Rover P6 engineering
In all considerations, the Rover 2000 has to be one of the best
engineered cars in the whole wide world. From basic structural concepts to
provisions for passenger comfort and safety, it ranks head and shoulders above
the ordinary, the mundane and the mass-produced. The Rover 2000, it would seem,
is a custom-designed sports sedan, manufactured in quality.
The term "sports sedan" lends the key to understanding why the
2000 is as it is. The chassis/body/powertrain concept is more that of an
out-and-out sports car than it is that of a multi-passenger family sedan. In
fact, the Roverīs chassis and suspension probably are far more exotic than most
similarly-priced sports cars. If it werenīt for the fact that the 2000 has four
doors, it could successfully be called a sports car.
The sports car attitude begins at the ground, where Rover shoes
its 2000 series cars with radial-ply tires. No messing around with excuses about
how suspensions are incompatible with such harshness-production tires; Rover
just up and equips the car with the best kind of tires for all-around driving.
Thereīs no problem with suspension because that is designed in harmony with the
tires. Of course, Rover uses 165-14 Dunlop SP 41 radials, and places them on 14
x 5-in. rims. Why radials? Longer wear, as much as three times longer, even
under "enthusiastic" driving conditions, may be expected. Better steering and
stopping responses are insured, whether the roadway traveled is wet or dry. And
better fuel economy is gained because the radials have less rolling resistance
than do similar-sized conventional ply-tires.
Then, for stopping, Rover lays on disc brakes at all four wheels.
The discs are solid rotors with dual opposing-cylinder calipers. Where most
European cars have disc-drum or all-disc systems, too, Rover goes the extra step
and puts the rear discs inboard, at the differential end of the half-shafts,
where size isnīt dictated by the wheel diameter and where cooling is better.
Unsprung weight, i.e. wheel, tire, driveshaft etc. is thus reduced, an important
factor in the design of any light, high performance vehicle. The front brakes
are outboard, at the wheels, where they, too, can cool best. The handbrake on
the Rover is mechanically actuated, operating on the rear wheels, and is
separate from the normal braking system. The dash light which reminds the driver
that his parking brake is on also is circuited to signal him when fluid becomes
low in the hydraulic reservoir.
The suspension systems really boost Rover out of the sedan class.
The rear is fully independent, as should be expected for this type of car, but
it uses the De Dion system whereby wheel-to-pavement relationship is precisely
maintained under all conditions. The De Dion tube is hollow and lightweight and
extends across the chassis behind the wheels. The outboard ends of the tube
curve around to form the hub-carriers. The chassis-mounted differential drives
the wheels through articulated half-shafts. Wheel geometry is further maintained
by Watts link leading and trailing arms. The forward arm mounts the coil
spring/shock absorber unit.
As might be expected, the front suspension is just as unusual as
the rear. Though the layout is in general a MacPherson strut type, it has its
own Rover-inspired application. MacPherson strut front suspensions are very
popular with European designers these days because they are low in weight, give
good geometry without a lot of ironwork projecting here or there and are
reasonably economical to build. The major flaw in the MacPherson concept is that
it requires an inordinately high fender line because the long strut carries its
coil spring at the upper end. It also tends to raise the roll center higher than
some designers like. Rover engineers and stylists got together and developed a
new system. The MacPhersonīs lower A-arm and long strut were retained, for their
light unsprung weight, but the coil spring was moved back to the firewall where
it is compressed by means of a bell--crank off the strut. This transfers some
major loads off the front fender and substructure sheet metal to the
firewall/cowl area which, in unit body construction, is the strongest portion of
the car. An anti-roll stabilizer bar is also incorporated at the upper end of
the suspension, for lessened body lean during cornering maneuvers. The steering
system is worm and roller, with the gearbox also mounted on the firewall. The
resulting short steering column shaft precludes the necessity for the collapsing
device now included on most other cars sold in the U.S.
