Rover 600 – 25 years

Cars

25 years ago another British car (with a Japanese heart) was launched

We may have featured a Porsche 993 and an Aston DB7 in this edition, both of which were launched in 1993 – but they would never sell anywhere near as many units as one of the year’s more down to earth motor vehicles – the Rover 600. 

The Rover 600 was tasked with sliding neatly between the slightly awkward afterthought – the 400, and the more expensive, inoffensive, luxury barge – the 800.


In doing so, it combined the charm and nostalgia of a classy British country pub with the tech know-how and dependability of a Tokyo Metro train, by having the oily and sparky bits handled by Honda, with Richard Woolley gentrifying the Accord-based exterior. The later diesel engines were made by Rover themselves, but in the early ’90s, the green pump was king.

 

25 years on, few of these Brit-Nippon passenger-cosseters still remain on the road. And for those that do, surely the prices are about to rise. You don’t have to look hard to find them for well under a grand, and one immaculate 1993 example was recently sold for under £800, with a (barely run-in) 21k miles on the odo. It had been dry-stored for 20 of its 25 years and so was almost box-fresh. This vehicle, a 1993 Rover 620si, was treated well by enthusiasts, too. The sellers (Glaswegians Kevin Bonney and Anna Marie Johnstone) had kept on eye on things, and being Rover fans (they have nine Rover 75s, and an MG ZT too) they knew which bolt went where. They also knew they had no more room in the collection to keep it for the shows it was intended for, so Kevin set about making sure the car was ready for new ownership and listed it for a meagre £795.

Rover 600 620

We chatted with new owner Kenny Dock, a 38-year-old emergency psychiatrist from Paisley, about why he fancied this 25-year-old gent.

“I love old cars,” he said, “I’ve insured classics with Adrian Flux for years including some old American muscle cars but, nowadays, I’m more interested in ’80s and ’90s ‘survivors’!”

Dock went on to explain he uses a modern Lexus hybrid for work, but will still treat the Rover as an everyday car, playing on its reliability and charm to fuel his passion for cars.

“I also have a 1985 Sierra 2.0 GL – but I don’t take that out in the wet,” he said cheerfully, “you see plenty of classic Fords now, Xr3s, Xr4s, but not many of the everyday cars like the Sierra and this Rover.”

We asked why he chose a Rover 600 to add to his classic car collection. “I remember sitting in the back of one when my Dad was driving,” he said, “and this one even has that same smell. People who know Rovers know they have that certain smell, and it all adds to that experience.

“It still drives like new, too, so was a great buy at the price I paid.”

This is a rather glowing endorsement of this 25-year-old. Conceived in a world still oblivious to its impending desire for dial-up connection, and unable to chat freely to people on other continents, this Japan x Britain mashup has actually stood the test of time rather well. At 25 years old, it somehow appears both quaintly old-fashioned, yet still super-fresh for its years.

Do you know someone who had one?

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