Boys Invade the Colonies
fifty years ago, Lord Baden-Powell, that archetype of British good guys,
exported Boy Scouting from England to America. At the present time, the
Rover Company Ltd. of Solihull, Warwickshire, England is attempting much
the same operation. In the light of Congressional criticism of the U.S.
auto industry, the Rover Boys claim they are bringing a better (safer) way
of (driving) life to these shores.
safety advertising of Rover has been such that it is not at all difficult
to imagine that as Rover 2000 TC sedans emerge from the Solihull plant, a
Peter Sellers-like Briton administers this oath to the cars newly built
for export to the U.S.
raise your right front wheel, please, and repeat after me...`Oh my honor,
I will do my duty to my American owner in my adopted land and to obey the
Rover law of safety - to keep my passengers safe at all times, to keep
myself physically safe, mechanically safe and economically safe`"
an exceptionally large order for a small 103-in. wheelbase, 4-door sedan
of 120.8-cu. in piston displacement to become a naturalized citizen in a
strange country full of 120-in. wheelbase, 400-cu. in aborigines. However,
Rover advertising vigorously claims this car can fill that large order.
Well, can it?
of live crash tests on freeways at rush hour, it is difficult to determine
whether any car is truly safe, whether one component is safe or unsafe,
whether one design feature is more safely engineered than another. Car
Life, of course, didnīt conduct such crash tests, but did attempt to
discover whether the Rover 2000 TC lives up to its safety billing, and
whether the super-safe aspects of the car simply are "flack" bursts fired
at American people whose fears on the safety of automobiles recently have
been engendered or intensified by the hue and cry of full-scale
Congressional inquiry. Advertising seems to say "Rovers help elderly
ladies to cross heavily trafficked streets."
only fair, then, to pinpoint whether or not the Rover 2000 TC is
trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind obedient, cheerful,
thrifty, brave, clean and safe.
Rover 2000 TC trustworthy? That is difficult for Car Life to judge.
This particular test car had been quite abused by previous drivers and had
received no preventive maintenance. Thus it was that drive-line parts and
an oil cooler return line came loose, and the throttle stuck once. Some
prior turns of some wrenches and some lubrication might have made this
particular Rover 2000 TC the trustworthy car its manufacturers designed it to be.
Rover 2000 TC loyal? Yes, to those whose tastes run to British cars. The
car even smells British. Its loyalty extends to those who previously have
driven British-built 4-bangers of the Triumph, MG and Sunbeam school, who
have experienced Jaguars and Austin-Healeys and who enjoy crisp, fully
synchromeshed 4-speed gearboxes. The car is loyal to those who prefer the
British idea of driver creature comforts - where the car is fitted to the
occupants, rather than vice versa. To assist in making Americans loyal to
their Rovers, the manufacturer offers three special paint colors blended
in brightness to American tastes, a simulated wood-rimmed steering wheel
(simulated of butyrate because real wood might splinter in certain crash
situations), a racing mirror und a tachometer because Americans seem to
desire these items; and optional, very un-British cast-aluminium wheels,
which now are popular in the U.S. The Rover 2000 TC works very hard at
being loyal to both sides at once.
Rover 2000 TC friendly? Yes. Its soft, padded leather upholstery seems to
slide onto the driver, as would a snug, favorite jacket. However, the
Roverīs clutch, brake and throttle pedals seemed very unfriendly. Like so
many lollipops, the pedals are suspended all in a line, all of a size,
close together. For large-footed Americans this is definitely unfriendly
and, in same cases, unsafe and even scary. Clutch is like brake, like
brake is like throttle, somewhat offset to the driverīs left. Hence, in
haste, it is all too easy to mistake the throttle for brake, or the
reverse. When done, some unanticipated motoring ensues - as can be
affirmed by one Car Life test driver. The position of the throttle
pedal is such that it permits no rest for the driverīs right leg. The
Rover 2000 TC tries to be friendly - and succeeds in some respects.
