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Lord Sterling's motors - A Jag, then a Vauxhall...

Lord Sterling

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I've been asked why I havent done a thread for my Rover Sterling, I put up a load of pics and talk about it now again, so I guess its probably time to stick it in its own thread...

How it started

For years and years I'd always wanted a mk1 Rover 800 Sterling, reason being that way back in 1991, MUTHA and FATHA_Sterling went out and bought one, it was a 1987 D-reg 825 Sterling reg: D233 KYG and finished in Shantung Gold. It had been bought second-hand from a company called "Snowmec" or something in Telford. They were getting rid of some company cars and ole_Dad_Sterling chose the Rover Sterling, and I'm glad he did. The Rover made a huge impression on me that resonates with me until this day. As a kid then, it was such an amazing car, the leather seats, the electrics, I'd never been in anything so luxurious, so smooth, so fast, it was amazing, I felt like a prince. It also made its impression on Fatha_Sterling, going from a basic Mk3 Fiesta (which was meant for Ma_Sterling) to a Sterling must have been like going from an Intercity train straight into a first-class Concorde flight.

Up until then the Sterling_Parents had pretty much run 'bread 'n' butter' cars like Cavaliers and Sierras, all with the similar basic specs like cloth seats and keep-fit windows. Ole_Fatha's Rover Sterling was just out of this world. From then on I'd always promised myself a Mk1 Rover Sterling, even through school when all the other lads wanted bodykitted up MAX_POWA Cozzies and Dirt Bikes, the Rover Sterling was always in the back of my mind..........

The first foray

So, fast-forwarding onto somewhere in 2008, I'd already owned an mk1 827Si which I quickly realised was the lowest spec of the bigger engined 800s, and unfortunately had crashed it on the way to a job interview, I'd was borrowed mk2 827 Sterling auto which I absolutely fell in love with, so much so that when I provisionally agreed to buy the mk1 Sterling, I also asked if I could buy the mk2 Sterling too, a deal was made, hands were shook and eventually money and documents were exchanged.

The mk1 needed a new auto box and general recomissioning work. As I was using the mk2 I had no need for the mk1, but I bought it on principle that I'd always wanted a mk1 Sterling and nothing else was available at the time when I actually had money. After I'd bought the mk1 it had been standing at my mates house for while, always kept clean but it needed moving, it was a little churlish of me to leave it there so eventually I rented a lock-up garage from Telford council as they were looking to rent thier garages to anyone who wanted one.

One day sometime in October 2008 a chap I knew helped me to recover the car, we made our way down from Telford to Worcester with a bouncy A-frame, loaded it up on an A-frame and made our way back up to Telford:


Once we got there it had just started to seriously chuck it down, we wheeled the thing into the garage and found that the bloody door wouldn't shut, so it was off with the rear bumper, I shut the garage door and apart from a few times when I visted to store stuff in it, it never moved and I did nothing with it. It became a shed of storage, the boot was choc-full of car related crap, including a brand-new pair of front and rear lights, plus other stuff that I can't think of at this moment.

Awakening the beast

Eventually, due to the increasing cost of storing the car, no job and basic lack of money meant it was getting very difficult to pay storage costs, it got a point where I was seriously considering weighing it in, I travelled to the garage, opened up the car and climbed into the drivers seat. It was then I knew that I couldn't scrap it, I would've always regretted it.

I'd had a least 3 cars whilst this one was stored away, including a couple of periods where I didnt have a car. Then in April 2011 not long after my 825 expired, a cheque from the tax man landed on my door step for the sum of £500, it was then I knew that this was my only chance to get the mk1 827 Sterling on the road, so, once the money cleared in my bank (Bastards took some charges aswell so I ended up with a little less) a phone call to Telford recovery firm saw me on the first step to awaking the beast.....

A few days before its recovery, myself and Brad went down to turn the car around, when I wheeled it into the garage in 2008, I wheel it in facing the front, I didn't want to messing about trying to turn it around and what have you when the recovery lad was there. Brad bought a spare battery and some tools, after a few small tries the engine fired up into life, then after the reverse gear was eventually selected (The gearbox had problems selecting gears) with a big bump-sound coming from the brakes area the brakes freed themselves off and out came the Sterling for the first time in 3 and-a-half years, a little more dusty than before but just as clean looking as the day it went in:





I was overcome with excitement, I knew it was now or never, getting this beast back on the road was a priority...


So the day came to finally get the Sterling out and onto the next step of project Mk1 Sterling: The recovery I met the recovery fella in Telford at my garage, we got the car pulled out and onto the back of the truck, due to time contraints and not wanting to hold the lad up, I couldn't get any pics apart from this one:


I cleared out the garage for the last time as I was looking to give it up. Once loaded, we eventually hit Birmingham and finally my mates garage, the car got unloaded, £60 handed to the recovery lad and now it was finally at its destination, hopefully the next time I got into the car would be to drive it home.



