Rare Rides: A 1987 Sterling 825, the Luxury Legend From Merry England

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Though we wrote about the Sterling brand in a previous QOTD post from earlier this year, we’ve never covered one as a Rare Ride. It’s not often one finds a Sterling for sale these days, as most examples fell into disrepair and disuse by the late 1990s. But B&B commenter FreedMike managed to find a very tidy Sterling for sale at a dealer in Wisconsin, which is near Canada.

Come have a look at the not-quite Honda from Blighty.

Being a 1987 model, this navy blue 825S (base trim) is from the very first year of the Sterling brand in America. For ’87 the 825 sedan was the only model available, with the Sterling brand managing over 14,000 sales in that first year.

The 825 sedan was joined later by its sibling, the 825 liftback. Of the Sterlings your author has seen for sale within recent memory, the vast majority (or maybe all) of them were the 827 model. The navy blue paint presents well, and is less common than either silver or white.

Both Sterling models were Americanized versions of the Rover 800, which was a platform mate of the Acura Legend. Honda and British-Leyland (renamed “Rover Group” in 1986) entered a partnership some years before. The first car born from this alliance was the last to wear a Triumph badge — the regrettably reworked Honda Ballade, marketed in England as the Acclaim.

The interior of Sterling models was decidedly British in feel, with real wood trim across both the 825 and 827, and Connolly leather seats in the SL models. While the traditional luxury interior might typically denote a marshmallow ride, Sterlings used a different suspension design than the Legend. This meant Sterlings were notably more sporty than their Acura counterpart.

All Sterlings were British-built, assembled at the Oxford or Longbridge plants. Former British-Leyland plants, they had the same workers and machinery that previously made high-quality rides like the Rover SD-1. British-Leyland also replaced the Honda electric components with Lucas ones, because national pride!

Pre-internet consumers and media soon caught on to the quality deficiencies introduced by British manufacture, and sales plummeted in short order. Quality issues and high British pound values in the early 1990s caused Sterling brass to conclude North America was not the market for them. Showrooms closed down after the 1991 model year.

Today’s 825 is in quite clean shape, with 69,000 miles. The dealer requests you contact them for the price, which should be under $3,500 if they’ve got any sense.

Have a Rare Ride you’d like to submit? Email it to editors@ttac.com, and there’s a good chance we’ll feature it here.

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 61 comments
  • Ericb91 Ericb91 on Nov 29, 2017

    I work for the dealer group that has this car listed! Very cool! They’ve had it at least since January 2017.

  • CrystalEyes CrystalEyes on Feb 19, 2018

    I laughed so hard at the idea of choosing British wiring (from the Prince of Darkness no less!) over Japanese. If wisdom was a direction this decision is 180 degrees from it.

  • Add Lightness So now new Mach-E buyers have the choice whether they want to save $8,000 or become indentured the finance companies, possibly for life.Buy what you can afford, even if that means buying tools and learning new life skills.
  • Dale I like it. Not sure when we will be in the market for a 2nd EV, but this looks like a nice hatchback.
  • FreedMike Cute car. If it's priced right it could be a winner.
  • Theflyersfan By the end of the summer, it will be buy one, get one free with a free charger at home install.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Mach-E is very easy to ignore.