With the successful, surprisingly quick and easy sale of the Frontera, it was time to purchase car number two, so without further ado, here it is...
Februarys car is a 1997 Rover 416 Tourer with a 1.6 litre petrol engine and 102946 miles on the odometer. To be honest I've liked these pretty much since they came out, but over time it's just become one of those cars that I had forgotton about. Therefore, I wasn't really looking for one of these, what I was actually looking for was a Rover 200 series two-door hatchback (the ones that look a little bit like an early Sierra XR4i), but during my search this little beauty turned up, and rekindled the fondness I have for these. It was a little bit further away than I really wanted to travel, plus the journey would take in atleast half a lap of the M25, a road that I used to travel on every day for about 50 miles to get to work in the morning, and home again in the evening. To say that I don't like driving on the M25 would be the understatement of the decade, and to be honest, if I can avoid travelling on it, I do so! But the more I looked at this Rover tourer, the better it looked to me! Plus I couldn't remember the last time I saw one, after a quick look on one of those websites that tell you how many of a particular car there are left in the country, I discovered that there are just 296 left on the road in the UK, so I thought I'd better have a go!
I remember years ago when these were still quite plentiful discussing with a friend of mine the possibility of getting one, and making it a two-door estate by using various parts from two door hatchback, and cobbling it all together to build a 'phantom' estate, erm, I'm sorry, Tourer body, and to be fair, if I had the talent I'd probably still like to build this. Just not from this particular car, because this particular car is just a bit too nice to be chopping around!
Anyway, after winning the bid, I arranged with the seller a suitable day for me to pick it up, then it was on the phone to my insurance company to change my vehicle. After phoning my insurance company who I've been with for absolutely years without any trouble, and up until this point had given me very good service. I was talking to a young lady who I had told that I had changed my car, thats OK she said, and started to take down the details of the Rover. But then for whatever reason I got cut-off. No matter I thought, and called them right back up. This time around I got a young fella, so I told him that I was halfway through changing my car when I got cut off, so he took my details then we carried on. So far, so good, but then he said to me that I had only changed the insurance to the Frontera a month ago. I said, yes, but I got bored of it, so I sold it to try something else. So he then said that I can't just go about changing my car every month, it's not allowed, it's illegal!! I told him not to be such a nincompoop, it's not illegal, I have bought this Rover, it's in my name, it's my car! So then he told me that insurance companies don't like people to keep changing their cars. So I asked him why not? What difference does it make to them how often I change my car? If I change my car it doesn't cost the insurance company anything but it costs me money in paperwork fees, so really they win! He wasn't really willing to go into the ins and outs of why I couldn't keep changing my cars, as I'm fairly sure he didn't know why himself. But what he did tell me was that I've got to keep this car for a long time before I change it, or my insurance will be void! Honestly, this guy sounded like he was only about twelve years old, perhaps it was his first day on the job or something... What a dipstick! Still, I thought to myself that I guess we shall see next month when I'm trying to change cars again! Hopefully I'll be dealing with the far more helpful young lady instead of this young upstart!
With the insurance sorted out (for now) my Brother kindly offered to take me to collect the Rover. The Rover was located pretty much exactly on the other side of the M25 to where I would be joining it from the M3, and according to my Brothers satnav it was 99.1 miles from BelongaClint. It didn't look like it would really matter which direction I travelled around the M25, it would almost be the same distance either way. However, as I wasn't a fan of the cheap plastic wheel trims the Rover was wearing in the ebay listing, I tried to track down some OEM Rover wheel trims, crikey people want some proper money for those things. It's no wonder it's wearing these hideous bin lids! I wasn't able to find the correct alloy wheels for the Rover 416 either, however I did manage to find a set of alloys for a Rover 25 which were a good price, and they could be picked up en-route to collecting the Rover if I went the anti-clockwise route around the M25... Nearly!
I felt that as the wheels looked a bit grubby in the photos on fleabay it might be better if they were put into the boot of my Brothers company car, rather than the boot of my very tidy looking new Rover. As I'm sure you can imagine my Brother was very happy about this, but I laid a small tarpaulin in his boot to keep it clean befoer we loaded the wheels into it, so that cheered him up a little! Before long we were back in his car, and heading back along the M25 to our next, and final port of call to collect the Rover. As it was a Sunday morning the M25 was fairly qiuet, but as we drove along I suddenly noticed the big flashing gantry sign, and it didn't look like good news...
