RE: Rover SD1 | Spotted

RE: Rover SD1 | Spotted

Tuesday 27th August

Rover SD1 | Spotted

This much-loved, V8-powered example of Leyland's wedge has much potential



When the Rover SD1 project was born in 1971, Leyland was in trouble. Few if any of its models were returning a profit, much of its dealer network was threatening to defect to rival brands and the company was only seven years from being nationalised by the UK Government. Rover’s designers had won the internal competition for production of a new four-door executive car intended to reinvigorate sales, but the budget for its development was tightly limited. A cost-effective way of making something desirable was needed. First responsibility was handed over to designers David Bache & Spen King.

The SD1’s sleek Ferrari 365GTB/4-mimicking design was a stark contrast to the boxy Ford Granada and soft-faced Vauxhall Carlton. It looked comparably exotic, yet at £4,750 in 1976 (about £34k in today’s money) it was priced competitively to undercut premium models from BMW and Mercedes. Capable of carrying five adults and their luggage and built to the day’s latest safety standards, it looked set to lead a major company turnaround, but not even a model as visually strong as this could hide the cracks beneath BL’s surface.


Early customer cars were often poorly built, with inconsistent panel gaps and loosely fitted door seals, and it took several months for an order backlog to be cleared due to initially sluggish production. This was despite the fact that the technical makeup beneath the SD1 was familiar to Rover’s factory lines, with a live-rear axle, rear drum brakes and existing powerplants used to save money and speed up the development schedule. Nevertheless, the car proved to be a hit after initial tests, mixing those good looks with rear-drive balance and decent grunt. It soon became a familiar sight on UK roads, thanks in part to the SD1’s popularity with the police, with more than 300,000 produced in its ten year production run.

Power was provided by Rover’s then-ubiquitous V8 and six-cylinder engines from BL’s Triumph range, leaving the four-cylinder-powered Leyland Princess to provide a cheaper four-door rivalry to Ford and Vauxhall’s alternatives. This helped to maintain the SD1’s classier image, although the biggest boost to this didn’t come until 1984, when output from the 3.5-litre eight was lifted to 190hp. The improvement, which was made possible largely thanks to the swapping of carbs for fuel injection, was accompanied by an upgrade to the car’s standard specification. The plush Vitesse got electric mirrors, windows and central locking, as well as a trip computer and adjustable steering column as standard.


Today’s Spotted is a 1984 SD1 Vitesse sporting all of the above, although the present owner – its custodian for the last five years and 16,000 miles – admits some parts need TLC or even replacement. That’s not due to neglect, but rather thanks to good, honest use that has seen this 35-year-old Brit cover 121,000 miles, many of which are said to have built up abroad on touring holidays. The current owner has poured many hours into ensuring the silver four-door remains mechanically sound, meaning it flew through its most recent MOT; it’s powered by an upgraded Rover 3.9-litre V8, has received a recent brake and suspension refresh and sits on a set of refurbished alloys. But the seller says there’s a leak in the boot that’s causing rust, the bonnet needs replacing and two audio speakers aren’t working, to name a few of the handful of issues.

At £6,500, this lovely example of BL’s once vital SD1 seems fairly priced (its rarity is emphasised by the fact this is the only SD1 on the classifieds), accounting for the fact some love (aka cash) is needed to bring it back to its best. But with all the major oily bits beneath seemingly in great order, it also looks like a smart step into the world of one of Rover’s finest – and most important – models. Will any PHers ensure it lives on?


SPECIFICATION - ROVER SD1

Engine: 3,946cc V8 (replacement)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 190hp (estimated)
Torque (lb ft): N/A
MPG: Not much 
CO2: Enough
First registered: 1984
Recorded mileage: 121,000
Price new: £4,750
Price now: £6,500

See the original advert here

Search for a Rover here

Author
Discussion

juniorbox

Original Poster:

29 posts

89 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Much want

stuckmojo

2,007 posts

133 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Love it.

itcaptainslow

2,380 posts

81 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
“....Eees a getaway driver, aincha Tyrone?”

Gandahar

7,124 posts

73 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Love these. Forgetting the reliability for the moment an excellent design and of course the racing pedigree plus "Ted Moult" windows.

Apart from the fact I always used to see them broken down on the hard shoulder as I motored past frown



Edited by Gandahar on Tuesday 27th August 17:51


Edited by Gandahar on Tuesday 27th August 18:04

Buster73

3,465 posts

98 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
My father enquired about a SD1 being sold at Reg Vardy at Stoneygate back in 1976 , above list was the price , possibly £500 more.

He walked into Rossleigh in Newcastle and negotiated a small discount on a brand new unregistered model.

His first ever brand new car , never went in a Vardy’s garage again due to their pricing policy on that particular vehicle.

