Forgotten Failure: When Is The Last Time You Saw Or Thought About A Sterling 825 SL?!

Forgotten Failure: When Is The Last Time You Saw Or Thought About A Sterling 825 SL?!

On paper, this was a can’t miss. A Japanese company and an English company teaming up on a sedan that both would have loads of input on and both would benefit from. In the end, the project was doomed by a few factors that weren’t exactly related to the car but probably should have been foreseen. The 1987 Sterling 825 SL marked the entry of the Sterling brand in America selling cars. As part of the Rover group, it was decided that the Sterling brand name would be a better and more appealing option for American buyers than Rover. It wasn’t.

A collaboration between said Rover group and Honda is what birthed the car with Honda handling the drivetrain development and planning and Rover handling the chassis, the body, and the interior. English luxury with Japanese reliability   would make an awesome pairing for buyers! The problem is that no one cared. Oh, and there were better cars.

The cars were only sold for three years with the bulk of their 35,000 total unit sales happening the first year and then tailing off into nothingness pretty rapidly after the 1987 Stock Market crash and other factors simply crushed the car market. They were not an easy sell when times were good. When times were bad? The few buyers out there were not willing to take a chance on such a large investment. Especially on a car company they had never heard of.

They were kind of odd, kind of weird, and kind of good. Check out the review.

Press play below to see this awesome review of the 1987 Sterling 825 SL sedan –

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3 thoughts on “Forgotten Failure: When Is The Last Time You Saw Or Thought About A Sterling 825 SL?!

  1. Gary Perkinson

    It’s funny…I literally just saw one of these (well, okay, it was a Sterling–not sure if it was an 825 SL) on either Craigslist or Racing Junk…

  2. OKSNAKE08

    Total junk! The auto trans was different than the Acura and failures were common. The speedometers failed repeatedly so to calculate mileage you had to add up the (multiple) drivers door jamb stickers to whatever was on the current odometer. Electrical gremlins were rampant causing drivability issues as well as fun things like all the windows rolling down then refusing to roll back up. Radios failed and had to sent in for service taking weeks. The wood trim cracked or came loose and the replacements didn’t match the original pieces. Fluke meters and a “breakout box” to isolate electrical failures were required special tools that were automatically shipped to dealers. When the cars came in for service the repair orders would be multiple pages long. The front tire/ wheel/ axle assemblies were impossible to balance for some reason so dealers were required to buy on car balancers, that also didn’t fix the issue. Sterling’s biggest contribution is the “customer states” lead in to each complaint on the repair order because the repeated intermittent problems could rarely be duplicated and the lawyers made us do that because of all the lemon law buy back claims. Maybe the weirdest part of all was that Honda had an ownership stake and so when Sterling sued Honda over the transmission failures Honda was essentially suing themselves. The cars were wonderful when they had 5 speeds and on the rare occasions that they weren’t malfunctioning. These things made Jags of the same era seem as reliable as Toyotas in comparison.


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