Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Rover Regency Reminisces

Rover 827 Regency - lives up to expectations

Always loved Rover 800s. Indeed, I'm sitting on my hands - after missing out on that Montego last week I have the urge to buy something else as a reflex action - and I've spotted a rather nice Sterling Coupe for £250...

That said, I have as yet only driven one 800. And much as I liked it, living in the middle of a housing estate and on a narrow road it wouldn't really be practical for me to have bought that one.

It was a MK1 827Si. Right engine, I'm not averse to MK1s, but perhaps the wrong spec for my liking - I'm into leather, so it would have to be a Sterling for me. The slight problem was that as I settled into the grey velour seat, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the rear window some two and a bit feet further back than it would normally be. This was no ordinary 800, it was a Startins Regency limousine. And the owner was in the passenger seat. And I was to take it for a spin on some very narrow roads on a farm.

Let me recount the story as to how I got to be in this position. This was back in October, and my friend Mal Watson had invited me to what would be the last Rover 800 and Maestro/Montego enthusiasts' day out at his barn in Yorkshire, full off spares for anything you can imagine. We're talking a place with a Bond Equipe in 2 pieces amongst it's contents, the MG Maestro Turbo prototype, and an MGBGT shell on a shelf on the far wall. The reason this was to be the last is because Mal has since moved to Somerset after a change in circumstances. At this event, I met Chris Ellis - a chap I've known on various Rover 800 forums, who has just under a million 800s including (at the time) a Regency.

I asked him how it felt to drive compared to a standard 800, and his response was to invite me to have a spin. Well, could I really say no? Setting off, my concern was that I was turning right - immediately to my right was the daily driver of my good friend Richard Moss, a silver LPG-equipped 820Si. Not that I should have worried, for I found the steering of the 800 to be fingertip light, and the car felt no bigger than my daily 306. Indeed, it felt smaller than the Montego 1.6 Mayfair I was to drive the same day. It also felt smaller in that I seemed to be sitting lower, holding a larger steering wheel - this car was made as a tool of pleasure as much as a mode of transport.

To turn, I spotted a driveway some nine feet in width or so, which seemed ideal. And it was, but for the dog stood behind the car. I slid the exquisite gear selector into reverse, half-hoping that the sudden appearance of white lights would make the dog think this large creation was in fact a UFO, and thus run away. This failed. So Chris hopped out, and went to move the dog - which as a result attached itself to him like a limpet for the rest of the day. Backing up was just as easy as going forwards - the Regency may be large but visibility is second to none. As I parked again, I reflected upon the possibility of 800 ownership. He's since parted company with the regency, and had I the space I'd have bought it. But an 18 foot long car isn't practical.

A sixteen foot one, though, is a different matter. Now, where did I put the ad for that £250 Sterling Coupe?

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