1989 Sterling 827 SLI Hatchback

Sterling is up there with Merkur as one of those failed 80s brands. The thing about both of them is that they actually made perfectly ok cars. The problem was mostly in their marketing boardrooms.

The Sterling was actually just a Rover, a British car company along the lines of Jaguar. But since Americans had come to detest all the Rovers that had been imported thus far, the company felt their latest offering would have a better chance if it was renamed. Rule number one: honesty is always the best policy. A brand that has a comeback car is better than a brand that nobody knows. This, however, was completely lost on Rover.

Sterling's only car was the 825 which debuted in 1987. In 1989 it was renamed 827, for the Honda 2.7-liter V6 engine under the hood. The idea was that Rover's partnership with Honda would bring out the best of each company in the car; the prestige and class of Rover and the reliability and build quality of Honda. Unfortunately the Sterling didn't have enough of either. Early models were plagued with problems. The engines were good, but the interiors are said to be a weak point. Rust was also an issue. By the time improvements came the public lost interest and sales ended in 1991 in the US.

Another issue is purpose. If it had the same underpinnings as the Acura Legend, why not just get an Acura Legend? Some of that was solved with the super rare hatchback version that is for sale here. Honda sure loved hatchbacks, but they never offered a four-door one, and certainly not under the Acura nameplate. Suddenly, the Sterling is making more sense. Four doors, huge trunk space, spunky V6 power, and good looks. It's a cosy, predicable family cruiser.

The seller of this one is a Sterling fanatic and claim they have gone through no less than four donor cars just to keep this one going. It's got a 183.5k miles, impressive for this car. They also have a huge binder of maintenance. While it's sad to see a dedicated owner forced to sell, I have a feeling this will end up in appreciate hands somehow, somewhere.

Available here on ebay for $3,495.

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