It needed a gearbox fitting, Hondamatic ATF-Z1 gearbox oil, a new backbox, a tyre and an MOT. The gearbox had already been delivered courtesy of Brad, I bought the backbox in later on.

It was basically agreed with my mate that this would be a project that he could fit in, other cars that were properly booked in and such forth would take priority, I knew this would take time and I was happily patient to wait...

Winning and losing

About 3 months later I got a call from the garage, the car was ready for me to take away. Finally! after all those years I'd finally get to really drive the car, I happily made my way to the garage all excited and finally to recieve my car.

I got in turned the key and it fired up beautifully, I waged my way to the local post office to buy a new tax disc after the MOT was completed, now the car was finally and legally on the road, at long last. So there I was, happily driving along, I couldn't wait to get my car home, unfortunately literally about a mile from home, the car decided to cut out and not start again, I managed to roll into the entrance to an industrial park, thankfully I was with the RAC who sent someone out. I spoke to a guard at the entrance of the industrial park who was happy to keep an eye on it until the RAC man could make his way down, I went off home to pick up the 820e that had been borrowed to me:


The first RAC man tried everything, he put it down to the rotar arm and cap as these were pretty worn, an RAC recovery van was booked for me which had a retractable A-frame. The second RAC man turned out to be a Mk2 Cavalier nut, we spent most of the time talking about mk2/3 Cavalier/Calibres and the ones he bought, we also talked about the forums we were on and so on. I finally managed to diagnose the problem as being down to a crank-angle sensor, the engine was given a service too to try and diagnose the problem earlier on. Eventually I managed to track down a crank-angle sensor and gave it to the garage.

A couple of weeks later I once again received a call from the garage to say the car was ready, I had the car for day when the alternator failed on me just outside Halesowen, brilliant. Back to the garage, more expense and time waiting for the alternator to be refurbed and it was and finally ready once again, but this time though I was very cautious as obviously the parts were failing and getting old.

Changing for new

• Heater blower

My excitement was suppressed by the fact that something could fail anytime soon as the car had twice before. I managed to use it for a day, then a few more days which turned into weeks and so on, I started to enjoy driving and owning it, it didn't fail or breakdown, however being an old car, other parts were also starting to go. First to go was the heater blower, whilst the heater itself worked, the blower failed. I managed to find a proper Rover heater blower on ebay for about £15, once received I got under the glovebox and set about exchanging the damn thing, it was a fiddly job but relatively easy, apparently easier than than non-aircon cars. Job done and I now had a blower that blew out nice warm air during the cold spell.

Old heater blower:



• Air filter and service

I also gave the car a new air flter:


Seems pretty obvious that before myself and Brad before me owned it, it hadn't been very well looked after. When it was serviced the old plugs were found to be burnt, the oil had been topped up too much, the oil filter was a mess, the fuel filter fared no better and the rotor arm and cap were seriously worn, all of these were changed before we found the crank angle sensor problem, and whilst it added to my bill, I'm glad it had been done.

• Amping it up

Next on the list was the cigar-lighter socket, it didn't work, I only found this out when I tried my shat-nav, it needed nothing more than a 7.5 amp fuse, though I had to take out the ashtray and trip computer to get access to it, I drove up to the local motorfactors with all this floating about to the passenger footwell, though once the fuse was on and everything refitted, it was another job jobbed.

• Tyres!

The front tyres were seriously worn, they were in such a bad condition, though looking at them from the outside they didn't look too bad, the front wheel wobbled about though seeing as one of the wheel-weights had fallen off I decided that some new tyres were in order. I got lucky by landing myself some all-weather Dunlops for the front and once the old front tyres were taken off, only then did I realise just how bad the tyres were, one even had a small chunk of rubber missing from the tyre wall, I'm glad I got new tyres, gone now was the wobbly rough ride now transormed to a smooth silky ride.


• Radio

I couldn't fit a stereo in the car due to the horribly bodged job some idiot did to the wiring previously. Previous to myself and Brad, the car had belonged to someone who worked for Ford down South, so I suspect this was the sod who fucked up the radio cables trying to fit Ford items as there was a Ford connector block in with the wiring. That and the Ford-badges wiper of which I had to cut with some metal cutters as it wouldn't come off. :roll:

Radio wires:


I have recently received some cables and plugs so its just a matter of fitting them on now.

Seat Switchpack

So far, one of the bulbs in the seat switchpacks has given up, seeing as they can't be changed so easily, I've resorted to just living with it until I can sort something else out, I did manage to change another 7.5 fuse for the rear ashtray so that another job ticked off:

Switchpack and bulb:



Sterling work

So far, the Rover Sterling has been doing sterling work of keeping me transported in absolute comfort and ease, its lovely to have such a nice car to waft about in and it makes me smile just knowing I own it, when I walk out to the car it makes me smile knowing that I'll be wafting along to wherever I'm going. It was inadvertantly helped me when I damaged my left knee at the scrappy a few days back, being an auto it was very easy to drive myself about.

