My old stomping ground there, schnappi - where in Sarf Essex do you reside? I was born in Rochford and lived in Southend most of my life! Used to own a Maestro that rotted around the ariel too!
I'm Chelmsford born and raised. Work in Basildon.
I remember that at the time they had a perceived "premium" quality when in fact the build quality made an sd1 look teutonic.
I had the base model but I remember that it drove very nicely and the cabin was a nice place to be. Nice comfortable dark blue velour seats, a dark blue deep pile carpet - a proper carpet not the grey scotchbrite carpets you get nowadays. Thick rubber factory mats. Upholstered door cards, etc.. That said, they rust is like nothing else you've ever seen and the S series engine had some strange design flaws like no gasket between the camshaft carrier and the head. It also had really poor gaskets between the rocker covers and the camshaft carrier. It is impossible to stop it from leaking oil. It also had a very peculiar carb (SU HIF44E) setup with lots of overcomplication. An overrun fuel cut off ORFCO valve, and a stepper motor driven enrichment and idle valve. All this was driven by some flaky Lucas ECU. All of these (then) advanced features were problematic as the ORFCO was prone to sticking and the vacuum switch that controlled the auto choke was troublesome. Even the stepper motor was fitted with O-rings that perished if you ran unleaded petrol. So all in all it wasn't Rover's finest hour. The corrosion was definitely the biggest issue though.
Welcome along! I wonder how much of it you could tidy up a weekend at a time with just some elbow grease and fresh paint? At the very least it might slow the voracious march of the rust bugs, if not stop them, until you can get some hot mig action going.
If I had whole weekends to myself I'd probably get it done fairly quickly. A wife and three small children mean I get very little (if any) time to myself these days. To be honest, even though I often long for the days when I would spend all weekend in the garage I doubt I'll look back 10 or 20 years from now and go "I wish I'd spent less time with the kids and more time with that useless old Rover". Hopefully one day I'll have enough time to try and resurrect it. Who knows, maybe my children will take an interest when they're a bit older and it could be something we work on together?
Hells bells that is some astonishing corrosion.
That Montego in the background looks fairly dissolved around the edges too... similar age, similar issues?
The Montego didn't suffer anywhere near as much. The SD3 has / had to be seen to be believed. I remember changing the clutch on mine back in the day and a few months later it had gone again. The reason was because the bulkhead had rusted so badly the clutch cable outer had pulled through the bulkhead so the clutch was not fully disengaged. It rusted literally *everywhere* and badly (holes, frilly edges, etc.).