Probable Queen’s Rover Sterling is up for auction grabs
Every now and then an exciting old car hits the secondhand market, reports Iain Robertson, and it conforms to all of the finest parameters: decent breeding, heated garage, low mileage and curiosity value but, when that old car is likely to have been owned and driven by ‘Her Maj’, may God bless all whom sail in her ever after!
Only a few brief days ago, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Italy (it won the previous year) in its inimitable, high-spend, high production values, most watched TV manner. We, the UK, almost lifted the overall honours, were it not for the public vote that wafted the highly desired trophy to the independent nation of Ukraine at the end of 3.5 hours of televisual tomfoolery. Our contending singist and Graham Norton (BBCTV commentary) were generous in their applause but now there are concerns about whether, or not, the Ukraine will be able to afford to host next year’s knees-up, even if the ‘war’ ends before that time. It was clear that with the EU nations having punished the UK for being such rabble-rousers on the Brexit front by not awarding us points in a smattering of previous shows that further punishment, the last nail, so to speak, might come our way from having to host it instead. Both Boris and Rishi must be breathing sighs of relief.
The very next evening, ITV rolled out its star presenters and a host of celebrities, about whose inclusion many observers must have been sorely confused (why Tom Cruise was a star turn remains largely unanswered, although we can only be glad that he did not cavort on the sofa in the royal box!), for a wondrous couple of hours’ worth of history, horses and celebratory hoorays, a right royal gymkhana, fronted by a most amusing Persian/British Omid Djalili as the knave narrator. It was tremendous fun and HRH The Queen looked as resplendent as any 96 years old multi-millionairess monarch ever could, smiling graciously, enjoying the presentations and militaria and being just plain happy. It was a real privilege to see her enjoying the event as much as she clearly did.
For many years, the British Royal Family has done its bit for the UK motor industry by patronising its products, even representing them in foreign markets, often despite the wildcat strikes, poor reliability records and seriously questionable products. When a member of the Royal Mews Garage at Buckingham Palace placed an order for a brand new, bottle green Rover 827i V6 Sterling in 1993, ‘Rustin Over’ was going through another phase of down-tools-lads-one-out-all-out! However, dismaying Her Maj would never have been on the cards and the order was fulfilled to an ‘unspecified’ lady driver at the palace address…now, for whom could that have been? She was spotted in her usual Liberty silk head-square driving the Sterling (such an apposite name) at both Balmoral and Sandringham, which suggests that, much like her mum’s burgundy Rover 3.0-litre, it was a preferred mode of estate transport, when not popping out with the dogs for some off-roading in the regal Landy.
Known as the Mark Two version of the Honda Legend derived but Rover KV6 engined big banger, it was not the posh Rover of decades past but was still a workmanlike offering, capable of turning in decent performance figures and a modicum of comfort for the royal derrieres, in a Connolly hide interior and lashings of faux wood, because bespokeness was one of the qualities lost in the corporate/state mess that was Austin-Rover of the 1990s. In this particular instance, low mileage but a money-no-object maintenance record have ensured that it still runs like a dream today, as it was scheduled to enter the auction ring.
Under normal circumstances, an old nail like the Sterling could be worth little more than scrap value, around £300 tops. However, this is no ordinary Rover, as we know and its provenance and regal association with QE2 factors in a worth that could escalate into many thousands of Pounds, buoyed by the current success of the ‘modern classics’ scene and the remarkable 70 years, platinum jubilee, on the throne by our Queen, beloved, admired, or not. While it may be too late to make your bid, rest assured that other ‘collectibles’ like this invariably pop-up in the most unlikely locations but that the automotive auction scene is not a bad place to search them out. Her Majesty’s Rover Sterling could become the catch-of-the-year for ‘carandclassic.co.uk‘, the website responsible for featuring it and making its next owner very happy indeed.