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Rover P6 2000

Rover20001 As many of you may have guessed by the silence over the past few days, I've been traveling and away from the blog. Happily, reader Al Johnson was moved to request a car for Car Lust--and his request was so good that it stands on its own as a worthy post.

Al Johnson:

"You're correct that the Brits managed to make an unreliable car out of a bulletproof one, though a lot of reviewers at the time thought the Sterling's handling and ride were superior to the Legend. But can I nominate another car for Car Lust? I owned a first-generation Rover 2000 for several troubled years. Absolutely brilliant engineering, near-perfect ergonomics, phenomenal handling; it was the ultimate stealth car in a world where no one knew what a sports sedan was.

al"I recall a review in which the 90-horsepower Rover beat a 265-horsepower Jaguar XK-E for elapsed time on a winding road, it handled so well. But the build quality was not even third-world. Brakes and rotors replaced every 5-10k miles, half-shafts every 15-20. Positive ground electrical system. Pirelli Cinturato tires, with tubes, that disintegrated at speed or in cold weather. The aluminum head corroded through about two years in; the company declined to compensate me for it.

Rover20002 "Being young and impetuous, I decided to drive the car on a trip across the U.S. The dealer advised me not to try this, and then sold me what the company euphemistically called a "touring kit"--a large box with one of every hose, gasket and belt, points, plugs and wires, fuses, and so on. I also bought a service manual, which remains one of the best I've ever used: clear line drawings, lists of required tools for each job. By the time I completed the trip, the box was virtually empty, but thanks to that manual I had become a pretty good mechanic.

"It had lots of then-revolutionary innovations: radial tires, 4-wheel disc brakes (inboard at the rear), deDion rear axle, cup-shaped piston tops to make an effectively hemi-shaped combustion chamber, crumple zones, shoulder belts, "Icelert" freeze warning, and more."

Rover20003 Chris here again. I'm not familiar with these cars, so thanks to Al for the heads-up and the great content. I was a little more familiar with the later SD1 Rovers, which I've vaguely planned for a future Car Lust, but these P6 Rovers are completely new to me.

These P6 Rovers were available with a engines of a few different displacements, which were reflected in their names---the 2000, the 2200, and the 3500 which used the ubiquitous Buick 3.5-liter V-8 that eventually wound up in, among other things, the Triumph TR-8. For the mid-1960s, this looked like a fun car, at least if you have the, um, touring kit. It's a bit of a looker, too.

These photos were taken by our old friend Dave_7, whose images have also appeared in the Jaguar XJ and Ford Courier Car Lusts. The top image is a 2000; the next two are 3500s.

--Chris H.

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Those are some nice looking cars. That said, it's only when you hear about the "reliability" of old cars like this that you begin to really appreciate how far we've come over the years. Nowadays, even the poorest made American rental will last 10 times as long as one of those Rovers. Heck, even back then, a new pre-rusted DeSoto would outlive any car from the British invasion. Simply astounding.

Speaking of which... we need some DeSoto love around here. You know you want to.

"Being young and impetuous, I decided to drive the car on a trip across the U.S. The dealer advised me not to try this..."
YESSSS! Hats off to you, Al. Such youthful exuberance has set many off on epic journeys. That's the stuff of which life is made.

Being myself unfamiliar with any Rover besides a Land Rover, the only contribution I can make here (surprise surprise, but since Chris mentioned the 3500) is a Top Gear Challenge video featuring as one of three cars a Rover 3500.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4caKlzMD6w

I think the blue one could use a few more hood scoops.

To me, the Rover 2000TC is memorable mostly thanks to a Car & Driver cover photo and the accompanying blurg, which read "Does the Best Car in the World Cost only $4000" or something very close to that. The story was, if memory serves, written by David E., and he was just smitten with the thing.

My own, and only, experience with the car goes back forty years: a particularly well-heeled classmate of mine had one in college. I drove it a few times, and recall that it was very pleasant. I also recall the many calls I got from its owner, on cold upstate New York winter mornings. "The Rover won't start, can you come and jump it?" So I'd head to his house in my giant '65 Dodge Custom 880, toss him the jumpers, and sit in my warm car while he handled the hookup. Most of the time, after a few minutes he'd shut both hoods and, without a saying word, get into my car for the ride to campus.

What's amazing is that he eventually traded the Rover for a Fiat roadster, and the Fiat was more reliable!

Blurg! Hah. Talk about Freudian slips! Of course, I meant to type "blurb."

Oh, dear. That does bring back memories of a summer (when I was 17) wrenching on one of those beasts...a red 2000TC, a '68, IIRC.

