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When you can’t work out if it’s weird or wonderful

Chris Haining December 2, 2016 All Things Hoon, Terrible Ideas 19 Comments


Every now and again we’ll chance upon an automotive Frankenstein’s Monster. We’ve seen them often in Craigslist Crapshoots. They’re usually absolutely hideous, the kind of unearthly, hideous freakshow that really needs to be nuked from space. We’re talking about those unhappy concoctions that are neither fish nor fowl. That are often the result of inspiration by way too much alcohol. The kind of thing that leaves you wondering how its creator could possibly look upon it and think to himself “yes, that looks great. That was a good idea.”

The thing you’re looking at is an example of a hotch-potch. But, like eating Cheetos after dunking them in tea, it’s a strange mixture that I rather like the taste of. It’s a blend of two generations of Rover 800 – the fuselage of a post ’92 Mk2 combined with the insipid headlights, flat bonnet and letterbox-slot grille of a Mk1. It was built by a guy called Brad and I’ve known about it since I first saw it on the several years ago. And now it’s appeared on eBay.

And, dangerously, I rather like it.


As much as I love my own 800, I’ve never been a fan of the rather anachronistic way that Rover ‘updated’ the Mk2 by installing an ‘imposing’ chrome front grille to the thing. There were considerable sheetmetal differences made during Rover’s top ‘n tail facelift effort, but the grille always seemed somewhat pretentious, especially after the Mk1 had been such a clean-cut design. Bland, maybe, but its sharp edges look better today than they did back then. Being saddled with a 1950s-style chrome grille immediately put the 800 way behind its forward-thinking European rivals. In my opinion.

The flat Mk1 bonnet and vestigial grille of the Mk1, when applied to the later car’s front end has a fascinating, and rather eye-catching effect. To me it creates a look reminiscent of the original and much-loved SD1, a car that many would say the 800 never quite replaced. If it wasn’t for wanting to retain the originality of my own, I’d be tempted to do this to mine. Fortunately, at the current moment this car – an 827SLI that was, oddly, kept off the road and registered several years after it was built – has after 40 bids and with 2 days to go. This is way beyond my disposable cash reserves, thank goodness.

Anyway. Which weird, homely yet strangely becoming hybrids have you ever clapped eyes on?

(Images originally property of Very Tall Brad and subsequently used by some trader guy on eBay)

  • CraigSu

    No matter how much I look at it only one word comes to mind: Buick. And that’s not a compliment.

    • Lokki

      No matter how much I look at it, only one thing comes to mind: Electrical problems. And that’s not a compliment.

    • I can see a certain amount of America in it, too. It is a very Park Avenue colour.

  • Alff

    Appropriately, it looks to my eyes like a large Honda.

    • Kiefmo

      And those wheels look awfully like the 15″ alloys that came on the 94-97 Accord EX trim.

    • marmer

      Me too. I had to look several times to be sure it wasn’t that US-market Sterling thing.

  • Reminds me of the Citroën XM parked at work, that wasn’t moved since a week because reasons.

  • Rover 1

    I prefer the looks of the Mk 1 and that’s why I own both versions. I’d like to see the Mk 1 front on a coupe. But it still wouldn’t look as good as the CCV.

    I would rather have seen theCCV front end applied across the range

  • I’ve seen a few too many ’58 Edsel noses grafted onto ’57 and ’58 Rancheros with mixed results, but this ’59/’59 suggests that the idea just might have been worth pursuing in earnest:

    • Sean McMillan

      they did a very classy job on that one. I like that two tone.

  • Rover 1

    Guaranteed to upset both sides.

    The Folden.

    For those unfamiliar, early ’70s HQ model Holdens by GM Australia look like this.

    New Zealanders don’t respect Australian or American icons.

    • Sjalabais

      Without the pimp-o-wheels, I’d say its perfect. This is, essentially, the Vopelw for Germans, the Saalvo for Swedes, the Peugault for Frenchmen…a perfect irritant.

  • Rover 1

    Peugeot Roa for Iran only. A hybrid unlike a Prius. From Iran Khodro.

    When it’s too late in the century to keep making the facelifted version of the 1966 Hillman Hunter for your protected market and you’ve already swapped out the old Rootes Group 1950s Hillman Minx derived motor for a (slightly) newer Peugeot motor. But you don’t want to throw away all your tooling, so you reuse the floorpan and it’s live-axle RWD, and bung a newer body from a later (FWD, but who cares) Peugeot 405,( which you’re still also making), on top.

    Sure it sits a little high but with those roads that’s a bonus.

    Possibly about to go out of production ‘shortly’ so before 2025 then?

    • Sjalabais

      Basically an RWD 405? Count me in.

      • Rover 1

        RWD but with a leaf sprung live axle, it’s a long way from a BMW-even a forty() year old one like an E30.

  • Rover 1

    Weird, but not strangely becoming. Though we might be getting used to it.

  • Gregg Collins

    First I thought Sterling. Which I think was a rebadged Honda sold by Rover. Then it started to look a little Fordish.

    • Rover 1

      It ‘s the later, non USA, facelift of the car that was the Sterling ‘facelifted’ with the Sterling front:-)

      And it was a sister car to the Mk1 Honda Legend,the Honda/Rover joint venture known code-named the XX. The cars ended up with a lot of commonalities but a lot of differences too.

  • mrh1965

    I don’t know anything about these cars but I do like the looks of this one. Clean lines. We don’t see enough of that anymore. Yes, I’m getting old. I like the wheels, too. Too much negative space on many new wheels now, especially the performance / sport packages. I really don’t want to look at your disc and caliper.