Rover 827 Vitesse: PH Ad Break


You’d hardly believe it now, but the early 90s were an optimistic time for Rover. After a torrid period in the early 80s, the company’s partnership with Honda was starting to pay dividends, and the Rover 213 and 216 – Honda Ballades, in all but name – had met with agreeable reviews and become a successful model for the company.

Rover's most unintentionally ironic subtitle?
Rover's most unintentionally ironic subtitle?
The next Rover to come out of this partnership was the 800, codenamed XX, and it continued the trend. Closely related to the first-generation Honda Legend, it featured a combination of Rover 2.0-litre M-Series engines and Honda V6s, and equipped with the latter, it spawned the second big Rover to wear the Vitesse name.

The first, of course, had been the big, brutish SD1 – but the 800 was an altogether different animal. Front-wheel drive, and more of an executive cruiser than a touring car tearaway, it’s no surprise that it’s barely remembered today while the SD1 is feted. But in its own right, and in its day, it was – take a deep breath, now – a good car. The V6 gave it 180hp, enough to propel it to 60mph in eight seconds dead, and it handled well. “Unlike the Legend, this car has the heart of a lion,” said Car magazine. “The Vitesse wipes aside the ills of earlier Rovers.” Let’s not forget, while we’re on the subject, that it was a completely standard 827 Vitesse that was the first production car to average 100mph around the Isle Of Man TT circuit, a feat achieved with Tony Pond at the wheel in 1990.

'I remember when these were all Ambassadors...'
'I remember when these were all Ambassadors...'
This particular ad, for the whole 800 range but featuring the Vitesse most heavily, was one of Rover’s better efforts of the 90s – all subtlety and innuendo, clever camerawork and neat asides. In fact it wouldn’t be out of place if it appeared on our screens today. In one fell swoop it takes a delightfully unsubtle swipe at Rover’s main rivals from the German car industry (then in its ascendancy, and just a few short years away from taking over the company in its entirety), and then addresses concerns about Rover’s fit and finish (although, clearly, the supposed owner who “likes the way it’s put together” enjoys the odd panel gap), before referring to its sporting credo (while cutting to a shot of a four-speed auto box being shifted between gears). Ahem. OK, so it’s not the greatest ad in the world in terms of its accuracy, but who cares? It looks great, the concept’s neat, and the car’s... well, it’s actually looking rather good these days, we reckon. Enjoy!

PS. If you want a giggle, check out this earlier example of XX 800 advertising to see how well they moved the game on. Keep an eye out for the head-on shot with a main-beam bulb out. Only a company formed from the ashes of British Leyland could manage that one...

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (112) Join the discussion on the forum

  • newdogg06 19 Mar 2013

    Enjoyed my '92 820Si manual in BRG. Only had it a year, but very comfortable, had climate control and sunroof. Used to like the faint whine the Honda PG1 gearbox made when accelerating in 1st and 2nd gear. Reminded me of Mum and Dad's Montego which had the same 'box.
    Bought it for £600, sold it for £850. Bargain.

  • v8will 17 Mar 2013

    We had an early 827SLI auto back in the late 90's. At the time it was more or less worthless (think we'd allowed a guy £100 on it against a E30 estate that we were selling privately) but it was a pretty good car and felt alot quicker than the figures suggested.

    It was actually the engine that saw its demise, big ends went at around 160K, we'd given it a load of abuse though over the 2 years we kept it. 1st Automatic I ever drove as well incidentally.

  • BigBen 17 Mar 2013

    CDP said:
    BigBen said:
    I remember going to the 1986 motor show and my dad and I playing with the electric bits in the display Sterling model and a big bit of trim coming off in his hand. An extra dab of glue might have been sensible on the motor show models.

    Later a mate's dad had an 820Sli and it was a really nicely equipped car and great to ride in as far as I recall he had it for over 100k miles with no problems.

    Ben
    Next time you go to a motorshow don't let him take his crowbar along.

    When I took an M3 Roadster for a test drive bits of interior trim dropped off...
    Happened to us test driving a Golf. However this thread wasn't about Golfs so I didn't mention it.

  • CDP 17 Mar 2013

    BigBen said:
    I remember going to the 1986 motor show and my dad and I playing with the electric bits in the display Sterling model and a big bit of trim coming off in his hand. An extra dab of glue might have been sensible on the motor show models.

    Later a mate's dad had an 820Sli and it was a really nicely equipped car and great to ride in as far as I recall he had it for over 100k miles with no problems.

    Ben
    Next time you go to a motorshow don't let him take his crowbar along.

    When I took an M3 Roadster for a test drive bits of interior trim dropped off...

  • BigBen 17 Mar 2013

    I remember going to the 1986 motor show and my dad and I playing with the electric bits in the display Sterling model and a big bit of trim coming off in his hand. An extra dab of glue might have been sensible on the motor show models.

    Later a mate's dad had an 820Sli and it was a really nicely equipped car and great to ride in as far as I recall he had it for over 100k miles with no problems.

    Ben

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