Though we wrote about the Sterling brand in a previousÂ QOTD post from earlier this year, we’ve never covered one as a Rare Ride. It’s not often one finds a Sterling for sale these days, as most examples fell into disrepair and disuse by the late 1990s. But BB commenter FreedMike managed to find a very tidy Sterling for sale at a dealer in Wisconsin, which is near Canada.
Come have a look at the not-quite Honda from Blighty.
Being a 1987 model, this navy blue 825S (base trim) is from the very first year of the Sterling brand in America. For ’87 the 825 sedan was the only model available, with the Sterling brand managing over 14,000 sales in that first year.
The 825 sedan was joined later by its sibling, the 825 liftback. Of the Sterlings your author has seen for sale within recent memory, the vast majority (or maybe all) of them were the 827 model. The navy blue paint presents well, and is less common than either silver or white.
Both Sterling models were Americanized versions of the Rover 800, which was a platform mate of the Acura Legend. Honda and British-Leyland (renamed “Rover Group” in 1986) entered a partnership some years before. The first car born from this alliance was the last to wear a Triumph badge â€” the regrettably reworked Honda Ballade, marketed in England as the Acclaim.
The interior of Sterling models was decidedly British in feel, with real wood trim across both the 825 and 827, and Connolly leather seats in the SL models. While the traditional luxury interior might typically denote a marshmallow ride, Sterlings used a different suspension design than the Legend. This meant Sterlings were notably more sporty than their Acura counterpart.
All Sterlings were British-built, assembled at the Oxford or Longbridge plants. Former British-Leyland plants, they had the same workers and machinery that previously made high-quality rides like the Rover SD-1. British-Leyland also replaced the Honda electric components with Lucas ones, becauseÂ national pride!
Pre-internet consumers and media soon caught on to the quality deficiencies introduced by British manufacture, and sales plummeted in short order. Quality issues and high British pound values in the early 1990s caused Sterling brass to conclude North America was not the market for them. Showrooms closed down after the 1991 model year.
Today’s 825 is in quite clean shape, with 69,000 miles. The dealer requests you contact them for the price, which should be under $3,500 if they’ve got any sense.
Have a Rare Ride you’d like to submit? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and there’s a good chance we’ll feature it here.
[Images via seller]