US spec. Rover 3500 S
Your Rover waiting is over
The Rover 3500
S, by any standard, must rate among the best engineered cars produced in the
automotive world today. From our first experience with the Rover 2000 (December
1964) we have been impressed with the overall concept of this sports sedan
designed to transport four people in the best possible manner, regardless of
road surface or climatic conditions. Now, with the advent of the V8 engine, the
Rover 3500 S takes its place among the really outstanding Gran Turismo
cars of the world. The V8 engine gives to the Rover 3500 S that which it lacked
when powered by the four-cylinder 2000 cc powerplant, effortless power and
performance to go with the superb handling, comfort and braking which it always
had in its four-cylinder form.
there is some feeling that even the V8 performance leaves a bit to be desired.
There is no feeling of outstanding acceleration, rather, the feeling is of
adequate acceleration in almost total silence and efficiency. This feeling
becomes even more pronounced as speed increases. At higher cruising speeds, the
3500 S whispers along in near silence with only a subdued murmur from the 184
hp. aluminium V8 under its hood. Soundproofing is excellent and the air of
quiet elegance is enhanced by the almost total lack of wind noise with the
windows up at a speed of 70 miles per hour. The click of the Pirelli Cinturato
tires on the freeway expansion joints even seems remote and subdued.
As with most
engine transplant operations, the Rover has gained a significant amount of
weight. Apparently the large portion of this increase has gone into beefing up
of suspension and body components, as the 3500 S imparts a much greater feeling
of solidity than does the Rover 2000 or 2000 TC. The extra weight, up from 2810
lbs. to 3184 lbs. has seemingly not impaired the handling ability of the Rover
and it has substantially improved the ride over both smooth and indifferent road
surfaces. The car gives the impression of a much heavier car; yet the control
and handling is of a standard comparable to a really good sports car. The
brakes, as we expected, are altogether superb. With continued experience with
the car and as the miles driven add up to the thousands, the feeling of
confidence builds even more strongly.
The front and
rear suspension, final drive ratio, brakes, steering wheel, and tire sizes have
all been modified to deal with the increased power to weight ratio of the 3500 S
engine. The battery has been moved to the trunk compartment. Appearance changes
over the 2000 include the 3500 S emblem on front grille, trunk lid and rear
portion of front fenders. A V8 insignia is fitted to the left side of the hood
and the right rear portion of the trunk lid. Below the front bumper is an
auxiliary grille; this supplies air for the transmission oil cooler, which is
now an integral part of the engine radiator. The bumpers have guards with rubber
fitted inserts. The wheels have been redesigned and now are fitted with large
size radial ply tires as standard equipment.
3500 S is based on the highly successful 2000 models and introduces the long
awaited performance increases desired by Rover owners and enthusiasts. The V8 is
of 3500 cc or 215 cu.in. displacement.
block is cast aluminium fitted with steel sleeves. The crankshaft is supported
by five bearings with thrust taken by the center bearing. The connecting rods
are of forged steel, and aluminium alloy pistons are used. These are fitted with
two compression and one oil control ring.
heads are also cast aluminium. Iron valve seat inserts and valve guides are
used. The valves are operated by means of hydraulic tappets which insure quiet
engine running and maintain tappet adjustment at the correct clearance.
of the engine is by means of a pressure fed oil system, which incorporates an
oil pump located in the timing chain cover and an external full-flow oil filter.
transmission with the Rover 3500 S is the Borg Warner 35 automatic. To Americans
this gearbox, a three-speed unit, will feel quite familiar. It has the usual
torque converter and planetary gears. First and second gear may be held manually
as long as desired for maximum performance. However, it is wise to observe the
tachometer red line to avoid overreving.
Power and performance
With a weight
of 3184 lbs. the 184 hp Rover produced a good quarter mile time of 17.5 seconds
and a top speed of 79,87 mph. 0 to 60 was accomplished in 8.1 seconds.
several acceleration runs with the transmission in various modes. Letting the
gearbox and torque converter think for itself produces rather ladylike results.
We obtained our best times by letting the engine wind to about 3000 rpm, holding
the foot brake with first engaged and on up through the gears with shifts just
below the red line.
everyday maneuvers such as entering freeway on-ramps is more than adequate, the
V8 comes on readily as required to match the flow of traffic.
It is only on
floorboard bending thrusts on the throttle that the Rover 3500 S seems at times
to be a little short of carburetion. This is due, of course, to the smog device
which decrees the use of only two 1 3/4 in. SU carbs.
Roadability and handling
independent front and rear suspension adequately allow the maximum performance
to be used even when operated at high speeds on poor roads. The power steering
system has been well engineered to combine light effort combined with maximum
road feel. The action is quick (4 1/2 turns lock to lock) and positive, and the
rack and pinion design is in keeping with the general high standards of all
components. The feeling with the Rover 3500 S is that this car is capable of
withstanding much punishment with few problems and above all few or no rattles.
