A group of classic car enthusiasts who became friends via a Facebook group have clubbed together to crowdfund the restoration of a rare Rover CityRover, with the finished car set to be auctioned off in support of CALM, a mental health charity that exists to reduce the rate of suicide in men under the age of 45.

The crowdfunded restoration idea came about after the car’s 17-year old owner Oli Dacosta-Evans acknowledged that he didn’t have the scope to carry out the work himself and offered the car free of charge to anyone who would rescue it.

BU53 RVC is one of the original MG Rover press cars and was registered in 2003, featuring in many of the UK’s best-selling motoring magazines at the time.

Enthusiasts Club Together for Rover’s Return in Support of Men’s Mental Health

The idea of crowdfunding its restoration came from motoring journalist Craig Cheetham, who drove the very car for Auto Express just days after it was registered.

He said:

“It might not be the most obvious car to restore, but when Oli mentioned he was giving the car away to anyone who would restore it, I realised it was the perfect opportunity to not only rescue it but to also raise funds for a charity that’s very close to the hearts of many of us in the automotive industry, who lost a valuable friend and colleague to mental illness a couple of years ago.

“Also, having been the first journalist in the UK to drive this car back in 2003 and being someone renowned for my love of old, unloved cars, I couldn’t knowingly let it die – so instead it will live. As, I hope, will a few more fellas dealing with mental health problems, thanks to CALM’s amazing work.”

Craig Cheetham, Motoring Journalist

The Indian-built CityRover was based on the Tata Indica and was a last-gasp attempt by MG Rover to fill the gap in the market left by the Metro/100 Series. More than 10,000 were sold in the UK between 2003 and 2005, but fewer than 400 survive. While it looks quite presentable from 10 paces, BU53 RVC is in need of underbody welding, repairs to the rear suspension mounts, a mechanical overhaul, new brakes and a new exhaust system, along with cosmetic repairs to the rear wheelarches.

Craig added:

“The reality is that the car probably isn’t worth restoring – it won’t be worth a fortune once it’s finished. But to think that its revival will leave a lasting legacy for a hugely important charity is priceless. Plus, with it being an ex-press car, it would be great to see support for the project from fellow journalists and PR colleagues who I’ve got to know over more than two decades in the industry.”

Craig Cheetham, Motoring Journalist

Anyone wishing to contribute to the project – which has already raised £403.19 via the small group of friends who kicked it off – can do so by sending a PayPal payment to [email protected] with the message “save the CityRover press car”.

Every penny donated will go towards restoring the car, with any surplus funds at the end of the restoration going directly to CALM, along with the entire amount raised when the car is sold at auction.

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