Weekend Edition: Rovercome By Variety- The Agony Of Choice

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As Hooniverse’s official British Leyland apologist, it was bound to be me who started foaming at the mouth when the email landed. 1977ChevyTruck of this parish (hat-tip… thanks Good Sir) dropped a line to the official 24hr Hooniverse Emergency Rapid Response hotline. There’s a guy in Edmonton Alberta who, it seems, is having a bit of a clear-out of old British Tin.
There are six to choose from, priced from three to ten grand (in presumably Canadian Dollaz). Of course, some of us already own a Rover, but the more, the merrier, right? Maybe, by digging up the front lawn and putting off any chance of a vacation this year, any home improvements or possibility of offspring, I could shoehorn another project in? Just one. But which should it be? The original advert will no doubt evaporate, but take the jump anyway to see what’s on his Great British Menu.

This bloke, while probably a little eccentric, is nothing if not an enthusiast. For the benefit of the uninitiated he’s also taken pains to give us a little potted history on each of the cars on offer in his Kijiji ad. Some of what he says is a little over-embellished, but there’s certainly a bunch of passion being demonstrated here.
Read on and make your choice. Might take a while.
1969 Rover P6 2000TC
$_38
$_37
“Ralph Nader described the Rover P6 as, The standard by which all cars should be judged.
It won the 1964 European Car of the Year Award, and this variant influenced European cars in the 60s.
“This is not just a car….this is an Automobile, refined and accessible Rover. .. the mechanics are straight foreword, brilliant….this car was built to last, and to be worked on. ….it has locks for the fly wheel and overhead cam, so you can do a valve job and not change the timing, Brilliant.
“Have you ever changed a water pump on a German car…WTF….how hard can you make it….no wonder they lost the war….British cars share parts with so many other British cars that parts are interchangeable. ….the P6 back brake pads are the same a Jaguar XKEs front pads, and it’s mechanical fuel pump can be found on a tractor. You can change swap distributor caps randomly. There are web sites to find parts that are for your car, but also fit 5 other makes.
“FYI…I love British stuff”
So, four grand for this one, and I agree that the P6 was one of those instances of a British car done right. But don’t let me influence you, there’s plenty more to see.
1959 Rover 90 (P4)
$_35 $_37
“Ever heard of Land Rover, well before LandRover there was the Rover Car Company of Coventry, England, who made Rover cars, and the first Land Rover was a modified P4. They share more than just a name. Parts are interchangeable…in fact, my mechanic replaced the rear end gears with Range Rover gears to improve the top end speed. ….this car can go 150 km/hr…for a bit till the block gets too warm and the seals start to expand, it can cruise all day at 110….just ask me.
I’ve owned the car forever, but outside of new ball joints for the lower track arms, I’ve done little. I bought 4 brand new, over priced, Dutch vintage tyres that give it better cornering than new…the sidewalls look like bias, but they are radials…..the front are rated at 240 kilometers per hour.
“The brakes could use a booster, otherwise, learn to stand on the brake pedal. …drums all around. …I’ve never had an issue with them though….old school.
“Bob the Bubble Car, has suicide doors….cool….and in the words of my mechanic, God help the Honda Civic you T bone, because the P4 is more truck than a car by todays standards”
I’m not crazy about the Chocolate and Vanilla paint scheme, but this seems an honest enough example of the breed. $4,500 honest? I’m not so sure. I will say that I LOVE P4’s; they’re the car I’d be most influenced by If I had my way, a bottomless pool of resources and a steely resolve to bring Rover back from the dead.
1983 Jaguar XJ12
$_45 $_46
“This car screams establishment with it’s V12 double overhead cam posh leather interior and the extras. Forget BMW and Mercedes….if you want a Man’s car, this is it…..
Nothing is sweeter than the sound of a true V12 engine. ….
I recently replaced the entire exhaust system, so it won’t wake the dead….what a machine. ..
Part of why I’m selling her is for some cash, the other reason is I own way too many cars, and at some point the cost of storage for 20 cars outweighs the joy of owning a car I only drive for 3 weeks a year, if that…..
“My taste for cars has moved to much older British stuff. ….I love the mid 50s to early 70s stuff, and 1983 is an oddball for me.
She’s not perfect, but drives like a dream and loves gas.
My plan was to replace the rear lower body panels (which come with the car…NOS), but I have way too many projects on the go for that to happen anytime soon….maybe years.
“She wants to be driven, and I don’t have enough time….”
This is a nice break from all the Roverness, sneaking in as Jaguar were still under the British Leyland umbrella at the start of the ’80s. Just Three Grand for twelve cylinders of Lucas loveliness. Where do I sign?
1966 Rover MK3 (P5) Three Litre
$_45 $_46
“One of two registered in Alberta, then it’s 500 miles till you’ll see one again.
Known as the, Doctors Car, or a, Working Man’s Rolls Royce, this car is British Establishment…..a gentlemen’s car, built for a Queen…..Queen Elizabeth II had two P5s, but sold one years ago.
“Margaret Thatcher insisted that all Members of the British Parliament and upper Diplomatic Staff, drive this car.
Unibody construction with a straight 6 Rover 3 litre engine, single carb, aluminum Westlake head and electronic points.
The only thing I have fixed, is a couple of exhaust mounts and replaced the needle in the carb. Runs very smooth. ..you can balance a Looney on the head of the engine while idling.
“It has a Borg Warner type 35, 3 speed automatic transmission and Burman Hydrosteer power steering. The last owner added a P6 brake booster. …good idea.
I own a lot of cars, and this is by far, the easiest car to drive…..it’s a Chesterfield on wheels. ….leave your troubles behind. It’s got an AM radio, Smith, but I’ve never turn it on, that would spoil the ride.
“You are surrounded by leather and real Old World wood, and accessories at your finger tips. …why pay $100,000, when you can have this for $10,000.
It can do 110 miles per hour (don’t ask how I know) but you wouldn’t know it. I should have named her the Queen Mary.
