Shopping Basket Case – 1994 Rover 214i Cabriolet

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My Cologne-based friend Joe is looking for a cheap car. Cheap means he’s going to shell out 600-700 eur, and not a penny more. Naturally, this means I hit autoscout24.de and mobile.de like an ’80s actor hopeful hits a plate of Colombian sugar.

The cars I procured just aren’t the kind of econoboxen that best serve anybody’s utilitarian interests. No, I was pulling Mazda Xedoses from the left and Alfa Romeo 156:s from the right, with a couple of swamp-damp looking Peugeot 205 and Opel Astra cabriolets in the middle. But this is what really caught my eye: a ’90s Jade Turquoise Rover 200-series cabrio. Take a look.

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This British picnic basket is yours for the laughable sum of 550 eur, and it’s got valid TÜV inspection until Feb 2014. The ad puts the whole proposition nicely: “Ungeprüftes Fahrzeug aus Inzahlungnahme, aufgrund des geringen Wertes wird das Fahrzeug bevorzugt an Händler, Gewerbetreibende, Exporteure, Fachkundige oder Schrauber verkauft…” Oh, you needed that in English?

“Untested vehicle trade-in, due to the low value of the vehicle it is preferably sold to traders, exporters, specialists or ‘screwdrivers'”. I love the German phrase for a do-it-yourself mechanic.

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The low value of the car is probably explained by one or more of the following factors: Dead brand, entry-level vehicle, ’80s Honda design masquerading as a 1990s vehicle, or the smallest engine available. The Rover has a 1.4-litre, 16-valve engine with 103hp, and while there is a bunch of Honda Concerto DNA in and under the skin, this unit is a Rover K-series engine that blows headgaskets yearly.

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But that is such a meaningless thing to consider, isn’t it? For 550 (or less if you have any haggling skills), you could have a fresh-looking droptop for those fleeting European summer days. Even here we have one or two days of summer, and on one of those the Rover might just be in running condition. And it really doesn’t look rusty at all.

Inside, there is the token strip of wood as befits a British car. The seat material looks like Alcantara, but is probably closer to a fleece hoodie.

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The odometer reading is a pleasantly low 155 000 km, which is confirmed “in writing.” The car is a two-owner vehicle, so the reading is probably trustworthy. And it’s not like anybody did any hard driving in these.

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The link to the Rover ad can be seen here, on autoscout24.de. Would you snap up the 214i for 550 eur?

It’s not like Joe would take it; I quote, “Dude… That’s not at all what I wanted.” Wonder if it would make it to Finland on one engine.

[Source: autoscout24]

41 Comments

  1. Why do euro license plate holders have so many holes? With this car's color it makes it look like they stuck a circuit board on the back of the car.

    1. Keine ahnung. There's nearly as many different plate designs in Europe as there are countries. Though a german plate pretty much covers the whole thing.

    2. There's no such thing as a "Euro license plate holder", as Dean Bigglesworth already said. All euro plates are different, more or less.
      Because of that, and because used cars are bought and sold across country borders, there's a market for plate holders that will bolt right on without drilling new holes into the car you just bought.

    3. I find the design of those plastic plate holders to be fascinating, almost a piece of art.
      It's probably also the secret blueprint for European integration.

    4. It's a legacy thing, kinda. I'm not sure if Germans have been able to force all other car manufacturers to same 2-bolt pattern by now, but in the past there was plates with different form factors and different fastening ways in different countries. Manufacturers had their own ideas where those screws should go exactly so flexibility was and still is essential in plate holder's case in Europe. When I bought cars in Germany before plate holder boom, easiest way was to loan screw driver from privately run plate manufacturing kiosk next to "DMV" and make holes to brand new soft temporary alum. plates approx. right places depending on car I had just bought.

  2. So, you can drive for a year on $800, before worrying about passing inspection again. There are a lot worse bargains out there. That said, it's a secretary car, in a particularly vulgar shade, no gumption, and a top that looks hausgemacht. Even the wheel covers are embarrassing. OTOH, you can own a car for less than a year's lease payments on anything else.

    1. Pistonheads has their "Shed of the Week" with cars for about £1000. Some seem like bargains until the next MOT comes around.

      1. Yeah, I've often wondered how many SOTWs are still on the road twelve, or even six, months after their starring role.

  3. On a scale of 1-10 where a convertible Nissan Micra is -47, this would be about 2.
    Though i can still think of a few scenarios when this would be fun. Right now for example, it's about -25°C outside. top down winter hooning!

      1. How would a Volvo engine… ah, Honda B18. That makes more sense.
        But i was thinking more along the lines of leaving the car as is and taking a few friends along and driving around in it blasting Ministry. With the top down in the snow, obviously. In rush hour traffic.

