Good buy Rover
The P6 might
seem like a restorer´s dream – 19 exterior body panels bolted to an inner “base
unit” – but it is something of a mixed blessing. It is easy to tackle corrosion
of those panels but the base unit itself can rust dramatically. It is also a
complicated structure and rust can, of course, be disguised by the fitting of
rust free exterior panels.
The cost of
repairs means you should pay close attention to the bodywork when viewing any
potential purchase. Look for signs of bubbling paint and filler on the front and
rear wings, particularly around the sidelight housings at the front, and above
and in front of the wheels at the rear.
Check the door
bottoms, the valances beneath the bumpers, the quarter panels between the rear
window and boot lid. The bonnet and boot lid are made from aluminium.
As for the base
unit, start by examining the floor area of the inner sill box sections, inboard
of the outer sills, the examine their front and rear ends visible from the
wheel-arches. Remove thr rubber plugs from the outer sills and ensure that the
jacking tubes are still in line (if they aren´t repairs will be necessary), then
move inside to look under the seats and carpets.
signs of rot ar you open the rear doors. The curved sections of the D post
corrode next to the door seals and indicate there is extensive rust inside.
You may also
find serious rust in the vertical box sections on which the leading edges of the
rear wings are bolted. Peel back the rubber seal to have a better lock.
Lift the rear
seat cushions and the insulation beneath, and you should be able to see the
rearmost section of the inner wall of each inner sill. Check for corrosion and
remove the plastic grommets to lock inside the inner sills themselves. Then lift
the carper and check the solidity of the floor and the area where it is joined
to the vertical wall of the inner sills.
Open the front
doors next, and use a torch to examine the forward ends of the sills just
inboard of each front wing. Inside the car again, lift the carpet in the front
footwells and repeat the examination of the floor and the inner walls of the
opening the boot and gently pulling back the rubber matting on the floor: you´ll
often find the entire forward part of the floor where it sweeps up over the rear
axle is corroded. Repair is straightforward.
From Inside the
boot you can gain a reasonable idea of what the inner rear wings are like. Pull
back the trim covering the upper sides of the boot compartment and look for a
semi-circular line of rust around the inner wheelarch.
interested in the car? In that case, open the bonnet and have a look at the
inner front wings. Trouble spots include the flat areas behind the headlights,
and the flanges on which are located the outer wings. From inside the
wheelarches examine the vertical stiffening panels for those flanges and, on
four cylinder cars, the solidity of the vertical panels behind the headlamps.
is still available. Most sought after are genuine Rover/BL/Unipart items. Front
and rear wings are the only major items still in production (around ₤90 each)
but there seems to be no shortage of inner sills or inner front wings on the
There is also
an increasing number of pattern panels around and these, not surprisingly, are
generally items which have disappeared from the Unipart list. Exterior panels
are available in both glassfibre and steel, inner panels in steel only. While
quality is variable and they will never be as easy to fit as genuine Rover
items, they could get you out of trouble.
front and rear bumper valances are in short supply – new V8 front panels are
unobtainable – so various firms are now manufactoring pattern alternatives. We
suggest you should avoid pattern steel valances though. they tend to be
expensive and conspicously remanufactured, whereas the GRP ones, in addition to
looking like the real thing, are also cheaper.
cylinder engines are reliable, long lasting units, and most problems that arise
will stem directly from abuse. Naturally there will always be freal breakages,
but the most common maladies seem to be cylinder bore and timing chain wear. The
former is most noticeable through smoking and loss of power; the latter by a
ringing sound at about 1200 rpm. Overhaul is the best answer in both cases;
parts are still numerous and relatively cheap.
to last for ever. We have seen one or two engines where one of the camshaft
bearing caps has fractured, and others on which a valve seat has dropped out of
the cylinder head, but this doesn´t seem to be a widespread problem. Burning of
the valves and seats is not unknown either, and if you find a car which runs on
three cylinders at tickover but picks up as you open the throttle you can bet
number four exhaust valve has a chunk missing from it.
If the four
cylinder engines have e real problem it is cooling system corrosion. Many cars
will have been run without the right mix of water and anti-freeze in the
radiator, in which case you can expect to find erosion of the waterways in the
cylinder head. Repair is possible, but the best answer is a replacement head.
have also now reached the age at which the steels plates covering the sides of
the cylinder block are beginning to rot through. Replacements are available but
fitting them in an engine out job unsless you have double jointed fingers.
carburettors can give erratic, lumpy running, and most cars suffer from pinking
and running-on to some extent. Enriching the mixture and reducing the dile speed
will help, but in severe cases you may to fit an anti dieseling valve. The P6
owner is well advised to avoid unleaded fuel....
