GBU Rover 200 R8

1989 – 1995

Back in the 1980s, I remember being confused about the Triumph Acclaim. It replaced the Dolomite that I really liked and in the line up was no sporty Sprint. I didn’t understand the Acclaim.

Via the pages of CAR magazine, I soon discovered it was a Honda and I didn’t like Honda taking over our British car industry. To a 6-year-old Stuart, British Leyland was ours. I must also add that I wasn’t aware back then of Red Robbo and the strife and struggle British Leyland were in at the time. 

The Japanese stepped in and gave us their Honda Ballade. And what a turn around this car was. Imagine if you like, model makers Tamiya and Airfix making you model kit of the same car. The Airfix would be badly moulded with instructions devoid of any real detail. You couldn’t go wrong with the Tamiya kit. It was meticulous in its moulding and it was difficult to assemble it incorrectly. That was pretty much what Honda brought to BL at Cowley. Beautifully precision made parts. 

Fast forward to 1989 and we end up with the Rover 200 (R8) and the K series engine in particular and yes dear reader, you know where this is going, so pop on the kettle, get that water HOT. 

This then was an actual Rover that people wanted to buy. And that they did in their droves. Half of the sales went to UK buyers and we couldn’t get enough of the redesigned Honda Concerto. We designed a 3 door hatchback, coupe and estate. These were not available on the Concerto. This was our Rover and we, the British were once again proud.

The 3 R’s were all there. Reliability, Ride and Refinements were high on the agenda. The fit was like nothing before from Austin or Rover or whoever they were at the time. To be honest, in the years between the Acclaim and this R8 Rover, it felt like they had gone through more reinventions than Madonna or Madge X or like a Virgin up the duff, preaching about it to song and dance.

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Now there was a snag. It just so happens that certain models with a certain engine weren’t as reliable as others in the range. Call it a historic flash back to the past. You see, BL had a tendency to make cars with engines that were known for head troubles.

Those with a Rover 214 or 216 were pretty much at the mercy of one day coming to their car and finding the bores full of water, which to be frank was the better option. The other was to have the car turn into a boiling kettle on the way to Cornwall for the yearly summer holiday. Stuck at the roadside turning into a game of wishing well all those with a K series fitted in their car as they went by.  

The Rover 200. A Good car turned Bad by its heart. 

About the author: Stuart M Bird

Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It's a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive.
Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old.
If you have a car or motoring product you would like reviewed here for TGUK please e mail me:

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Member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers. (SGMW)

Twitter: @t2stu

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