Rover were a stalwart British car manufacturing company that was founded in 1878 as a bicycle manufacturer.
The company began producing cars in 1904 and became known for its high-quality luxury vehicles. During World War I (and later WWII,) they focused on producing military vehicles and engines.
Rover enjoyed a reputation of building luxury vehicles until experiencing financial troubles after the Second World War.
After changing hands to British Leyland Motor Corporation, then to the British Aerospace Company, then to BMW, Rover was then sold to a consortium which rebranded the company MG Rover, producing some cult modern classics until eventually going bankrupt in 2005; thusly being sold off to Nanjing Automobile Group and subsequently, sadly, were no more.
Classic Rovers such as the P5 Coupe, P6 V8 and SD1 Vitesse have been staunch favourites in the retro and classic car scene for a long time now.
However, the 90’s cars, namely the 200 platform, and it’s bigger sister the 400 series- due to their relative modernity, reputation for tin worm and dreaded head gasket issues, with this writer even reading about seemingly random cracked blocks, had fell by the way side.
Despite the Tomcat smashing 37 land speed records! And even maintaining 36 of them currently! (Yes, you read that right… Rover are the curators of 36 land speed records!)
With the expansion of ULEZ zones, the foreshadowing (or scaremongering?) of 15minute cities and eco lockdowns, not to mention endlessly rising living costs; those of us who aren’t akin to the idea of electric vehicles are turning more and more to the70’s, 80’s and 90’s sh!tboxes for cheap, fun, reliable motoring.
Thusly finding out for the most part that; sh!tboxes, these cars are not!
The Rover 200 platform, such as the 216 coupe, particularly 220 Turbo coupe known as the Tomcat, and standard hatch, as well as the slightly larger 400 series; have been experiencing a rise in popularity recently, with not many people realising the cars were a joint venture with Honda, thusly sharing (or at least pick and mixing) parts between the marques.
It surely must provide a welcome surprise for contemporary owners that their car is half built by a company famous for reliability, usability and fun.
However, they’re still seldom seen within the modified car community and its many facets, despite the sheer amount of off shelf upgrades for civics which can be shared between models. This makes us at Motors & Man Stuff feel a bit sad.
Luckily, there’s a few diehard’s out there, such as Tom Hayward and his utterly styling example!
Suspended beautifully on a suspension set up that took some wrestling, on some legendary JDM splits, as well as sporting early bonnet swap and some pretty individual past styling choices.
We’ve had a chat with the wild rover himself to find out more about this unique Tourer…
MOVE OVER ROVER!
LET TOM TAKE OVER!
M- Firstly, thanks for letting us feature your car!
T- No drama dude, my pleasure!
M- A Rover 400 Tourer is a pretty unique build, despite 90’s Rovers experiencing a rise in popularity recently, it’s certainly not usual to see one modified, never mind sitting so pretty!
What made you pick the car and decide to mod it?
T- I’ve always been into Rover cars to be honest, I’ve owned two Rover 200s, five metros, a diesel 400 tourer and an 91 827 along with a few other marques over the years.
A trader friend of mine purchased the vans owned by a gent who passed away and the Rover in question came as part of the deal. The trader knew I was into my Rovers so before he weighed it in he gave me a call.
I was fairly desperate to stop daily driving the very clean but thirsty 827 at the time and having loved my tourer many years previously this seemed like a wise replacement. Obviously we all know what happens to daily drivers and soon I started fettling.
This fettling however was unlike most others I must add.
I decided one night that I had an interest in American station wagons which I didn’t own… so I made one.
A few strips of 4mm plywood, Fablon vinyl from Wilco, brass screws and washers, a tub of yacht varnish and 58 holes in the car later I have achieved my goal (I don’t drink.)
I do think however that the move to then weld up all 58 holes plus the natural ones underneath and paint the thing may trump the station wagon idea, it was no mean feat.
M- Rovers gained a bit of a reputation for popping head gaskets back in the day.
Not many people know, a lot of the cars had Honda engines, and shared a lot of parts and chassis with Honda models. The 200 series platform being the main vehicle for this.
Is your example Honda or rover engined?
How has she treat you thus far?