I have lots of NOS and used parts that come with her….Maggie.”
Ten bags of sand for this one. Nobility is thrown in gratis. This, or the V8-infused P5B variant which came a little later, are probably  seen as the Rover, and that’s no bad thing.
1974 MGB
$_45 $_46
“I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Spring, but it’s been a mild Winter and who knows. ….the Bee is an early 74 and the tightest, most reliable, most complete, unmolested MGB I’ve ever owned.
“Low mileage on a rebuilt engine and transmission and a valve job was done last fall. The suspension and exhaust has been redone recently, and the clutch and braking system was rebuilt last fall.
“It comes with a soft top, tonneau, and back cockpit covers. The body is very straight, but the stainless steel trim should be replaced some time (I can help there) and the hood is not perfect, but it looks fine, no chips. She’s never seen Winter, so rust is minimal, and the paint looks fine by my standards….not worth a respraying yet.
“The tyres are great and the right size and the ROstyle rims are straight, but could use a repaint someday. ….I have at least another 15 rims if you want to swap, or a set of 4, low profile, Minilites (a very rare item these days). All the electrical has been sorted out, no Prince of Darkness here, everything works as it should. New bulbs all around, including Hella headlamps. I replaced any damaged lens with original parts only
“I shouldn’t sell her, Cherry. …that’s the thing, I gave her a name….not all my cars have names….just the ones I like, and there’s a story behind the name…..a play on words.
“The car has been repainted with the engine out, at some point….if you repaint, paint it back to the original colour, Autumn Leaf. That’s why I bought it….for the colour and the year. ..my first British car, 30 years ago, and my girlfriend’s name was Sherry, at the time..All work was done under a licensed British Car Mechanic and comes with a vehicle inspection. I’m sorry the photos aren’t better, they were for my pleasure, not for a sales brochure.
“Outside of racing down an Airstrip, I’ve never driven Cherry on the road, so i can’t say what her top end is, (the Airstrip is more of a, well groomed field, than an Airstrip) …that said, the car is tight.
“Only serious buyers, that know a thing or two about British Cars…and if you tell me your going to drop a Honda engine in it, and lower it, and paint it purple, and flair the wheel wells, and put a big Whale Tail on the back, then put this crazy sound system. …..sorry, I got carried away.”
TL;DR, SIX GRAND? It’s at times like this you wish you had better pictures, you know, to give some kind of clarity as to whether the engine is actually in the car or not. Six, Thousand Coins. I’m out, I’m afraid.
1966 Rover 2000 (P6) NADA
$_45 $_46
“A very early example of the 1964 European Car of the Year. The car is very original and tidy registered car….just slap a plate on it, and your good to go.
“She’s been driven for a month or two every Summer since I bought her, 10 or so years ago. Sorry for the crappie photos, the green one is another I have, the white one comes with factory hub caps, and yes that’s my white 1952 Jaguar Mark VII in the foreground.
“I’m the second owner and it comes with all records and recipients from new, plus all books and pamphlets from the dealer, Webber Motors. Bought it off a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays to church. ..that’s a bit of a stretch.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have owned around 8 Rovers so far, and this one is special. The classic rust locations were dealt with years ago, so it’s the best unrestored P6 I have ever seen. What caught my eye when I bought it was the condition of the rubber. ..it’s like new….amazing. It’s white with red leather interior that’s seen better days, but I oil the seats on a regular bases. I’ve done a small fix on the drivers seat, just so it doesn’t get worse with original Rover leather from a donor car…..p.s. lots of parts available at very reasonable prices.
“I haven’t had to do much to keep her going over the years, last year I replaced the exhaust system with NOS Rover original parts. …they just bolt on, and put an after market clutch master cylinder. Three years ago I gave it a valve job and rebuilt the brakes. She’s got brand new Dunlop tyres, and corners better then most, so called, Sports Cars….a true drivers car.
“It’s got Dunlop disc brakes all around with the rear being inboard for less sprung weight, using a de Dion suspension tube found on many Alfa Romano, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bugatti cars. This car was way ahead of it’s time and is still safer than most the vehicles on the road today.
“The front suspension is a modified McPherson strut not unlike Porsche 911, with the coil and damper being mounted horizontal into the firewall. …it takes bumps better than any car I’ve ever driven ….at speeds. …amazing suspension.
“It has a manual fully synchronize 4 speed transmission, single overhead cam with an aluminum Heron head over a 2 litre Rover engine. Originally the P6 was designed to take a turbine engine.
“Please only serious drivers that like things that are made properly. It has a Royal Warrant, which means it was preferable to British Monarchy….the Queen, her Mother and Charles, all drove Rovers. ….Charles, learnt how to drive in one, a 3500…..”
Again, some serious TL:DR. This one commands three thousand of your Canuck Dollars. It reads for all the world as if he really, really doesn’t want to sell and my guess is that his price will probably keep it that way, but, hey, what do I know? I’m looking at things from a UK viewpoint. For the right person (and he must be out there somewhere) this could be the deal of a lifetime. Show him a wheelbarrow full of cold, hard dollars and who knows, the admission fee could tumble.
My choice? Well, if you’re going to have a project there’s no point in making things easy for yourself. I like the idea of mystery, danger and folly represented handily here by the XJ12. A fully operational, properly sorted XJ12 is, undisputed, a world class motor car and well worth putting yourself through the seventh circle of hell to get to.
So, over to you. Which would you go for (please note you can’t say none of them).
(All images belong to he who posted the original advert. We wish him best of luck with the sale.)
 

