Scrapyard Gem: 1994 Rover 620 Si

NOTTINGHAM, England – During the final days of British Leyland, the sprawling company that once owned famous British brands including Jaguar, Austin, MG, Rover, Triumph, Wolseley and Daimler, the company entered into a partnership to develop cars with the Honda Motor Company. The only products from that relationship that we could buy new in the United States were the Acura Legend and the first-generation Sterling, but in the United Kingdom things got a lot more interesting. Today Junkyard Scrapyard Gem (that’s what the British call them) is a Rover 600 series, a machine that is both a Honda Accord sibling and a proper British sedan, found in one of the oldest scrapyards in England.

Albert Loom’s is near Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, and I dropped by on the journey between Heathrow Airport and the Yorkshire scrap yards. Most of the vehicles in their inventory are from our current century (Britain is a rust-prone place with strict safety inspections), but I did find some interesting older machines there.

That includes today’s car, which bears the badges of a beloved British marque with a lineage dating back to its origins as a Solihull bicycle manufacturer in 1878. Rover began building cars in 1904 and underwent expansion over the next century. many ownership changes and mergers. Since 2006, Land Rovers and Range Rovers are the only vehicles to bear the Rover name; Unfortunately the Rover Viking decals are no longer used.

The first car to emerge from the partnership between British Leyland (later the Austin Rover Group and then just the Rover Group) and Honda was the 1981-1984 Triumph Acclaim. That car, which was the last to bear the Triumph name, was essentially a British-built Honda Ballade (also known as the high-trim JDM Civic sedan) with some minor cosmetic changes. Then came the Rover 800 plus the Rover 400 and its derivatives.

The Rover 600 series was built for model years 1993 through 1999, after which it was replaced by the BMW-related Rover 75/MG ZT.

The chassis, interior and powertrain were all designed in Japan by Honda and are shared with the European-market fifth-generation Accord, but most of the bodywork was designed by Rover. Only the front doors, lower rear door panels, windshield and roof are the same as the Accord.

The 600’s grille was very distinctive and not at all Honda-like.

Open the hood and it’s all pure Honda underneath. This is an F20 2.0-liter SOHC inline four-cylinder engine. Suspension, brakes, the works: all Accord stuff. That meant Rover 600 buyers got cars that drove like Accords and handled like Accords. Later in the 600 series production, the 620ti was fitted with a turbocharged Rover engine, and Rover and Honda built diesel engines were also available.

This one has covered just under 140,000 miles (yes, that speedometer is almost identical to the one in fifth-generation US-market Accords), but a check of the MOT inspection history shows that registration expired in 2007. That’s better than 10,000. miles per year during his road career.

The interior looks quite nice when it was parked for good.

Transmission choices were between a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. This car has the manual.

This training video for Rover dealers explains the features of the 600 Series.

Just the car for a prisoner exchange in a former outpost of the British Empire.

The gentleman’s car.

The color does not match the jerseys of your new football team? No problem, Rover offers a 30 day return policy!

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