Rover 75 (1999 – 2005) Review

Rover 75 (1999 – 2005) At A Glance


+A fine looking car from all angles, until the 2004 facelift. Destined to become a 'classic'. 2.0 diesels proving to be good long life cars with excellent clubs and spares back-up. Up to 4 stars.

-Let down by cooling system problems of all K Series engines, particularly the 1.8.

Unveiled with much pomp and ceremony at the 1998 British International Motor Show and introduced a few months later, the 75 was the first (and last) Rover to be developed wholly under BMW ownership. Codenamed the R40, it was also a candidate for consideration as the company's best-ever car - though in terms of innovation, the P6 may still take that crown.

The 75 was - and still is - a mightily fine car, and one for which there is a rapidly growing following. Beautifully styled, well made (certainly at launch, before MG Rover's accountants sank their teeth into it) and surprisingly agile, the 75 raised many an eyebrow when it was new.

Production started at Cowley but was moved to Longbridge after one year when BMW sold Rover to the Phoenix Consortium in 2000. Power came from 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol engines, as well as a 2.0-litre diesel. Body styles included the Tourer, a stretched Vanden Plas version as well as a 4.6-litre V8 powered model.  

After nearly 20 years, the 75 has gone from being part of Britain's street furniture to being an increasingly rare sight on our roads. Since 2011, the number of 75s currently registered has dropped by more than half, and natural attrition will mean a good many of the survivors fall by the wayside over the next couple of years.

But there's also good news. Already, there's a strong following among classic enthusiasts and the 75 and ZT Owners Club is thriving, as one of the fastest growing car clubs in the UK. 

Ask Honest John

What's the best engine in the Rover 75?

"I am looking for a Rover 75 and can't seem to find out which were built by BMW and which engine is a BMW engine. There is a 1.8 petrol, 2.0lt diesel and a 2.5 V6 petrol, don't really want a diesel so it's between the two petrol and would like an automatic, obviously the BMW derivative is the best bet but how do I determine which they are."
Early Rover 75 models were built during BMW's ownership (with little input from BMW) at Cowley. When Rover was sold to the Phoenix Consortium in 2000, production was moved to Longbridge. Cowley-built cars are identified by their black sills, while they were body-coloured on Longbridge models. All the petrol engines were Rover engines... only the diesel was based on a BMW engine. The 2.5 V6 is the most desirable today, although you'd need to be prepared for high running costs - as well as being thirsty, there are three timing belts which need changing every six years.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Do you have any advice on storing or selling a car I can't currently drive?

"I've been advised not to drive anymore, but I have an immaculate, low mileage V6 Rover 75. My plan is to back it out of the garage, perhaps every couple of weeks and let the engine run for 10-15 minutes. Ideally, I hope to hear it is safe for me to drive again, but understand that may never happen. Do you have any advice regarding... well just about anything to do with it really. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you."
I'm very sorry to read that you are currently unable to drive. Your choices are simple - sell it or store it. If you keep the car (and the MoT expires) you may end up in a situation where you can't get a new MoT because you are unable to legally drive the car. The value right now is between £1500 - £2000 with a 6+ month MoT. But if you allow the MoT to expire, that value will fall to around £500. If you do plan to keep the car, I would recommend putting it on SORN, getting a refund on the road tax VED and maintaining the insurance. I would also inflate the tyres to 40PSI to prevent flatspotting and connecting battery to a trickle charger which monitors the car battery and keeps it to a constant 13.5 volts without damaging the electronics. If storing in a garage, leave one window open slightly to keep the interior ventilated, but not open enough to allow mice to get in, and cover with a cotton sheet. If the car has an automatic transmission, make sure you can get access to the battery because if it's flat when you return you may be unable to access the engine bay if you have parked next to a wall or object.
Answered by Dan Powell

I have a Rover 75 Estate which needs some attention due to rust underneath which will cost £900 - is it worth it?

"I have a Rover 75 Estate which needs some attention due to rust underneath which will cost £900. Is it worth it?"
Depends how much you like the car. If you love it and you don't want to buy a new one (and you can afford it) then by all means spend money on it. From a purely pragmatic point of view, this is an old car now and is likely to need some TLC over the next few years - accordingly you'll need to set some money aside for regular maintenance if you plan to keep it on the road. Far more interesting than a new car. That said, £900 is a lot for some 'attention due to rust'. What does it actually need doing?
Answered by Keith Moody

My 2003 Rover 75 has a broken bonnet release shut. How can I repair it?

"My 2003 Rover 75 has a broken bonnet release shut. How can I repair it?"
This is a common issue on these cars. Happy_Jack posted this tip in our forum: 'Turn the steering as far to the left as you can and reach inside the small inspection hatch at the top of the wheel arch liner. Use a torch so you can see what you're doing. You can push the neck of the washer bottle up and off to give yourself more room. Unclip the cable junction box from the inner wing and pull it through the small hatch. Tug on the shuttle inside the junction box (plastic thing that the three cable ends go into) to pull the two cables to the latches. You shouldn't need pliers. One latch will probably pop open first then the other.'
Answered by Keith Moody
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