Rover 3500 V8
It is a great
credit to Rover engineering that in the substantial revisions, the mechanical
side has been left largely alone - the overdue introduction of power-assisted
steering as an option on the 3500 is about the only change in this respect. When
the 3500 was first tried in April 1968, we remember that the steering felt
rather heavy and out of character in such a refined and otherwise easy-to-drive
car; now at Ģ74 extra, power steering can be specified to complete the package
for a luxury car within compact dimensions.
used for the steering is the Adwest arrangement as first used by Jaguar on the
420 and parallel Daimler Sovereign, and features a varying ratio. Near the
centre position, the ratio is relatively low, giving small response to wheel
movement. As the wheel is turned, the steering becomes effectively higher-geared
and small movement of the wheel then has greater effect. The result is
particularly satisfactory on a winding road, when the car can be hurried along
with a minimum of steering wheel movement for successive bends. The turning
circles have increased from just over 33ft (between kerbs) to 34ft 9in. (right)
and 37ft 1in., but there is a useful reduction of steering wheel turns from lock
to lock from 4.5 to only 3.2. This and the must lower steering effort make the
3500 very easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
there is quite a lot of body roll on corners, and fairly strong understeer.
Initial steering movement seems to settle the car into its angle of roll and
line it up for the corner, and it then follows through very well. On the
straight, the lack of play in the steering remains good, but directional
stability is poor. The car wanders off course badly even in mild cross winds,
and rather delicate control of the steering is needed to avoid accentuating
these movements at high speed. Slight sucking noises are heard from the high
pressure fluid in the steering, especially when manoeuvring and using nearly
The test car
was on Dunlop SP Sport tyres. The Rover 2000 series has always been noted for
its excellent grip and for the very high cornering speeds possible in the wet
without making the wheels slide, and this adhesion in tricky conditions is made
even more impressive by these excellent tyres.
refinement seems even better than before, though we have been told of no reason
for improvement here. Soft initial movement is backed up by strong damping so
that undulations can be taken fast without any disturbing plunge or floating,
and ordinary surface irregularities are ironed out very well. In the back, the
ride is appreciably less comfortable, and quite a lot of pattering reaction is
noticed. Road roar is well subdued without entirely eliminated.
appearance only, the new front end, with its four headlamps set in rather deep
wind traps, looks a little less aerodynamic then before, and perhaps this may
explain a small reduction in maximum speed from 114 mph to 112 mph; buit this is
a very marginal difference, and the optimistic rev-counter is in any case just
reaching the beginning of its red section at 5200 rpm, which the handbook says
should not be exceeded. All the standing start acceleration figures up to 90 mph
were within half a second of the times recorded by the original 3500, and the
acceleration to 100 mph in 36.4 sec. shows a small reduction on the 37.7 sec.
On the road
the car seems fast without having any pretensions to sporting performance. The
vee-8 engine is extremely quiet from the aspect of mechanical noise, though
quite a lot of the characteristics exhaust beat is audible under acceleration.
An ordínary pressed steel fan replaces the earlier Rover fan which had long
blades with curved ends. Extensive sound-proofing on the underneath of the
bonnet helps to deaden any fan roar. Those raised pressings on the bonnet panel,
incidentally, are for appearance only and not - as may be presumed - to give
clearance for the two SU carburettors.
Up to 100 mph
or a little more is well within the 3500īs capacity for sustained cruising in
still air, and as well as the low level of mechanical noise, improved door seals
and the tight fastening of the front quarter vents possible with the new winding
fasteners helps to keep wind noise fairly low.
Type 35 automatic transmission is retained, but a change which, in the first
3500 Road Test, we said we would like to see - adoption of D-2-1 selector in
place of the D2-D1-L control - has been introduced. As before, the selector has
a safety knob in the top of the lever, which must be pressed in to safeguard
park, reverse and low. Pleasantly easy and unobstructed to and fro movement of
the lever is allowed between Drive (where all gears change automatically) and 2
(in which the transmission remains in second regardless of speed). Because of
this very convenient overriding control it was less embarrassing than it might
have been that the throttle valve in the transmission has seized on the test
car, though eventually this broke the throttle linkage. Without kickdown, the
transmission changed up at much lower speeds than normal, so it was not
surprising that using the selector knocked nearly 6 sec. off the rest to 100 mph
It is as well
to remember that bottom gear is not available with the lever at position 2;
sometimes after changing down with the hold, traffic may force the car to a
halt, and it will then restart in second unless the lever is moved either to
Drive or to 1.
smoothly but not without a slight jerk which occupants usually notice, and if
low is selected, it sometimes goes in with quite a thud. The transmission can be
left to its own devices most of the time, when the torque convertor plus the
ample engine torque available, cope very well. Although Rover ally this engine
to a four-speed manual gearbox in the Range Rover, the 3500 is still available
only as an automatic car.
always prompt, and when the engine is cold there is no stalling if the mixture
control is pulled out and turned to lock. Warm-up is rapid, and the enrichment
can soon be dispensed with; if it is forgotten a "choke warning" tell-tale
lights up when the engine reaches its normal running temperature.
