No reserve on this auction!
・Incredible original Rover executive saloon
・2.7-litre Honda V6
・One long-term owner from 1993 to 2016
・Huge file of history
Austin-Rover’s relationship with Honda saved the company back in the 1980s, after visionary industrialist Michael Edwardes took the company away from public ownership and back into the private sector.
The tie-in with the Japanese company began with the 1981 Triumph Acclaim – essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade – and the subsequent Rover 200, which was more of the same.
The flagship Rover 800, though, was an entirely different kettle of fish, developed jointly by the two companies with Rover providing dynamic expertise and knowledge on how to build and market upmarket models in return for the Japanese company’s manufacturing and process knowledge.
For Honda, the 1986 Legend was its first executive car, while for Rover the twin 800 was a replacement for the SD1 executive hatch. It was a very different formula though – no rear-wheel-drive and no V8, as the car was developed for an efficient new era.
Three engines were offered at first. Rover provided the entry-level 2.0-litre four and Honda came to the party with 2.5 and 2.7-litre V6s, both of which were high-revving but effortlessly smooth.
Early cars were blighted by quality problems, with poor finish and rogue electricals hardly showering it in glory. But as time progressed, the 800 vastly improved and by the start of the 1990s the model was largely reliable, as well as being the UK’s best-selling executive saloon.
This example is one of the last cars made before the 800’s 1991 facelift, which brought in a new body style and heavily revised interior, making it one of the best possible Mk1 examples. It was bought by a dealership employee as an approved used car in 1993 and kept until 2016, with a fastidious maintenance record. It’s a rare and handsome survivor.
H838 XFR was first registered in Leyland, Lancashire, to British Aerospace, which was the owner of Rover Group at the time.
It was registered in February 1991, by which time the ‘new’ 800 was already common knowledge, and was initially a company car scheme vehicle for BaE before passing on (we’d assume through a fleet agreement with Rover Group) to Avis Car Rental.
Amazingly, it survived a year of being a hire car without drama and was bought in 1993 by an employee of Hartwell Rover, a main dealership in Oxfordshire, who kept it as his personal car for the next 23 years, looking after it meticulously and buying all the parts it ever needed from the dealership where he worked.
In 2016, the car was discovered by the then Chairman of the Rover 800 Owners club, who couldn’t resist being tempted to add it to his collection of the big saloons. He kept it until this year, when the thought of a Daimler XJ40 3.6 became too much for him and he traded it in.
There’s a large box file of paperwork that comes with the Rover and to detail it all would take forever, as the long-term owner kept all of the bills and receipts including those for sundry items such as oil, coolant and trim clips.
There is, however, a substantial amount of paperwork that proves the mileage is correct and is backed up by a service book stamped all the way through to 54,265 miles by Hartwells.
It comes with two spare keys, the original book pack and a record of all the security codes for the alarm, key number and radio. It has an MOT until August this year.
Finished in ‘Quicksilver’ Metallic, the 827 looks silver in some lights and blue in others. It’s a great colour and it really suits the car’s sharp lines, which have aged brilliantly.
With optional alloy wheels, fitted when new, and a two-tone grey lower half it’s an extremely handsome car and the condition is astounding. There’s not a spot of rust anywhere to be seen and the paint finish is superb. It is also, as far as the history suggests, all the original paint, the only noticeable blemish being a scuff on one door mirror.
The wheels and tyres are excellent, all of the lights and trim are in good order and it even still has the ‘Station Garage, Leyland’ numberplates that it was supplied with when new.
Inside, there’s a sea of grey velour that can only grace a car of this era. And if you’re into Eighties and early Nineties cars, it’s an absolute joy to behold.
The seats are plump and well-padded, with no obvious signs of wear, while all of the wood veneers are in good order with no cracking or fading.
The original radio still works perfectly, while this example also has the optional trip computer, which all works fine apart from the illuminated graphic of the car, which has a small amount of LCD bleed and erroneously flashes up a brake light warning occasionally.
SLi was second-from-top spec, so that means four electric windows and an electric sunroof (all of which work) and air con, which blows icy cold, as well as cruise control.
The 2.7-litre Honda V6 is coupled to a four-speed automatic gearbox and the service history shows that it has always been treated to the correct-spec Honda transmission fluid – something that these cars were always fussy about.
It has covered just under 60,000 miles from new and still feels as tight as a drum, with eager acceleration and seamless gear changes. We were able to conduct a decent test drive of the car and can confirm that the steering, brakes and suspension are all in excellent order and that the car is a delight to drive.
Classics from this era are really booming in popularity at the moment and have been achieving some quite remarkable auction prices of late, especially those in good condition and with the right pedigree.
This one most certainly ticks both of those boxes and is an absolutely delightful car in every respect, with the right sort of provenance and care lavished on it over the years. It’s also a great-looking car in a fabulous colour and specification.
If you’re tempted, don’t even think about it. You’ll not find a better example on the market right now.
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