Rot is the
usual exhaust problem on both four and eight cylinder, but the former tend to
also shake their systems to pieces. The pipework must be correctly aligned, and
you should check any TC for fractures of the special tubular steel manifold.
engines have few inherent vices. Pre 1971 examples have marginal crankshaft oil
seals and can suffer from annoying leaks, but they will all leak like the Torrey
Canyon if the flame traps in the crankcase breathing system become blocked.
are common before a complete overhaul is necessary but neglected examples will
age quickly. The camshaft, hydraulic tappets and rocker shafts wear rapidly once
oilways become blocked with the sludge, and then replacement is the only answer
– although it is a relatively straightforward job which can be done without
removing the cylinder heads.
It is vital to
keep a water/anti-freeze-mix in the cooling system of the all alloy engine.
Furring up of the radiator will make overheating more likely but this problem,
even in heavy traffic in the summer, is NOT inevitable. If it does occur then
the underlying cause will be the result of earlier neglect, and bolting on an
electric fan is not tackling it at source.
There are no
great problems with V8 carburation or exhaust systems, but earlier cars fitted
with an automatic choke will benefit from a manually operated system.
Reliability can also be enhanced by the fitting of a contactless electronic
either four speed manual units or three speed Borg-Warner automatics. Expect
bearing noise on high mileage manual units and a change quality, particularly on
earlier 2000s, that can vary between difficult and impossible. The synchromesh
should be unbeatable unless the gearbox really is on its last legs.
however, will show some signs of the gnashing of teeth when you select reverse.
This is due to clutch drag rather than any fault within the gearbox itself,
although allowing the fault to persist may well cause some damage.
The 3500 was
built from 1968 to 1971 with automatic transmission only – there was initially
no manual unit strong enough. Even when the 3500 S appeared with an uprated
version of the 200´s manual gearbox it was running near its maximum capacity and
failures were common. That said, most of those failures were during full-bore
standing starts, so prudent driving will be rewarded with long gearbox life.
and secondhand manual gearboxes are readily available, although there seems to
be a trend towards fitting of the SD1´s five speed manual gearbox. This is
easiest and most useful on V8 powered cars, but four cylinder conversions are
beginning to surface in the small ads.
gearboxes are reliable, long-lasting and thoroughly pleasant to use. Check the
gearbox actually changes gear like it should, and that you have reverse, and
look at the state of the fluid. If it has black particles in it and/or smells
like rotten eggs you can bet the transmission has been cooked and will need
are almost indestructible unless they have been run without oil, but then they
do have a tendency to leak. On early cars this was due to a faulty breather
system allowing the differential casing to become pressurised and blow oil out
through the driveshaft seals, but most suffer to some extent. The problem is
that the oil then finds its way all over the inboard mounted rear brake discs.
Which brings us
neatly to the one major problem area of the P6: brakes. The front calipsers are
accessible enough, but the inboard location of the rear discs and calipers means
pad are rarely changed until they are down to the metal, and that the hydraulic
fluid and seals are rarely renewed at the recommended intervals.
before 1966 also have the complication of a Dunlop system. This does an
excellent job of stopping the car, and the fact each caliper consists of two
cylinder and piston assemblies bolted to a central frame should make for easier
overhaul. However, in practice, the scarcity and expense of the components makes
it something of a liability. It is not uncommon to find cars which have
converted to the later Girling system.
and steering look complicated but there is relatively little to worry about.
Wear in the front suspension joints can be assessed by jacking up the car under
the front crossmember, grasping thw wheel in the six o´clock position and
rocking it gently. You´ll ned special tools to remove and refit the joints, but
some specialists are now offering exchange overhauled suspension legs for little
more than the price of parts.
Steering is by
an inherently vague worm and roller follower box which is quite adequate once
you get used to it. Some V8´s had power assistance, and all cars have provision
for adjusting the backlash in the mechanism. Beware of cars with tight spots
which might indicate someone has wound it up to get rid of excessive play.
suspension abounds in rubber bushes which must be checked for wear. The two arms
locating the rear wheels have a Metalastik bush at each end, as does the large
transverse member supporting the nose of the differential on later cars, and
supplies of all these are drying up, so check them for softening and collapsing
by judicious levering with a screwdriver.
