1998 Rover 825i Sterling Coupe

Highlights


・Two former keepers
・Over £15,000 recently spent on resto, including a full repaint
・Fully loaded, and everything works
・Low mileage, and incredibly smooth to drive
・Previously Owned by a senior RAF commander

The Background


As an expression of 1990s ambition, the coupe variant of the Rover 800-series takes some beating. Developed in conjunction with Honda, the original Rover 800 of 1986 had the North American market squarely in its crosshairs. Having previously collaborated on the Triumph Acclaim/Honda Ballade, Honda and British Leyland were keen to progress the relationship and satisfy a need for both manufacturers: BL needed a replacement for the Rover SD1, and Honda needed a luxury saloon to sit above the Accord in the model range. The result was the 800-series (sister car to the Honda Legend) – initially a four-door saloon, with a liftback version arriving in 1988.

A major facelift in 1991 (so-called ‘R17’) softened the 800’s styling to suit contemporary trends, and in 1992 a two-door coupe version was launched. This was originally conceived for the American market although never actually sold there, and the particularly interesting thing about it was that – unlike its saloon and liftback siblings – around 80% of the interior and exterior of the coupe had to be hand-finished. So what you’re looking at here is essentially one of the last hand-built Rovers (sort of); another facelift in 1996 brought more luxurious trim and superior specifications, and Rover’s ‘KV6’ 2.5-litre V6 engine was introduced in 825i/Sterling spec. This particular car, then, is the ultimate version of a rare and intriguing curio, built in the style of a time long-gone; an obscure and impressive slice of classic British luxury – with just a hint of American flair and Japanese know-how.

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The History


This Rover has an endearing and intriguing history, having previously been owned by a retired Royal Air Force Commander, who would use it for weekend fun and occasional road trips. It was always fastidiously maintained, and the fully stamped service history is evidence of this; he bought it at around six months old and kept it until 2018.

With just two former keepers, the current owner has invested in excess of £15,000 on sympathetically restoring the car over the three years that he’s owned it: it was already in superb condition, and has been treated to a full repaint in its original Oxford Blue, the engine reconditioned (which is warrantied, and has since received new head gaskets), refurbished alloy wheels, new key fobs, new steering rack, custom stainless steel exhaust, new windscreen, and much more besides.

It drives wonderfully, the interior is outstanding, and it really is hard to imagine that there can be a better example on the market. Truly an outstanding opportunity to acquire a rare and desirable modern-classic.

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The Paperwork


There’s an impressive file of documentation here. All of the original books and manuals are present in the correct Rover-branded wallet, along with period brochures. The service book is fully stamped from new until 2017 (with extra pages added to account for all the fastidious servicing!), handily verifying the low mileage.

In the current owner’s tenure from 2018-present the car has been looked after by a Rover specialist in Norfolk, and all the work and servicing that’s been carried out in this time is carefully documented.

An invoice from 2018 shows the work carried out to recondition the engine, along with the relevant warranty information; a further £690 is documented in 2019 for service items, CV boots, ball-joints and so forth, while the most recent invoice from July of this year lists £1,739 being spent on head skims and new gaskets, timing belt, water pump, thermostat and assorted other items. The correct V5 is present, showing two former keepers.

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The Interior


The quality and condition of this cabin is remarkable. With just 84,000 miles on the clock (which equates to an average of around 3,600 miles a year through its life) you’d expect things to be decent, but this interior is more than that. Naturally there’s a little gentle patination to the leather on the seats, but no wear or marks or damage – the hide is beautifully presented, and the multi-way electronic seat adjustment all works correctly too.

The door cards are excellent with no marks or wear, as is the dash, and the wood trim is uniformly superb throughout. The dials are all in correct working order, with no warning lights illuminated.

The electric sunroof and windows open, close and seal correctly. The car is fitted with its original Rover radio-cassette head unit, plus CD-changer in the boot, and the electric aerial works well, raising when the stereo is turned on and lowering again when switched off.

The carpets and headlining are all very good indeed, and the boot is extremely tidy with no signs of wear or water ingress. Beneath the carpet is the correct spare wheel with a decent tyre.
It’s immediately evident that this car has been looked after throughout its life – the condition of this cabin is testament to a life of love and cherishing.


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The Exterior


Oxford Blue suits this stylish three-box profile so well, and the Rover garnered many admiring glances from passers-by during our photoshoot. The full repaint in the car’s factory-original colour has been done to a high standard, and all of the correct trim pieces, brightwork and badging are in place. The wheels have been refurbished and are free from kerbing or scuffs; they’re fitted with recent matching tyres with plenty of tread.

The light lenses and window glass are in good order. There’s a light smattering of stone-chips to the front bumper and a couple of minor marks to the rear bumper, but on the whole it’s all very well presented. There’s no visible corrosion evident aside from a couple of small areas on the offside wheel arch, and it appears to be pleasingly solid underneath.

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The Mechanicals


While earlier 800s could be found with the Honda V6, this model enjoys the Rover KV6 – an advanced quad-cam 24-valve 2.5-litre V6 with a variable-length intake manifold and adaptive Siemens management. This is good for a peak of 173bhp and 177lb.ft, and the automatic transmission cunningly communicates with the engine to ease torque on shifts and thus offer smoother gearchanges.

With this car having the original engine reconditioned, and had much of its ancillaries replaced, it drives impeccably smoothly; the engine fires happily on the first twist of the key, idles evenly, and pulls keenly through the revs. The transmission is equally smooth, and it really does drive like a much younger car.

There are no issues to report with the suspension, brakes or steering (which has received a new rack). The owner has had a custom stainless steel exhaust fitted, built to standard specs but offering better longevity with just a hint of a throatier sound. Further recent new parts include the cambelts, water pump and thermostat; this is a car which has been maintained regardless of cost, and it shows.

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The Appeal


This car ticks a number of boxes: it’s extremely rare, it has low mileage and a robust service history, and it’s in all-original specification. Furthermore, a huge amount of money has been invested in ensuring it’s aesthetically superb and mechanically excellent – this Rover cuts quite a dash on the high street, and feels as solid as a rock. Fancy a luxurious daily driver? This is the car for you. Eyeing up a pan-European road trip? Yep, it’s up for that too. Want to scoop show trophies on the weekend and then trundle to the office on Monday? Sure, this outstanding modern-classic can accommodate. 

With top-of-the-range 1990s spec levels and everything fully functional, this is a taste of the high life from a time gone by. And when’s the last time you saw another one?


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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1998
  • Make Rover
  • Model Sterling 825
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 84,000 Miles
  • Engine size 2497
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
17 bids
  • charlie•••• £4,750 21/10/21
  • jeremy-•••• £4,500 21/10/21
  • quidem1•••• £4,400 21/10/21
  • jeremy-•••• £4,200 20/10/21
  • quidem1•••• £4,000 20/10/21
  • jeremy-•••• £3,800 20/10/21
  • charlie•••• £3,700 20/10/21
  • jeremy-•••• £3,500 20/10/21
  • charlie•••• £3,300 19/10/21
  • quidem1•••• £3,000 18/10/21

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