launched

As with the Rover 3500 before it in 1976, the existence of this car was widely known about in the media – apart from anything else, the XX had been referred to in corporate plans since 1982 and was often mentioned in the running battles that Austin Rover management had to endure during their frequent visits to the Parliamentary Select Committees concerning company finances. The configuration of the car was also familiar following the press launch of the HX, or Honda Legend as it was called, in December 1985. Because of much speculative reporting in the media (many of these leaks being from semi-official sources), even the shape of the car came as little surprise.

Some journalists did pour scorn on the new car, but they were notably in the minority – Car magazine was one such organ that reported their disappointment with the new car, announcing it as the, ‘Bland Rover’. They did guardedly praise the car for its British engines, but had this to say of the V6 models. ‘On the evidence of drives of the 800… Honda’s biggest contribution to the 800 – the engine – seems to be a poor one. The new 2.5-litre V6, despite technical novelties is woefully short of mid range torque, making it an ill-bred engine for executive car use.’ That did not stop the magazine criticising the M16-engined versions, too. ‘The twin problems with the M16, in its more powerful multi-point injection guise are that it’s not particularly refined, nor is it especially lively.’

Car magazine continued, ‘As with the 2.5-litre V6, it’s short of mid-range pulling power, so must be revved hard to deliver real urge. Maximum torque comes in at an absurdly high 4500rpm, but above 4000rpm the M16 does provide reasonable performance.’ It has to be said that the M16 engine reflected the sea change in engine design that swept through the industry, starting in the 1980s and continuing through the ’90s – the advanced M16 having precipitated a whole scale industry move to the 16-Valve/twin-camshaft formula. Rover simply anticipated this trend for cleaner, more powerful, more economical engines: by the mid-’90s, just about every petrol powered executive saloon was powered by a multi-valve 2-litre.

One aspect of the 800 that was unanimously praised was its interior, which managed to incorporate a modern outlook, whilst maintaining a curiously olde-worlde charm – Honda would learn lessons from Rover in this department.

One aspect of the 800 that was unanimously praised was its interior, which managed to incorporate a modern outlook, whilst maintaining a curiously olde-worlde charm – Honda would learn lessons from Rover in this department.

February 1988
Uprated Honda V6 and Vitesse launched

1988 saw interesting new developments - the Fastback bodyshape (with echoes of the SD1) and a larger and torquier 2.7-litre V6 engine. Both were combined to create the 827 Vitesse. Some approved of the name, some didn't...

1988 saw interesting new developments - the Fastback bodyshape (with echoes of the SD1) and a larger and torquier 2.7-litre V6 engine. Both were combined to create the 827 Vitesse. Some approved of the name, some didn't...

These fortunes on the other side of the Atlantic were in sharp contrast to those in the UK, where the Rover 800 was going from strength to strength. In February 1988, the new, improved Honda V6 engine was announced, curing many of ills of its 2.5-litre predecessor. The revised engine had been bored out to 2.7-litres and in the process gained a much flatter torque curve and slightly more peak power. The driving experience was transformed – and when the fastback version of the Rover 800 was brought onto the market place shortly afterwards, a bespoilered version of the 2.7-litre fastback was given the Vitesse badge, resurrecting memories of the much-loved SD1 Vitesse.

January 1990
Rover 800 consistently the best selling executive car in the UK

The R17 version of the Rover 800 received curvier front and rear ends, in an attempt to bring it right up to date. In fastback form, the extensive makeover has been pretty successful.

The R17 version of the Rover 800 received curvier front and rear ends, in an attempt to bring it right up to date. In fastback form, the extensive makeover has been pretty successful.

Why change a winning formula? The dashboard receives little in the way of modification over the earlier model - the most obvious changes are limited to the re-siting of the (classy looking) clock and the addition of a new and bulbous looking steering wheel.

Why change a winning formula? The dashboard receives little in the way of modification over the earlier model - the most obvious changes are limited to the re-siting of the (classy looking) clock and the addition of a new and bulbous looking steering wheel.

The only problems that Rover was now finding in selling the 800, was that it was not really seen as being exclusive enough – and given the fact that following the sale of the company to BAe, the corporate plan was to generate as much profit as possible from each model, the Rover 800 would need to receive a facelift in order to be seen more as a British BMW instead of the Ford Granada rival that it really was. In 1989, plans were drawn up to give the 800 a quite comprehensive facelift, but immediately, at this point the company added larger US-spec Sterling bumpers to the car – this subtle change made quite a difference and the road presence of the car increased accordingly.

