Over here, Rovers are a rare breed. The last time they were imported officially was some time ten years ago, as a result of which there are a number of 75:s roaming our roads with someone grey-haired behind the wheel. Then there is a bunch of smaller, more mediocre ones, and then a small amount of Sterlings. Lastly, some SD1:s survive from the ’70s, but whatever remains car-shaped is usually a hollowed-out, engineless shell comprised of rust atop rust.
That is not the case with the mustard yellow Rover 3500 pictured here. The car in question is a Washington state car, and it’s clearly distinquishable by the quad-headlight setup in place of the aerodynamic units. It’s a weird setup, and comparable to some federalized Citroëns. But it’s a V8 manual car, and it’s very cheap. Check it.
There’s something about the SD1’s shape that works exceptionally well. A lot of British cars of the age were born bold designs on the drawing board, but got depressingly diluted by the time actual cars rolled off the line. The SD1 is an exception, as it stands head and shoulders above the rest, design-wise. Of course, underneath the skin there are a number of engineering decisions that are less than space-age, a live axle and rear drum brakes just to name a couple, but visually the car works.
And then there’s something else that works as well – namely the 150-horse 3.5 Rover V8 with its Stateside genetics. A roaring lump of aloominum, it could well brighten anybody’s day. The ad says the car runs great, and the engine bay is clean enough to warrant that. The wiring doesn’t look too horrible at a glance either.
Inside, there’s clean cloth in a light hue. Outside, there is a black dog.
The SD1’s dashboard was a brilliant bit of design, featuring a separate instrument cluster pod that looks like it was built to rise up from hiding. It’s probably for the best that it was static instead of any frippery, but it still looks definitely weird enough. On the dash, where the steering column goes through on the driver’s side there is a hole, and on the passenger side there is a corresponding vent, making LHD/RHD setups easier to configure. The ad doesn’t feature a clear photo of the dashboard, but by now our well-educated reader base probably knows the Rover dashboard by heart.
The Rover is advertised on Yakima Craigslist for 1500 dollars. For a rust-free car with a V8 and stick shift it’s a steal in my opinion. What do you think?
To balance out the praise lathered on the Rover by now, here’s a side photo from 1976 of a similarly-coloured one, found from Wikipedia. Attached to it was a comment:
“When I photographed it in Innsbruck I spoke briefly with the apparently English owner who had purchased this car new some two weeks before and then driven it to Austria for a family holiday. He was much enraged by the car’s absence of reliability during its first two weeks on the road, and urged my parents (then the moderately proud owners of an aging Peugeot 504) to resist any temptation ever to buy a Rover 3500. Ever. My parents never did buy a Rover, though some time later I myself acquired a Morris Minor Traveller, manufactured several years earlier by another branch of the same company which proved relatively (though not totally) dependable.”
Of course, said car was an earlier production model and the 1980 car featured in the ad must have had all the quirks ironed out by then. Surely?