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Honey I shrank the bank account! City Rover or pity Rover?


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As a sort of Jay Leno on minimum wage and an admitted car addict what should be my next bargain buy? I have a history littered with old mainly British cars and the oil stains on the drive to prove it, however with the days of cheap Triumph and Morris motors over where do I go to get my fix? The time when an Allegro or Vanden Plas could be picked up in the local classified section is long gone and people have now accepted Metros as collectable. Hell I used to be a weirdo for seeing a BRM Rover as desirable and not just an old motor with a tacky interior and a hooker's lipstick. Now I have always thought that the Streetwise was an idea ahead of it's time and I have one as a daily driver, with an MG TF covering the sports car need an old Jag for that pub landlord look, but to get my fix do l go for a City Rover or is that a step too far? I want something from the Firm even if it is an Indian take away and these are yet to go up as modern classic's, so I am thinking a high spec in black with some tasteful alloys.Will the coming Pride of Longbridge include a smattering of CityRovers or are they a step too far and destined to virtual extinction like the Austin Ambassador?

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To address your last point first, the Ambassador was never produced in the volume that the CityRover was so it was never going to survive in large numbers.  There is a surprisingly large number of people with fondness for the CR.  The Tata Indica (India Car perhaps?  I'm just guessing) is, in its own way, an iconic bit of dirt cheap motoring for the masses without some of the technical innovations like hydragas suspension that went into the Metro that preceded it.  As a Metro replacement they do make a lot of sense but they are a bit too flimsy feeling to really seem *right*.  You'd expect some of the Honda influence to carry through and end up with a product like the Daihatsu Sirion where it was moderately well put together and only a bit cheap feeling, but good enough for the majority of potential purchasers.

 

I digress.

 

If you really want a slice of miserable motoring that harks back to the glory days of British disappointment then the CityRover could be just the ticket.  I have heard nothing positive about them and plenty of complaints about build quality, flimsiness, noisiness, harshness of ride and general cheapness.  It IS a cheap car, that's what it was supposed to be, so I wonder if the complaints are unfounded and coming from people expecting Vanden Plas luxury for Austin money.

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I was actually in a multi vehicle collision in one of these, albeit in India in a Tata Indica. 

 

Ok, it sounds a bit melodramatic but the taxi driver who was driving us from the airport to our hotel was a f***ing idiot of the highest order, cocking about with his phone until he drove into the back of a lorry which had (inexplicably, given this is India) stopped at a red light. Then a moped went straight into the back of the car. 

Thankfully this was all at a low enough speed to ensure nobody was hurt, car was dented both ends but still driveable so we carried on - it was in a crap state before we got in, and a fair bit worse when we left. From that point on, we always got the 'official premium' taxi (this one was an 'official' standard one from the desk at the airport) which was usually some kind of pseudo-suv or mpv like a Toyota Innova. 

 

Anyway, none of that was the car's fault, but I remember these hateful little things new and given the vast array of alternatives I'd never want to buy one out of choice. It's neither old enough or shit enough to be amusing nor (irrespective of age/condition) is it good enough to enjoy or be remotely enthusiastic about.

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If you want to get an idea of what you should be spending go to ebay, search 'auctions' and 'completed listings'. Excluding that prototype TATA one that's been kicking about for a while no CityRover in the past few months has made more than £435 (and that was a low miles gem) while on average they're about £200-odd quid. Dismal.

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I've driven one. The interior plastics are hilariously awful. In fact, much of the interior is. To drive though, really not bad at all. Nice amounts of torque and reasonable road manners. I think I could actually own one.

 

Buy one NOW, and take it to Pride of Longbridge this weekend. The owner of this one hopes you do!

579117_10150661240057374_571307310_n.jpg

 

(pic blatantly stolen from Paul Guiness)

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 I'd never want to buy one out of choice. It's neither old enough or shit enough to be amusing nor (irrespective of age/condition) is it good enough to enjoy or be remotely enthusiastic about.

 

Therefore it is prime Autoshite material.

  If I had not bought the most hated car in Autoshite history, I would have bought one of these.

Go for it and be sure to post lots of pics and tell us that we are all wrong and its a super little car....

 

 

 

 

even if it is shit and you hate it...

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Wanting, and getting are 2 different things, didn't Rover pay Tata less than £3k each or summat daft for em? Hindsight being great, but if they'd tried to punt em new for under £5k, they'd have probably had queues round the block of gifffers with cheque books in hand

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Rover had just about zero input into these, except their badge and maybe styling of the grille and the suspension damping rates. They didn't even glue the badges on like MG do now.

 

They look quite neatly styled and modern (for the time) but under the styling they are very old fashioned.

 

Verdict: WOULD, probably will one day. But buying one when new  at the time over a Picanto or Panda etc, nah.

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Whenever I see one of these I can't help but think of the bloke I saw in Halfords asking about paint for his CityRover at the counter, then I went outside and saw it was parked next to us. It looked like it had been rolled down an embankment, there were dents and filler on every panel. He'll have needed a lot of paint...

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To address your last point first, the Ambassador was never produced in the volume that the CityRover was so it was never going to survive in large numbers. 

 

Only 7,000 CityRovers were ever brought over (including around 1200 'improved' Mk2s imported by Motorpoint after MGR had gone bust), so it was never a particularly high volume model and in terms of exclusivity it beats most 'normal' cars. A clear case of exclusivity not leading to increased desireability (this place excepted).

 

Wanting, and getting are 2 different things, didn't Rover pay Tata less than £3k each or summat daft for em? Hindsight being great, but if they'd tried to punt em new for under £5k, they'd have probably had queues round the block of gifffers with cheque books in hand

 

According to AROnline MGR paid £900-£1200 for each mail order Indica, then put on new rear light clusters and bumpers in the UK (Tata even did all the engine and suspension adjustments in India themselves before shipping them out, how's that for a bargain?). All in all, the markup on even the basic £6,500 model must have been huge.

 

Personally I'd go for one. If they can take the punishment of Indian roads without simply falling apart then nothing this country can throw at them is going to be a killer and that Peugeot engine of unknown provenance is likely to go on forever (with no OMGHGF antics to worry about). They're even quite speedy according to contemporary reviews.

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