2000/3500 series has always had disc brakes all round, and on the 3500 with
standard servo they work extremely well, giving really reasuring efficiency for
moderate pedal loads. A firm tread on the pedal - yet still only 60 lb - brings
a 1.0g stop, and even as much as 1.05g was obtained with 80 lb effort. In
repeated hard use there is negligible fade. The handbrake is not quiet up to the
same standard, and although it will lock the rear wheels at 30 mph, it would not
quite hold on 1 in 3; there is a slightly soft feel to the well-placed handbrake
lever between the seats, giving the impression that if it is pulled too hard it
would just stretch the cables.
adjustment of the steering wheel is retained, and it enables the driver to
position the wheel so as not to obscure the tops of the new circular
instruments. All who used the car were impressed by the new layout, and we were
delighted to see that the clear minor instruments flanking the rev counter and
speedometer include an ammeter (against the trend towards voltmeters). There are
also an oil pressure gauge, temperature and fuel gauges. All instruments and
warning lamps are set behind a single transparent cover, easily kept clean. On
the left is the clock - a Kienzle electric self-winding unit keeping excellent
time - and above it is the choke warning tell-tale. Ignition, headlamp main beam
and oil pressure tell-tales (as well as an oil pressure gauge) are dispersed
between the tops of the four instrument dials, and indicator repeaters are at
the bottom. Well placed between the bottom of the speedometer and the
rev-counter is the triple-function brake warning light, which comes on with
handbrake, low brake fluid, or worn front or rear brake pads.
Also in a
single transparent panel is the lettering identifying the minor controls, and we
were impressed at the way in which the lettering is illuminated from behind,
beautifully clear to read at night when the panel lamps are on. A cigarette
lighter on the left is flanked by a two-position interior light switch; first
movement turns on the map reading lamp above the passenger map pocket, and
further rotation brings on the roof lamp in addition.
control is new and less complicated then Roverīs previous arrangement. A single
rotary switch is turned clockwise to bring on side, then headlamps; and it can
be pushed in and turned to a further position for fog lamps if fitted. There is
also a parking lamp position (push and turn anti-clockwise), which turns on the
offside side and tail lamps without panel lamps. The lighting knob is triangular
and can be found easily by touch (adjacent interior light and wiper switches
have a straight raised grip). As before, a column-mounted lever dips or flashes
the headleamps, and a raised pip at the top of the side lamps reflects a bead of
light visible from the driving seat, when side lamps are switched on. The four
headlamps give very good range, and generous spread of light when dipped.
warning switch to flash all indicators together is a new feature and its
position is idetified at night by four small green light points around it.
fit an interior mirror of diminishing glass, mounted too high for a long view
behind, and giving a misleading impression that following vehicles are farther
away than they really are.
As well as
fast and slow speed for the wipers, the switch is turned anti-clockwise for the
new pause facility, introduced on a British car for the first time. A small
white knob on the left of the steering column is turned to alter the setting,
which can be varied to give one wipe every 17 seconds, or more frequently to
almost continuous wiping. This is an excellent arrangement for drizzle, road
splash or mist.
ventilation are unchanged, Roverīs system on this model being one of the best on
any car in current production. As well as an efficient air blending heater, with
convenient on-off air control and three-speed fan, it includes face level
ventilators for cool air, immediately in front of the driver and front
passenger. The air lever can instantly be moved up to close off all incoming air
for a tunnel or to exclude dirty exhaust fumes from the vehicles ahead. The
efficiency of the whole system has been increased by introduction of extraction
on the rear quarters. Air escapes at the edge of the rear window and from the
junction with the roof lining, through one-way flap valves concealed behind the
rear quarter panels and is evacuated above and below. In muggy weather it still
proved necessary to open a rear window to obtain adequate air flow through the
car, and this gently increases wind noise. Black pvc covering over the rear
quarter panels is one of the external identifying features of the new model.
been slightly reshaped to allow ineria reel safety harness to be fitted more
easily, though the test car was again fitted with rather clumsy-looking fixed
Irvin belts. Spacers are provided in the toolkit for alteration of height or
rake of the seat, and of course Roverīs excellent infinitely variable rake
adjustment for backrests is retained.
upholstery remains standard, but on the test car we had brushed-nylon upholstery
on the wearing surface - a no-cost option which we recommend. It is treated with
Scotchguard, making it impervious to stains. The seats are very well shaped,
with ample small of the back support and good lateral location; but the cushions
seem a little short for the thighs. They are very comfortable seats, and as
before the rear compartment is shaped to carry two, with a large folding armrest
features continued from the previous model are lockable drop-down map pockets in
front of driver and passenger, the one on the driverīs side revealing the
concealed bonnet release - and a positive fuel reserve, whose capacity has now
been increased from 1.25 to 2.5 gallons. Overall consumption proved quite good,
at 18 mpg, allowing over 220 miles before going on to reserve. For touring the
somewhat restricted luggage capacity can be increased by the optional exterior
mounting for the spare wheel.
easily have remained complacent with their continued strong demand for the
2000/3500 series, but instead they have made a big effort to improve the appeal
of the cars. A really desirable car like the 3500 thus becomes even better.
Autocar / UK