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

  1. Michael C Higgs

    I know this car very well. A South Florida billionaire wanted this car and to bring it to the U.S. The blend of Japanese quality and British fitment was a match made in Heaven. Then that billionaire hired a high-ranking executive from VW (who was responsible for revamping VW in the Americas) to lead the company. That man was Ray Ketchledge. Just so happens, he is my mother’s boyfriend, and I have been friends with his daughter and known him for over 40 years.

    Everything was going great…… until the parent company of Rover decided to start interfering, and injecting their infamous low quality to save money. Ray Ketchledge fought them left and right, but as the parent company, they had higher ranking than the U.S. subsidiary. As the car sank in quality, Ray finally submitted his resignation, because if they didn’t want to put out a quality car, he was not going to destroy his reputation as a powerhouse in the auto industry.

    Needless to say, with him gone, the quality sank more and more. The QC issues in manufacturing should have made Honda vomit, but somehow, Rover kept going with their poor quality. What a shame.

    The car was so much fun to drive. Handled brilliantly, very comfortable inside, it just felt like a great car…… while it was running :-O Inbetween dashboards exploding in flames, or the paint falling off the car in the first couple months, there were moments of joy.

    I saw one about a year ago in a used car lot in Fort Lauderdale. I couldn’t go look at it at the time, but when I went back, it was gone.

    Sterling: An exercise in how even the best ideas can be destroyed by idiot greedy armchair general executives!

    Oh, and as for Ray, he went on to save one company, that then that company went and saved Nissan. So he is fine!

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