Dual, side draft Solex carbs, bizzare electrical wiring, Brit through and through. Fun to drive (when it ran), not at all suited to So Cal summer temps. And molded bypass hoses that had different diameters on each end, so you HAD TO BUY ONE from the dealer. Too bad there was only 1 dealer in the southwestern US, and he was going bankrupt.

It did teach me to stay away from brit cars..

3500 is the aluminum Buick V-8 (215 cid) used in the early Skylark that Rover bought the rights to and used in their Range Rover. It's not the Buick V-6.

You can hear radio ads for the 2000 by Jean Shepherd over at www.flicklives.com, though you'd probably have to listen to a lot of shows to find one. They were one of his frequent sponsors.

Maybe somebody knows a particular show that has one.

As a teenage car nut I convinced my parents not to buy a Mercedes, but to go for the Rover 2000TC in 1967. Eventually my dad became one the best Rover mechanics in the U.S. ---by necessity. The amazing thing about the Rover was how it came alive about 60mph - it sort of got serious starting about that speed. Everyone loved to drive the Rover. It was the family car and survived military family life - Sacramento (I think there was a mechanic in Reno) and the ravages of Michigan off Lake Huron in the winter (electric plug added to keep the engine warm) and finally was sold to a young enthusiast in Pensacola after years of duty. And Dad had kept her going - engineer that he was, creating, adapting and maintaining one of the finest driving cars ever...

Well, you've finally done it. Somebody here is slightly bad-mouthing my most favorite-car-I-never-owned-of-all-time, the Rover 2000 TC. (stands for Twin Carb) In the 60's I was service manager for a Rover dealership located in the Sierra-Nevada but not in Reno. What a fun car to drive in snow, mountains, ice and across the Central Valley. The comments really brought back memories. Half-shafts, brake pads, hoses, man-Oh-man, did that baby require the unusual parts. But we had plenty on hand, so it was never a problem in the shop - just for the wallet of the poor owner. :-(

Never heard it called a "P6" but sure saw a bunch of them in RHD used on the Brit movies of the time as Police Cars. And all those scoops on the hood of the blue one? That's what told you it was a 3500. Thanks for the memories.

btw, that "Icealert" really worked well. Got me out of a ton of potential accidents, since I was in and around Yosemite all of the time.

Cheers

My Dad had two Rover 2000's in succession when we were living in New England in the 60's. He kept each about 3 years. I don't remember them as being particularly problematic (after all, why would you by two if the first one were junk)but I was probably only 6 or 7 when the first one came along. I do remember it as a very attractive car and a lot of people asked about it.

About 1970, he traded in the second Rover for a Mercedes that had been privately imported (i.e., a model not available in the US) and that truly was a piece of junk, always in the shop (though we suspect the mechanic he took it to was quietly looting the good parts) and he traded it in for a dull but bullet-proof Plymouth Duster with the slant 6 engine in '72.

The first big fuel crisis came along in '73, so of course everyone was looking for 4 cylinder cars and Dad traded for a '74 Ford Mustang II, which due to a curb weight of nearly 3,500 pounds got 2 mpg worse milege than the Duster. Oh well. It's the thought that counts right?

I dig this car...the first time I saw the movie Gattaca I was mesmerized by the strange black police cars, and thanks to IMCDB.org, I was able to identify the cars as P6s. I think it only looks good in black -- sinister just like in the movie. The dimensions look to be similar to a BMW Neue Klasse, with uniquely British styling (i.e., the rear end that looks like a MG Midget).

This is the car my mother drove when I was a child. I LOVED that car. I thought that the game 'Red Rover, Red Rover' was named after our red Rover car.

My parents were clearly British car fans or masochists. Our two family cars in the mid 70s were a Rover and a Jaguar.

I have very early childhood memories of going out with my older siblings to put wood in the potbelly stove in the garage to warm it up enough for the Rover to start. I wouldn't put up with it today, but it makes for some fairly unique childhood memories (most kids in suburban Chicago weren't messing with a potbelly stove on cold winter mornings).

My mother STILL claims that the Rover was the best car that she ever owned.

My dear friend in college had one. A lovely red car with red leatherette. So classy. So often parked.

She was commuting from San Luis Obispo to L.A. every month or so. How many hoods have to fly off a car until you finally get rid of it? Her limit was two. Two astoundingly expensive aluminum hoods. The second one, by the way, just flipped up in front of her field of view for a few miles before going airborne. The first was simply a British pean to the Frisbee. Good lord, what a brilliant car.

- bob

I owned the Rally version of this car as a child... that was the Corgi Rally version of the Rover. It was quite reliable, and included special built in jacks with quick release wheels. It was rather too small to operate but, hey, what do you expect from a Corgi Car.

