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Downgrading from a Rover 800

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Fancied making a post on this in case by some miracle I ever do manage to get this thing fixed

This is my 1996 Rover 820 Vitesse

TnH0Q42.jpg

Just kidding, that was my car 8 long months ago

Looks more like this now, half buried in a hedge and home to many, many families of scary looking spiders 

ZNCH2a4.jpg

So what went wrong?

I picked this up I think at the start of October last year. It was a pretty damn clean 120 odd thousand mile example of a Vitesse fastback in nightfire. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it for the first time, and I loved it even more when I was first able to have a go in it. Not really old enough to remember these being common, so this was more or less the first 800 I ever really saw.

I think I drove it for about 4 days in total.

The morning I got it, I stayed in it driving it around for hours (also got assaulted by some random Corsa B driving fella whilst I was sat in it, but that’s a story for another time). I took it down all of my favourite fast driving roads and really stretched its legs out, whilst paying close attention to the temperature gauge just in case. I had a K Series 25 as my first car, and while it never overheated I didn’t really have much luck with it in terms of it losing coolant. I thought “I made it through K Series ownership without any overheating issues, surely I’d never have such issues with the stronger yet still susceptible T series?” 

After absolutely caning it around town and down country lanes all day without the temperature gauge even moving an inch, I decided to hit the motorway to see how it drove in such conditions. Having done just that, I must’ve got a bit bored and decided to floor it in 5th up to about 90 where I cruised for a mile or so. I remember distinctly that I was chasing a Mercedes infront before looking at the gauges and seeing the temperature gauge absolutely fucking PINNED at the max. So, that was my first ever experience on the hard shoulder of a motorway, specifically the busy M6 at night.

To cut a long story short, ended up finding out that my radiator was like Swiss fucking cheese, also found out that they’re a bit hard to come by! So, I parked it up and it sat for months on end. I’m not very gifted in terms of mechanic skills, as you’ll learn very shortly, so I left the radiator removal to my usual mechanic who took an absolute eternity to get it out. At some point he said something like “get it jumped and bring it in and I’ll do it”, so I went to get a battery and leads to jump it with. Connected the battery up to the one in the car with the leads and every light comes on, the horn goes apeshit, the wipers go at max speed etc. Was absolutely puzzled at first, and as such I left the leads on while I tried to figure out what was happening. Gave a mate a text asking if he had any idea and he says “are you sure it’s on the right way?”

pls no

I go and look and sure enough, in the poor lighting I’d reversed the fucking polarity. Ever since then, the car hasn’t moved an inch. I went home after seeing what I’d done and haven’t really returned to the car since because a) I’m too disappointed in myself and b) I can’t stand seeing the car covered in tree sap, dust and cobwebs with flat tyres and rusty brakes, the sills and arches quickly rotting away on what was otherwise a quite a clean example. What makes matters worse is that I ended up getting a radiator made from scratch for it at the cost of 280 quid, and that’s now just sat on the back seat of the car, don’t really want to install it incase I decide to break the car or just plain scrap it, in which case I’ll sell it separate.

Anyway, really not sure what to do with it. People are starting to get quite annoyed with it being in the way, and it’s starting to rot away. The MOT expired on the 7th which really further dampened my thoughts about the whole thing. I have recently been trying to get a mate to come down and see if the electrics are saveable, but I keep running into scheduling issues.

But yeah, that’s the story of my decrepit Vitesse and why I’m probably going to be too scared to ever touch an old car again. In the event that I do ever get it fixed, it owes me about £1800 worth of fun and trouble free motoring. Fat chance that’ll happen though. 

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Nice enough car. Get it sorted. Find a knowledgeable mechanic.

Best guess is borked head gasket ( as you’ll discover when you fit the rad) & a goosed alternator. Hardly anything major.....

Or flog it here, for pennies.

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Haha no, not a for sale thread, does read like one though. I can’t give up now either way because I’m way too far upside down in it to ever let myself be rid of it for essentially scrap value. The rad isn’t the issue anymore, it’s that the car basically does sweet fuck all when you connect a battery (the right way round) to it now. At the time when I tried, I had a measly 2 dashboard bulbs illuminate and that was it. I have been told of a couple of things to try including the alternator fusible link, as I know the alternator will be done for for. I’m just not capable of diagnosing it properly as I know literally zilch about electrics, not something I was ever taught or took the time to learn about as much as I’d love to know.