NCN 233R in damask red iirc.

rossub

2,252 posts

135 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Did Ferrari ever sue them for the blatant design copy?

Gandahar

7,124 posts

73 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Buster73 said:
My father enquired about a SD1 being sold at Reg Vardy at Stoneygate back in 1976 , above list was the price , possibly £500 more.

He walked into Rossleigh in Newcastle and negotiated a small discount on a brand new unregistered model.

His first ever brand new car , never went in a Vardy’s garage again due to their pricing policy on that particular vehicle.

NCN 233R in damask red iirc.
I just love that fact that in 2019 we get to learn your dad was outraged with a £500 markup back in 1976 and never used that dealer again. That is proper hard core "never forget". biggrin

Have you got a picture of that car in that colour? I saw a Damask red MG at Brands the other week and it looked brilliant. Also peddled rather well, highlight of the day.


Mabbs9

404 posts

163 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
I remember joining my dad for a test drive in a Vitesse. I loved it. I think he was tempted. I also remember being amazed that they just let us drive off in it.

Brick Top

10 posts

151 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
itcaptainslow said:
“....Eees a getaway driver, aincha Tyrone?”

clockworks

2,772 posts

90 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
An SD1 was my first proper car after passing my test, after several years of motorbikes and Reliant Robins.
In 1982 I bought a secondhand SD1 2600 from a BL main dealer.

A leaking oil seal contaminated the clutch, making selecting reverse a tricky affair. It was fixed under warranty. I was given an Allegro as a courtesy car (much more fun to drive).

The paintwork (metallic light blue) was very thin, and the A pillars started to rust after a few moths of ownership.

The brown velour seat trim was poorly stitched - seams opening up. Fixed by a local trimmer.

Fuel consumption was awful. I was getting around 16mpg on my 5 mile commute in Milton Keynes.

I can't remember how old the car was, but I think it was one of the early models, as the Rover longship bonnet badge was a simple metal silhouette, not the coloured enamel/plastic version. That would make the car 5 or 6 years old when I bought it.

After 6 months I got fed up with it, and traded it in for a new Mk1 XR2.

soad

30,312 posts

121 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
juniorbox said:
Much want
Get it bought!! biggrin

Mikebentley

719 posts

85 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Aged about 18 so 1984/5 a friend who had moved from Southport the year before and I returned to see his old mates. One lads dad had a new 3.5 VP that had been fitted with twin turbos that he would let the 18yr old drive. In the hands of junior the automatic burn outs were monumental. NPR 9 was the reg. I believe it was a Norman Roberts who at the time was sellling Kleim clothing to the trendy Scousers.

randlemarcus

11,805 posts

176 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Five up, two weeksluggage and windsurfers on top to the South of France in 198something. I Spy for three days of entertainment. Happy memories of VAT3W.

soad

30,312 posts

121 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Brick Top said:
itcaptainslow said:
“....Eees a getaway driver, aincha Tyrone?”
Good old Snatch.

Buster73

3,465 posts

98 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Gandahar said:
I just love that fact that in 2019 we get to learn your dad was outraged with a £500 markup back in 1976 and never used that dealer again. That is proper hard core "never forget". biggrin

Have you got a picture of that car in that colour? I saw a Damask red MG at Brands the other week and it looked brilliant. Also peddled rather well, highlight of the day.
He’s now 87 and a man of principles, trust me Reg Vardy’s weren’t the only company he refused to spend his money with.

We will have a picture somewhere but the house is upside down at the moment, by the time I come across it we will have both forgot about this thread


The red car he px against a dark green metallic SD1. DFT 45W , that was an absolute dog of a car and was moved on very quickly.

Edited by Buster73 on Tuesday 27th August 18:32

Scootersp

1,002 posts

133 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
My dad had two of these when I was young (14-19), Vanden plas auto's. The second I used to drive sometimes to get some extra driving miles and experience despite it being an auto, when this one was sold a day or so later a copper turned up on the doorstep asking if we'd recently sold the car, turns out (in keeping with its gangster hints here) it was used in some illegal way. Copper was sound and just happy we'd actually got the cash for it.

P5BNij

4,014 posts

51 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
My mate's 2600, not as gutless as you'd think...




Twoshoe

465 posts

129 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Re engines, I'm pretty sure they did a four-pot (2 litre) too.

corden

66 posts

79 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Knowing this car personally, I can attest to the owner's fastidious determination to keep it in good condition (and also to the wonderful sound it makes - especially when cold!).

kambites

57,350 posts

166 months

Tuesday 27th August
quotequote all
Twoshoe said:
Re engines, I'm pretty sure they did a four-pot (2 litre) too.
I think there were eventually two four-pot versions. The O-series petrol engine and I think it got a diesel produced by a different company whose name escapes me.