Rover 2000 TC courteous? Although its overall dimensions are modest, the
car presents plenty of headroom for even the tallest occupants. Front
bucket seat rake is infinitely adjustable from almost fully reclining to
almost perpendicular to suit the particular tastes of the driver and front
seat passenger. Front seat headrests and fore and aft seat travel also are
adjustable for complete driving comfort for both the long and short of the
human race. The rear compartment with contoured seating for two adults is
spacious enough for extended touring. Three medium-sized children can be
accommodated for shorter hauls. The car is courteous to all whom it
Rover 2000 TC kind? Yes, its instrumentation particularly is kind to both
automobile and driver. Warning lights report when the manual choke has
been left on, when the engine oil pressure drops below a safe level and
when the parking brake is on. These are important for the automobile. The
driver learns his speed, total and trip mileage, coolant temperature,
amount of fuel remaining and rpm from gauges. All save the circular
tachometer, which is a bit to the right, are located in a horizontal block
directly in front of the driver. Switches and knobs are shaped according
to the direction they are to move. Recognition by feel is easy because no
two switches of similar shape are located side by side.
kindness displayed by the Rover was its luggage space, almost double that
of some U.S. 2+2 cars, equal to some of the longer American wheelbase
machines and certainly adequate for a range of chores from grocery parcel
hauling to leather luggage type grand touring. The Rover 2000 TC will be
very kind to its owner, his family and friends.
Rover 2000 TC obedient? Obedience is probably the carīs forte. It responds
quickly to driver commands for braking, steering and acceleration.
Controllability, despite the advertisement of many other things, is the
carīs safest feature.
disc brakes are mounted outboard an the front and inboard at the rear.
Servo-assisted with a 7-in. diaphragm-type vacuum booster, the 4-disc
system brings the Rover 2000 TC to a rapid, straight-line halt. Pedal
action is progressive, i.e. the harder the driver pushes, the more braking
effect he gets. Overly heavy pedal pressure results in rear wheel lockup
and immediate loss of braking efficiency. The Rover people could well
install a proportioning mechanism between front and rear brakes - a
recommendation also made frequently by Car Life testers for
Roverīs steering is quick, precise and light. Though little steering
effort is required, enough road shock is transmitted through the worm and
roller steering mechanism to present an pleasure degree of "road feel",
that elusive quality often lacking in power-assisted systems. Touted by
Rover as a safety feature is the fact that the tilt-adjustable steering
wheel is mounted on a shaft that terminates just ahead of the main forward
bulkheadī/firewall and, says Rover, does not become a lethal spear in a
liters, 2000 cc or 120.8 cu. in. - theyīre all the same with respect to
the Rover 2000 TCs 4-cyl. engine. The low coefficient of valve train
inertia inherent in the Rover engineīs single overhead camshaft design,
twin SU HD 8 carburetors (hence TC for twin carburetors), efficient gas
swirl induced by bowl-in-piston combustion chambers, exhaust ports
designed for maximum flow and dual header pipes are a few of the
contributions to the engineīs 6000 rpm capability. This 6000 rpm is on tap
when required. The test Rover 2000 TC exceeded an indicated 115 mph and
slightly bettered Roverīs own published acceleration figures (0-60 mph in
11.45). The engine and gear ratios supplied in the 4-speed box combined to
produce brisk acceleration both for freeway on-ramp-speed-matching safety
to an effortless 75 mph cruise and an adequate hill-climbing ability.
steering, engine capability and transmission factors taken all together
give the Rover 2000 TC a quality of controllability not often found in
everyday automobiles. Controllability is the carīs doing the job exactly
when and exactly how the driver wishes it to be done. This
controllability, in the hands of even an average driver, makes the Rover
2000 TC a reasonably safe car. This controllability in the hands of the
skilled driver makes it a very safe automobile, indeed. But, with its
superior controllability, up to a point, the Rover 2000 TC also has the
potential to lure an incautious driver beyond his limits. Because it is
extremely controllable, the Rover 2000 TC can be said to be extremely
Rover 2000 TC cheerful? If briskness, élan and excitement are cheering
qualities, then the car is cheerful. It outsports many so-called sports
cars. To take the Rover through a bend at speed with a short-throw
downshift to third gear, then to second, and sense the delightful engine
sounds of brisk throttle response, is a very cheerful operation. The
Pirelli Cinturato radial cord tires cling to the road surface like chewing
gum to the underside of a theater seat. An enthusiast cannot stifle an
spontaneous grin in the bend. Yes, the Rover 2000 TC is a very cheerful
Rover 2000 TC thrifty? Economy is a point always discussed, often
discarded, by prospective automobile buyers. If a driver does something
unsafe that results in a dent in his safe car, he will find repairs
economical. Aluminium and steel body panels, 19 in number, can be replaced
quickly and cheaply. A front fender costs $32, plus bolt-on replacement
labor. On long freeway runs of 200 to 300 miles at speeds of 65-75 mph,
the car delivered 21.4 mpg. Overall, including the acceleration run series
and the top speed test, the car still produced 23.5 miles to the gallon of
fuel. As the price of the 2000 TC, as tested, approaches $4500, it canīt
be termed economical with regard to initial purchase cost. The buyer must
consider those disc brakes, leather upholstery, the intangibles of
handling. If he appreciates such things, he pays the price. The 2000 TC
costs a bundle, but it can be said to be thrifty by comparison to the
11-mpg American V8s.
