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Rover P6 VS Triumph 2000

Cut above the rest 60S saloons Published: 11th Jul 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

What The Experts Say...

Most folks know Jim Brown of Ely Service to be a Rover man through and through – yet he waxes lyrical over the Triumph! The Cambs-based Rover specialist actually owns a couple of 2.5PIs and he certainly appreciates their smoothness and longer legs on a run, thanks to overdrive. So where does the Rover score? According to Jim its in the car’s sophisticated make up and the more surefooted handling; to be fair the only P6 he really likes is a 3500 automatic. Both are good classic cars says Brown and remain excellent value for money still; he feels the Rover rots less and disputes that spares for the Triumph are easier to obtain – Jim’s got lots of P6 stuff to satisfy owners!

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Forget BMW, Audi or Mercedes, back in the 1960s Britain could also provide prestige saloons for the motorist who was ‘doing all right’ as we used to say back then. The Rover and Triumph 2000 were just the job for those who wanted something better than a Cortina, but not as flash as a Jag. Today, they remain rather overlooked, practical classics that have a lot to offer.

Which one to buy?

Radical against the traditional

Although they competed for the same market, and they even lived under the same corporate banner, the cars couldn’t be more different. The Rover was a completely new design, aimed at a younger more aspiring go-getting buyer, whereas the Canley car smacked of conservatism. And, yet it’s the latter that has probably stood the test of time better. There’s more choice with the Triumph; you can have it as the 2000, which was the most popular, or a 2.5 in either carb or fuel-injected forms, plus the excellent estates. Ignoring the terrifi c 3.5-litre V8 3500, the Rover is available in TC twin-carb form (although in truth it’s virtually an all new ‘top end’) and the larger 2.2-litre for 1974 cars. The Rover was a saloon only (offi cially anyway, as a few coachbuilt estates were produced) and a fairly cramped one at that. Boot space is meagre, which is why Rover designed an optional carrier, to enable owners to fi t the spare wheel untidily, gawdily on the boot lid, wiping out the limited rear view vision. On the other hand, the cockpit, and in particular the seating plan and standard, was years ahead of its time, as were the ergonomics, even if the massive thin steering wheel looks out of place. The Triumph is as good, especially after its 1969 facelift, which saw an excellent cabin revamp (real wood veneer not the ‘formica’ found in the Rover) and a useful increase in boot space, which easily beats the Rover’s cubby hole, even if the Triumph’s high loading sill can annoy. You can also seat fi ve in the Canley car. Both cars were a genuine cut above the rest when new, with a quality air you now get from the German manufacturers. Compared to, say, a Cortina or Victor, the doors closed with a satisfying clunk, the switchgear felt precise and the fi t-and finish was from another class.

What’s the best to drive?

Six to the fore

Few engines are as smooth as a straightsix and the Triumph is no exception. While it may be an old unit, originating from the 1950s Standard Vanguard, it certainly feels the creamier to the advanced ohc Rover unit, which has never been noted for its silkiness, especially at low speeds where it can seen decidedly rough. But, it improves as the revs rise, unlike the Triumph’s four-bearing six-pot. In terms of pace, both 2000s developing roughly similar power are evenly matched (0-60mph around 14-15 seconds, around the ton max); hardly quick but there are sportier versions to be had. The Rover feels perkier in TC guise and as vivid as a Triumph 2500 TC. The Triumph is the preferred pick if you want an automatic; the Solihull self shifter, strangely never available in TC tune, was always slow (0-60 almost 21 secs!) – one road test calling the car’s pace ‘dangerous’. The Triumph also had the benefi t of overdrive too and this is certainly benefi cial. Why Rover never offered overdrive remains a mystery, as the P6 yearned for extra cogs, despite being fairly high geared. This is in contrast to the Triumph, criticised as a four-speeder for its fussiness and a ‘hysterical’ engine at high revs. Where the Rover trumped the Triumph back then was in the chassis department. The P6, with its far more advanced suspension, including a De Dion rear end, set new standards, which even the later SD1 didn’t progress. The Triumph was described as, “too loose and bouncy” by Autocar in ’69, although the 1975 revise cured a lot of this. The P6 may have rolled a lot, even by 1960s standards, but the grip and surefootedness was outstanding, causing one road test to remark, “Anyone who goes off the road in a 2000 must be a dyed-inthe- wool dumkopf.” All wheel disc brakes also endow the Rover with modern day stopping performance. If you need power steering then only the Triumph will do as it became an option on the Mk2, so those used to a modern may fi nd the Rover much harder going in town – not helped by the amount of arm twirling required, nor by a sporty, shortshift gear change that could be bloody obstructive, especially getting into fi rst. Both cars cruise pretty well and the legal limit is no problem. Add good comfort levels (the Triumph has the better heater) and you can use either car as an effective, very pleasant daily driver.

 

Owning and running

A triumph for the Triumph

There’s little argument over this; thanks to the popularity of Triumphs as classics, the 2000/25000 range is pretty well served by specialists and owners’ clubs, although not as healthily as the sports car ranges, although many parts are interchangable. The Rover has a more dedicated base, but most of what you need is still obtainable. The P6’s skeleton construction enables easy replacement of the outer panels, although structural rot can be considerable, especially at the fl oor under the rear seat. The Rover isn’t so DIY-friendly as the simpler Triumph, with the rear brakes and rear suspension remaining a swine to work on. The sump can be dropped with the engine in situ, but tappets demand a reshim to adjust – a head-off, decoke job. In terms of ‘metal for your money’, the Rover looks the better bet. Considering what a radical car it was, and arguably the last real Rover before the BL disease set in, it’s amazing that the P6 remains so reasonably priced; £2-3000 is plenty to buy a good one. Triumph values, especially the rare Mk1 2.5PI, are steadily rising.

And The Winner Is...

Logically it has to be the Triumph. The 2000/2500 offers more room, practicality, an excellent estate, overdrive, power steering and better club and specialist back up. However, the Rover is the purist choice and it’s certainly the better handling car, although we would only have an auto in later 2200 guise, as the 2000 is just too sluggish. Both make fi ne sensible classics with a touch of class. Highly praised when new, they were the BMWs of their day. So, how the heck did we throw such talent away?



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