In all, the front sheetmetal of the Rover 2000 is particularly
well designed for passenger protection as well as for good looks. There are no
extra rigid members necessary in its construction, and in crash situations the
Rover front end will crumple predictably rearward, absorbing the kinetic energy
of the impact. The firewall bulkhead is even designed to deflect the engine unit
downward in the event of a head-on collision instead of directly into the
The body itself is unitized as this gives the most strength with
the least weight. The cowl-to-rear seat back portion is the strongest, for
optimum passenger protection, with the front and rear ends "softer" for impact
absorption. The fuel tank location is integral with the body design, being
located behind a steel bulkhead behind the back seat and over the differential.
This keeps the tank out of the rear fenders and out from under the trunk floor,
both areas highly susceptible to damage and subsequent tank rupture during
The safety/protection theme is carried throughout the car, though
the Roverīs best sales feature is the fact that the car is so overdesigned that
the ordinary driver cannot possibly get into trouble from overdriving. It is
completely forgiving in its handling characteristics simply because it is so
well designed. A safe car, we maintain, is one capable of being driven safely,
no matter what the conditions are, and the Rover 2000 certainly falls in that
The interior design reflects thoughtfulness toward its customers.
Seats are contoured for optimum driving and riding comfort for four good-sized
adults. The front seat backs are infinitely adjustable for rake through a
friction-locking device that also prevents their forward fall on hard
deceleration or impact. The seat backs also are padded for protection. Arm rests
and visors are padded, too, and the normal glovebox is supplanted by two huge
bin-type lockers which tilt out of the dash to contain all the odd paraphernalia
of family driving. The shift lever for either the manual or automatic
transmission is located on the driveshaft tunnel console, and this console
extends forward and upward to house the radio and controls. Padding here is a
The instrument panel has the look of careful design with the
speedometer placed as high and far away from the driverīs eyes as is possible.
Why? Shifting the eyes from road to speedometer calls for refocusing, and the
task is made quicker and easier by the more distant speedo face. Controls and
switches are laid out horizontally across the face of the dash and these
projections, we feel, need better protection and/or location to prevent
passengers from being pitched into them on impact. This is academic if the fine
shoulder harness is used.
The basic power of the Rover 2000 comes from an upright,
water-cooled four-cylinder engine of 1978 cc (120.7 cu.in.) displacement. The
overhead camshaft power plant has perfectly "square" dimensions with a bore and
stroke of 86 mm each. This gives it fairly high-revving capabilities, and its 99
horsepower peak comes at 5000 rpm. The twin-caburetor TC version, which also has
higher compression and a hotter camshaft, boasts 124 bhp at 5500 rpm. Both
engines utilize side-draft SU carburetors. The overhead cam is internally
chain-driven and lubricated by engine oil.
Rover offers two transmissions with the 2000, one for the 2000
TC. The standard unit is a four-speed all-synchromesh manual-shift transmission
which carries ratios of 3.63, 2.13, 1.39 and 1.00:1. The optional transmission
is automatic, available only on the 2000, and is an adaptation of the
Borg-Warner-three-speed. This has a torque converter with three forward speeds
in a planetary gearbox. Naturally, the automatic gives up a bit on performance
to the four-speed, but makes up for it in convenience.
Final drive for the Rover 2000 is 3.54:1 which with the 165-14
tires gives the car some 19.5 mph for every 1000 engine revs. This is just a bit
short-geared for a car with such high potential cruising ability, producing 3600
rpm at 70 mph freeway travel. The engine is stout, with main bearings between
each crank throw, and is fully capable of coping with such speeds without undue
The best summation we can give on the Rover 2000īs engineering
qualities is to repeat the remark we overheard at a press showing. A noted
German car fancier was examining the 2000 and lapping up its mechanical
sophistication, when he turned to a friend and said: "It looks like it was
designed at Mercedes Benz!"
ROAD TEST /
USA June 1968