How Many Left? 1989 Sterling 827 SLI

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This rare 1989 Sterling 827 SLI has all the hallmarks of an elderly-owned vehicle that hit the auction lot once the heirs decided they wanted nothing to do with the unusual make. There’s almost 250,000 miles on the odometer, an impressive number for a car with a reputation for being fairly unreliable. There’s a good reason for that, so check out this Sterling hatchback here on Copart, currently sitting with no bids. 

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Dave Wilkinson for the find. The reason for the high mileage is due to the unusual platform sharing that occurred between Britain’s Rover and Japan’s Honda when the Sterling was concocted. Power came courtesy of the same V6 motor found in the Acura Legend of the era, good for about 160 b.h.p. Paired with the rare manual gearbox seen here, this SLI-spec Sterling is likely more engaging to drive than you might expect.

The damage to this Sterling is listed as “rear end” but it looks more like someone pillaged the tail lights as opposed to there being any actual body damage. The reputation for poor quality came from faulty electronics and interior surfaces that would change colors if you looked at it wrong. Fortunately, I don’t see any signs of the latter as the cabin looks quite nice, and even the finicky wood trim appears to be staying in place. Hopefully, the sheepskin covers have preserved the leather seats underneath.

While the mileage may not shock you for a Honda-derived powerplant, the fact that an owner stood faithfully by their Sterling for this many miles puts them in a serious minority of enthusiast owners. I do hope someone takes a chance on keeping this hatchback-bodied Sterling on the road, and if you’re in need of spare parts, there appears to be a gentleman in Pennsylvania known as The Sterling Fixer who carries every spare part you’ll ever need.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. HoA Howard AMember

    2 that we now know of. What was the red one, an 825?

    Like 2
    • Cliff

      I have a Red 827 Sli Fast back in near garaged in excellent condition. Purchased new in 1989. I bought it end of 1988, my dad had for many years and given back to me. I did some minor repairs (Fuel injector seals, fuel filter, valve and block cover gaskets, alternator, and cooling Fan control computer) and I drive it when I can. I’ve always had a soft spot for orphaned cars currently owning a SAAB, FIAT X1/9, and Jensen GT. I love the Sterling it stays garaged. It only saw the snow one time when we took a trip to PA (before liquid road deicing)

      Like 2
      • Art

        If you ever want to part with it, please let me know. I bought a black 1989 SLi new from the dealer in Houston. Other than the AC controls, which had the fan connection behind the glove compartment whose door pressured the connection and the fan would become inop, the car never gave me any problems. I sold it with 145K miles. I regret selling it.

        I’m looking for one to buy

        Like 0
      • Cliff

        825 2.5 litre
        827 2.7 litre

        Octets S, SLi, etc designate sedan, fastback Viteese model

        Fastback available late 1988 – 1991 in USA. 800 series continued through 1997 in UK. Sterling (Rover) cars discontinued August 09, 1991.

        Like 0
      • Cliff

        From sitting, the valve cover, block plates, oil pan (and pan in my case) thanks Dale for having new one….all deteriorated and leaked. All required refittment. Relays control all electrical actions, windows, sunroof, headlights, fuel pump relay, emissions….all fail at various stages and require replacement or tapping on to work. It’s a fun puzzle for hobbyist…not tolerable for average motorist. I don’t care though it’s Lucas electrics at their best!

        Like 0
  2. Superdessucke

    If that’s true then this was probably as fought over as Grandpa’s false teeth.

    Like 11
  3. Tim

    My father and I both worked for British Aerospace when they owned Rover. My Dad had three 800 series as Company cars, but never the 827 – that was the one to have! His were 825’s. Completely reliable, despite the English climate and all that water. Perhaps they didn’t like hot climates? Looking a bit dated now, but always so much more refined looking than the Honda equivalent, IMHO. Getting parts is really easy in the UK, from junk yards; probably not so much here.

    Like 2
  4. Ralph

    You can see damage on the hatch lid.

    Like 0
    • davew833

      And the red reflector panel on the lower part of the hatch lid is chipped.

