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Drive two sterlings from Portland to Austin — what could go wrong?

If you are under a certain age, you may not have heard of a car called Sterling. The British-made Sterling, which gained popularity in 1987, quickly became the least reliable brand sold in the United States, and after the first model year, ranked at the bottom of JD Power’s quality rating. .. Sales peaked in the first year and then plummeted until importers collapsed their tents and disappeared in 1991.

Sterling is now just a historic footnote, the last attempt by the chronically troubled UK car industry to sell cheaper to US buyers than Range Rover, Bentley and Aston Martin. But 35 years ago, it was the latest premium sedan with smart styling and modern features. Trip Computer — Imagine!

Here’s the cool part: Sterling is the first-generation Acura Legend below. On top of that was a variety of sheet metal, as well as a more traditional and luxurious “British” interior. The car was born out of a partnership between Austin Rover (the last of bankrupt British Leyland) and Honda, an up-and-coming Japanese manufacturer. The Japanese wanted a way to expand in the UK and European markets. The British desperately needed modern technology. The transaction has been completed.

Few Americans know that the first Acura Legend, which has been highly acclaimed in the United States, was co-developed by Japanese and British engineers. Legendary hardpoints are the same as Sterling hardpoints. The powertrain of the British car was a solid Honda 2.5-liter V-6 (soon to expand to 2.7 liters) that drives the front wheels via a 4-speed automatic transmission. (Some sterlings and legends arrived in 5-speed manual gearboxes; they are very rare today.)

Stupid thoughts

My most extreme car idea happens on the darkest and coldest days of winter. So on January 20th, I sent an email to my friend Tom Rymes with the subject “Epically Idiotic Sterling Road Trip”.

The idea was to buy the very cheap and very used Sterling 827 that one of us saw in the ad. The car was outside Portland, Oregon. Tom is in New Hampshire and I’m in northern New York, but each of us felt itchy trying to get out of the northeast.We decided to drive Sterling for over 2500 miles Radwood AustinScheduled for February 26th.

If we did that, we wanted to find and buy that peculiar Radfan that would appreciate the unicorn of this car. And if the 30-year-old Japanese-English hybrid broke, exploded, ignited, or “did not progress” (using Henry Royce’s words). .. .. Well, wasn’t it an adventure?

Even stupid thoughts

One email led to another. New ads were displayed on various sterlings.Tom, a member of the Rover Club, wrote for the advice provided to sell Tom. his Sterling. Immediately, I was able to choose from four sterlings out of three model years.

Somewhere in the early hours, a better idea came up. One sterling is dangerous, 2 Sterling — Now it will be much more difficult. So we decided to do just that and dubbed the project Temppping Fate Tours.

Over 400,000 miles between them

We flew to Portland on Thursday, February 17th. Geff, a member of the Rover Club, picked us up at the terminal at the 1990 Sterling 827SL. (In the photo, it’s the darkest of the two cars.) The interior of his 160,000-mile sedan was a bit tattered. British plastics, wood and leather of that era collapsed long before their Japanese counterparts. A lump of glue made the repair painfully visible and cracked the screen of the trip computer.

While having breakfast at the diner, Tom signed the paperwork and bought Jeff’s car. After that, he dropped Jeff and headed to Yakima, Washington to collect Sterling Number 2. Tom’s car cruised comfortably enough and we enjoyed the stunning outward view of a 1990’s square car with thin pillars. The 3-speed plus overdrive automatic was a comfortable slowback, but the Honda engine sang gently.

I gradually relaxed. When the headlights prove to have all the output of a candle stub behind a dirty window until it gets dark. Not only were they dim, but they were badly misdirected in both the low and high beams. I had a tough night drive on a 40-mile winding two-lane road, and I was able to achieve it and spend the day without any problems.

The next morning we visited Victor and sold a twin close to Tom’s car, a 1991 model. He bought it as a non-runner from the heir of the first owner who had kept it for nearly 30 years — and he died. It turns out that all you need is a cap, a rotor, and a new battery. Victor said it ignited shortly after sitting unused for months.

For some reason, I forgot that this had more miles. In fact, it’s 283,000. The interior was better than Tom’s car, but it was more problematic. The seat belts in the self-driving seat did not shrink. The power driver seat does not move back and forth. The power mirror didn’t work. The trip computer display was very faded and useless. Initially, the power seatback didn’t work either, but the next day Tom drove it and pressed the button dozens of times, the driver’s seatback was locked in and started to work like cruise control. My car seemed okay, so I paid Victor and ran the car in two sterlings.

