Rover´s tremendous Two
middle-aged businessman with gilt-edged CSR Chemicals holdings and he´ll very
likely bleed pure Rover. From the good performing, sporting type Rovers of
pre-war and the family-remembered P3 series of the late 1940s the Rover has
evolved into a good performing, precision-built but staid and upright car of
imposing dimensions and substantial price. That the Rover 2000, which took more
than five years to grow from initial design sketches to the production stage,
has partly reverted back to Rover´s beginnings is surprising. But it is
eminently logical, both because of the demands of the growing European motorway
network and because Rover´s sales volume and technical abilities put it in the
unique position of being able to design a car which will fully conform to the
high standards it has set in the past yet which can be produced using the most
advanced production methods.
We spent a
week and almost 600 miles with this unique car. Our final summation is that it
may well be the ultimate businessman´s express; it is also one of the greatest
cars designed anywhere in the world in the last 20 years.
succeeded in something that happens only rarely in the motor industry - it has
built a car with most advanced specifications and yet, whether by
accident or design, a car that has built-in character that no amount of
cold-blooded design can capture. Again by either accident or design, it has
produced a Jekyll-and-Hyde car, a limousine-cum-sports-sedan, a mileage eater
and/or chauffeured suburban potterer that changes its personality in the wink of
an eye. Effectively, it is the mailed fist in the velvet glove.
with a clean sheet of paper for this car; the aim was to produce a four/five
seat 2-litre car of advanced specification, designed for maximum protection in
accidents, and with long-legged performance for high-speed motorway cruising.
The car is all these things and more. There is very little in it that has ever
been used in another Rover - or any other car for that matter. Yet the design
has been almost bug-free from the start, a direct result of a long period of
planning and of painstaking workmanship in manufacture.
directly at the medium-size, medium-priced market where Rover sold so well in
the 30s, the 2000 strikes out into several new fields in its construction. The
body is substantially a monocoque body hull with the wings, doors, bonnet and
boot lid fitted - pre-painted - in the final stages of assembly. Thery do not
carry any stresses of the structure, and this, together with very deep box
members set transversely fore and aft, helps to give the car a predictable
´crumple rate´ in collisions. A works car which collected a truck head-on 80 mph
crumpled progressively back to the scuttle but was unmarked from then on; the
driver walked away!
to use a variable track De Dion system for the rear suspension, mainly to reduce
unsprung weight. Fixed-length half-shafts are used and these help to locate the
wheels transversely, while the De Dion tube is located fore and aft by a torque
linkage and has a teleskopic bronze-bushed central joint to balance variations
in wheel stance.
suspension is even more unusual. Probably because the T4 gas turbine unit was
planned for the car at some stage, the front suspension members were spaced well
apart from the centre line of the car. It is a double-wishbone layout, with the
top Y-arm pivoted on the scuttle. The coil springs are not mounted vertically,
but horizontally along the wing valances, and most of their loads are taken up
against the very strong scuttle. Pushrods from the upper ´wishbones´ transfer the
vertical wheel movements, and the upper arms are angled to give a built-in
anti-dive tendency under braking. The steering is also mounted on the firewall,
with drag links to the tops of the kingposts and a hydraulic damper unit between
the steering box and the rod.
brakes are mounted all round, with the rear ones hung inboard on the final drive
broom´ approach to the car was carried through into the engine, which is a
reasonably lightweight four-cylinder unit exactly square at 85.7mm for both bore
and stroke and with a swept volume of 1978ccs. The combustion chambers are
formed not in the head but in the crowns of the pistons, thus getting bigger
valve area, simpler machining of the head and the ability to diecast the
combustion chambers with precise accuracy. There are five main bearings on the
crankshaft, while the six-bearing overhead camshaft runs in a cast-iron tappet
block bolted to the head; the cam is chain drive, operating inverted bucket-type
tappets, and has built-in adjusters for valve clearances.
The engine is
backed by one of the new diapraghm spring clutches, leading into an all-new,
four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox which, with Borg Warner internals, is about
the most conventional item in the car. The gearlever is mounted remotely with
one operating rod connecting it to the selector fingers.
advanced techniques are used in the interior. Across the full-width of the front
compartment, atop the facia, is a wide and deep shelf mounting only the flat
speedometer panel. This, the radio speaker, the under-dash glove bins and the
transmission tunnel finisher are simulated leather graining. The glove bins and
the parcels shelf are made of polypropylene, which has predictable collapse
behaviour under severe impact and also contains an anti-static agent which
reduces the formation of dust on the surface.
speaking the Rover is a four-seater, as the rear seat is shaped for two
individuals, and when the centre arm-rest is lowered these two are firmly locked
in against sideways g forces. However, the arm-rest can be raised and a
removable upholstered fillet between the two cushions will support a third
materials inside the car are of very high quality, which one comes to expect
from Rover. Around the interior waist of the car is a wide strip of simulated
wood panelling retained in plastic ribs. The trim material is real leather, the
carpets very soft and heavy, but - sensibly - the headlining is washable pvc
instead of West-of-England cloth which is traditionally used along with
tree-wood and crushed hide.
