The Carchive: The Rover SD1 (Part One)

It’s the ninth instalment of George Bush (junior)’s third favourite Automotive Literature themed online series, and we’re staying domestic (er, in England).
A little while ago, the righteous mr. mzs zsm msz esq naively asked if I owned a Rover SD1 brochure. Well, I’m ever so sorry if he’s ruined your week, but yes I do. In fact, I have a multitude. So I’m going to do a kind of cradle-to-grave thing running from the beginning to The End of the SD1s exciting life.
Over TWO PARTS! You lucky, lucky people.

The SD1, of course, was never ever sold as the SD1, that’s a colloquialism stemming from the original development code which has become used exclusively by People Like Us. But anyway, the car itself still stands out from ’70s car history as being one of the very few machines to issue from British factory gates with any kind of innovation to them whatsoever. A fact not lost on the producers of this brochure which dates from 1978, not right at the beginning but only a year and a half in. It was, of course;
“The birth of a new tradition”
Oh, crikey, be careful. We’ll have no mention here of a tradition of unreliability, rust, industrial action or other unpleasantnesses. Let’s swiftly flick the page and bathe in a little warm hyperbole.
“The birth of a new Rover has always been something more than the launch of a new car. It marks a turning point in design, sets the standard of things for years to come.”
Lets just qualify that statement for a moment and, actually, grant it partial acceptance. For here was a motor company of long-established repute, going right out on a limb. Here was a big, expensive car of radically swoopy design which came only as a hatchback at a time where virtually ever rival was a three-box shape, apart from a few cars from the Ever-Crazy French. Oh, and the Audi Avant. (and VW Passat. And others, but you get the idea). A big posh hatchback was still, broadly, not a traditional idea.
It’s rare that a brochure pays much acknowledgement to the designer, but here Rover wisely pay homage.
“The Rover team are the most successful in Europe. Spencer King, David Bache, John Lloyd and their colleagues have produced a car that has won every major industry award”
Yeah, there’s been much discussion over how much of the SD1s profile was pilfered from the Ferrari 365 GTB/4, but who bloody cares? If I could have, in 1976, a saloon car that looks like a Ferrari, as far as I’m concerned that’s A Good Thing. Plus;
“Aerodynamics mean more than good looks”.
Forsooth. And Rover were getting serious (or at least Acting Serious) about how well thei’r cars were put together. Check this out;
“…A new Rover……is subjected to an average of 700 quality control checks at 10 inspection stations”.
“These are no ordinary checks: The Rover plant and quality control systems are designed to produce cars which conform to the quality standards approved by NATO in the requisitioning of all their equipment”
Beat that, The World!
Truthfully there’s no way I can cover even a fraction of the wonders that this brochure contains, and I respectfully suggest that everybody on Hooniverse heads straight to eBay and tracks down their own copy. Every page has something that will trigger salivation;
“…It’s worth noting here that the new Rovers are exactly what they look: high performing saloons built to go fast and safely. Recent modifications to the famous V8 engine including electronic ignition to expand the rev-range, give you a higher brake horsepower, which in turn gives you improved performance.
Of course, soon after launch would come the 2300 and 2600 versions, with the straight-six engines which; though uncanilly smooth and lovely to listen to, weren’t Rovers proudest moment in terms of longevity. It’s the 3500 V8 anyway that is the model that the SD1 will always be most fondly remembered as.
“So much has been written and said in praise of the new Rover 3500 that it is difficult not to think of it as the most significant new car in Britain today.”
It was so refreshing to see a little bravado and confidence in the marketplace; even if the traditional stiff-upper lip and reputation for British Modesty did wane a little:
“The philosophy behind the new range of Rovers can be summed up in three parts; the setting of the highest possible motoring and safety standards; the achievement of these standards by the use of elegantly simple design and sound engineering principles and an attention to detail that leaves no area of the car less than perfect”.
Of course, I’d love one of these, perfect or not. And if they’ve all turned to orange piles of Ferric Oxide by the time I get the chance, well, at least I own the brochure (s).
<Disclaimer:- All photos were taken by the author and are of genuine original manufacturer publicity material, taken on my bathroom floor while I wait for it to stop snowing. All copyright rights remain in the possession of the manufacturer, who ceased to exsist after catastrophic mis-management and eventual oblivion>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

26 responses to “The Carchive: The Rover SD1 (Part One)”

  1. stickmanonymous Avatar

    Is it just me, or does the Rover logo in the opening photo look like a middle-finger gesture?

