Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1989 Sterling 827 SLi - Best Laid Plans...

The last Rover badged car sold in the US was the 1980 3500 (SD1 to most of the world). Like so many other British cars sent to the US, quality control problems killed it. (Although, I used one as my daily driver for a couple of years in the mid-eighties and had no major problems)

In 1987 Rover tried again. Knowing the Rover name was not held in high regard in the US (to put it nicely), they called their new offering "Sterling".

The Sterling seemed like a great idea. Rover was collaborating with Honda at the time and essentially took an Acura platform and running gear and wrapped it in an attractive body. The interior was traditional British luxury, with seats of soft leather and real wood accents on the doors and dashboard. Every possible power convenience was included. Its suspension was a bit sportier than the Acura's.

The US public took to the car initially and 14,000 cars found homes in the US in 1987.

But, traditional British problems (electrical gremlins, build quality issues) soon started appearing in these early cars and sales dropped dramatically. In 1992 Rover announced that it would no longer sell the Sterling in the US.

Initially, all Sterlings were four door sedans. They were powered by a 2.5 liter Honda V6.

In 1989 the Sterling got the larger 2.7 Honda V6 and a 5 door fastback, like this car, was introduced. Build quality also improved dramatically but, at this point, no one really cared. Less than 6000 Sterlings found homes in the US in 1989.

The 827SLi is a great looking car. Sleek and stately, it looks like a modernized SD1.

This car is in nice condition. The body has a few dings and scratches, but they could be easily fixed if you're into perfection. The interior has some typical wear and tear. The front seat covers have been replaced and the pattern doesn't match the rear seat.

The seller says the car runs and drives well, which is no real surprise, given the Honda drivetrain. The seller leaves an extensive list of work done to the car between 105K and 160K miles. Oddly, it shows a transmission rebuild at 136K. Older Honda / Acura transmissions usually last longer than that.

A Sterling will never be an extremely valuable car. They are curiosities. A good idea that went very wrong. However, if you don't mind tinkering with your car from time to time and hunting down parts, the Sterling is a nice alternative to an old Jaguar, BMW or Acura.

Located in Seattle, WA, click here to see the eBay listing.

1 comment:

m4ff3w said...

If that were a manual trans, I'd be really tempted. I'm not a FWD fan, but the 827Sli is really neat.