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Rover P4

Rover P4 Published: 25th Oct 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Why should I buy one?

If any carmaker epitomised post war middle class Britain then it has to be Rover even though the Studebaker-inspired lines of the Rover P4, promised something more than the usual Auntie Rover image. Instead, what buyers got – and still get – is the essence of Britishness combined with safe and solid engineering, small wonder the P4 was dubbed the poor man’s Rolls-Royce.

What can I get?

The P4 had a very long production life, running well into 1964 meaning well over 130,000 were made and although inevitable updates were dialled in over the years, essentially the car remained the same. Initially, a central front light ‘Cyclops’ style was adopted until 1952 and soon after the gearchange was moved from the column to the floor. Servo assisted brakes arrived for 1956 as did a Laycock overdrive in place of the free-wheel system previously available. The 105R (for Roverdrive automatic) and 105S (for Synchromesh, denoting a manual gearbox), with twin carbs and servo assisted brakes followed before the swish new P5 arrived. Development of the old girl slowed although subsequent facelifts with new model names plus front disc brakes along with a better 2.6-litre six (100 model, denoting its 100bhp) kept the range alive until ’64; the most significant change being substituting steel for the previous alloy bonnet, boot and door panels in ’63.

What are they like to drive?

Putting together the audacious turbine project aside once sat in and savoured the P4 cockpit, how the Rover drives is almost secondary. It can’t match the sporty Riley so instead compensates with its drawing room interior and cruising prowess. No model is what you’d remotely regard as fast, but they are all smooth and relaxing to pilot as cruisers rather than sprinters. Unsurprisingly, it’s the silkier, speedier six cylinder P4s, with up to 123bhp on offer, that provide the most easy going performance for today’s roads, and for the minimal extra fuel penalty are worth having. Manual gearboxes are surprisingly slick in contrast to the lacklustre Roverdrive, and the handling is less ponderous than you might credit given the age of the design. The high and proud seating position, which allows MPV- style forward view is another good point.

What are they like to live with?

P4s are far better built than the later P5 and P6 replacements and running one is no problem so long as the rot hasn’t taken a hold and thanks to its tank-like build most are saveable. New panels aren’t available although repair sections are. Engine parts are generally plentiful thanks to Land Rovers being fitted with some of the various P4 units and running gear wares pose few problems; the semi-automatic Roverdrive is strong but hard to find parts for. Steering boxes are tough but the front suspension isn’t and getting everything replaced professionally leaves little change from £1000. Runners can be bought for £3500 and few top dogs break the 10 grand barrier so you get a lot of car for your money.

We reckon

Prestige for pennies, the more you look at P4s the more appealing they become. Cultured cruising epitomises what this friendly Rover is all about – it’s pedigree chum on wheels!



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