Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

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CoupeFan
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Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by CoupeFan »

The story of the 220 Turbo Coupes intended for Japan in 1995 is pretty well documented, the cars coming back to the UK and eventually being sold here as the "FDH" Tomcats.

But included in the various documents available for download in the Members' Area of our website is a sales brochure produced for Japan by Rover see "Rover Japan R8 200 Sales Brochure ZT CM212..

This brochure features 5 models that Rover were apparently looking to market in Japan, the 3 door 216 and 220 GTis, the 216 and 220 Turbo Coupes, and the 216 Cabrio. It seems strange to me that if Rover had embarked on a 200 Series marketing campaign in Japan, that they'd wouldn't have sent all 5 models over to Japan at about the same time. We know that the 220 Turbo Coupes never went on sale in Japan, but if the 220 Turbo Tomcat fell foul of the new regs in Japan then the 220 GTi would also.

So what happened to the other 4 models?, 216 & 220 GTis, 216 Tomcat and 216 Cabrio? Did they get to Japan in time to be sold before the regs came in? Were they ever made? Did they never leave the UK? Did they end up in warehouse somewhere abroad and unlike the 220 Turbo Tomcats weren't considered by Rover to be worth bringing back to the UK and converting to UK spec?

Being the Top-of-the-Range models it'd surprise me if they were not considered worth bringing back, unless they had deteriorated very badly whilst overseas, as they were all highly desirable, especially the Cabrio, which was actually the most expensive 1.6 litre engined car in the range. Only the 220 Turbo Tomcat was more expensive. The only "odd" thing about the 1.6 litre engined cars intended for Japan was that they all seemed to have autoboxes asstandard if I'm reading the brochure correctly. I don't speak or read Japanese, but there is a section that seems to show gear ratios and all 3 of the 1.6 engined cars have 4 gear ratios quoted, whilst the 220 Turbo engined cars have 5 gear ratios shown - implying that the 4 speed boxes were autoboxes and the 5 speed boxes were manual.

Any info on the fate of the two GTis, and 216 Tomcats and Cabrios gratefully received. And apologies if this has been discussed before when "Adam was a lad".
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GTiJohn
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Re: Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by GTiJohn »

The R8 was very significant in increasing AR/RG sales in Japan, previously only the Mini had sold in big numbers. The 600 helped when launched too.

By the mid-90s Rover were the 3rd largest importer, behind only Mercedes Benz and VW. So, say it quietly, ahead of BMW...

In addition to the 200s shown in this brochure, the 400 was sold - the 416 and 416 Tourer were the models sold, all with Honda engines and automatic transmissions. Japan was, and still is, almost exclusively an automatic market, with only 'sporty' cars being manuals.

There are still a very small number of R8s with Japanese enthusiasts but as with most 'normal' cars in Japan, most have been scrapped. They have a 'shaken' test regime (think MOT) at 3, 5 and 7 years, that gets increasingly complex, and hence expensive, meaning very few cars get to 7 years old.

The FDHs returned were only the unsold stock that fell foul of Japanese emissions regs changes and possibly, over-ambitious ordering by RJ. It had been on sale there since 1993. To my knowledge, no other R8s were returned to the UK by Rover. I think it is unlikely that many of any R8 derivatives came back as personal imports.

By the mid-90s all Rover cars and Land Rovers/Range Rovers were being imported through the Toyohashi VPC (Vehicle Preparation Centre) which was a very impressive facility. Toyohashi is a huge port, located near Toyota main manufacturing plants (there's a clue in the name), and it made sense to import there as ships would be going there to collect Toyotas for export.

Sales of R3 and HH/R increased with the help of a guaranteed buy-back scheme but I don't think that ended well for Rover Japan's finances... I've got an R3 Japanese sales brochure somewhere but these are 2 of the dealer posters.

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BMW Japan 'absorbed' Rover Japan in the late-90s, ending with the sale of Rover and Land Rover, and the farce of the Rover 75 'launch' in Japan. The first shipment of cars had arrived and the 75 even won the Import CotY Award, before being pulled. With no importer and sales network, BMWJ tried to sell cars via small ads and failed. A very small number of Japanese spec 75s have been exported back to the UK.
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CoupeFan
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Re: Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by CoupeFan »

Thank you for the information.

What prompted my post was the similarity between the 216 Tomcats in Japan and those of 1995's UK 216SE Tomcats - exactly the same 3 body colours, Metallic Charcoal, and Pearlescent Nightfire and Tahiti - Coincidence, or an indication of an underlying connection?

It did make me wonder if 1995's 216SEs were made from bodyshells originally intended for Japan, but a reassessment of the Japanese market and the impact of the new emissions regs meant that they were redirected to the UK market as a limited edition, the SE, and manufacturing them with reduced options was a way to move them out into the UK market and keep cash flowing without doing too much damage to the traditional 3 model lineup. Was this the case? Or were the identical body colours really just a coincidence?
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GTiJohn
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Re: Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by GTiJohn »

CoupeFan wrote: Fri Oct 27, 2023 3:58 pm Thank you for the information.

What prompted my post was the similarity between the 216 Tomcats in Japan and those of 1995's UK 216SE Tomcats - exactly the same 3 body colours, Metallic Charcoal, and Pearlescent Nightfire and Tahiti - Coincidence, or an indication of an underlying connection?

It did make me wonder if 1995's 216SEs were made from bodyshells originally intended for Japan, but a reassessment of the Japanese market and the impact of the new emissions regs meant that they were redirected to the UK market as a limited edition, the SE, and manufacturing them with reduced options was a way to move them out into the UK market and keep cash flowing without doing too much damage to the traditional 3 model lineup. Was this the case? Or were the identical body colours really just a coincidence?

Possibly.... or you might be overthinking it all :laughing2

The restricted colour range just makes it simpler for stocking and pricing (no solid colours). They might also be the 3 best colours for Coupes :wink3
I like Twin Cams.... and Single Cams...and now Turbos
CoupeFan
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Re: Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by CoupeFan »

John, You may be right and I am overthinking things, and I bow to your greater knowledge.

The only thing that I will add as a thought for you is compare the launch of the 216SE in the middle of the 94/5 model year with that of the 1.6SE just over 2 years later for the 1997/8 year. There are several differences which make the 216SE look like a quick and dirty solution to a problem of oversupply of bodyshells in those particular 3 colours rather than a structured, orderly and medium-term expansion of the Tomcat range.

But, again, thank you for your input.
James3990
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Re: Rover 200s in Japan in 1995

Post by James3990 »

Who wouldn’t want to buy one of these!

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Rover 220 Coupe Turbo
Rover 220 Coupe Turbo Racer
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