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Rover SD1

Rover SD1 Published: 26th Jan 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rover SD1
Rover SD1
Rover SD1
Rover SD1
Rover SD1
Rover SD1
Rover SD1
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

The SD1 Rover has a lot going for it as a prestige or sporting classic, not least excellent value for money. Less complex than the old P6 3500 in design, this means that the SD1 is easier to maintain at home while spares supply remains remarkably good. This article covers all models apart from the 2.4TD.

1. ENGINE OUTPUT

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Performance tuning depends upon the unit; the well proven V8 is naturally the best and 250-300+bhp is on the cards from a wide variety of ways and sources (converting to Vitesse spec for instance) but there’s scant interest in the six-cylinder 2.3 and 2.6 engines although cylinder head modifications are straightforward; same applies to the 2-litre O-Series engine so you’re very much on your own – or convert to V8, of course.

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The straight sixes were loosely based upon the old Triumph straight six although virtually no parts are common. The O-Series was also used in the Ital and Princess while the V8 is one of the most universally used engines around although subtle changes over the decades means that not all parts are interchangeable. 2.4TDs are very rare and dear to repair, so as with the Range Rover, a possible conversion is to use a Mazda unit. Speak to Bluebird Engineering.

2. BOTTOM END

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The V8 was usefully stretched since the 1980s and you can have 3.9, 4.2 and 4.6-litres (Range Rover), largest the V8 has been taken out to is a fat 5.2-litres but it is a costly exercise although can yield 400+bhp and 350lbft of torque. If the engine is stripped down it’s worthwhile having the unit balanced as V8s do vary in tolerances. And have up to 6lbs shaved off the flywheel as it improves throttle response. If converting a 2300 to 2.6, use the entire engine if possible.

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Apart from the four-cylinder cars, regular oil changes are considered essential to prevent sludging which will ultimately ruin the camshaft and the rocker gear. Watch it when using the larger V8 blocks as the 4.2 and 4.6 units can prove porous plus they are known to crack. A second-hand block will typically set you back in the region of £500 and five times this for a reconditioned full engine from the likes of Rimmer Bros or Turner Engineering.

3. ENGINE 2300/2600

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123bhp and 136bhp respectively, lower gearing on 2600 made it feel as lively as V8. No tuning parts are available but you can fit a sports air filter along with electronic ignition tuned on a rolling road before attacking the cylinder head or having an exhaust made up (try Quicksilver). There’s minimal stretch from the 2.3 and 2.6 blocks; up to 40thou on later but only 20thou on 2.3 (Rimmer Bros).

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Much derided. Of Dolomite Sprint design, gummed camshaft oil feed non return valves caused most troubles, Rimmers used to sell two types of ‘driver warning aids’ but are unavailable now although crop up on eBay. Cam carriers a problem. Oil pressure should be around 50 psi at 2500 revs. Cambelts need changing or else! O Series 2.0-litre is more robust (Rimmers sells a stainless manifold for it) but most fit the V8, sometimes half-heartedly

4. TRANSMISSION

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V8s always had a five-speed gearbox (LT77, as did most 2600 with it optional on early 2.3s. This common unit is also used by Jaguar and Land Rover and a simple fit on all models. The ’box boasted a slightly taller 5th gear from 1981 while the ratio fitted to the 2.4TD is taller still so if you’re buying a second-hand unit it’s best to identify it first. Like-wise the automatic gearbox changed in 1983. A variety of axles ratios are available.

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The internals LT 77 box changed over the years and many parts are not interchangeable warns SD1 experts Rimmer Bros so you need to know its exact year. From around 1980 Rover recommended using ATF fluid instead of gear oil to aid selection or you can now use a modern synthetic. Vitesse unit was taxed and can wear the most with synchros failing plus the gearbox is known to seep oil and fail in fourth. Automatics generally durable if serviced right.

5. SUSPENSION

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An orthodox set up but SD1 did well in racing so there’s good potential. Start by harder damping along with suitable polybushing. Rimmer Bros markets standard or uprated kits to suit. A 30mm ride drop takes it to Vitesse spec but it can go to 60mm easily. Note: Vitesse kits differ. Original Boge Nivomat self-levelling rear suspension is usually ditched once it fails due to cost of repairs; SD1 Owners Club can source new ZF self-levelling shox but it’s around £700 a pair.