ONCOMING VEHICLE!! What? That's not what I wanted to see! I looked at my brother who was driving, and said that I didn't really like the sound of that! He said, no, me neither, get your camera ready!! GET YOUR CAMERA READY!? I said if we do come across this thing we're going to look like an aeroplane crash!! We slowed down to 20 mph as the sign suggested which felt really slow on a pretty much empty motorway, and looked at the cars beside us who were also crawling along. Then I had a little thought, and that thought was that if there was a vehicle coming towards us, then most likely it would be in the fast lane (which we were in) as to them (coming in the opposite direction) they would be in the left hand lane. I shared my concerns with my Brother who said he hadn't thought about that, but frankly he agreed with what I was saying, and pulled over to the slow lane. The signs continued to flash for a couple of long slow miles before finally the sign said END, and had the National speed limit sign instead of the 20. Thankfully we never did see the oncoming vehicle though, which is probably just as well as I rekon that would've ruined my underwear! A short while later we were once again leaving the joys of the M25 to collect my little Rover.
Because my friends had been in my ear with tales of head gasket failiure the instant I told them I had bought a Rover with a K-series engine I very thoroughly checked the oil and water. They both had the correct amount in the engine, and the water was green, and the oil was very dark brown. No hint of any mayonnaise anywhere. Happy with my findings I got in and started to head off. The engine started easily and I was soon aware that despite the oil and water being at the correct level, there wasn't even a hint of petrol in it! I had flashbacks to last months nerve wracking ordeal trying to find an open petrol station in the Frontera while coaxing it along on just the vapours! But luckily for me that although this also had no fuel in it, the petrol station was just half a mile from the sellers house, and, even more luckily for me, it was open! So without further ado, here's the first fill shot!
I've got to learn to start taking a full can of fuel with me when I pick up a new car! The thing that struck me about this Gulf petrol station was that it seemed a bit out of character for a Gulf petrol station to have attached to it a showroom selling some pretty cool cars, I say this because I have always felt that Gulf, Murco, Jet, etc are like white label basics goods at the supermarket! But if you look in the background you can see Ferrari 355 (I think, I'm not really up on Ferraris to be honest) But there was also a Maserati Biturbo, several Lotus' (Lotii?) A couple of early eighties Mercedes coupes, and a lovely early Renault Alpine! All of these cars were in spanking order! By the way, just out of interest, while I'm thinking about the fuel stop, and picking up a car for the first time, when you sell a car, how much fuel do you leave in the tank? I say this because both of my first two cars of the year were empty when I picked them up! I usually try to leave it with about a quarter of a tank on board, and I live 200 yards from a petrol station that's open 24 hours a day! I have always thought that this was common practice, if not common decency. I still struggle to comprehend why the previous owner doesn't try to leave about a 1/4 of a tank for the new owner like I do, I am wondering if it's just accepted that the car will have no fuel in it when it's collected by its new owner these days. Perhaps my way is a bit out-dated and I wonder if perhaps I am just being being too generous? I don't know, but it just doesn't feel right to me to sell a car without leaving a half decent amount of fuel in it for the new owner.
Despite the fact that there was no fuel in my new car for the second time in a row was niggling me a little, the rest of the trip was pretty good. While I still had my friends little ear worm ringing in my ears about my imminent head gasket failiure that was going to happen almost certainly on the way home, my Brother decided that he would lead the way! his feeling was that when I do break down he will already be in front of me so it would be easier to hook up a tow strap and tow me home! My feeling was however, that it would be better if I lead, that way if I should break down he would know I was breaking down as he would be able to see me being engulfed in a cloud of steam, but what do I know?
Anyhoo, by some miracle the journey home went smoothly, and without any sort of head gasket incident! More or less like I expceted it to, although I must admit that the threat of an oncoming vehicle as we drove along the M25 was a bit of a worry at the time! Speaking of the M25, incase you're interested our complete lap of 'Der Löndonring' in an anti-clockwise direction was about 117 miles long. This excludes the parts where we were not on it due to picking up wheels, or the car itself, and the complete lap took us about 2 hours and 2 minutes. It was pretty early on Sunday morning when we set off, and the M25 was for the most part pretty clear. But I think that means that we were only averaging about 57mph, which I don't think is such a bad time all things considered. By early afternoon on we were pulling up outside Belonga Clint, just in time for a late Sunday dinner.
So, first impressions... (On the car, not the dinner, Mrs Clint was a chef so dinner is always good!) But the Rover is nice, actually it's very nice! It looked very clean and tidy in the pictures, but even so I didn't expect it to be quite as nice as it actually is. In total it has cost me just £552.00, which to be honest for this car is a bit of a bargain, it's MOTd for almost a year, and has clearly been loved and looked after since new! The only thing about it is as I said before, I don't like are those bin-lids on the wheels! I'm not a fan of aftermarket wheel trims, they always look so cheap and nasty to me, and these are no exception so the sooner I get those Rover 25 alloys on it the better really. Apart from that, lets just see if I can get through this whole month without the head gasket failing, which is going to happen at any moment without any doubt... Apparently!!