AA recovers double-fronted Rover

Recovery Patrol Robert Ponter rescues double-fronted Rover 75 featured in AA TV advert

A still from the AA TV advert showing the double-fronted Rover 75

A still from the AA TV advert showing the double-fronted Rover 75

AA Recovery Patrol Robert Ponter had the surprise of his career last week after attending an unusual callout near the M25 with a unique car – the double-ended Rover 75 which features in the brand’s TV advert.

The recovery driver was dispatched after AA member Gerry Lloyd broke down on the side of the busy motorway. After an initial recovery moved the vehicle to the safety of a nearby service area, Mr. Ponter arrived to find the double-fronted car waiting for him.

At first I didn’t know which way to turn the car to load it onto the recovery truck – I was thinking, ‘Which way do I pull?’

Robert Ponter, Recovery patrol

Which way do I pull? 

Mr. Ponter, from Warmley, near Bristol, said: “I was returning from a job in Guildford when I received the call to a broken down car in need of recovery nearby. When I arrived at the scene I was astonished to find it was the double-ended Rover 75 - the very one from our TV advert!

“At first I didn’t know which way to turn the car to load it onto the recovery truck – I was thinking, ‘Which way do I pull?’

“I’ve been a recovery patrol with the AA for three years and while motorway breakdowns are not unusual, a vehicle like this certainly is! It’s great to have been able to attend a car that’s already so close to the brand and with such interesting mechanics. I’m just waiting to be called out to the armoured tank next!”

I actually thought I was dreaming when I saw he was recovering the two-ended Rover from our ad

Edmund King OBE, AA president

Double take

Edmund King OBE, AA president, was equally shocked: “As I was driving back from Basingstoke in the congested M25 traffic I spotted an AA recovery truck on the hard shoulder so just glanced over. I actually thought I was dreaming when I saw he was recovering the two-ended Rover from our ad. I really had to do a double-take.”

2,500 miles around Europe

The unusual car was built by mechanic Mr Lloyd, of Lampeter Velfrey near Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Mr. Lloyd said: “I had just done a 2,500-mile trip around Europe for charity. I drove all the way back from Barcelona and the Rover broke down on the M25 – it’s the only place it has ever broken down!”

The double-fronted Rover 75 (Gerry Lloyd)

The double-fronted Rover 75 (Gerry Lloyd)

One too many bottles of wine started it off. My friend said it couldn’t be done and even if it could, I’d never get it road legal

Gerry Lloyd, owner/builder of the car

One too many bottles of wine

The breakdown, which was caused by a split in the plastic thermostat housing, happened during the rush hour on Wednesday 13th July, leaving Mr. Lloyd unable to drive the last two hundred miles home. He added: “I knew what was wrong with it but I couldn’t fix it at the roadside so I had to get it home – that’s where the AA came in.”

The idea for the double-fronted car was borne after a friend challenged Mr Lloyd over dinner. “One too many bottles of wine started it off. My friend said it couldn’t be done and even if it could, I’d never get it road legal – so I decided to take him up on the challenge and prove him wrong!” Mr. Lloyd said.

Nine weeks to build

The car took just nine weeks to build but three and a half months to be certified as road legal. Although the original idea was to build a car that could drive both ways, this had to be abandoned in order to make the vehicle roadworthy.

As a result, the ‘push-me-pull-you’ car has a longer exhaust, fuel pipe and brake connections than an ordinary Rover 75. The rear suspension was taken from the rear portion of a donor car and this end, while appearing to be a second front bumper, actually serves as a boot.

Horror followed by disbelief

Looking like something straight out of science fiction, Mr. Lloyd admits his one-of-a-kind Rover attracts a great deal of attention from the public, who sometimes think it is facing the wrong way: “It gets an unbelievable reaction. One of horror to begin with, then disbelief, then they work it out.”

The car featured in the AA’s 2015 television advert, which was inspired by real life breakdown events to demonstrate the extraordinary tasks AA patrols face on Britain’s roads every day.

(22 July 2016)