Rover P6

Rover P6

Infobox Automobile |sp=uk

name = Rover P6
manufacturer = Rover
parent_company = British Leyland (from 1968)
production = 1963–1977
322,302 produced
body_style = 4-door saloon
engine =
transmission = manual, automatic
wheelbase = 103 inches (2630 mm)
length = 180 inches (4550 mm)
width = 66 inches (1680 mmm)
height = 56 inches (1400 mm)
weight = Auto lb|2810|0"(2000TC)"
Auto lb|2862|0"(3500)"
fuel_capacity = Convert|12|impgal|L usgal|0|abbr=on"(2000TC)"
Convert|15|impgal|L usgal|0|abbr=on"(3500)"
predecessor = Rover P4
Rover P5
successor = Rover SD1
designer = Spen King, Gordon Bashford, David Bache

The Rover P6 series (named 2000, 2200, and 3500 for their engine displacement) was a group of saloon cars produced from 1963 to 1977 in Solihull, West Midlands, England. It was replaced by the Rover SD1. It was voted European Car of the Year in 1964.


The P6 was sixth and the last of the 'P' designated Rover designs to reach production. The vehicle was marketed first as the Rover 2000 and was a complete 'clean sheet' design intended to appeal to a larger number of buyers than earlier models such as the P4 it replaced. The P5 was sold alongside the P6 until 1972.

The 2000 was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully-synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame, inspired by the Citroën DS.

The Rover 2000 won industry awards for Safety when it was introduced. The car featured all-round seat belts and a carefully designed 'safety' interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions.

One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the unusual design of the front suspension system. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover's Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the Gas Turbine engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the cars initial launch.

The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space. This was due to the 'base unit' construction, complex rear suspension and the battery location (for series II versions). Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional run-flat technology.

The car's primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000. In continental Europe the Rover 2000 contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four cylinder engine - a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when a compact V8 was persuaded to occupy the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was never as spacious as those of the Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger older Rover 3 Litre.


Infobox Automobile

"P6 Rover 2000, pre-facelift"
name = Rover 2000/2000SC/2000TC
production = 1963–1973
208,875 produced
engine = 2.0 L Straight-4

The first P6 used a 2.0 L (1978 cc/120 in³) engine designed for the P6. Original output was in the order of convert|104|bhp|abbr=on. At the time the engine was unusual in having an overhead camshaft layout. The cylinder head had a perfectly flat surface, and the combustion chambers were cast into the piston crowns (sometimes known as a Heron head). Rover later developed a derivative of the engine by fitting twin SU carburettors and a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000TC, which was launched in March 1966 for export and in October 1966 for the UK market. The 2000 TC prototypes had run in the Rally of Great Britain as part of their test programme. It featured a bigger starter motor and rev counter as standard and was identifiable by TC initials on the bodywork. The power output of the 2000TC engine was around convert|124|bhp|abbr=on. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000SC models. These featured the original single SU carburettor.


Infobox Automobile generation
name = Rover 3500/3500S

"P6 Rover 3500, post-facelift (see Series II, below)"
production = 1968–1977
81,057 produced
engine = 3.5 L (3500cc/V8/OHV) "Rover" V8
Rover saw Buick's compact 3.5 L (3528 cc/215 in³) V8 from the Buick Special as a way to differentiate the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host by more than three decades (the original host being the P5B not the P6).

The 3500 was produced from 1968 (one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph's owner, Leyland) until 1977. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic transmission was the only option until the 1971 addition of a four speed manual 3500S, a modified version of the gearbox used in other P6s.

eries II

The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, involved a number of revisions to all Rover P6 variants and was launched in 1970. It included new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips - even for the 4 cyl versions) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500, and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation. The old style instrumentation continued on the 2000SC versions. The battery was moved to the boot for all Series II versions.


Infobox Automobile generation
name = Rover 2200SC/2200TC

production = 1973–1977
32,370 produced
engine = 2.2 L Straight-4
The 2200SC and 2200TC replaced the 2000 and 2000TC. Produced from 1973 through to the early part of 1977, it used a 2.2 L (2205 cc/134 in³), bored out version of 2000s engine. The last 2200 came off the production line on 19th March 1977 and was a left hand drive export version, which was converted back to right hand drive by Tourist Trophy Garage, Farnham.

