Monday January 8, 2018
Fifty one years ago, Rover updated their P5 range with new wheels, even more standard equipment – and a new engine. Here are 11 cars powered by that famous alloy V8 plant.
1967 Rover P5B
The Rover that introduced the ex-Buick engine to British motorists. In saloon form, it will be forever associated with Ten Downing Street (not to mention Roger Moore), and as for the Coupe version, it is quite simply the epitome of automotive style.
1967 Rover P6BS
A mid-engine V8 coupe with a top speed approaching 140 mph that remains one of the greatest might have beens in the history of the motor industry. Corporate politics meant that the P6BS never entered production, but when Motor tested the prototype in March 1968 they thought that ‘the finished product really could be a world beater’.
1968 Rover P6
When the Three Thousand Five – as it was originally known – made its debut, countless motorists wondered if their kind bank manager would loan them £1,750 19s. 5d. Here was transport par excellence for the sort of hip young professional with a Scott Walker haircut who needed to arrive at that sales appointment in style.
1968 Morgan Plus 8
A car with the charm of a pre-war open tourer combined with a 3.5 litre engine – what is there not to like? The chassis of the older Plus 4 had to be modified but when the Plus 8 debuted, it was said to be the fastest accelerating car to be produced in the UK. And for some reason, I always imagine Terry-Thomas at the wheel of a Morgan…
1970 Range Rover
It still comes quite a shock to consider that this genuinely iconic design is fast approaching its 50th birthday. The Range Rover power plant had Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the SUs of the P5B and P6 and the compression ratio was lowered but Autocar found that the engine ‘seems even smoother in this big car than in the Rover 3500’.
1973 MGB V8
One of the rarest and most desirable of the “Bs” with only 2,591 made. As almost any MG enthusiast will tell you, the 3.5-litre engine had much the same weight as the familiar 1.8 litre B-series unit and the result was one of the definitive Q-cars with the low-key exterior belying its 125-mph top speed and 0-60mph in under nine seconds.
1976 Rover SD1
Any classic car devotee of my age (born the year of the last episode of The Avengers) will remember the impact of seeing a new SD1. Here was a car that looked as good as it sounded, and one that deserves to be recalled as one of the most important vehicles to bear the Rover badge.
1980 Triumph TR8
Although prototypes of the TR8 were tested in 1978, it was not formally sold until the spring 1980. In the USA Car and Driver magazine referred to the new Triumph as ‘Nothing less than the reinvention of the sports car’ and 37 years on, the appeal of the TR8 is, if anything, even greater.
1983 TVR 350i
‘He-man muscle from Rover’s magnificent injected V8 engine’. That is how Motor described the 350i, as a reminder of how 1983 was another world. The engine from the SD1 Vitesse had the advantage of being lighter than Ford’s 2.8 litre unit and the result was a TVR that occupied a very special niche in the sports car market.
1983 Land Rover 110
More about this milestone of the history of motoring next year, when the Land Rover will be celebrating its 70th birthday, so all we shall say here is that a 12-seater V8 County Station Wagon must be one of the most desirable 4WD vehicles of all time.
1989 Land Rover Discovery
Yet another once-ubiquitous sight that is now fast becoming seldom-encountered on British roads. From 1990 onwards the 3.5-litre engine Discoveries were fitted with Lucas fuel injection, and all early models are fast becoming collectors’ items.