I want to keep this car for as long as I can, I have no plans on selling it. I just want to keep it in as good, clean a condition as I can physically/financially manage, and with the help of good friends, knowledge and seemingly endless spare parts I can hopefully acheive this goal. The only thing I wish for now is a garage so I can keep it safer and cleaner.

I know it been very long, its been long for me to type, but thanks for reading and have a few pics:







With my other mk1, hopefully I'll get all my other Sterlings together for a photoshoot:



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A great read! Thanks for taking the trouble. I'm surprised you said that it transports you in only "relative" comfort though!

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I'm surprised you said that it transports you in only "relative" comfort though!


Ah yes, a poor choice of words from me. I think after all that typing and doing it all at once can give you an alternative look on words.

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I'll have to bring it up your way one time so you can try it out. :D


We could do with having a gathering at the unit.

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Now THAT is a story of ambition, dedication and perseverance. Well done, both for living it and for telling us, with pictures too! Splendid.

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Great stuff, nice to see some love for these old beasts.


I remember back in the early to mid 90s the used car pundits opinion that the big bumper models (from late 89 onwards?) were much better cars than the early ones (C-F plate), since you've got an E reg as well, any truth in that?

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Such a great looking car, and due credit to dedication and persevereance, where others (dare I say myself) would have thrown the towel in, but thats how cars like this survive, huge respect!

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Thanks everyone! I guess its been a bit of a journey, I love these cars despite what people say and the fact that I know a whole lot more about these than I do anything else helps.


I remember back in the early to mid 90s the used car pundits opinion that the big bumper models (from late 89 onwards?) were much better cars than the early ones (C-F plate), since you've got an E reg as well, any truth in that?

There is truth in that. The early C-E plated 800s were pretty poorly put together, rust proofing was pretty poor as were electrics. The early cars did get little touches like under bonnet lighting, rubber lips around the bonnet area, and such forth.


Later cars lost these little touches but were much better built, more refined, better rust proofing and better electrics. My current Sterling a G-reg would be a Mk1'b' (The last run ones would be a Mk1'c') was probably the best of them, they retained almost everything the early cars had (bar the little touches) but were much better built all-round.

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What a stunner! Well done for keeping at it, all your hard work seems to have paid off.


Look forward to seeing it in the flesh someday, can't remember the last time I saw a MK1 Sterling saloon.

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Really really enjoyed reading that, and definitely want a Sterling at some point! You never forget your first love - the car that fawtha picks you up from primary school in and inspires your love of cars - an L reg Mondeo Ghia in my case, and I hope that I have as good a story to tell about my rekindling of a childhood love at some point :D

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I really enjoyed that - thanks for sharing. Its a lovely car and a real credit to you. Clearly you cherish it!


My parent's neighbour had a MK1 Sterling E538NMS in burgundy over graphite, like my matchbox model. I can understand how you and your parents must have felt going from a MK3 Fiesta to a Sterling. My mum had the former and sometimes I'd get a lift in the Sterling to school if my neighbour was going to the shops and I used to marvel as just how stunning the interior was. I loved the fact that the dash contour continued round onto the doortrim.


Excellent work, long may it continue :D

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You never forget your first love - the car that fawtha picks you up from primary school in and inspires your love of cars


Not in my case - when I was at primary school, Father Shepherd had a truly hateful 1981 X-reg Metro 1.0L, which he bought in 1983 and which was already rusting nicely by 1985. My uncle's 1982 Volvo 245DL and 1985 740GL saloon were far more inspirational :)

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You never forget your first love - the car that fawtha picks you up from primary school in and inspires your love of cars


Not quite... my father worked away Monday to Friday, so it was mother picking me up. In a 100E Prefect.... :roll:

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Jumping from the Metro into the 740 - no wonder you turned out a Swede perv :lol:


Funny you mention the 245 - I had the Rover down at Tesco the other day, came out to find an old man getting rather excited by it. We got chatting, he took me over to his immaculate 940 Estate, complete with RAC grille badges, and went on to tell me of his collection which includes a 245DL, a Rover 827 and a 20k miler Citroen ZX :?::?: Anyway he took my phone number and I'll hopefully get a perv at them at some point.