The lines of this car are really quite wonderful. It has that combination of 60's futurism mixed with English refinement and a bit of stuffiness. The excessive number of hood scoops are right out of "The Thunderbirds". I'm waiting for this thing to launch itself out of some underground lair.

In addition to the Corgi Rover, I owned an Aston Martin DB5. I'm trying to compete here with David and all his cars. I think the only way I can hope to rival his staggering automotive harem is by including all the toy cars I've ever owned. So to that end I would add the F1 Lotus, Ferrari, and Brabham cars, a windup Porsche, and all my HotWheels (original cast metal versions). We're talking quality here ;)

This is why the British don't build computors,they can't get them to leak oil!

seguin: "It's not the Buick V-6."

Quite right - that was a typo on my part.

MM wrote: We're talking quality here ;)

You sure are. The sloppily-built AMT 3-in-1 kits of my youth couldn't even begin to compete!

I came close to buying a TC2000 circa '68 but the really odd front suspension was a fortunate clue that maintenance would be a major problem.

Here's an idea for our esteemed blog host: a series of posts dedicated to weird and wonderful British cars, similar to the Inappropriately-Named Chrysler Products series. "Good Ideas, Poorly Executed" would be a great name for such a series, IMO--those four words just about sum up the British car industry, and should be carved on its tombstone.

Peter the Not-so-Great: "Here's an idea for our esteemed blog host: a series of posts dedicated to weird and wonderful British cars, similar to the Inappropriately-Named Chrysler Products series. "Good Ideas, Poorly Executed" would be a great name for such a series, IMO--those four words just about sum up the British car industry, and should be carved on its tombstone."

Peter, that's a great idea, but I'm not sure this blog is big enough for that. Heck, I'm not sure *the Internet* is big enough for that.

I'm biased as I own a 1972 P6 V8 ( Red, like the 2000 pictured above )

Not a lot of other foreign vehicles from this era remain as easy to live with daily drivers; Volvos, Mercedes, Jaguar suffer from high maintenance costs, only the Citroen DS is as comfortable as the Rover + is a nightmare to maintain with air suspension, special tools, etc.

Another bonus is the V-8 engine is low-tech enough to convert to LPG; which saves me 40% over the cost of gasoline to run the car

GW

Hi,

I have a 1968 2000TC. I have to say it's been pretty reliable in the 3 years I've had it. It had been laid up in a garage for 20 years before I got it. So I had to rebuild the brake parts, new seals on the final drive and rebuild the carbs (TC=twin carbs) we take a couple of 600+ mile trips a year in the Rover, it keeps pace with modern traffic, more comfy than most modern cars and, apart from the access to the rear calipers, is easy to work on.

I may have been lucky with mine. I think build quality dropped after Rover was absorbed by BMC. Mine was one of the last before that and the build quality was pretty good.

My dad owned 3 Rover p6's; all purchased when we were living in Hong Kong (he was a Cathay Pacific pilot so he appreciated fast machinery ). They were all 3500 models; all had the 3500 cubic cm. v-8 engine with 3-speed automatic gearboxes. By the time the last one came along I learned to drive on it ( we had since moved back to Australia ) & it was a great car; unfortunately (or fortunately ) I can attest to the fact from experience that it was a very survivable car when written off. Rover pre-dated Volvo in being one of the first motor car manufacturers to emphasise occupant safety in the engineering of their cars; crumple zones, steering columns that did not intrude into the passenger compartment, etc. .

From my dad's experience, Rover build quality died after British Leyland took them over; our last Rover, made by British Leyland, (the one I wrote off )gave considerable trouble in refusing to start every so often. I remember it with great affection though; When I wrote it off it was a 20-year old car that could still blow many much more modern cars away at the lights...

My dad owned 3 Rover p6's; all purchased when we were living in Hong Kong (he was a Cathay Pacific pilot so he appreciated fast machinery ). They were all 3500 models; all had the 3500 cubic cm. v-8 engine with 3-speed automatic gearboxes. By the time the last one came along I learned to drive on it ( we had since moved back to Australia ) & it was a great car; unfortunately (or fortunately ) I can attest to the fact from experience that it was a very survivable car when written off. Rover pre-dated Volvo in being one of the first motor car manufacturers to emphasise occupant safety in the engineering of their cars; crumple zones, steering columns that did not intrude into the passenger compartment, etc. .

From my dad's experience, Rover build quality died after British Leyland took them over; our last Rover, made by British Leyland, (the one I wrote off )gave considerable trouble in refusing to start every so often. I remember it with great affection though; When I wrote it off it was a 20-year old car that could still blow many much more modern cars away at the lights...

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