  4. So I was listening to Sparks' "More than a Sex Machine" when this popped up. It seemed weirdly appropriate.

  5. Don't forget this site: <a href="http://www.mobile.de” target=”_blank”>www.mobile.de
    I would get this sleeper wagon with a ridiculously low mileage for 690 EUR.
    406 Break V6 – 06/1997 – 154.300 km – 140 kW (190 PS) – manual
    -Technisch alles in Ordnung (technically completely sound)
    -Batteriesäure auf den Lack, Vandalismus (battery acid stains, vandalism)
    <img src="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/$(KGrHqJHJBwFCQ(I0OG9BQr4Skj7Ng~~_19.JPG"&gt; Link: http://suchen.mobile.de/auto-inserat/peugeot-406-

    1. Daaaang, now that's a bargain, even with mild chance of Vandalismus later in the day. Another 690 EUR should sort out the damaged body panels.

    2. Germany is a great place to buy French vehicles. They're incredibly cheap there. However, 16 year old large cars tend to be cheap everywhere in Western Europe, even nice ones. An old large car with bad paint, no 'street cred' and a thirsty engine is worth roughly nothing.
      As the owner of a 406 (coupe) myself I can't argue against these beasts though. They're great. If I had a family I'd probably buy a 406 wagon.

        1. As a hydropneumatic Citroën fanboi and as a Peugeot 406 owner I'm conflicted. But I almost did just that when I, with a few friends, was looking for a €500 rally car last autumn. We were bidding on a Xantia on the German Ebay. It was a 'rentnerwagen' (=owned by pensioners), well maintained, a set of winter and set of summer tires and it stayed under €300 until 15 minutes before the end of the auction. I think it sold for €750 or so, which was still incredibly cheap for what it was but slightly over our budget. We ended up with an AWD Subaru Legacy wagon from 1997 for €500 instead, which is the more rational choice when trying to conquer the Austrian and Slovenian Alps during the last week of January (=snow). It's severely lacking in the character department though.
          My brain won, my heart wept.
          <img src="http://i49.tinypic.com/2nuedh.jpg&quot; width="600">

          1. Look on the bright side, you could have ended up with a Toyota Corolla or an Opel Astra!

      1. a 406 coupe!
        every time i was in england as a teen i'd wrench my neck trying to catch another glimpse of every passing 406 coupe. what good-looking cars.

    1. I'll be right over to help hold your beer. Pro Tip: Use two hands on your sawzall at all times!

  6. "Untested"???? Any time a car dealer uses this phrase,you should move toward an exit with due haste!

    1. It means, that if you listen closely your can hear the detonator ticking down. Absolutely guaranteed to make it off the lot.

  7. It's not a bad looking car – vaguely reminiscent of an E36. It needs a B18 swap and a set of alloy wheels.

  8. <img src="http://www.marcadecoche.com/images/ZR-16022.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Proud owner of a dead brand. I actually have the 214si (R3) as a DD with the same K-Series engine. If you maintain it properly it's a good engine, revvy and with a nice sound. The car is dead easy to wrench on and parts are plenty available. I took it because I wanted something a little more classy than a Honda Civic or a Volkswagen Polo.
    Pictured above is the MG ZR 160, which is the top of the range hot hatch of the R3 with 160bhp!
    Funny story: When I owned my 214 for two days, someone rear-ended me. The other car (Opel Astra) was considerably damaged and probably totalled, but the little Rover didn't give a damn, it barely had a scratch. The ensurance was generous and I practicly had the car for free which makes it even more enjoyable.

    1. Yep. ZR is a damn good little car despite its disposable reputation. The 160 is like a Civic Type-R for skinflints. Get a good one with the later head gasket and squirrel it away for safekeeping.

      1. If you buy and bring this to Finlandistan i promise to supply the Zetor fur-hats and Ministry tapes/cds i just yesterday decided are essential for some wintertime convertible shitbox motoring.

        1. Have you heard Ministry's first album, With Sympathy? It's like "Jesus built my four-banger synthpop convertible", there's nothing heavy about it.

          1. I've listened to some of the songs on youtube.. Not my thing but they seem decent for the genre.
            Also I can't believe I didn't think of this Basket Case before. Dookie was also released in 1994, i remember watching the basket case video on MTV and buying the album(with the transparent green case) used for 20markka.
            [youtube NUTGr5t3MoY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUTGr5t3MoY youtube]

    1. They should run an advertising campaign about how it's indistinguishable from this $19,000 Ferrari Daytona.
      That would be pure class.

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