Many of us now believe that the world has either gone mad or is rapidly heading in that direction. The languishing in PH Classifieds of this mint condition, single-owner Rover 825 Sterling with a shiny MOT until next April and apparently no rust would seem to confirm this, or at the very least suggest that more of us need to visit Specsavers.
With just 91,000 miles on the clock, this KV6-powered 2.5 Fastback five-door comes complete with the sort of fat paperwork file you'd expect to find in the glovebox of an obviously loved one-owner car. Why would you not take a chance on it, at £875 or less?
The Roy Axe-designed front-wheel drive 800 was launched in summer 1986, six months after Honda had released its Legend version. A Fastback model came out two years later, and two years after that the M16 petrol 2.0-litre fours were joined by a horrid 2.5 turbodiesel for the masochist market.
The top o' the range Sterling started off with a Honda-supplied 2.5-litre V6 that was panned at the time by road testers for its insipid midrange power. Things began looking up in 1988 when a rather better Honda 2.7 V6 pitched up, followed in short order by the Vitesse, a genuinely rapid exec.
Rover's 'R17' facelift of 1991 produced the more rounded body shape you're looking at and possibly secretly admiring here. In 1995, the Honda V6 was replaced by Rover's own 2.5 KV6, which was a good dynamic match for the reliable Honda unit but which - in the early days, at least - did suffer some of the head gasket problems made famous by the four-pot K series motors.
Before the money grabbers stepped in and spoiled everything, there was real talent on display in both chassis competence and paint finish. Our Shed's combo of Nightfire Red with uncreased grey moo is about as good as it gets. Clearly, no gigantic buttocks have ever been placed on the seats, which by the way are every bit as comfy as they look.
The generic downside of any late model KV6 automatic would be the flaky JATCO transmission. We also have to use the word 'apparently' in front of the phrase 'no rust' because it would be a minor miracle if any 21-year-old British car really was totally corrosion-free. Weak areas on the 800s included the sunroof surrounds and drain channels, rear arches and the bonnet front edge. Having said that, later models like this one were much better protected than the first 800s.
And never underestimate the power of men in cardigans. This car looks so good that you may well be lucky in both trans and bodywork departments. It demonstrates that true Rover-lovers, especially 'mature' ones, were 100% dedicated to the cause of keeping them up to snuff. Many would have had nothing else other than Rovers in their lives.
Give an R17 its head on an A-road and you might be surprised at what you can achieve. Even Clarkson described it as "a fine all-rounder". Mind you, that was when he was wearing a jacket and tie.
Okay, electrics were never that great on 800s, with immobilisers, ECUs and alarms misbehaving and sometimes the whole electrical system shutting down just when you didn't want it to, ie anytime. Aircons and boots leak, but other 800 issues weren't always as daunting as they first appeared. Wonky windows, for example, could sometimes be mended by nothing more high-tech than a soldering iron or a quick knuckle-rap in the right place.
This car is from the penultimate year of 800 manufacture. We're not counting 1999, as the line finished in January. In total, 317,306 new 800s were sold. That un-small number surely reflects the difficulty of resisting Rover salesmen, who were armed with slick sales techniques like the ones promoted in this training vid.
The last years of Rover were dogged by (largely self-inflicted) problems, but underneath all the nonsense was a hard core of engineering knowledge. There was very little wrong with the basic design of the drivetrains or the chassis components. It was just that final ha'porth of tar that was missing that would have given the cars the element of robustness required by the market.
In the years immediately following the end of the line, the 800 was generally roasted by all and sundry. More recently, it seems to be attracting warmer rather than heated views. The second and current owner of this one rescued it from a fate worse than death on the banger tracks. You could see why he would have done that.
You should never generalise about what sort of motoring a particular car might have experienced in its life, but it's entirely possible that this one's speedo needle has never dipped its toe into the phantom zone beyond 70mph. Wouldn't it be great to take it on a long jaunt to, say, eastern Europe, miles from civilisation or indeed Rover specialists, to see what it can do? No? Oh, ok, maybe you're right.
Shed once rescued a kids' furry dog-based pushcart from the tip because he felt sorry for it. He still has that pushcart. This is your chance to do something similar for this lovely old Rover.
Here's the ad.