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Rover SD1
Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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Rover 3500.jpg

Rover 2000/Rover 2300/Rover SD Turbo/Rover 2600/Rover SDX/Rover 3500/Rover Vitesse (SD1). 1976–86 (prod. 303,345 domestic, 305,129 incl. CKD production). 5-door saloon. F/R, 1994 cm³ (I4 OHC), 2393 cm³ diesel (I4 OHV), 2350, 2597, 2622 cm³ (I6 OHC), 3528 cm³ (V8 OHV). Never actually badged SD1, though known almost universally by its development code. BL corporate replacement for both Rover P6 and Triumph Mk II, though initially only replaced old Rover 3500. David Bache-penned looks reminiscent of Ferrari Daytona and possibly inspired by Pininfarina studies on BMC 1100 and 1800 chassis. Hatchback unusual for the time. Futuristic-looking not just against predecessors but anything the Germans produced; exception being Citroën CX, which had smaller engines. Ex-Buick V8 lusty in 3500. Excellent Triumph five-speed gearbox. Great handling and ride, but live rear axle a retrograde step. Modular dash aided right- and left-hand-drive production. Let down by BL quality niggles and the UK press’s obsession with them. European Car of the Year in 1977 for 3500. Late 1977 saw 2300 and 2600 models, replacing all P6 and Mk II; upmarket V8-S to US spec for 1979. Last Rover-branded car sold in US. Mid-life refresh in 1982, with 2000 and S, SE, Vanden Plas trim levels; VM diesel model (2400 SD Turbo) for 1982. Rover Vitesse introduced 1982 and still an iconic model for the brand, developing 190 bhp. Many police buyers and quintessential police car in UK for most of its production. In theory, replaced by XX project but nothing filled the void of the departed Rover V8 for decades. SDX in South Africa had 2622 cm³ OHC. Line lived on for a little while longer in India as the Standard 2000.

Manufacturing locations: Solihull, England; Cowley, England; Cape Town, South Africa

Marque: Rover | Predecessors: Rover P6, Triumph Mk II | Successor: Rover 800 Mk I


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024