The de Dion
tube aft of the differential must be kept lubricated (oil or grease depending on
the year; check with the handbook) and, conversely, the rubber gaiter protecting
the tube´s sliding joint and keeping the oil in must be intact.
important check at the rear, however, is on the security of the two longitudinal
links locating the top of each de Dion tube “elbow”. The bushes are prone to
softening with age but, more seriously, the links themselves can tear out of
their mountings on the base unit. This produces rather bizarre handling
characteristics, and the car should only be driven as far as it necessary to get
it off the road in safety. Repair is straightforward, however, and if done
properly should prevent any recurrence.
youngest P6 now something like 13 years old, there is also evidence to suggest
that the de Dion tube-elbows are not as long-lasting as they look, and it is
worth examining them for corrosion eating through from the inside.
average price for a P6 is like asking the length of a piece of string. You can
pick them up with an MOT and a few months´ rent on the window for a few hundred
pounds, you can, on the other hand, spend upwards of ₤5.000 on a low mileage one
owner car with a full service history from new. There´s even talk of really low
mileage cars fetching over ₤10.000!
and natural exclusivity of V8 engined cars – notably the manual transmission
3500 S – tends to make them more expensive then their four cylinder
counterparts, but don´t dismiss the latter; the 2200 TC is equally agile in the
right hands as an automatic 3500. That said, don´t pay too much for a 2000
automatic unless it´s in absolutely superb condition; it´s a relaxing car to
drive, but you won´t get anywhere particularly quickly...
then, you´re really looking at bargain bangers, cars that will probably soldier
on for a year or two with the aid of basic running repairs, but which are really
too far gone to be economically restorable to a high standard.
From ₤500 to
₤1.000 you´ll get a fairly sound four cylinder car or a V8 requiring a bit of
attention, but if it is a 3500 S it´ll probably be in need of serious remedial
work before you can use it reliably and safety.
and ₤1.500 you´ll find plenty of good, honest four cylinder cars, and quite
reasonable 3500s, including some of the tattier manual P6s. Up to ₤2.000 will
buy you a very sound example of the breed, four or eight cylinder, and you can
take heart from the fact that the former will have to be very good to make it
worth much more than two grand.
Be careful if
your budget runs above this figure. You should get something pretty special for
₤3.000 and upwards, but then many owners have rather optimistic ideas of what
their cars are worth. Be prepared to haggle, and never forgot that for all their
relative rarity now, well over half a million P6s were built. There are still
plenty around if you bother to look!
The Rover 2000
was introduced in October 1963, and was initially only available with a single
carburettor engine until the arrival of the 2000 TC (twin carburettor) in 1966.
An automatic version of the SC, as the single carb version subsequently became
known, was launched at the same time. There was never an automatic TC.
only 3500 was launched in 1968. In 1971, after all models received a facelift
featuring the so-called egg box grille and a stainless steel body stripe,
appeared the manual 3500 S.
The 2200 SC and
TC were introduced in 1973 to counter criticism that the 2000 was under-powered
(again with an auto option only on the SC); both they and the two 3500s lasted
until the range was abandoned in 1976.
As to which is
the pick of the bunch, accepted wisdom seems to favour the 3500 S. It is
certainly the fastest P6, but since speed alone isn´t everything we´ll stick our
necks out and say that a good 2200 TC takes some beating. An early Series 1 2000
TC is pretty rapid, too, and a late 2200 SC still feels quite quick, even by
today´s exacting standards.
mechanical simplicity and purity of line, though, it has to be the Series 1 2000
SC or 3500 auto. Neither is particularly fast and their advancing years will be
taken a toll, but find a good one and you´ll own what many enthusiast regard as
the definitive P6.
We didn´t have
to go far to find a P6 owner: Nick Blackledge, Art Editor of CM´s sister
magazine Street Machine, is the proud owner of a tidy 1972 3500 auto, and
has nothing but praise for it.
“I´ve had two
other P6s, both V8s as it happens, and I really bought this one for my
girlfriend Martie, to use. She had been driving a Daimler 250 saloon for several
years, so she was used to the comfort of an automatic gearbox and power
steering, so whatever we bought to replace that had to have s similar
specification. This car was actually advertised in the North West Auto Mart last
summer for ₤1.200, but we eventually got it for ₤800. We caught the train up to
Cumbria to see it, bought it on the spot, and by the end of the weekend we´d
done over 500 miles. That proved to be a good test of its reliability, and even
though the weather was boiling hot there wasn´t a trace of overheating.”
Nick is the
first to admit his car isn´t totally rust free, but there´s no denying its basic
solidity. It will pass the next MOT, but then, like so many others, it may need
new inner sills.
“It must have
been standing for some time before we came along”, Nick said. “It looks like
it´s had new outer sills quite recently, and although the inners are fairly good
I think the tinworm is definitely there. The handbrake isn´t so clever, either,
and it´ll probably need a pair of new rear discs to cure that problem. The
engine runs with a good oil pressure, though, so even though it´s done at least
92.000 miles I think there´s plenty of life in it yet.”
Martie seems to
like it, too. “It´s very comfortable and quite fast enough for me”, she says,
“and the power steering makes town driving and parking dead easy. It´s
surprisingly economical to run, too”, she continues. “Round town the fuel
consumption is only about fourteen to the gallon, but on a run that goes uo to
well over twenty. The best bit has to be the full length fabric sunroof, though.
It was open for most of the summer, and I just hope I´ll be able to do the same
this year. It´s easily as good as a convertible!”