      Like 0
  5. Hunter Snyder

    I would like to add this car is not a r/d.

    Like 0
    • Dave Wilkinson

      The Sterlings were a US import and were not RHD.

      Like 0
  6. Dovi65

    I’ve always had a fondness for the much maligned [albeit mostly accurate] Sterling. I’m a sucker for orphans, oddballs, & lost causes! I hope someone takes this one under their wing. 245K miles on a Sterling? This one must qualify for Guinness Book of Records.

    Like 2
  7. Derek

    The 827/manual is the one that I was referring to Tony Pond driving the other day. Much better looking car, too.

    Like 1
  8. Mike Hawke

    90% percent this was my car in the late 90s when I lived in that area. The first Sterling I owned was great…this one not so much.

    Like 1
  9. tdvann

    Leased one of these when they came out. Red, tan leather, power everything including the rear seats, beautiful car, fun to drive. Worst Lemon ever made. The English still can’t get automotive electrical right. Used to love English cars but have owned too many of them.

    Like 0
  10. carbuzzardMember

    The cool part of this is being able to say/fill in “Sterling” when asked for the make of the car.

    Like 1
  11. Dave Wilkinson

    Thanks for posting my share, Jeff. I would grab this if I weren’t on the other side of the country. Close inspection of the photos reveals that the taillights MAY be inside the hatch, but there’s no way to determine their condition. This is actually the “Oxford” edition which can be recognized by the exterior color, the pattern of the inside wood trim, and the suede inserts on the seats.

    The mileage may not be accurate, as the 1987-89 Sterlings had faulty Italian-made instrument clusters which were frequently replaced under warranty.

    Like 1
  12. That Guy

    I owned a 1990 827SLi for a few years in the oughties. It was in great condition, and was really a fun car to drive even with an automatic. But I lost track of the electrical things which quit just during the time I owned it. I’m not really an electrical guy, so eventually I sold it on. The guy who bought it was better equipped to repair all its faults, and I would assume it’s still on the road somewhere.

    It was very quick, and the handling was superb for a big FWD sedan. I liked it a lot; it just was too much for me to keep up with.

    Like 1
  13. wuzjeepnowsaab

    As I mentioned in the 825 posting, I looked at one of these when I was shopping for cars in the late 80’s. They have so much more style than the cousin Legend…but those Brit genetics. And Acura dealers wouldn’t touch them so I backed away from the 827 and went with the Legend

    Like 0
  14. Ralph

    Tonight only!

    The Undesirable European Hard to Find Parts for Import Hatch Cage Match……

    Merkur Scorpio vs Sterling 827SLi


    Seriously, this or a Scorpio?

    IF I had to have one, I’d pick the Merkur.

    Like 0
  15. Cory Martin

    I’m the crazy guy that bought the car from Copart. Any cool history on the car I should know about, email me.

    Like 0
  16. Attilio F. Galli

    I owned an 1989 827SLi manual transmission, night it new from the dealer in Houston in early 1991 where it sat for 2 long years, got it for a great price and sold it in 1995. I’m now sorry I sold it and I’m looking for one.

    Like 1
  17. Mr. Blakesley

    Hello! I currently own this exact car and after seeing it drive around for years, I felt compelled to keep it on the road. Thankfully, the engine and transmission function perfectly but they are the only things that work at all. The goal is total restoration, so if anybody has parts please don’t hesitate to contact me @thesterlingliveson on IG.

    Like 2
    • Art

      Interested in selling it?

      Like 0
  18. Bronson

    Wait I have an 89 827sl Oxford edition British racing green but no suede inside. Been sitting in my garage for close to 15 years.

    Like 0
  19. Bronson

    I would sell mine if it’s going to be fixed up and driven. It probably still starts I drove it into the garage. I did have the transmission rebuilt and drove it about 3 months then parked it for the last 15 years. I even have the keyless fob around still somewhere. Also have some blank keys Rover key blanks to be cut. I did order a bunch of parts when I was fixing it up I ordered from Atlantic British probably close to 20 years ago LOL.

    Like 0

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