T- Mine is powered by a Honda D16 yes, its a great little engine.
It’s excellent on fuel although this has been effected by now having to use super unleaded as it isn’t compatible with the new unleaded.
It’s been faultlessly reliable as well other than a few issues related to my choice of ride height etc and a recent timing belt failure but that’s on me for not changing it sooner.
Being a former mechanic it was a doddle to repair and to be honest I think most people with less experience wouldn’t struggle, it was a pleasure to work on.
M- With it being a Honda engine, with a lot of shared parts, I imagine there’s a lot of scope for modifications, whether stance, performance, or otherwise.
What’s parts availability like for spares and upgrades?
T- Yes and no to be honest.
When it comes to the engine, as far as I am aware they are near identical to that found in civics of the same era. This does give a lot of options for aftermarket bolt on bits.
I’ve taken advantage of this by fitting a cheap eBay manifold as part of the inevitable rabbit hole of changing the timing belt.
The suspension on the other hand is not so straight forward, the rear is near identical to its Honda counterparts meaning there’s no end of brands knocking out camber arms, toe arms, the lot!
The front on the other hand isn’t so straight forward with rover opting to use their own McPherson strut set up leaving no real off the shelf options from the Honda stable with them mostly running a double wishbone setup.
M- That being said, what are your future plans for the build? Will you be hunting the horses and gunning for more power? Or is it all about vibing and styling?
T- Truth be told I’m not entirely sure what to do next, there’s a few ideas in the pipeline including the engine bay tidy up I’ve already started, maybe even a change of induction.
M- A change of induction you say? Are you going turbo?
T- Nah no turbo for me, although I do have my hands on a pair of Weber 40s!
No horse hunting for me though, I’ve taken a firm form over function direction so far meaning any additional power would be useless.
I don’t drive the car fast, it isn’t for that (and I cant really, it hits the floor a lot).
M- Are there many other modded Rovers out there?
I understand there’s a dedicated following for the MG Rovers, is there much of a community for 90’s Rover owners?
T- There’s a few of us out there flying the flag but lets be honest, they just haven’t got the following meaning numbers are fairly thin when it comes to the “car scene”.
M- Lastly, we can’t finish a feature without mentioning your wheel and suspension set up.
How did you get her sitting so pretty?
What’s going on under there?
T- The suspension is a home brewed concoction created by myself and Dave down at Retro Ridez, in Dudley.
We used a set of cheap mx5 coilovers as they are a fairly short shock, which we knew would get the car down where we wanted it whilst maybe maintain some actual suspension. Once we got over issues on the front making the coilovers suitable for the McPherson element and dropped into the hub it was fairly straight forward!
M- The Jimny tri-spokes were a stand out, if not somewhat obscure, choice… But what’s the story with those beautiful SSR’s?!
T- The Jimmy wheels were an idea I’d had a few years previously with no car in mind for them at the time, when I have the Rover a set popped up on marketplace and that set the cogs turning and within 30 mins they were in my hands.
I never liked running the adapters, and the wheels were a measly 5.5j which meant from the back there they looked horrid.
I decided to ditch the wheels and adapters for the SSRs, which I’ve owned for nearly 10 years but never had a car they fit being 4×114.3 so I made the car fit the wheels. The car is now converted to the 114.3 PCD which opens up some great options for future wheel changes. The SSRs were given a mild refurb with powder coated centres, zincked hardware and two new rear lips to get the fitment right.
M- Unreal scenes, that’s some serious dedication to a pretty obscure chassis! Thank you Tom, we can’t wait to see more of it, and yourself in the future!
T- No, thank you man it’s been a pleasure, and likewise!
Keep your eyes peeled on the UK show grounds and event halls for Tom and his ace Rover 400 Tourer, ask him some questions and have a chat.
Make sure to get some sick photos, and show us them too!
Don’t Forget to check out tom’s instagram @tomstourer https://www.instagram.com/tomstourer/ and Retro Ridez’ @retroridezdave https://www.instagram.com/retroridezdave/ to keep up to date with any builds and projects they’re busy with.
If you’re on with your own builds and projects then hit up our Facebook page and drop us your ride!