You make your own fate, and Rover made its cruel. For once, with the Rover 75, the company had a pretty great car on its hands, and that was the problem, they weren’t used to that sort of thing. Instead of raising Rover out of the plums, the 75 sunk it into oblivion. The best car the company ever built (okay, arguably) was also the car that killed it.
After launching the somewhat lackluster Rover 75 in front-wheel drive form, the company at least had a reasonable volume-seller on its hands, but then in the early 2000s engineers really went to work on Rover R40 platform.
The massive rejig meant the transverse-FWD car went to a longitudinally-mounted Ford-sourced V8 driving the rear wheels, and that had more than a few Germans sit up and take notice. Journalists at the time went at length about the car’s great chassis and handling, and although it displaced 4.6-litre and made just (relatively speaking) short of 260 horsepower, the car could still do 0-100kph in less than seven seconds and top out in agreement with the gentlemen on the autobahn.
It was a return to Rover’s old glory, they all said, but no glory came of it. The car was too expensive, with a horrendously thirsty V8 and worse depreciation. Dealers had to discount them massively to get them off the lot, not that there were loads to clear out anyway.
Rover’s production run was woeful, and even with sibling brand MG and the identical though badge-engineered ZT 260 pitching in to boost numbers it didn’t help much, because less than a thousand of the MGs were ever sold.
Rover needed a seller, but all they got was a bit of a future classic.