The Divine Wind of the Rover 213

Note: I adapted this from a post I made on Petrolblog.com some years ago. It’s a true story.

There are those who would have you believe that the Rover 213, the once favoured conveyance of the blue rinse brigade, was as exciting as listening to Kimi Raikkonen on valium. I beg to differ.

Way back in the early 90s, my then employers – who clearly didn’t care too much for the cut of my jib – issued me with a shabbily unchic Rover 213 as a company car.

First impressions were fair, although I did contrive to lock myself out of it in a lay-by on the A77 one cold, snowy morning. Without a jacket. My fault. Or so I thought at the time. Perhaps it was but a harbinger of things to come.

A few weeks later, the Rover and I found ourselves in a long line of stationary traffic in central Glasgow. An innocuous enough situation, you might think. And it was. Right up until the moment when the driver of the car in front engaged reverse instead of her brain. In fairness, she might have left the latter in a jar somewhere. I believe she’s now in politics.

The car was repaired, but a precedent had been established. Four months later, I was sitting at a busy roundabout, handbrake on, waiting for traffic from a motorway slip road to clear. A large van approached from the rear, growing ever larger in the mirrors. Closer it came. And closer still. And…BANG! Remarkably, the 213 still drove after this latest bump and had the advantage of being able to fit into smaller parking spaces. 

My employers, bitterly disappointed that I remained in one piece, now played their Joker: they gave me the keys to another Rover 213. This one, they said, was a special edition. And it was – the only Rover 213 to come with fading rising sun decals on the doors, a bottle of sake in the glovebox and a speech synthesizer that screamed “banzai” whenever it passed an American car.

Nothing improved my driving abilities to the extent that this car did. I learned how to drive with no brakes, steering that turned the wheels in the opposite direction to my inputs and tyres that were smoother than Kojak’s pate.

Dumbfounded by my continuing survival, my employers enlisted the aid of their ace mechanic, to whose tender ministrations the Rover had been entrusted. Having allegedly sorted a few minor problems, he handed the car back to me one Friday afternoon. His parting words, grunted rather than spoken, were that I should return the car to him the following Monday so he could fit a new speedo cable. 

On the way home that evening, I pulled out to pass a slow moving truck and floored the throttle, expecting the Rover to lurch into kick-down. The gearbox, however, decreed that top gear was perfectly fine, thanks. Consequently, the Rover picked up speed with the alacrity of a hibernating tortoise and wafted languidly towards an onrushing juggernaut…

When I got home, I had to take a couple of shots of whisky to steady my hand enough to open the bottle of tranquilisers. Come the Monday, the ace mechanic immediately diagnosed the cause of my near-miss: he’d removed the kick-down cable.

You can have too much excitement. I took the hint. I got a new job. And stayed well clear of Rover 213s.

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