    1. Alff Avatar

      Looks like a brass mooseknuckle.

      1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        <img src=""&gt; Exterminate! EXTERMINATE ALL MOOSEKNUCKLES! EX-TERM-IN-ATE!

        1. Vavon Avatar

          How appalling! I'm calling the cops!
          <img src="; width=500>>

          1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            Wow a working sunroof in an SD1! Did you know Vavon that when SD1 production was to cease, a number of police depts in England placed as many orders as they could, much like for Crown Vic and bathtub Impala here in US?
            And RME, thanks! I was impressed with the new back drop, until… At least it's a nice floor.

          2. Vavon Avatar

            No I didn't know that, and I don't know if you know this site:
            But if you don't, you really should have a look.
            IMHO it's the best site about BL cars.

          3. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
            mr. mzs zsm msz esq
          4. Vavon Avatar

            I thought you would like it!

          5. danleym Avatar

            That's great. I found myself searching for Rover 3500s for sale in the US last night…

          6. mdharrell Avatar

            They covered the car that's now my Maestro before it came to the US:
            and the car that's now my Metro while it belonged to its previous owner (the same guy who brought over the aforementioned Maestro):

          7. dukeisduke Avatar

            Bathtub Caprice.

        2. Alff Avatar

          Now it looks like a frosty mug of beer. Hmmm … quitting time.

      2. dukeisduke Avatar

        I thought it was a pair of feet with extremely long big toes.

    2. devilsfan3332 Avatar

      I was thinking the same thing

  2. Vavon Avatar

    It looks like MZS and Mdharrel are going to be hogging the road for themselves!
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. Alff Avatar

      Austin Rover Group, known to the owners of their products as "ARG".

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      Mine's not a Turbo but it does share the specification of "inside digital clock."

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Which I'm sure is handier than an outside digital clock…

    3. JayP2112 Avatar

      7.1 to 60? Damn. That's movin'!!

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    I don't know why, but I've always liked the SD-1. Must be a masochistic streak.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      You and most of us. A RWD 4-door hatch with a V8 and a stick? Available in brown? Looks like a Ferrari? That ticks a hell of a lot of boxes.
      I wonder though, if it's possible to fit the independish rear suspension (does a DeDion count as IRS?), or something, anything more sophisticated than the solid beam that came standard.

      1. Rover1 Avatar

        Although, at the time the SD1 came out, I found the lack of IRS disappointing (especially after the DeDion marvel on the P6) , it actually works quite well ,the axle being well located with long travel and self levelling. Live axles can work well, (check out the current Mustang or Volvo 740/760s) and it certainly helped the SD1 have a successful motorsport career where it trounced the factory BMW 635s and Ford Capris in Group A. Light weight and simplicity go a long way in chassis tuning.
        Of course the bigger disappointment with the SD1 was that we never got the P8 or P9 before it, killed by politics at a late stage (production tooling paid for !! )

        1. Rover1 Avatar

          and also
          How successful would a midengined V8 sportscar been for less than the cost of an E-Type?

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    This was great, especially regarding the NATO standards. Over the coming years, many a Rover owner would probably have agree to get their car thrown at some Soviet installation.

    1. sporty88au Avatar

      That quote about being built to NATO quality standards tickled my fancy too. I guess that it's a good thing the Soviets didn't figure out just how bad NATO quality standards were, but then, cars from behind the Iron Curtain were not exactly reliable either.