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.

42 Comments

  1. The V12 gets my attention, although I would prefer a later example 1996 model since they were more modern and all LWB. I really like those pepper pot wheels though.

  2. Because I’m a cheap bastard, I’m predisposed to the Jaaag, but then being a cheap bastard, that should scare me off. So it’s one of the P6s. I know the green one is a bit more pricey, but for my safe, it’s pretty perfect.

    1. The green one for me to, .Arden Green over Buckskin is a great combo. 2000TCs drive so well and he’s right about the parts.
      When I replaced the driveshaft universal joints on one of mine, (after 220,000 miles), I found that they were the same as Toyota Landcruiser FJ40 ones, except the Toyota ones were cheaper.
      I sure do hope that there will be some P6s left in North America in a few years when I’m on my buying trip.

    2. This raises an interesting conundrum:
      If you buy any of the P6s, you have virtually no parts supply for them in North America. Some stuff is available, but by no means what might be considered an extensive inventory.
      If you buy the Jag, availability of parts is vastly improved – but then you’re buying parts constantly, because it a) has the V12 and b) also has early-’80s Jaguar build quality, which is to say end-of-the-BL-era build quality.
      I’d still go with the P6s just because I have a serious soft spot for them, but only in the knowledge that either choice is not something any sane and / or rational person would make (which is fine by me).

      1. I suppose Rover is still the saner answer, it can’t be that hard to order parts online from Britain (annoying and time consuming maybe, but certainly not impossible), and for the sake of DIY repairs, it’s easier to work with something simple that has a four in an engine bay designed to hold eight instead of one with 12, designed for 6.
        Of course, if you’re not a DIY’er, the Jag might be a better pick – I know there’s at least two or three independent Jag specialists in my metropolitan area, to say nothing of the Jag dealer walking distance from my home (one of about a half-dozen in said metropolitan area).