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I think the gold 264GL that I used to see in my village around 1980 got me into Volvos, or at least the 'windscreen wipers' on its headlights did - I was totally fascinated by the concept of headlamp wipers back then :mrgreen:


If you get to see the old chap's collection, be sure to take photos :)

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My parent's neighbour had a MK1 Sterling E538NMS in burgundy over graphite, like my matchbox model. I can understand how you and your parents must have felt going from a MK3 Fiesta to a Sterling. My mum had the former and sometimes I'd get a lift in the Sterling to school if my neighbour was going to the shops and I used to marvel as just how stunning the interior was. I loved the fact that the dash contour continued round onto the doortrim.

Thanks Ian! I do love it, my love for these cars whilst been tested, has never diminished. I remember years after the Fatha_Sterlings Rover Sterling had been sold, if I saw a Mk1 800 out on the streets I'd get excited, I remember some of the ones I saw when I was kid - a Blue Sterling overtaking us on the Rabbit Run toward Dudley. An early Burgandy Sterling for sale on the side of the road in Telford in the late 90s and tried to convince Ma_Sterling to buy it, but she was having none of it. I think the Burgandy one in Telford might have been the same one that visited an MOT garage I used to work whilst still at school, I never did get to go in it :( We did get a 820 saloon come in which had been badly bashed, I wanted to take parts off it for Ma_Sterlings then 820i Fastback but I didn't know how then (I do now obviously).


There was also a late Mk1 Sterling in some supermarket carpark I had to walk up to and take a look, I could almost smell the leather it was so nice!


I know it sounds sad but its something that really took me over in those days, now I have one, I love it.


The car that you used to get lifts in was an early 825 Sterling. Sadly didn't last much longer than '99, do you still talk to your neighbours? Would they have a pic? I know its a long shot but I have a huge collection of pics and it would be nice to add that to my collection. Mad innit.


The vehicle details for E538 NMS are:



Year of manufacture: 1987


Engine size(CC): 2494


Date of Liability: 30-03-1999

Date of First Registration: 13-10-1987

Year of Manufacture: 1987

Cylinder Capacity (cc): 2494cc

Fuel Type: PETROL

Export Marker: N

Vehicle Status: Unlicensed

Vehicle Colour: RED

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Thanks for posting your story, and well done for persevering with it! It looks stunning and amazingly clean. Love the interior, and especially those illuminated seat switches, must have been the height of luxury in 1989 :D

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I have no memories or nostalgia relating to the big old Rovers, but I must say this thread is inspiring and really shows the Rover in a more positive light than I've seen before. They're actually quite a graceful looking thing.

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Both my parents and the former owners of E538 still live opposite each other.


Mr is somewhat elusive but I usually catch a chat with either of them when I'm visiting my parents if they are in their garden or walking their dog.


As a side note, it was replaced with a MK2 2 litre green Sterling K310DLS. I remember being disappointed that it wasnt a V6! He now has a 75 diesel.


I have just remembered, I got to wash the MK1 as part of Scout 'bob-a job' week and they gave me a fiver which was quite a lot for that sort of thing then.

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I enjoyed reading that, cheers :) Lovely looking car both inside and out, that is definitely worth keeping hold of. If only Rover had bothered to rust-proof my equivalent year'd Montego it might look as clean as your Sterling.


Will you be taking it to PoL this Saturday?

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Very good read Lord S, thanks for making the effort. It's always good to hear of someone with the enthusiasm that you've got for lovely old cars that 99% of the motoring public don't care about and ends up with such superb results :)

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Thanks again everybody, I thought it was about time I did something about it. I might add another couple of posts about my other Sterlings and the Micra (Which I know isnt exactly shite, but it is about 14 years old now and starting to rust in the sill)


Will you be taking it to PoL this Saturday?

I'll be there, I've agreed to buy some part off a bloke who is coming to POL and seeing as some shiters will be coming down it'll be great to meet them. I won't be displaying the car though but keep a look out for my car.


Any epic and trouble free journeys to tell us about?


Not really I'm afraid, I've been to Wokingham, Milton Keynes and Leicester, the Rover took me to those places in comfort, quietness and without missing a beat.


One thing I do know is that its so far gone through 2 expansion tanks. The first one if course had to split by where it connects to the hose just as I was supposed to pick it up from the garage, the 2nd expansion tank was Ok for a bit but started hissing through the cracks, so I nicked one off my White 825 which is tankless at the moment, it also hasn't moved for a while and probably wont be going anywhere for a while at least.


I've ageed to buy at least 3 expansion tanks so I'll have myself a small collection should I need them I'll stick one on the 825, get both cars out of my garages and have a photoshoot with my current steed.

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Enjoyable lunchtime read there.


I drove several 800s which were the company cars of various bosses back in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. All were Mk1s, from about E- to J-reg as I recall. The first one was an 820 only a few weeks after passing my test, quite an experience jumping into something much bigger than I’d been used to and having PAS. The next one, an 827, remained the most powerful car I’d driven for some years afterwards.


Can’t remember too much about the driving experience now, in hindsight I’d imagine them to be much like my Camrys.

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