Like Grandfather, Like Son
Take a step back to simpler times... heaven.
Olly Alexander | 1992 Rover 214i | @ollly222
Rover. The car brand that in my opinion, quite simply summed up Britain in the 90's. Rugged, dependable 50% of the time you needed them to be, and was comfortable shying away from setting the world alight; but this was ok. It was the early nineties and the excessive period of the eighties had well-and-truly come to an end. This was a time to buckle-down, look after the pennies, and be sensible.
Like many British households, a Rover adorned our family's driveway as a company car for my Dad. So was the British industrial hierarchy of the time that each grade of management received a different marque of this quint-essentially British manufacturer: a Rover 200 for the junior, a 400 for middle management, and a 600 for the Seniors. It was its very own pyramid scheme.
Olly was introduced to Rover in a very similar manner.
"When I was growing up, from birth to about the age of 14, my Grandad had a two-tone red and grey Rover 214i with an electric sunroof. As soon as I saw one come up for sale, I knew I had to have it."
Olly's Rover is an example of the second generation 200 model. With various specs available the 200 was ultimately a 5-door hatchback with the 400 being manufactured as a saloon, and later an estate.
For its day the Rover 200 sort of freshened up the small family car market in Britain. Upon its release in 1989, it became the newest car in its class. The Ford Escort had been around since 1980 and the Vauxhall Astra remained unchanged since its inception in 1984. These rivals of the 200 were not updated fully (excluding the Escort's facelift in 1986) until 1992!
Even the Europeans were falling behind in the small family car class with only the Peugeot 309, Renault 19 and Fiat Tipo being less than 5 years-old at the time the Mk2 Rover 200 was introduced.
With this in mind, the Rover 200 & 400 models sold in their thousands with 110,000 making their way off the production line and into families across the world every year. As more than half of this annual total remained in the confines of our island, 200 was a common site in Britain. It's popularity led it to be hailed as What Car's 'Car of the Year' in 1990; a feat that propelled it to the pinnacle of automotive regard as it now rubbed shoulders with the Mk1 Golf GTi, BMW 735i, and most recently the Kia EV6 GT.
Compared to its modern award winning counterpart, comfort has definitely come a long way.
"The car is awful to drive everyday. No luxury. No power steering. No anything. The only bit of luxury the car has is an electric sunroof, but it doesn't even have electric windows!"
So whilst opening the windows on a hot summers day is as much effort as going to the gym, its these little touches that make the car stand out. It's a time capsule transporting you 30 years into the past and like that sweater you just can't get rid of because it was an age-old family hand-me-down, the charm remains.
"My favourite aspect of the car has to be the pure simplicity of it. I know this isn't a single feature as such but let's be honest, for a 90's car this is about as basic as it comes. It doesn't have air-con or power steering, let alone anti-lock brakes like most cars of the late-90's and early 2000's had."
The car didn't need all of this. What Olly has done is maintain the retro edge of this 214i whilst adding a little modern flare. Custom coilovers have been installed to get this Rover kissing the ground, wider rear wheels replace the stock 90's equivalents, and camber has been added to wrap the whole package up in with lovely stanced goodness.
Achieving this look was no easy feat for Olly as there's been one significant challenge.
"Getting parts. That's the main issue and challenge I've been having with it. For how many Rovers were around 30 years ago you really would have thought the parts would be more easily accessible. Between that, learning about the car has been the next challenge."
One of the downsides to the British car industry. With so many Rovers eventually ending up in the scrap yard as the brand became less and less competitive with its emerging European counterparts, market support has become near non-existent. Even with the lack of aftermarket support, Olly has managed to add some neat touches with half tinted rear lights, clear indicators, and a Nardi steering wheel.
There's even a custom shotgun exhaust pipe to add the soundtrack of the 214, but this wasn't exactly a change that was on the to-do list.
"I only changed the back box originally because the stock one blew up!"
Sadly this wasn't the only time the Rover decided to revert to its stereotypical type.
"It's definitely not a good memory but the first time I drove it any distance (about an hour) to its first show it drove there beautifully. No issues or hiccups. However on what was a very hot day, on the way back from the show the radiator decided it wanted to blow a hole in itself. I managed to limp the car home and luckily got it sorted very quickly."
Unfortunately for Olly his Rover decided to have a very British melt-down in that it had seemingly decided it no longer wanted to undertake the commute after a day soaking-up the sun. Another charming yet non-ideal feature for long-time 90's lover Olly:
"I've always loved 90's boxy cars. The styling from around that era and the features that at the time seemed amazing. Yet most of all I love how much effort people who were into cars put into them during the 1990's."
Olly is no different to the petrol-heads of 30 years prior as 4-wheels and petrol have always been around him.
"I've always loved cars growing up. From video games such as Need for Speed, Forza, and Mario Kart, to reading Fast Car Magazine, all helped push me into cars. At college I ended up doing Mechanics which I would continue to do for a couple of months as an apprentice with Mercedes. I then realised I hated working on other people's cars and that I was terrible at it! So as soon as I learned to drive I started tinkering on my own."
Well Olly, you've done a good job.
Overall, Olly's Rover 214i is a clean and near example of a stanced retro build. It's a portal back to the days that the current generation seem to look back on in wonder. It was almost the breeding ground for the technology of today. The first step on the moon of technology that is now taken for granted. An era that started putting phones in cars for mobile communication, now makes way for cars that read text messages as you drive. The world has changed but Olly's stunning Rover helps us get back to basics and look cool doing it. A healthy detox from the extremities of modern life.
Now who else is heading to snap up a 90's classic? I know I am, thanks Olly...
Custom Coilovers on 326 Power 24K Springs w/ Camber Top Mounts
Wheels & Tyres:
Borbet A 7.5J w/ 165/45/16 Front
Borbet A 9J w/ 195/45/16 Rear
Back Box Delete
Small Shotgun Exhaust Pipe