        1. Ultimately, I agree with you. One note re: ordering parts from abroad (which I seem to have to do with sometimes-depressing regularity): the real killer is rarely the cost of the parts themselves or the time it takes to get them to this side of the world – it’s the shipping. The cost of sending individual packages back and forth is ridiculous, and if you choose cheaper options you’re waiting months for the shipping container with your stuff in it to arrive.
          One other factor to consider is that a lot of North America-specific parts just aren’t available. The cars were so low-volume that any spares were typically sent over here and evaporated long ago. Not really a factor with the Rovers since they can be defederalised relatively easily, but it is worth mentioning.

          1. True – and the various clubs do help with finding spares, to be sure. The thing is that Rover cars (Land-Rovers are a different story) are such relative unknowns here that the local supply is still relatively low. Not non-existent by any means, but definitely not extensive.

  3. All the P6s, and now. How is it that every time they come up for sale they’re inevitably in Canada?

    1. P3’s are very cool, but he’s not selling one. The P3 had some modern features in a car that looked absolutely pre-war.

  4. I’d probably take one of the Rover P6’s, mostly because I like the look, and they’re decently cheap.

    In fact I’d probably take the one in BRG, even if it is a little passé.

      1. Fixed it!

        Commenting while tired is a dangerous thing, and I should have known I was making a mistake when I tried typing TR6…

  5. Well this is unusual, especially for Craigslist/Kijiji.

    All of the prices (except the MGB) have gone up, from $500 to $5000.

    Maybe being mentioned here has increased the value.

    Or, more likely, the seller’s significant other has mandated a “liquidation” that is unwanted…

    1. Nah, this strikes me as just being opportunism on the seller’s behalf. The ads picked up some attention, he did some Internet Price Detectivery(tm), and came to the conclusion that his cars should have been priced at what really good examples are going for despite the fact that most of them don’t appear to be close to the conditions that command those prices.
      Now, this is definitely his prerogrative – but if you are trying to unload more than one car at once with a limited audience that it appeals to, this might not be the best approach.

  6. I have always wanted a P6. The fact that I can source a fuel pump from an old tractor that is sure to be totally not obscure in the American Midwest just makes it all the more attractive.

    1. I once changed out the fuel pump on my P6 at the side of the road, in pouring rain, at 12.30 in the morning, using a Bic lighter for occasional (and nervous) illumination.
      This is one of those things where, in retrospect, a Darwin award would have been entirely deserved. Hopefully I’m now not as dumb as I was in my 20s.

      1. Nah, perfectly safe – it was in the pouring rain, after all!
        (N.B. – you probably used a fair bit of luck that night.)

        1. That was also the car where a brake caliper failed as I was starting to slow down from about 40mph for an approaching T-junction. Even with slamming the autobox down into first and pulling the handbrake up with all that I had, I still ended up having to blow through the stop and make a hard left without hitting the cross-traffic at about 30mph.
          Both the car and I made it (just), but that was one more of this cat’s lives scratched off the card.

    1. Too Long; Didn’t Read.

      Usually used around these parts as an opener for a summary of a rather long paragraph.

  7. The Rover P5; “It’s a Chesterfield on wheels…”
    I have been to Chesterfield, and I am not sure that is a compliment.

  8. Also: Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister 1979-1990) recommended that all of her Cabinet should drive Rover P5’s (manufactured 1958-73)? Shurely shome mishtake?

    1. Probably the truth twisted around to an incorrect (but truthy) factoid. It is verifiable that Thatcher was shuttled around in a P5B for several of her years as PM, and wikipedia suggests the British government stockpiled a bunch of the last ones built (although the citation is a 40 year old issue of Autocar).

      1. Strange: My mental image is of her always being in a Jag (or a Leopard tank). Perhaps it was a Rover in the early days, then the Jag was brought in when security concerns were stepped up.
        (Even stranger: My mental image of her successor – John Major – is of him always being in a Rover 800/Sterling. But don’t tell Rusty; he’ll just get big-headed.)

        1. IIRC, she had the P5B prior to and for a few years after becoming PM, then switched to a succession of Jags until her resignation in 1990. John Major kept with Jaguars, but for some reason the connection between him and the Rover 800 is rattling around in my head though I can’t quite put my finger on why.
          Fairly certain it wasn’t anything directly related to Rover’s various financial issues and sell-offs at the time, although I do seem to recall seeing him getting into or out of one point. That may be a flaky memory on my behalf, however.