June 1991
Rover 800 facelifted with new engines and body

The substantial facelift was soon given the project code, R17, and the plan was to undertake the following: Restyle the car to give it that classier appearance the company sought, and to overhaul the 2-litre engine. The restyle was considered essential as the existing 800 was undoubtedly, a pleasant looking car, it was a design of its time and that time was 1986. The world was moving on – and the Rover 800 was being left behind.

Marque identity was very important in the executive market – and where the Rover presented a rather bland frontal aspect in the interests of aerodynamics and family resemblance to the SD1, other manufacturers had gone down the same route – so now, you would find cars from Renault, Citroen and many others that, from the front, looked all but indistinguishable from the supposedly upmarket Rover.

The R17 project was compromised, however, by the need to retain the existing cars very capable underpinnnings, but as there had been significant backroom work on tuning the chassis, this was not a complete handicap. Also, the smooth and strong Honda engine would be retained – a positive aspect to the range – as would the interior, which was perhaps, the best aspect of the car.

Contentiously, one decision was made, which further compromised the car’s overall style, and that was the retention of the existing side doors. Despite the mistakes of the past, it seemed that Rover had not learned from the folly of this policy. An insider put it in these terms, ‘It is true about R17 initially having to use XX door pressings – on the specific instruction of Andy Barr…. but he, like Musgrove, ruled very much by fear, so people naturally avoided being the bearer of bad news. I believe someone did try to make the point that the dies were coming up for replacement by the time that R17 was due to start production, but got shouted down.’ So, the decision to keep the existing doors, made on cost grounds, would prove to be incorrect: the dies were worn, which meant that the economy benefits of this decision were totally eradicated.

Gordon Sked agonised over the way the Rover 800 should incorporate a more traditional grille design on the facelifted car. The Rover 600 was actually the first car to be designed to house the new set-up, but the 800 would reach the market first, and would carry over many existing styling cues. In fact, the decision to add the grille to the 800 was only taken after positive clinic results on the 600, which meant a quick redesign. In the end after looking at countless grille proposals, he chose a solution that ‘looked more right than all the others.’

Arguably, the new look succeeded – the car looked bigger, had much more road presence and certainly conveyed a bolder marque identity. Only the fact that the doors jarred the overall effect of the redesign, because they forced the car to maintain a rather flat roof, not in keeping with the rest of the curvaceous design. In an engineering sense, there was little new to report beyond the 2-litre engine: the M16 engine received comprehensive re-engineering in an effort to increase torque at low revs – the result was a success, and the newly-designated T-Series engine proved to be a more suitable power unit for the car. The V6 Vitesse model was replaced by a 2-litre turbocharged version, now available in both saloon and fastback body styles, but beyond this, the new car was little changed underneath the skin.

January 1992
Rover 800 Coupe launched

Good looking or not? You decide. That was the problem with the 800 Coupe – it was no doubt an impressive car, but by the time of its launch in 1992, it was already an elderly design and at a price of £30,775, it was up against stiff price competition such as the Jaguar XJS 4.0 and Mercedes-Benz 300CE. In that context, the car was doomed.

Good looking or not? You decide. That was the problem with the 800 Coupe – it was no doubt an impressive car, but by the time of its launch in 1992, it was already an elderly design and at a price of £30,775, it was up against stiff price competition such as the Jaguar XJS 4.0 and Mercedes-Benz 300CE. In that context, the car was doomed.

The following year, the Rover 800 Coupé finally appeared after seemingly being clinicked to death by the company. That completed the R17 range, and meant that Rover were quite unusual in the executive car market for offering up three different body styles.

June 1994
Rover 800 Vitesse Sport launched

After that, the Rover 800 was pretty much left to live the remainder of its life in relative peace: the impressive 2.0-Litre Vitesse Sport was launched in 1994, eclipsing its rather unimpressive predecessor. Rover chassis engineers tuned the car’s ride and handling superbly – and along with the 200bhp power unit, the car proved to be a surprisingly effective performance saloon. Of course, it was ignored on the market – by this time, events had really overtaken the 800 and without a badge, such as those worn by German rivals, the Rover would always be at a disadvantage on the market.

January 1995
Rover 800 KV6 launched, replacing all Honda-powered cars

Following the Vitesse Sport model came the KV6 powered 800 models, that finally meant that the by then elderly Honda V6 could be put out to pasture. As the name implies, the KV6 was a radical development of the in-line four K-Series engine. Giving away 200cc to its Honda predecessor, it nevertheless emerged as a highly impressive engine – and became a showcase of what the engineers based at Longbridge could achieve, given a little time and money. In truth, the KV6 would have to wait until 1999 and the launch of the Rover 75 before it would be installed in a car worthy of it.

January 1999
Rover 800 production ended

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