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Rover P4 (1950-1964)

Published: 16th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 2625cc/6-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): 100/4750
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): 130/1500
  • Top speed: 92mph
  • 0-60mph: 17.6sec
  • Fuel consumption: 21mpg
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual
  • Length: 14ft 10in (4.54m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 5in (1.66m)
  • Weight: 3267lb 1482kg)
  • Books: Rover P4, the complete story by James Taylor. Crowood. ISBN: 1-86126-121-7; Post-war Rover P4 and P5 by James Taylor. P4 Spares. ISBN: 1-873078-01-3
  • Clubs: http://www.roverp4.com
  • Websites: Rover P4 Drivers’ Guild. 01908 562 966, http://www.roverp4dg.org.uk
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Ask 100 classic car fans which car best sums up post-war Britain and the chances are that most will answer the Rover P4. Despite its Studebaker-inspired lines, this car that was fi rst shown at the 1949 Earls Court Motor Show captured the essence of Britishness perfectly, with its wood and leather interior that was combined with safe and solid engineering. When exhibited in ‘Cyclops’ form, with its distinctive central light set into the grille, the 75 ushered in a new era for Rover. It replaced the pre-war P3 and although dubbed the poor man’s Rolls-Royce, it was still pricey at £1106. Nearly six decades after it debuted, the P4 still has huge appeal – and presence. Yet prices are low and the best cars (the six-cylinder models) are also the easiest to fi nd. Buy a four-pot 60 or 80 and you might wonder what all the fuss is about. But pilot a 100, with its 2.6-litre six-cylinder powerplant, standard overdrive and disc brakes, and you’ll struggle to fi nd a car that offers so much for so small an outlay.

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What to look for?

Expect rust, but the thick metal ensures restoration is usually possible; repair sections are available but complete panels aren’t. Pre-1963 P4s featured alloy doors, bonnet and boot lid while later cars were steel; they’re all interchangeable. Corrosion is most likely to strike around the front indicators and headlamps plus at the back of the front wings. Also check the inner rear wheelarches, A and B-posts plus the boot fl oor and the three outriggers on each side of the chassis. The P4 featured a variety of four and six-cylinder engines, which are interchangeable with each other. These engines are generally durable, but worn camshafts (and potentially burned-out valves) are common unless the oil has been changed every 2000 miles. Other ailments include clogged-up cooling systems, and fractured exhaust manifolds. Transmissions are also long lived, with the four-speed manual especially durable. The semi-automatic Roverdrive fi tted to the 105R is strong but hard to fi nd parts for. Steering boxes are tough but the front suspension isn’t. It’s the eight bushes each side which deteriorate and cause problems, so look for uneven tread wear and listen for tyre squeal on roundabouts – getting everything replaced professionally costs around £750. Next check the condition of the interior trim, which is costly to revive if water has got into the cabin; a full retrim could top £3000. Finish off by checking the exterior brightwork; there’s a lot of it and some of it is hard to fi nd.

Values

The most desirable P4 is the 100, although a really nice 110 is worth nearly as much. The 60 and 80 are the least sought after and whichever model you’re looking at, overdrive makes a car easier to sell. Boxes of bits start at £200, although a scruffy runner is typically worth no more than £600 or so – if you want something that’s solid but a little cosmetically challenged but won’t need signifi cant expenditure, you’ll pay £2000-£3000. A very tidy everyday car costs around £5000, while exceptional vehicles will sell for up to £10,000.

Driving one

None of the P4s are what you’d call fast, but they are smooth and relaxing to pilot; think of them as cruisers rather than sprinters. Unsurprisingly, it’s the sixcylinder cars that offer the most performance, so they’re the most usable. Manual gearboxes are slick, and the brakes strong, while the handling is less ponderous than you might think – although this is defi nitely no sports car. One thing you shouldn’t overlook is the driver’s high seating position, which allows an early view of what’s coming MPV - style.

Evolution

60 (1954-1959)

1997cc four-cylinder engine. 9261 made.

75 (1950-1959)

2103cc twin-carb six-cylinder engine until 1954. Then fi tted with 2230cc single-carb unit. Featured cyclops light until 1952. 43,677 produced.

80 (1960-1962)

2286cc four-cylinder engine. Standard front discs and overdrive. 5900 built.

90 (1954-1959)

2638cc six-cylinder with optional overdrive. 35,981 made.

95 (1963-1964)

As 100 but without overdrive and higher ratio rear axle to compensate. 3680 produced.

100 (1960-1962)

2625cc P5 six-cylinder engine with overdrive and servo-assisted disc brakes. 16,621 built.

105R (1957-1958)

Semi-automatic (Roverdrive) version of the 90. 3499 made.

105S (1957-1958)

Twin-carb version of 90 with 108bhp and overdrive. 7201 made.

110 (1963-1964)

Posh edition of 100, with 3-litre wheeltrims and gauges, and Weslake cylinder head. 4612 made.



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