          1. Queen Elizabeth II loved her P5 and also loved to drive. For all I know she still drives, but it seems to me that she grew fond of her Range Rover in later years. Maybe Thatcher drove a P5 partly because it was identified with royalty, but I do believe it is true that the British government bought up a bunch of the last P5s to be produced.

  9. Obviously, you’d have to see much more of these cars before buying. The P5 looks really nice, but I’ve looked at a couple where the rear jacking points were like mush. It was their first unibody car, and every manufacturer had places that didn’t hold up on their first ones. Rovers are funny cars because you can’t make any assumptions about things like rust based solely on where they are located. I’ve found some in high rust areas that were 100% solid. The P4’s really were built like tanks, though, and the rust on P6’s was usually just the bolt-on front fenders. The 2000TC was the most fun to drive. They were successful rally cars. These were all well made and thoughtfully engineered vehicles. The straight six IOE engine was simply wonderful. At my peak, I had six Rovers in my suburban yard with one in the one-car garage. Someone complained to the town, and when I proved that they were all licensed and insured, they left me alone. I also pointed out that the person writing the letter claiming they were unregistered would have had to trespass on my property and lift the car covers to determine that. They wouldn’t tell me who it was that complained.

    1. “Rovers are funny cars because you can’t make any assumptions about things like rust based solely on where they are located.”
      Absolutely agreed, and three areas you absolutely want to check any P6 for rust in: the jacking points, the sills, and the unibody. The trunk floor is also a good one to check, as well as the floorpans under the carpets.
      The jacking points are usually a good indication as to whether or not the sills are intact, but aren’t a complete giveaway as the weak point of the sills aren’t the outers, but the inners – which leads on to the unibody.
      The majority of the structural integrity of the car is in the unibody, and since most of the panels bolt to it there can be rust hidden under them that may (or may not) be apparent from the outside. I’ve seen my fair share of them where the externally-visible panels have been repaired or replaced, but take one off and there are holes in the unibody. I’ve also seen particularly rotten ones flex when jacked with the doors open (sometimes to the point where you can’t close the doors again until you let the car down into the sweet spot where everything is back in line), which a solid unibody will never do.
      Rot in the floorpans or trunk floor isn’t necessarily fatal and can be relatively-easily repaired, but may be an indicator of further problems. Wet carpets or underlay are generally a bad sign, but even dry ones need to be pulled up and the panels inspected. Rotten inner sills are generally the sign of a car that may well be too far gone (read: beyond economic repair) to save.
      What’s odd is that I’ve never found a good correlation between rot in the cars and when they were built, whether or not they were undercoated, the paint used, conditions they were driven in, etc. Taking aside obvious things like salt, accident damage, panel swaps hiding unibody problems, and so forth, it seems as though some just rusted horribly after a few years while others were completely solid decades later.

      1. Based on what you describe and a few subtleties in language, you may be from the UK. I have never understood why old cars rusted out as they did over there other than the fact that you all live on islands! The many P6s I’ve seen in the USA and even in the Rust Belt were pretty solid as far as the body goes.
        As regards the sills, the outer sills come off with a few screws allowing you to see the condition of the unit body there. One place I always checked was the deep hole under the rear seat cushion where the big trailing arms attached to the unibody.

        1. I’m from Ireland, actually – though I have lived in various parts of the UK (and other countries) and currently live in the US.
          The odd thing is that the P6 I had there was really, really solid when I got it. Five years later, the unibody was shot (failed the jacking point test) but the body panels were outwardly fine. Removed the outer sills and found that it had rotted out from the inside, and quite badly so. Still to this day have no idea what caused it, and it happened on both sides almost equally-badly.
          And you’re right about checking the trailing arm attaching points. There was also one other major one up at the front I’m not remembering offhand that was crucial to check – I want to say it was where the vertical suspension link mounts to the unibody, but don’t think that’s quite right (though it is an important one).

          1. I guess if you were British you would use the words “whilst” and “prise” in any automotive discussion. We might still catch you referring to a spanner, though.
            😉

  10. I’ve always loved the XJ-6. A 12 would be insane. As a kid I idolized the 200TC. A friend’s dad had one. And it looked great sitting in the drive. Never saw it move.

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