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Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420

Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420 Published: 27th Feb 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420
Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420
Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420
Twin Test: Rover P5 & Jaguar S-type & 420
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Rover P5

Why should i get one?

This majestic Rover has to be one of the best kept secrets in the classic market and ideal for the enthusiast who wants low cost, lazy luxury. A car deemed good enough for Royalty and heads of state from Wilson to Thatcher, the ‘conservative’ P5 makes a great alternative to a brasher Jag Mk2 or S-type, offering similar standards in a more dignified manner.

What can i get?

The P5 enjoyed a long production run of 15 years and saloon and ‘coupé’ guises. Apart from the addition of a Buick-based V8 in 1967, where the car acted as a test bed for this great engine, changes were moderate, majoring on refining the basic design such as introducing disc brakes (1960), more power and a lowered suspension in time for the Coupé body option (1962), standard power steering three years later in tandem with a mild facelift, better seats and interior trim plus separate heating controls front and rear.

The real step forward came in 1967. Apart from that V8 engine, there were visual changes such as Ro-style sports wheels, revised side indicators and recessed front fog lights. That was about it, save new dials for 1972 plus modified front seats to add a welcome touch more legroom in the back.

What are they like to drive?

Most interest lies in the P5B care of its smooth and spirited V8, which meant that this sober suited Rover could keep pace with any S-type even though it was stifled by the none-too sporty auto ’box. It’s in a different league to the earlier statelier 3Litre although later Westlaked-tuned models are considerably perkier. But if pure pace isn’t important it’s as well to remember that the older engine is more refined than the V8.

Wafting best describes how you pilot any Rover cross country otherwise the resulting lurching and rolling is most unseemly for such regal a vehicle, so on this score the Jags are more satisfying and speedier. Comfort levels – as would be expected of a car chosen by monarchs and ministers – is of a high order and with power steering and a lazy auto, this Rover practically drives itself. For the majority we’d agree with the P5 club and say that the 3.5 Litre ticks the most boxes, not so much for its added poke, but for the extra style that came with the V8 upgrade.

What are they like to live with?

According to the P5 owners’ club, it’s the 3.5 Litre that’s the most popular accounting for 80 per cent of its members; the club says that there’s over 2000 cars on its books but obviously, not all are on the road and, in terms of condition, many are in a sorry state. Decent P5s start from £5000, while the top 3.5 Litre Coupés fetch in the region of £12,000-£16,000 with really nice ones nudging the £20K barrier; saloons are valued some £3000 lower, as are all 3 Litre models. Apart from some Governmental and armed forces cars all P5s will be tax-exempt and classic car insurance prices will also prove very reasonable.

Because all engines are low-tech, a P5 is the simpler car to maintain than a Jag because there’s no overhead camshaft shims to worry over plus the V8’s tappets are hydraulically set although the straight six’s unusual ‘semi sidevalve’ design makes adjusting them tricky and a main reason why many engines don’t run at their best.

There’s many shared components between the P4, P5 and Land Rover, which means there is a strong supply of new and second-hand parts. First port of call before buying is the Rover P5 club (roverp5club. and its forum. Good parts suppliers include J.R. Wadhams and David Green.

We reckon

Slowly but surely the P5 Rover is finding favour in the classic market and simply due to its reasonable costs. This is a luxury car on par with anything else and simply oozes good taste and class.

Jaguar S-TYPE & 420

Why should i get one?

Give the Mk2 what it lacked – such as back seat comfort, roominess, a larger boot and better handling end care of the E-type’s suspension – and you have the S-type. To say that the legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis knows his Jags is a bit of an understatement. So when he told Classic Motoring that he personally regarded the S-type as the better car than the Mk2 when contemporary you take notice. Pity that surprisingly few enthusiasts follow suit.

What can i get?

Launched in ’63, S-type ran in tandem with the Mk2 until their demise when XJ6 came along and the dearer S-type actually sold better than the car it was based upon. With no 2.4 it’s only 3.4 and 3.8-litre engines the latter which was the best selling S-type by more than 30 per cent and don’t be surprised to find 3.4 models uprated to 3.8 spec. Although manual with overdrive were offered, most came as autos.

Along with the Mk2, the S-type was downgraded in ’66 with Ambla instead of leather trim. But, the range was boosted by the 420 and a similar but plusher Daimler Sovereign, both identified by a MkX-style nose that Lyons always wanted the S-type to wear. Mechanically, the 420 used a 4.2 245bhp twin carb MkX engine. Other improvements included a new front axle incorporating a better power steering and new three-pot disc brake callipers. The Daimler version was the best appointed and an auto only.

What are they like to drive?

You’d think that the addition of the E-type’s rear suspension would have enthusiasts drooling over S-types, but on the road the more skittish Mk2 remains the most liked thanks to its sportier feel. But if you favour comfort and cruising most of all then go for the S-type. Due to its lighter weight, and better aerodynamics the Mk2 is the more agile cat. A 3.8 S-type is only marginally quicker than a 3.4 Mk2 but on the other hand the 420 is a bit of a Q car boasting a different character to the S-type and more akin to the Series 1 XJ6.

The cabin feels decidedly roomier compared to the Mk2 thanks to a flatter roof line and steeply raked rear screen to increase headroom while that elongated tail meant a more usable 19cuft of boot space.

What are they like to live with?

On average, the superior S-type realises around 65 per cent the worth of an equivalent Mk2 with the strangely unloved 420 is the most affordable of them all, being in the region of two-thirds the price of an equivalent S-type. It is highly unlikely that it will follow in the tyre tracks of the Mk1 and actually overtake the Mk2, valuewise.

S-type and 420 Sovereign may be largely Mk2-derived but the 420 also has some XJ6 components in the mix as well. Rarity and lack of popularity, means body and chrome parts are becoming scarce with many, such as 420 front wings, now obsolete. There’s even more wood and leather to restore than on a Mk2 so don’t underestimate the cost of a refit; a full interior makeover can run to £10,000 and S-type values don’t generally dictate such expenditure. The E-type rear suspension can amount to a £2000 overhaul bill but it transforms the car’s road manners at a stroke. Rear brake callipers are unique to this model, to counter the added weight of the car, and as a result dearer to repair or overhaul than on a Mk2.

We reckon

It’s amazing how a 1960’s Jaguar that’s demonstrably better to drive and even more luxurious than the Mk2 it is based upon remains the less popular pick? We can’t see it staying that way for much longer so if you are considering an S-type over a Mk2 – the ‘baddies’ choice on the silver screen – steal one while you can at bargain prices. Because these Mk2s with the most are, legal, daylight robbery…


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