In front of
the driver and passenger are enormous hinged boxes, foam-padded, carpeted and
leather-trimmed, which have a predictable collapse rate and released by press
buttons on the facia itself. The one disadvantage of this idea is that the depth
of the box on the driver´s side has forced the designer to set the pedals at too
nearly a horizontal angle; your feet tend to slide forward on the pedals,
particularly when the shoes are wet or muddy.
seats are very well made, with cushioned rolls atop of the front squabs as a
safety measure, padded rear quarter panels and a friction clutch on each front
seat which gives omni-positional setting of the squab right down to horizontal.
This range of seat adjustment and the provision of about 2in. of vertical
adjustment of the steering wheel - by means of a knurled knob at the right of
the column - allow virtually every driver to tailer the 2000 to his frame.
In front of
the driver is the thin instrument panel on the parcels shelf, carrying strip
type speedometer, warning lights for choke, trafficators, high beam, ignition,
handbrake, low oil pressure and low break fluid level, plus fuel gauge,
temperature gauge, instrument light rheostat, odometer and trip decimal mileage
recorder. Thus all the information he needs is set right before the driver, only
inches below his normal path of forward vision when driving; with only the
centrally-located clock to distract him. Controls, individually shaped for quick
recognition and marked with visual symbols, are ranged along the padded lower
edge of the shelf. The wiper switch gives variations of the number of sweeps per
minute as well as operating the windscreen washers.
travelling in vertical slots alongside the radio location are four matched
levers - two each side - controlling a very efficient heater/demister system,
with very delicate and positive adjunstments of temperature and flow. In front
of both front seat passengers, in the edge of the shelf, are wide vents equipped
with a blanking cover and a flow switch to direct fresh air into the face.
stalks either side of the wheel, shaped to be hooked with a finger, control the
horn and trafficators (right) and headlight flashers and dip-switch (left). Thus
when travelling fast you can give ample warning by hooking both levers toward
you with the fingers, which flashes the lights and blows the horn. The system
falls down a little because the horn is not penetrating enough and at night the
dip-switch movement lacks a really positive stop.
is set between the seats and the short remote gearlever is precisely the right
spot further forward. There is a lift-up catch for reverse selection. The four
door sills are well protected with neat, ribbed stainless steel. Our drivers did
not particularly like the location of the door hardware; while well out of the
way of the legs it was too far forward and did not work in a natural plane.
There is a vanity mirror let into each sun visor, but the rear vision mirror, of
the traditional Rover convex type, annoyed us greatly. It gives great depth of
vision and complete coverage of the rear of the car, but the change in length of
focus is too severe for comfort.
thus extraordinarily good for four people, particularly on long trips, for the
ride is incredibly good over all surfaces and the seat springing correctly
phased to the spring and damper rates. Even very badly potholed and corrugated
dirt causes only barely perceptible changes in the car´s ride. The radial ply
tyres fitted as standard (Dunlop SP 41 fitted on the test car) produce only
faint reminders of normal radial ply thumping and harshness - the penalty you
pay for a vastly superior tyre on all levels. This is because Rover engineers
are fully converstant with modern techniques of tuning the suspension to phase
out tyre oscillation frequencies and the fact that it is easier to do this with
radial ply tyres because they vibrate over a much narrower spectrum.
fires up easily from cold, although it is a little noisy in the valve gear for
the first few minutes until properly warm. The new engine spins smoothly and
readily, getting noisy only in the upper 2000 rpm of the 6000 rpm range. There
was also on the test car some resonance in the exhaust system on a closed
throttle, but there were no vibration periods in the engine at all - a rare
thing with modern engines, perticularly those with four cylinders.
little torque below about 1500-2000 rpm, so that the gearbox has to be used
frequently in town traffic - which is no hardship - but over that the engine is
exceptionally flexible. The ratios are very well chosen, with second gear
running to just under 50 mph and third to almost 80. This fact, the good air
penetration, low wind noise, low road noise level and incredibly good handling
and steering turn the 2000 into a mile-eater outside built-up areas. It is
perfectly safe, comfortable and relaxing to cruise this car at 85-90 mph
anywhere. This is a driver´s car to end all driver´s cars. The handling is
completely predictable, with consistent slight understeer, tending into neutral
at the extremities, with tremendous accuracy of placement.
is matched right up to the performance, so that you can use this car to every
last ounce of effort on the open road in the complete confidence that any
situation can be controlled. More than this you cannot ask of any car. The Rover
became a little toey on loose gravel, developing an oversteer which in
retrospect we put down not to suspension behaviour but to the pace at which we
were travelling without knowing it - much faster than we would take a similar
car over our very trying gravel sections.
But these are
only minor flaws in an almost perfect motor car - one of the best three or four
to come our way in 11 years of the magazine´s life. Everybody should have one.
Wheels / Australia 1965