Classics for sale: Ford Mustang-powered Rover 75 4.6-litre V8

Reckon the Rover 75 is an old man’s car? Here’s something to change your mind – a Mustang V8-derived 75 saloon

There’s been a bit of a ruckus in the AutoClassics office as of late. Boiled down, nobody appears to believe the Rover marque offered anything of worth. Not that I’m going to tell them they’re wrong; instead, I’m going to keep possibly the classic car scene’s greatest secret close to my chest – Rover’s 75 V8.

Alright, I agree that a standard 75 leaves a lot to be desired. Shoddy build quality and electrical gremlins appear to have been factory-fitted compulsories. Then there’s the K-series head gasket, which enjoys perishing without a moment’s hesitation, not to mention a manual clutch system with the structural integrity of yoghurt. It all appears to have been designed to ensure you connect a hosepipe to the exhaust and go out listening to Coldplay.

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Yet the 75’s biggest hindrance remains image; something my AutoClassics colleagues can’t seem to move beyond. Granted, most Rover owners seemed to use their wheels to attend the bingo, undertake a four-hour trip for cat food, or kangaroo out of a busy junction into oncoming traffic. However, if we judged cars purely on clientele then all Range Rover drivers would be murderers and Audi custodians would boast the intelligence of a concussed Neanderthal.

Indeed, the Rover 75 V8 went against the grain. Here was a saloon that offered great slabs of luxury and improved build quality, but without the power compromise. It was the sort of car that invited the BMW M5 outside and punched the German into a coma – then kicked it when no one was looking.

While other 75 models were exclusively front-wheel drive, the 75 V8 could churn up a set of rear tyres without even trying. Available in either saloon or Tourer estate form, the aggressively restyled bodywork hid underpinnings that had been considerably reworked to accommodate a longitudinally mounted eight-cylinder engine.

And the engine in question? Well, it was a 4.6-litre unit pinched from the Americans, just as the company had done back in the 1960s with Buick’s unwanted alloy-block V8. ‘Borrowed’ from the fourth-generation Ford Mustang, the motor suddenly injected the lampooned 75 range with serious clout. The public stopped laughing and stayed off the streets.

Good for 256bhp, the model completed 0-60mph in 7.0 seconds and reached a reported top speed in excess of 150mph. Suddenly, Mercedes drivers hogging the motorway’s outside lane had something to fear. The Brits were back with a supreme, fast and stylish product that undercut rivals on price – £32,000 would have got you a mid-range example back in 2004.

Except, just as things got going, Rover went into administration and halted production. Only round 151 Rover 75 V8s were built. Little is known about the current locations of these vehicles – but we do have an answer for one example. There’s a tidy model for sale in the AutoClassics classifieds!

This model has covered little more than 30,000 miles. Sold new in Luxembourg before being imported into Belgium in 2016, the asking price is now £16,500. Yes, it’s an insane cost for a shape available on the market in 1.8-litre or diesel guise for less than £500, but – as you’ve read – this is no ordinary 75.

Kept as part of a private collection near Ostend, this is not only one of just 30 left-hand-drive cars built, but is also claimed to be the last off the production line before administrators stripped the brand of all it was worth.

It’s the stately alternative to any German counterpart, and far more exclusive than an Alfa Romeo or Porsche. Criminally, most of these Anglo-American beasts rarely see the light of day. Making this one all the more special.

Still think that Rover provided lacklustre, out-dated and badly built cars for people in their twilight years? We dare you to approach this beast with that philosophy. It’d probably kill you.

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