Rovers in the past have tended to have their share of rattles, but the 3500 S is
tight and rattle free. During our 2800 miles road test, we had no rattles
develop and nothing went wrong. Prior to our getting the car, it had been driven
from New York to California for our use.
Rover on winding and hilly roads really comes under the heading of fun. The
performance and excellent road adhesion allowing high cornering speeds with
great confidence. As stated before, the Rover is a very forgiving car. The
radial ply tires provide really good adhesion and the car must really be tossed
into a corner to get out of shape. The Rover has a claimed top speed of 106 mph
and, while we did not reach this figure, at speeds over 90, it feels 100 per
Brakes and safety
The big 10.75
in. disc brakes on all four wheels provide stopping power adequate for cars much
larger and heavier than the 3500 S. The Rover remains one of the best stopping
cars produced by the automotive industry to date. A couple of years ago, ROAD
TEST ran the Rover in a braking test against a high-powered American car. After
ten stops from high speed with both cars, the Rover stopped 44 car lengths
shorter than the domestic car. The brakes are safeguarded by two complete
braking systems. During our brake tests we found no fade, even after 10 stops
from 60 mph. The high reading was 30ft. per sec.2 This is equivalent
to a stopping distance of 129 feet. The system is equipped with a proportioning
valve which limits premature rear wheel lockup. Many cars have this device, but
weight distribution, tire configuration, and suspension characteristics are also
most important to achieve maximum braking effort. The Rover combines all these
elements to provide dramatic braking capabilities. The weight distribution of 51
percent front, 49 percent rear is excellent. The radial ply tires, of course,
offer good adhesion. The independent suspension assures maximum surface contact.
The brakes on the Rover are over-engineered to provide braking in keeping with
the performance capabilities. Rover, over the years, has provided safety
standards much more rigid than currently required.
Comfort and convenience
about the car is designed to produce the best possible combination of
convenience and comfort.
A really well
thought out dashboard with no less than seven instruments gives the driver
necessary information. There is some difficulty, however, in viewing the
outermost gauges lamp, water temp and fuel level. These are slightly blocked by
the leather-bound steering wheel. The most conspicuous gauges are the two large
dials comprising speedometer and tachometer. The speedometer has the speeds
marked in both mph as well as kph. This makes for a rather busy looking
speedometer and some will feel that miles per hour alone would suffice for cars
destined for the United States. The speedo also incorporates a resettable
odometer, a feature becoming increasingly rare on American cars. The reset knob
is well placed and the unit may be quickly reset to zero with the car moving or
still. The lettering on all dials is white on black, to use the most sensible
combination for maximum visibility. At night a rheostat controls instrument
lighting from dim to bright. All controls, lights, windshield wipers, radio etc.
are laid out for maximum convenience and the driver soon learns by the shape of
the knob what its function is. This makes for easy use without having to look
away from the road.
wheel is adjustable to provide an angle to suit most any individual. This, too,
may be easily adjusted while the car is in motion. The windshield wipers are
among the best we have ever encountered, with a multiple speed adjustment to
suit any weather condition. The highest speed setting for the wiper produces the
fastest wiper action we have yet seen on any car, and we look forward to trying
them in a heavy rain, but California in August is not likely to accommodate. The
wipers may also be set to operate intermittently and in this mode the blades
make a sweep, park, and then in a few seconds make another sweep. We found this
to be most useful in conditions of light mist when steady use was not necessary.
Even the sequence is adjustable by a small knob which varies the degree of
delay. The windshield washers are also effective and powerful being operated by
a Lucas electric driven water pump.
remain as before and consist of two fully adjustable buckets. The back and forth
motion is adjustable to a fine degree over a considerable distance. With the
front seats in the farthest rear position the rear passengers are severely
restricted to leg and knee room, but by the same token, in this position even a
tall driver can barely reach the wheel and pedals. The angle of the back rests
are infinitely adjustable by a quick set and lock mechanism. Both the reach and
angle are by large levers for maximum convenience. There are no glove boxes on
the Rover; instead, large bins for both driver and passenger hinge down for
access. These provide a large storage area and are designed to offer maximum
knee protection in case of a crash. Rear seating is adequate for two but
somewhat tight for three persons. The Rover 3500 S is really designed to
transport four people and luggage in utmost comfort and five only when necessity
The wait for
the Rover 3500 S has been a long one. We received a number of reports from
friends and colleagues who were able to drive the car in England and Europe and
the reviews were glowing. We are delighted that our wait for the Rover V8 is
nearly all previous complaints have been solved, there still will remain those
who will find fault because the 3500 S doesn´t get off the line like a 426 Hemi
Charger. The flow-through ventilation needs re-routing to get the piping away
from the engine. The steering wheel slightly obstructs the driver´s view of the
instrument panel. There´s no air conditioning. We´re nit picking. The Rover 3500
S is a really fine automobile and it was well worth the wait.
ROAD TEST / USA