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The Rover P6 3.5 litre.This photo shows a P6 Rover (was it called the P6B?) 3500 parked alongside what looks like a 70s Renault. A quick check on the DVLA licensing site confirms that this car, registration WEW 981L, is still on the system, although with a Date of Liability showing 1/10/1986, it means that the car is either sat in a garage somewhere covered in dust, or else was scrapped and the logbook not sent back to DVLA. If the owner of this P6 Rover sees this, perhaps they'd get in touch?
The P6 was launched in the 1960s and was an all-new design for Rover, which up til then had been concentrating on sales of the larger P5 range, and worthy if unexciting P4. Given how conservative the company had become, the revolutionary design of the P6 range was quite an eye-opener at the time, Rover being keen to re-invent the company in the eyes of the buying public. Whereas the P4 was traditional in every sense of the word, the design of the P6 was completely new, not least in its method of construction. It consisted of a central structure, or 'baseframe', onto which all the exterior panels (roof included) were bolted. The idea was that this would ease any accident repairs that became necessary, and as a result, would help restorers piece back together a derelict example using better panels in later years. The only slight downside was that it became easy to make a terminally rusty car look good from the outside, simply by bolting on a better set of panels.
The structure at the front incorporated an unusual suspension arrangement, and it didn't go unnoticed that the engine bay was very capacious indeed. Although it would be four and eight cylinder engines that ultimately found their way under the Rover's bonnet, the design had been influenced by the possibility of using a gas turbine engine at some point, something with which Rover had experimented with in several test cars, for some time. The ultimate evolution of the gas turbine development work was the Rover-BRM competition car, but the public were never offered the option of a gas turbine P6 for the road. One element of the design work that went into T3, one of the gas turbine development cars, and featured on the P6, was the design of the rear suspension, a de Dion layout.
The Rover P6 2000 series was introduced in 1963, at about the same time as it's fiercest rival, the 6 pot Triumph 2000. The cars were pitched at very much the same type of buyer, the middle executive who was a step up from the Mk2 Cortina brigade, and aspired to join the ranks of Jaguar drivers one day. From day one it became obvious that the design was essentially spot-on, with changes made throughout production leaning towards mechanical and styling updates, rather than any wholesale re-working of the original formula. Performance from the four cylinder 2000 engine was adequate, although wasn't as sprightly as it could have been, and lost out to Triumph's offering in the engine note department, even if the rest of the package was somewhat more adventurous. In response, Rover introduced the 2000TC, a twin carb version of the P6. In 1964, the Rover P6 won the Car of the Year award.
The car shown on this page is the ultimate road-going derivative of the P6, namely the 3500. The 3500 used the V8 engine previously seen under the bonnet of the P5, which can trace it's own roots back to the other side of the Atlantic, ie Buick. This model, still with its attractive stainless grille, was introduced in 1968, and made the P6 into a bit of a road burner. Early cars had V8s bolted to an automatic gearbox, but in 1971 the 3500S was launched, and this offered a manual gearbox option to the motorist who wanted a bit more involvement with their driving.
In 1974 the base model's engine was enlarged from 2000 to 2200cc, meaning that the BL/Rover sales catalogue could now offer the P6 as a V8, a single carb 2200SC, or the twin carb 2200TC. Production of the P6 ended in 1977, making way for the revolutionary-looking SD1, which thanks to indifferent build quality and reliability woes, undid all the good work that the P6 did in re-inventing the marque, post-P4.
Rover 3500 parts noticeboard
Rover P6 4.3 (Traco-Olds) race car
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