Rover 2000 TC brave? In concept, the car is very brave. Unit body
construction is of softer material ahead of and behind the passenger
compartment. These sections, Rover people say, are designed to crumple
under crash stress and thus absorb energy, preventing harmful forces from
reaching occupants. This, of course, is one of the carīs much advertised
main body unit of the Rover 2000 TC is bravely unique. It is a hard-core,
rigid steel cage. This inner cage is welded up from the floorpan,
stiffened by transverse bulkheads forward and to the rear of the passenger
compartment and the longitudinal driveshaft tunnel. Doorposts and quarter
pillars provide sturdy roof support. To this base are fitted 62 machined
bosses for attachment of body panels, suspension, and engine and
drive-line assembles. The car is assembled to a driveable state before the
body panels are bolted on.
suspension front and rear are brave departures for Americans - because in
the colonies, the vertical coil spring forward and the live rear axle are
Rover 2000 TC, front coil springs are horizontally mounted to the forward
bulkhead. Front wheel hub carriers are located by longitudinal upper and
transverse lower A-arms connected by vertical struts. The lower arms are
pivoted in the conventional manner.
upper A-arms are pivoted laterally at the forward bulkhead. As upward
wheel jounce occurs, the vertical struts transfer motion to the upper
A-arms and thence to the horizontal spring through lever arm extensions.
Motion is damped by compression of the horizontal springs and vertical
tubular shock absorbers which are connected to the upper A-arms. Rover
claims this front suspension system reduces unsprung weight and offers
good anti-dive/anti-squat characteristics. The design also permitts low
profile height and a clean, forward sweeping fenderline.
2000 TCīs rear suspension is a modified de Dion system. The differential
housing is rigidly mounted to the unit body. Twin universally jointed
axles extend from the housing to the drive wheels. Diamond shaped rear hub
carriers are located at the lower points by trailing arms which are angled
from pivot points approximately 2 ft. ahead of the differential housing.
The upper hub carrier points are located by short leading arms, Watts
links, pivoted to the rear and above the points. The rear wheels are kept
parallel on deflection and are held perpendicular to the ground plane by a
de Dion tube anchored at the rear of each hub carrier. Ordinarily, the de
Dion suspension system employs telescopic half-shafts to the drive wheels;
the Rover-modified de Dion system does not. Instead, the sliding coupling
is in the dead tube. Thus, each rear hub follows the radius established by
the non-telescoping half-shaft. Jounce is damped by vertical coil springs
and telescopic shock absorbers mounted between the trailing arms and the
body. The brave new designs in suspension account in great measure for the
carīs superior controllability. The 2000 TCīs bravery challenges Detroit.
Rover 2000 TC clean? In comparison with billowy, buxom, high and hippy
Rovers of past years, the car is positively lean and lithe. Lines are,
indeed, clean and give the 2000 TC the forward-raked appearance of a
sprinter ready to leap out of his starting chocks. Inside, things arenīt
quite so clean. Window cranks and door latch handles protrude. Air duct
covers and control levers do likewise. The rear window vent pane latch
lever projects into the passenger compartment at just about head level for
a 5-year-old child seated in the rear. All of these things can cut, scrape
and puncture in a crash situation.
Rover 2000 TC safe? Once more, with feeling: The Rover 2000 TC is very
safe in the hands of a skilled, cautious driver who is well schooled in
defensive driving tactics. In the hands of an incautious driver, this car
can, as any car can, become unsafe, though some of its features may
protect such a driver in certain crash situations. The Rover 2000 TC makes
a much better attempt at measuring up to its billing as a "safety car"
than do some other automobiles advertised as such. The Rover 2000 TC is a
good Scout, worthy of a merit badge for safety.
mph 12,6 sec.
mile 18,9 sec.
speed 116 mph
Car Life / USA 10/1966