Monday, August 15, 2016

Bad Dubbing: 1987 Sterling 825SL

If we're using metaphors, the Sterling was a poorly dubbed Kung-Fu movie. If we're using analogies, the 825 is to English cars as fish sticks are to fish and chips. Not really English and not really Japanese, the Rover 800 series, or Sterling in the US, sought to combine Japanese reliability with rich wood and leather accouterments from ye olde country. Since the Japanese weren't involved with body design, electronics, or manufacturing, the outcome was pretty predictable. Find what may be the nicest 1987 Sterling 825S left on the planet - and it's still got a trash bag over the window - for sale in Everett, WA for only $800 via craigslist. A note on tips: FuelTruck sent in an 827 with not quite enough pictures to post, so another was located. Thanks, FuelTruck for reminding us that these still exist in the backyards of America.

I would absolutely, for certain vacuum this thing for crack rocks and meth crystals like 5 times, or perhaps even rent a drug dog prior to taking this Sterling across any borders. Alluding to just now ripping out most of the recently purchased $1,200 stereo system, the seller unknowingly provides an insight into his priorities. The other problems noted are a massive water leak which requires a fill-up every trip and a busted window regulator, which the seller states is the reason for abandonment.

The blue cloth interior surprisingly looks to be in phenomenal shape. It's odd seeing one of these without leather...that must be why the 'L' doesn't follow the 'S' on the 825 badge. The seller does indicate that the sunroof only reliably travels backwards, resulting in a one way trip to unwanted Targa land. You're best off pulling the fuse on that one, lest any curious passengers run your life with the crunch of a button. The Sterling's secret competitive advantage in the Anglo-Japanese mid-size entry level luxury market - the wood inlays - appear to be in good shape.

I wish we could see some video of where all the water is puking out as the origin of said liquid could make the difference between fair price and blatant ripoff. Under the hood, nothing looks particularly British. The Acura V6 never left Cowley with 3 SU's or anything, so I'd say there isn't much to be concerned about, aside from the geyser of hot coolant. Please note the 200A stereo fuse tied directly to the battery and consider yourself sufficiently warned about the car in general.

See any else that goes together like Gekkeikan and crumpets? email us here:

Matt, a self-proclaimed bottom-feeder of the classic car market, spends half of his time buying cars, half of his time retrieving them, and the remaining third on keeping them on the road.


  1. Fleetwood T. BroughamAugust 15, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    I'm still dumb enough to want one of these in it's 5 door 827SLi form (preferebly with a manual transmission, which makes looking for a needle in a haystack like good odds).

    The mom of a high school friend of mine had a limited edition 827SL with BRG paint, and beautiful pigskin suede seat inserts. I recall it being pretty awesome on those rare occasions when she let us take it out cruising in the early 90's.

    I suppose it's easy to bag on these for being less than their Acura cousins, but if you think about it, when was the last time you saw a nice 1st gen Acura Legend in the wild? Seems like they've all reached the same sad conclusions.

  2. Good excuse for a road trip to the PNW followed by some weekend work for you or your favorite shade tree guy. Interior and engine look great for 29 years. My glass is half full (affliction is full blown?).

  3. Sorry, guys. But the answer to every sterling question is always lemons. As for the effect the leak would have on expected reliability...meh. Six on one hand...


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