NADA models

Rover made several (unsuccessful) attempts to break into the US market. One version of the P6 that was exported was the NADA (North American Dollar Area) model, equipped to a higher standard than UK cars. These are also often referred to today as being "Federal Specification". Notable differences outside the car were wraparound bumpers, three air scoops on the top of the bonnet, front and rear wing reflectors and the "Icelert" on the front grill. The "Icelert" was a sensor which warned the driver of falling outside temperatures and the possibility of ice forming on the road. Inside, depending on the location, the US 3500S was also equipped with electric windows and air conditioning both of which are extremely rare to see in UK market P6 cars. The cars weren't popular with American buyers, but were sold in Europe instead as they were already converted to left hand drive. In true British Leyland fashion, several UK cars also ended up with single scoops on their bonnets in an attempt to use up the surplus parts from the now defunct export models.

Last production model

The last Rover P6 off the production line, registered VVC 700S, was built on 19th March 1977. []

This car was first sent to the Leyland Historic Vehicle collection, then at Donington Park until 1980, when it was moved to Syon Park along with the rest of the collection. It remained an exhibit at Syon until 1990, when the collection moved to Studley Castle (then owned by Rover) and storage until 1993.

In 1993, the collection then moved to its new home, The British Motor Industry Heritage Trust site at Gaydon, now known as the Heritage Motor Centre. VVC 700S was on display until 2003 when it sold at the Bonhams sale of Rover owned items.

In 2006 the car revisited Gaydon for the first time since the sale and is still in original condition having never been restored. The car came out of the collection having only ever covered 12,300 miles.

New Zealand production

The Rover 3500 was assembled in New Zealand from 1971 to 1976, at New Zealand Motor Corporation's assembly plant in Stoke, Nelson, alongside the Triumph 2000/2500, Jaguar XJ6 (Series 1 and 2) and Land Rover (Series 3). A notable factor about the Rover 3500 was that it was an export car for New Zealand - 2,400 examples were shipped to Australia for sale there. []

[ The Macquarie Dictionary of Motoring, 1986, page 416 ]


There was also an Estate version of the Rover P6 known as the Estoura made as a conversion of the saloon P6 with between 160 to 170 produced. The first estate was not an approved conversion, but all subsequent conversions were of a Rover-approved type and therefore warranties were carried forward.

The conversions were completed by H.R. Owen and Crayford Engineering and used panels supplied by FLM Panelcraft. Conversions could be carried out at any time in the car's life. Most conversions appear to have been carried out when the cars were 12 months old or older because if a car was converted when new, the conversion would be liable for Purchase Tax like the car itself.

Due to the cost of the conversion (about GB£800) it would appear that most were carried out on the 3500 rather than on the 2000 or 2200.

The Rover P6 in popular culture

* Some of these models were used as police cars in the film Gattaca, which ironically is set in the future.
* In the 1973 Lindsey Anderson film "Oh lucky man" the police use a Rover P6 when they arrive at the scene of a car accident that the main character has witnessed
* In the first series of the LWT television series "The Professionals", the character Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw) sometimes used a brown P6.
* A black US Rover 3500S is also used by one of Dr. Evil's henchman to chase Austin Powers in the film "The Spy Who Shagged Me".
* In the ITV soap opera Coronation Street during the 1970s and early 1980s Annie Walker, landlady of the Rovers Return pub owned a Rover P6.
* Rover P6's also appeared both as police cars and getaway cars in "The Sweeney"; most notably in the episode "Drag Act", a yellow unmarked police car P6 was spectacularly catapulted into the air and crashed sideways through a fence when it hit a pile of gravel while pursing a stolen lorry.
* The Rover 2000 was frequently advertised by Jean Shepherd during his WOR broadcasts in the 1960s.
* Princess Grace of Monaco was driving a Rover 3500 when she lost control of the car and it fell 10 feet down a road embankment outside of Monaco. Princess Grace died as a result of her injuries, but her daughter Princess Stephanie escaped relatively unhurt.
* In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the police are driving Rover P6s when they arrest King Arthur and Sir Bedevere at the end of the movie.
* In the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the character Big Chris drove a mustard P6B.
* In the TV show Life on Mars, when Sam Tyler first awakes in 1973 (Series 1, Ep1) his Grand Cherokee has been replaced by a 3500 model; also he is seen driving a 3500 model when undercover in series 2, episode 4.
* In the film version of the BBC Comedy Series "Porridge", when Mr MacKay arrives to collect the coach used in the prisoner escape, the police officers leave the scene in 2 Rover P6's.
* The Rover P6 has featured in the last 2 series of ITV's police drama Heartbeat, driven by Ashfordly Police Sergeant George Miller
* The Rover P6 features in ITV's The Royal, driven by Dr Gordon Ormerod
* In the 1992 film Spotswood, set in 1966, Anthony Hopkins' character, Errol Wallace, drives a Rover P6
* The Playstation 2 game, The Getaway featured the Rover 3500 as a drivable car.


External links

* [ The P6 Rover Owners Club]
* [ The Rover P6 Club]
* [ Rover P6 information by German enthusiast]

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