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Rover SD1

Rover SD1 Published: 19th Mar 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Why should I buy one?

Launched just after the not dissimilar-looking CX, and again not as trailblazing as its P6 predecessor, Rover’s SD1 has taken a long time to become an established classic but it’s an accolade it fully deserves due to Ferrari looks, a prestige name and hatchback convenience.You can add value for money into the mix as well.

What can I get?

Only available as a five-door hatch (an estate was built but never saw production) there’s a choice of that evergreen V8, two Triumph-derived ohc straight sixes, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that came from the Princess saloon or an Italian turbodiesel. Out of the whole bunch it has to be the V8 because it offers pace and peace-of-mind as the others are unreliable and spare parts supplies patchy – there’s not much in it in terms of economy either. And if we’re talking V8s then the 190bhp Vitesse (which was big hit in saloon car racing) is the one because (with Lotus help) it has the feel and essence of an Aston about it although the 155bhp standard issue motors along quite nicely. Trim levels, as well as fit and finish, improved greatly over the years with the best being the S, SE, Vitesse and Vanden Plas.

What are they like to drive?

The SD1 drove like no other Rover before. Here was an executive express that rode as well as any prestigious German and once you became accustomed to the hyper-sensitive, high-geared steering, which at first makes the Rover feel too darty, you’ll revel in its precision. Ultra tall gearing (most manuals had five-speeds) means an SD1 can more than hold its own like a modern on motorways, too. In terms of performance, the 155-190bhp V8s and the 136bhp 2600 are the best bets. The 2300 and the 2-litre ‘four’ engines are sluggish yet offer no economy compensations – especially if saddled with automatic transmission. Bear in mind that headroom is at a premium, and the seats on early cars don’t quite go back as far as on the S2.

What are they like to live with?

For a car that was so blighted by such a lousy reputation when new, it’s amazing that parts supply is so good and this is because after BL was finished with the design it was produced in India as the ‘Standard 2000’ using a TR engine! Rimmer Bros bought up unwanted stock so has all you need, including bodyshells plus sells genuine factory panelwork but certain flitch repair plates are obsolete. The Owners Club says the later the car then the better; post 1982 cars used a different bonnet, post ’84 modified wings. While the oily bits are easy to come by, best stick with the long serving V8, as the ‘sixes’ are most untrustworthy. The 2.4TD is very rare and dear to repair. If you ditch the Nivomat self-levelling set up, you can’t simply fit normal dampers without changing rear springs to suit, either as a new kit or by using 2000/2300 components. The SD1 Owners’ Club is well worth joining for help and advice; www. roversd1club.net. Rust is rife and the poor build doesn’t help so buy on condition; even the best Rovers won’t command ten grand unless really special, such as a Vitesse. Otherwise it’s around £5000, £2500 for average ones and less than a grand for a dog mainly for its rare parts.

We reckon

Every dog has its day and this Rover deserves it. A good SD1, preferably V8-powered, is a XJ6-like luxury classic that was good enough to win Car of Year in 1997. Enough said…



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