John Traver

John Traver

Sterling Whisperer

The first stop was the tire shop. Two of my tires had a 2000 date code, so the other two were 4 years old, so I was planning to replace only one pair. However, the shop had 16 correct 195 / 65R-15 tires in stock.Tom and I looked at each other and shrugged and changed all four tires both Car — Probably the only time Yakima’s tire shop put two sterlings side by side on a rack. Tires weren’t what we wanted to endanger.

The new tires were far from the top of the line, but the shop balanced the wheels as part of the deal. Next, in the parking lot of the Auto Zone, I replaced the light bulbs and wiper blades of the headlights and re-aimed Tom’s lights. After that, I returned to Portland.

The worst problem with my car was that both front door handles were broken. I had two replacements in the correct color for my luggage (one NOS and one used) and ordered from Dale Charles, known as the “Sterling Fixer”. And on the third day, we headed to Steve Orison. Steve Orison calls it “Sterling Whisperer” because of his extensive knowledge of isolated brands. He had spare parts and multiple sterling inventories in various repair conditions. He installed both door handles — they are known to be fragile. Then Jeff arrived with a half dozen big boxes of spare parts that filled both of our trunks for Tom’s car.

And we left. After Portland and Yakima, we stayed overnight in Medford, Oregon. Fresno, CA; Kingman, Arizona (“Center of Route 66”); Gallup, New Mexico; Lubbock, Texas; And finally, about 90 minutes from Austin, Zabcikville, Texas.

Kingman, Arizona claims to be the center of historic Route 66 with a museum, but the year of the pandemic wasn’t kind to it. The 1930s El Trobatore Motel had one of the most informative and brave hosts I’ve ever met, but the atmosphere was just a little bit tired of Norman Bates and kitsch. Got Marilyn Monroe Room. Tom won the James Dean Room.

Wind farm sterling

John Traver

Sterling Road Trip

Along the way: some bad news

Immediately after leaving Kingman and heading for the Grand Canyon, there was bad news. Just five days before the tournament, Radwood organizers postponed the entire event until April 23, due to the threat of frozen roads around Austin over the weekend. Oh.

We went on to take pictures, shoot videos and drive the spectacular scenery unlike any other. The Four Corners area, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet, is home to Monument Valley, a protected wild landscape with dozens of mesas protruding from the flat desert. The weather included clouds, drizzles, sleet, bright sun, and almost permanent winds. I have never seen anything like that.

Our accommodation in Gallup was the historic El Rancho Hotel, a 1930s hangout for all Hollywood Western casts and crews filmed in the area. It seems that the pattern has emerged. Tom got Humphrey Bogart’s room, but I had Ida Lupino.

The section from Gallup to Lubbock provided a disastrous prediction of snow, ice and catastrophe, along with a photo of a tractor trailer destroyed by the side of the highway. We didn’t leave until noon, but we were able to visit her friend Lange in Abilene.

Texas Sterling

John Traver

Gas station sterling

Eight states, 5800 miles, and. .. ..Zero breakdown

The final day was a long slog from Lubbock to Zeeby Sikville. Our friend Brian Zabusik (of the Zabusikville who bears the name) agreed to keep the car in his barn. We arrived at his farmhouse around 8 pm after dark. Eight days later, a total of 5800 miles of driving (2800 miles from Portland x 2 cars and 200 miles round trip to Yakima). We passed through eight states, stayed at seven hotels, and visited countless gas station convenience stores.

In the best way we can calculate, the car returned about 25mpg. At first glance, the slight oil leak in Tom’s car seems to have been resolved. To replace it, mine was developed along the way. My car was in heavy need of new shock and alignment, both cars ran well, and the transmission was very reluctant to shift down. Tom’s car still occasionally emits a warning light. My car theft alert remains unpredictable — unlike Acura, it reminds me that Sterling has electricity designed in the UK. Hah.

Still, surprisingly, neither car broke down. not even once. I didn’t talk much at first, but it became “Then, it’s today’s day.” However, the only thing that raised the hood was to add oil or washer fluid or check for leaks.

Choke it up to the durability of the Honda powertrain. Moreover, as Tom pointed out, after traveling miles on each car, everything that was about to break would have already broken.

Watch the video! Buy our car!

If you are surprised, impress us.You can watch our video Fascinating fate tourIncludes some footage of the more visually striking landscape we passed through. Alex Kalogiannis’ editing work is really great given the mess of random footage, still images, and the exhausted narration he threw at him every night or morning.

Want to buy Sterling? How about the two? (We trade in double purchases, trust us-and we have a Good-Bad-Ugly seat in each car for serious buyers.) One week from today Come see us later on April 23rd at Radwood Austin.Re-from the Austin area, you can even take them in 2 days Road & truck tours across city limits Next weekend.

Sterling needs to find their eternal home. He buys our car. please!

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