The 1983 British Saloon Car Championship season was likely one of the most contentious in motorsport history. The year saw the introduction of Group A regulations, mixing things up for the first time in nearly a decade and resulting in the Tom Walkinshaw Racing-prepped Rover 3500 Vitesses of Steve Soper, Jeff Allam and Pete Lovett standing head and shoulders above the competition. The cars' aerodynamic form and powerful 3.5-litre engine made them perfectly suited to the new format; so perfectly suited, in fact, that TWR Rovers won all eleven races on the calendar. With Soper pipping teammate Lovett to the title, everything was looking good for British Leyland's 'poor man's Daytona', but its dominance was to be short-lived.
Following a protest by ex-TWR driver Frank Sytner - who was now racing for BMW - and an ensuing legal battle, the cars were disqualified. The case reached the highest levels, dragging on for months beyond the culmination of the '83 season until, in July of 1984, a Tribunal of Enquiry chaired by Lord Hartley Shawcross - the same man who'd previously acted as Britain's lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials - found Rover to have been running both non-homologation engine components and unauthorised bodywork modifications, including inwardly-widened rear arches to accommodate wider tyres. The title passed to Andy Rouse, who'd originally finished third overall in his Alfa Romeo GTV6.
Upset at the way things had been handled, Rover withdrew from the series as a works entity, but a Vitesse driver would go on to dominate proceedings regardless. There could be no accusations of Rouse having been handed the title this time, either; having himself made the switch to the Rover he finished on the top two steps of the podium in nearly every race. In doing so he not only became the first man to win two championships in the same year, but cemented the 3500 Vitesse's place in the history books as one of the all-time great touring cars.
Today's Spotted may not be one of those original TWR racers, then, but it pays homage to one of the most dominant and beloved racing cars of that controversial era. It features an original TWR engine, as well as original TWR suspension, rear axle and wheels in a package which ought to be a good deal more serviceable than an original car, not to mention a fraction of the price. With the engine and diff recently rebuilt, a new Getrag five-speed gearbox and new roll cage, there shouldn't be a great deal to worry about. The only thing to set your mind to will be how best to take advantage of its FIA Historic Technical Passport, as you set about recreating the glory days of racing Rovers.