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If you are ditching the Nivomat set up, you can’t just replace with normal dampers without changing rear springs to suit (either as a new kit or by using 2000/2300 components) as they are now too soft; some SD1 experts further recommend replacing the fronts as well. Vitesse springs are 20 per cent stiffer and lower but VDP models retains standard ride right. Multitude of bushes wear out and this includes the Watts linkage; don’t overlook

6. BRAKES

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The SD1’s brakes are drum at the rear, even the hotter cars, including Vitesse. Rimmers markets a range of upgrade ranging from simple uprated EBC Greenstuff pads to four-pot conversion kits which differ from Vitesse/VDP by being a single not twin pipe design. There’s also Goodridge braided pipes for a better pedal feel. You can fit brakes from later more upmarket models; XJ6/ XJ-S ones are better than Vitesse but ensure you have all the right parts.

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It’s an orthodox set up and as a result has few foibles to worry over if maintained regularly although the self-adjusting drums do have a habit of seizing. Later Rover 800 rear disc and calliper set up is said to fit and so can Range Rover using 800 callipers with some modifying although then you may experience brake balance problems so take care. Speak to a TR7 specialist for advice or consult the numerous websites as quite a few people have done swap.

7. REAR AXLE & WHEELS

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The live rear axle was also found on the TR7 (5-speed) albeit modified so there’s a good range of ratios for performance or touring, ranging from 3.9 to an ultra tall 2.8 along with a Quaife limited slip differential (Rimmers) although new 3.9 axles are no longer available. There’s a wide array of alternative rims that can be used such as Jensen Interceptor, BMW, plus an assortment of American types – check out the SD1 Forum or club for best advice.

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Rear axle is generally fairly durable although some noise isn’t unusual as miles mount up, especially Vitesse, apparently. Remember, if you change the axle ratio then the speedo reading could well be out – use speedo head of donor car if possible. New and reconditioned axles are available from Rimmer Bros. If fitting alien rims ensure they fit properly; Jaguar ones look like they fit ok but they don’t sit right, for instance.

8. TRIM & ELECTRICS

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These were areas which let the SD1 down and only the best cars will have an inviting interior but again, Rimmer Bros has a good supply of trim and electrics. So long as you find the right complete car, posher Vitesse and VDP interiors can be fitted. If that ugly steering pad annoys then Rimmer Bros has a range of period sports steering wheels.

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Cabins are typical 70’s BL which means poor standards. The original pod style instrument block warp and tear, the seat trim falls to pieces and the switchgear gets tired although much of it was also used on other BL cars such as the Montego etc. New trim isn’t available, however Rimmer has a selection of used leather trim kits – or personalise. Headlinings droop just like Jag ones do!

9. BODY & CHASSIS

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Parts supply is pretty good from Rimmer Bros, largely thanks to the SD1 marketed in India. Even brand new bodyshells were at one point available but, lacking a sunroof, most were used in racing. SD1 Owners Club says the later the car then the better; post 1982 cars used a different bonnet, post 1984 modified wings. Rimmer Bros sells genuine factory panelwork but certain flitch repair plates are obsolete.

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Lowly values mean many cars will have been bodged over the decades. Suspension towers are suspect along with bulkheads (especially the one between bumper and bonnet on S1s) and the floorpan, especially around the Watts linkage and trailing arms. Blocked sunroof drainholes lead to the sunroof housing rotting and bonded windscreens are well known leakers (a wet glovebox is the usual clue). That Ferrari-like nose take a hit as do wheelarches. Sills not too bad but stainless bumpers on early SD1s prone to damage.

AND ANOTHER THING…

Interest in the SD1 has gained enormously over the past couple of years. Rimmer Bros is the SD1’s saviour and apart from offering excellent parts availability frequently has clearance sales so keep an eye on the company’s website – and get ahold of the company’s excellent SD1 Parts & Accessories Catalogue. The SD1 Owners’ Club is well worth joining for help and advice, it has some 400 members and costs just £27 a year; www. roversd1club.net.

It’s commonly regarded that the straight six 2.3/2.6 is a clever revision of the old Standard Triumph unit, and BL certainly played with fitting the overhead cam 2.6 unit in a 2000 saloon for installation and development tests, so, as a result, it is feasible that the TR6 block will fit in an SD1 but the later block is larger. In India, the Standard 2000 (better known as ‘Stranded’) used an engine based upon TR4 block. So with lateral thinking another Triumph unit can be utilised?



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