FDH – THE DEFINITIVE ANSWER?
Everyone has heard of them, everyone has their own stance on them, yet it seems very few know the actual truth about the background of these cars. Well, lets blow away a few myths and make you aware of some proper facts about this small batch of cars. The following is a result of a lot of research and information obtained from people actually involved with the batch of cars rather than a collaboration of misinterpreted information available on the internet.
The best place to start with anything is the beginning so lets take a step back to 1995. The details of the start date of this story is not really known to the precise month, but with some logical working, we can tell that a batch of approximately 200 cars were built at Longbridge. All of these cars were Rover Coupes, and more specifically, they were all the 2.0 turbo model. This batch of cars were not the normal specification, they were being made slightly different. They were altered to meet the Japanese market and were transported to the docks where they would board a container ship destined for Japan. The cars came fully loaded with all the optional extras, such as leather pack and air conditioning to name a couple. Being export cars destined for Japan, the cars were prepared to local regulations rather than EU standards. This included things such as different wiring loom, different headlights, KPH dash board, registration plate surrounds and the addition of flares in the passenger footwell.
At this point, the story gets a bit sketchy. Some reports say the cars arrived in Japan, others say the container ship hit problems and sprung a leak and others will tell you that it arrived in Malaysia and the cars were unloaded to a warehouse. I don’t suppose we will ever know the real truth of where they went, what we do know however is the the cars were stored somewhere outside the UK. Perhaps forgotten about, perhaps kept out of the eyes of the auditors? There is no point in second guessing.
The regulations for emissions and power were tightened up in Japan in 1995/96 and at this time, the container ship with our cars on board had yet to arrive, or at least, the cars had not left the compound and reached the showrooms. Rover were left with a big problem on their hands and they needed a solution to get themselves out of an expensive mess. The retail value for these cars was about £3.7 million and the cars no longer met the stricker Japanese regulations. Rover had to make a decision on what to do with these cars. There was little point in adapting the cars in Japan to meet regulations as the cost to get a third party company involved would be far too much. The cars clearly had to be shipped back to the UK.
The story again goes a bit quiet here and we are unable to pick it up again for another 3 years. Now in 1998, Rover were now faced with a bigger problem. They had launched the series 2 Rover Coupe in 1996 and this batch of cars were the old series 1 specification. They were unable integarate these cars back in to the UK market stock pile and left with little options, they decided to make the best out of a bad situation.
The cars were taken back to Longbridge where the Japanese specifications were removed and UK specifications fitted back in to place. This included, amoungst other items, the wheel arch mounldings, the boot registration plynth, front bumper registration mounting, dash board, lights and wiring. With car cars returned to UK spec, they were still left with the problem that they did not match the specification of the current market. The turbo model had been out of production for 3 years and the interior had been revised and refreshed. Once converted back to UK specification, the cars were registered with the DVLA. The cars, with exception of a couple, were all registered as new on 1st August 1998. Being registered at the same time,they all received consecutive numbers and being registered at Longbridge’s local office, they received the letters ‘FDH’, hence the name assigned to this batch of cars. There are of course a few numbers in the middle that were not used and instead assigned to be sold under the DVLA cherished number section.
Due to Import laws, Rover were unable to sell these cars for 6 months, so the new owners did not take delivery of them until March 1999. Rover, unable to sell these cars in the usual fashion, offered them for sale to staff and selected appoved trade. The cars were sold at a price of less than £14000, a seriously reduced market price, but still better than nothing. There were 4 varieties available. Tahiti Blue with either cream or grey leather, Nightfire with cream leather, or Charcoal Grey with grey leather.
Today, these cars have become the subject of many a discussion. Some people see them as nothing but a normal Rover Coupe Turbo, others see the story behind them and others think of them as a more expensive coupe in today’s market. What can certainly be said about them is they are, in general, lower in mileage having spent years in storage, usually less rusty, again down to the lack of uses and because of this, they can sometimes command a slightly higher price in the second hand market. That said, they can only ever be worth the same as any other Rover Coupe Turbo in equal condition or what the purchaser is willing to pay.
I hope that this explains the story and next time you hear the mutterings of the phrase ‘FDH’, you will know what people are talking about.