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I did just this ages and ages ago on a Toyota Lucida. Stuck the leads on the wrong way round. Afterwards got nothing when the leads were connected the right way round.....not a sausage

What had happened? I had blown the main fuse (on these Lucidas they are built into the positive lead that attaches to the positive terminal on the battery). So that is my reckoning as to what you have done here.

Once I replaced that on that particular car, it fired up and carried on as per usual. Try and find where your main fuse is located....

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Nice to know others have done the same thing I guess. I think my biggest concern if I get it going again is all the shitty Rover security systems playing up and not letting me unlock the car or disarm the immobiliser. Was bad enough when it was working that I had to put the key in the door and turn it left and right about 20 times every single time I left the car for a second. Who at Rover honestly thought that was a good idea?

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Oh man thats a real shame.  As Wingz says above try the main fuse and see if that helps and then worry about the security issues.  There is life in this old dog yet (thats a saying, your car is not a dog) its a gorgeous Rover Vitesse.   I would also start with this main fuse.  If not then find a good car sparky to come out and spend an hour probing, got to be worth it.  And go from there, a new rad isn't a disaster and don't worry about head gasket woes at this stage, it might be alright

Go and source a main fuse (try Rimmers) and check all the fuses and let us know how you get on. Guess your fuse box is something like the below...

Guessing you would have completely borked the current battery too so discount that.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ROVER-820-STERLING-2-0-AUTO-136-BHP-1999-FUSE-BOX/163453734750?fits=Car+Make%3ARover|Model%3A800&hash=item260e9a0f5e:g:IEMAAOSwg05cJL-H

 

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Could probably get the radiator put in over the weekend if I had time. I’m not really arsed about the head gasket if I’m honest, I’m sure it’ll go eventually but I think it’ll be fine for some time. My concerns mechanically lie with the gearbox more than anything, was quite whiny but the car is in need of just about every service item imaginable, got the timing belt kit on the back seat right now with the radiator. Might be reet with a gearbox service but I expect it to need rebuilding eventually.

Shall have a look into the main fuse though, cheers people. I know someone with a couple of these so shall see if I can find one to swap in & test. Not to worry about the battery either, had a shitty 063 in it anyway.

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You'll find the main fuse is screwed into the fuse board being that it is rated to such high ampage. I think the Lucidas was a 140 amp fuse. They are like little boxes on those. I really have no experience of Rovers but I imagine their fuses would be similar. I bought a new one from BAE (Bristol Auto Electrical) in Westbury when I lived down that way. Was about £7 I think.

 

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Hahahaha do you think its blown? 😉👍

Just tackle one thing at a time mate 😁

Get it changed boy and get on the road

Have a look at this and this guys pictures....get your paintwork cleaned up like this as it's such a beautiful colour....rekindle your love for it

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F202733312429

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31 minutes ago, sierraman said:

The whining will be the gearbox bearings, unless it’s low on oil servicing it will make no difference to that apart from possibly making the noise louder. Save your money for a gearbox rebuild. 

I'm basing this assumption entirely on my previous experience with my old R56 equipped R50 Mini, believe their gearbox issues are fairly similar to the to the Vitesse's. Mine whined like a pig in 5th and new fluid in the gearbox helped quieten it loads, but I ultimately got rid because I was doing heavy motorway miles and was worried it was going to grenade like this.

29 minutes ago, Wingz123 said:

Got it running yet? 

Trying to source a new fuse now. I work at a motorfactors and I can't seem to get the right fusible link. Rimmerbros do have them in stock for £1.02, but the delivery is nearly a fiver so going to try and source one through alternate means first. I can't get it running currently anyway due to the radiator being sat in the back of the car, but I am definitely itching to see if this fuse fixes the electrics, even if I know full well I'm probably going to be massively disappointed haha.

Glad I made this thread though, it's definitely got me re-excited at the prospect of driving it once again. Cheers all.

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3 minutes ago, Wingz123 said:

Can you bridge it JUST FOR TESTING purposes?

Have considered it with a mate, what might you use to do it?

Battery's dead anyway so I'd need to chuck a new one in before I bothered.

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