Friday, November 26, 2010

1990 Sterling 827SL Oxford Edition

Rover luxury and Honda reliability. Talk about a great idea. This car was known as the Rover 800 in most of the world. In North America, where Rover had a less than stellar reputation due to past problems with their cars, they decided it to call it something else. The very British name Sterling was chosen. It may have had a new name, but it turned out to have the same old Rover problems...

In an earlier post about a Sterling, a reader commented "British build quality and the soul of a Japanese appliance. The Worst of both Worlds."

While that's not too far from the truth, it's not 100% fair. The Honda V6 is not the most exciting engine ever built, but it was one of the best engines to come out of Japan in the 1980s. The British bits, while not put together all that well, gave the car a luxurious feel that Honda, or any Japanese manufacturer at the time, couldn't match.

The Sterling sold well at first, moving over 15,000 cars in 1988. By 1992, as word got out about the build quality problems, sales dropped to less than 2000. Rover pulled the plug on Sterling in 1992.

This Sterling is an Oxford Edition. Only 350 were made. They all came painted "Nordic Metallic Blue". Inside they had every luxury bell, whistle and gadget known to man in 1990. (And yes, being a Sterling, that means there are a lot of things with the potential to ooze smoke, shoot sparks, or just quit with no warning at all). The interior has more leather than the standard Sterling and a few other "luxury" touches. It also has the 2.7 liter version of the Honda / Acura engine. It has a bit more horsepower and torque than the 2.5 liter version that came in the earlier Sterlings. It made the car very competitive with (or better than) many of the sports sedans coming from Europe at the time.

The seller describes this car as being in very good condition. The body needs a good buffing and there's one small rust spot. The interior looks to be in very nice shape.

In almost every ad you see for a Sterling, the seller mentions how easy it is to get mechanical parts at your local Honda / Acura dealer. That's true, but since those aren't the parts that break, that's a moot point. (If you do go to a Honda or Acura dealer looking for parts, go in knowing the part number. Honda / Acura dealers don't know - and don't want to know - anything about Sterlings.) It's everything else that breaks and many parts are very tough to come by. Fortunately, on this car, everything seems to be there and is said to be in working order.

The Sterling is not a car for everyone. But if you like driving something unique and don't mind some extra work and time involved in hunting down parts, the Sterling is a car worth looking into.

Personally, I like the hatchback Sterling 827SLi, but of you prefer a trunk to a hatch, this 827SL might be a good choice.

Located in Ocean City, MD, click here to see the eBay listing.

10 comments:

Max Power said...

I absolutely adore the 827SL hatches...I briefly dated a girl in 1990 whose father had a Pontiac/Sterling dealership and she could not believe that I actually liked them...and her dad could not wait to get out of his dealership agreement with Rover/Sterling

rrshadow2 said...

I had a 92 black 827 Sedan with tan interior, I was a hold out for years, having owned a 1980 Rover 3500 SD1, I thought it was just wrong, a Rover with a Honda engine, so I waited until there were virtually none left before I bought one. In the first week I had it the climate control packed up and I had to rig up a one speed fan to keep Heat and defrost at least somewhat working. The car Ran awesome! I grew to Love the Honda engine in it, unfortunately after a while the brake master went, It intermitantly would start or not..which eventually I narrowed down to a bad power cable to starter connection, but it was too late, I gave up and got rid out it, At least I had one!

Jon said...

Regarding parts, try looking up sterlingfixer.com. The owner is a mechanic who has lots of parts and technical know how.

His website states: I have personally worked on hundreds of these cars. I especially enjoy diagnosing electrical and drivability problems. I currently have more than 75,000 new parts listed in my inventory. I have also dismantled more than a dozen cars to keep parts on hand which are currently unavailable.

The shop is located in Bainbridge, Pennsylvania.

Freddy said...

Wow, you would think my affliction with painful cars had come to an end but you had to drudge up memories of my youth with this one. I remember my rich friends parents in elementary having a 827 SLi and me vowing to one day have one. It would be totally awesome to find the even more rare 827 S. It was more sport tuned but came less equipped.

JT said...

Awesome. A buddy's mom had an 827 when I was in high school. It was a limited edition too---British racing green with pigskin suede seat inserts. For whatever reason, I still have a soft spot for these too.

Chris Haining said...

Wow. First day I found Justacargeek and I chance upon the '800.

I had one, an 820e Fastback (hatch) As you might guess I'm in the UK, and that car was a 4-cyl 2.0 litre machine, but similar too the 827 hatch otherwise. My grandfather had it before me, I had it all the time I was at University. And I absolutely adored it.

Yes, things went wrong. A lot. But I forgave it, I loved it so much. Sad to see it go in the end, sold it for £46 on eBay. Sad times.

MWC said...

As you stated in the the post, the engine was not the problem with the Sterling. Everything else was. The Honda bits worked fine, the Rover sourced bits worked with greater infrequency. Sterling left a bad stain on these shores, considering that owners could have had an Acura Legend and experienced none of the Sterling's problems.

I worked for a rental car company back when these were new. My company had about 6 of them (one was a manual). They experienced problems early on as rental cars accelerate any problem points of any production cars. Not on the company's better ideas.

bryan said...

I have this car. The radiator hose just went out. I can't find the replacement anywhere. Would you have any Ideas? Please help!

Anonymous said...

I had a 1992 827 SL teal blue oxford ed.I loved it.Never had any problems with it exept! I hated when I started the car in early mornings north america cold weather the engine lifters would tap loud not to apealing haiving a new car do this around the nose neabors.but aside from that I will always have this car in my hart!.As now I drive a cadillac escalade:)

Andy C said...

I have 5 Sterlings and many spare parts at the moment. Used to work on the cars at a Sterling dealer for 20 yrs.