A brief history of the Australian market Rover 800 Series

The Rover 800 Series was the successor to the Rover SD1. In the Australian market, it was only initially available with the Honda 2.5 litre fuel injected V6 engine. It was introduced in Australia around 1987 as a four door saloon with two trim levels as the Rover 825 Si and the Rover 825 Si Special.

Above: 1987 Rover 825 Si Special, photographed at the Sydney Motor Show, (Darling Harbour, New South Wales) 17/10/1987.
Photo by Webmaster.

In 1988, the Honda V6 engine capacity was increased to 2.7 litres and the Australian market models available became the Rover 827 Si and Rover Sterling. During 1989, the Rover 827 Vitesse five-door hatch was added to the Australian model range.

1990 saw the Australian model range further revised. The Rover 827 Si saloon was dropped; the model range became the Rover Sterling four door saloon, Rover 827 Fastback and Rover 827 Vitesse.

The 825 and 827 model range sold in Australia were offered with either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual gearbox manufactured by Honda.

Above: two 1990 Rover 827 Vitesse, photographed at the Sydney Motor Show, (Darling Harbour, New South Wales) 17/11/1990.
Photos by Webmaster.

• Above: Rover 800 Series publicity Side Show. Source: JRA Limited.
Reproduced with permission.

Owing to a combination of unfavourable currency exchange rates and a decision by the Australian Federal Government of the day to increase the luxury car tax, Rover Australia, as importer, dropped the Rover car range during 1991 to concentrate on importing and distributing Land Rover and Range Rover four wheel drive vehicles. The Rover 800 underwent a major facelift in 1991 (R17 series) using the original floor pan and underpinnings and remained in production in the UK until 1999 – the last of this series also being fitted with the 2.5 litre Rover KV6 engine that went on to power the new R40 Rover 75.

Surviving records from JRA Limited indicate that at least 676 Rover 825, 827 & Vitesse cars were imported and sold in Australia.

Photographs below provide images of the KV6 engine installation in both the Rover 800 series and the Rover 75 (without their respective noise reduction covers).  Note different induction manifold, and twin versus single air intake.  An image of the Honda sourced 2.5 engine installation is provided for comparison.

1997 Rover Sterling KV6 engine bay

1996 Rover 825 KV6 engine bay

Rover R40 75 engine bay, with noise reduction cover removed

1988 Rover 825 Si Special engine bay

Honda Legend KA25/27 2.5 Litre engine bay

The R17 sedan and five-door hatch body styles were joined by a two-door coupé on the same wheelbase. No R17 facelifted Rover 800 cars were commercially imported to Australia, however these cars were commercially imported and sold in New Zealand.

Rover cars again became available in Australia from February 2001 with the R40 series Rover 75.