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Rare anywhere: Sterling 825 and 827

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For an experiment of its size and reach, backed by not one but two major automakers, it's still remarkable just how few Sterlings are in use in the U.S. 30 years later. What's even more remarkable is that Sterling the brand appeared out of thin air and vanished just as quickly as it materialized.

Sterling, of course, was what the Rover 800 family was called in the U.S., and it followed another ill-fated but even briefer attempt by Rover to market its cars in North America. That attempt, some of you will recall, was the Rover SD1, which was offered for a grand total of one model year in the U.S.: The Rover 3500 was sold here in 1980 complete with bigger bumpers and nerdy DOT-mandated safety glasses. About a thousand examples of that model struggled to find buyers for almost three years, but all eventually did. One would have expected that experiment to scare Rover out of the U.S. market once and for all, or at least convince British Leyland and the later Rover Group that Americans' affinity for Land Rover did not translate to other Rovers, but as far as branding went, the sole lesson learned was to not use the name Rover.

British Leyland waited seven years before trying again, and by this time, its lineup of large sedans was on the verge of an all-new era. Developed in a partnership with Honda, the Rover 800 shared many components with the Honda and Acura Legend, and it had been in development since the early 1980s with the aim of replacing the aging SD1 while also giving Honda one of its largest sedans ever. Rover developed the smaller straight-four for the project, while Honda developed the V6 engine. Exterior design was similar, and the two shared plenty of hardware beneath the skin.

Rare anywhere: Sterling 825 and 827

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