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Rover SD1, End of An Era

The time has come, Effie has been sold.

With all that’s been happening recently, and trying to get my fleet of cars from 4 down to 2, after selling the Mini it was inevitable that eventually Effie would also find a new owner.

I was contacted by the buyer, Nick (no, a different Nick to the Vitesse owner), a couple of weeks ago regarding potentially buying Effie. He was a long time fan of SD1s and had been pining to buy a Vitesse for years. Back many years ago he planned to buy one in the UK and bring it back to NZ, but unfortunately life got in the way and it never came to fruition.

He has tried to buy a Vitesse in the past and it just didn’t manage to happen, so when he saw Effie for sale, at a reasonable price (especially compared to the Vitesse that have been for sale recently) he gave me a call and we went from there.

Of course when selling a classic British car, not everything goes smoothly.

The agreement was that since I was selling for less than the asking price the car would come without the headunit (my flash $200+ JVC unit) and would have the standard steering wheel fitted instead of the wooden Momo wheel. Swapping these over was a piece of cake…

The issue came the next day, the evening before Nick was flying in from Nelson for pick the car up, after I had washed the car, when I noticed that the interior lights aren’t working. Hmm, that’s odd I thought…. must be a fuse.

Sure enough, I found a popped fuse. Figuring I had popped it removing the radio, I removed it and went to replace it. The original spec for the car calls for a 25A fuse, but I noted there was a 20A fuse fitted. Knowing I had a spare 25A, I popped that into place and immediately noted that it was warm to the touch. Odd. The interior lights were now on again though which was a start, but the left hand one was dim. Weird.

And then I smelt it. Melting plastic. Shit.

And then I saw it, the massive plume of white smoke pouring out of the engine bay. Double shit.

I quickly sprinted to the driver’s side, flung open the glovebox and ripped on the bonnet release. Throwing open the bonnet I quickly spun off the nut for the negative battery terminal to kill the power (damn glad I have a wing nut for quick release) and went to see what damage had been done.

Thankfully an inspection of the area the smoke came from showed only one wire was melted; the power feed for the bonnet lights.

I have taped the end up, but all of the insulation has been melted off the bonnet side of the wire, and the car side of the wire started to melt towards the loom bundle (thankfully stopping short of melting through the bundle).

It turns out that some time in the cars past someone had pinched the power feed for the lights in the bonnet hinge, so obviously years of movement in the metal had worn through the insulation, and yesterday it chose to create a dead short.

Annoyingly the 25A fuse I fitted didn’t blow. So once I had tested and checked it wasn’t all going to try to melt down again, I removed the 25A fuse and refitted a new 20A. Everything still works, except the bonnet lights obviously, which is a relief. I’m lucky it happened in the driveway, and in my driveway at that (not the new owners), so damage could be caught quickly and minimised.

WIth that crisis averted, Effie was looking nice and clean and ready to go.

Today was the day, and after a quick check over that all the fluids were good, and that she hadn’t tried to burn herself to the ground again we were good to go.

Since it was the first time since picking the car up in 2016 that I had driven with the standard steering wheel, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Sure, it was huge, and weird shaped, and rubbed on my thighs when I turned, but it was comfortable and easy to drive with. It also lightened the steering due to the increased diameter over the Momo. Not a bad wheel over all, but not as nice in the hand as the Momo.

We were picking Nick up from the Airport, so after a nice half hour cruise into town I met up with Nick and we had a good chat and look over the car. He seemed very happy with her, and I could tell straight away he was the right buyer for her. I couldn’t be too picky as there aren’t a huge amount of SD1 weirdos out there like us, but I could never risk selling her to someone who would disrespect her, or worse still, wreck/strip her for parts. Nicks plans are to tidy her up, and make somewhat of a Vitesse replica by fitting the Vitesse spoilers and suspension. It’s a good plan and he should be rewarded with years of happy motoring as long as he keeps up with the maintenance. Being a panel beater by trade, I feel he is in the right industry to take Effie to that next step and make her really shine. It also helps he looks right at home in the driver’s seat.

It’s a bittersweet day. I’m glad she is sold as I just wasn’t doing her justice anymore. I couldn’t drive her as much as I wanted, and being homeless soon I wouldn’t even have anywhere to store her. It is sad though, I put so much blood, sweat and swears into this car to save her and make her what she is today. From a dilapidated old bucket that ran badly and was (once again) trying to burn herself to the ground, to a car that im genuinely proud of, and could just jump into, drive and enjoy.

She will be missed greatly, but times change, and now she can be enjoyed more and get out and do what she does best; cruising.

Bye my lovely.

We weren’t stalking her, honest.

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