CAR OF 1976 ROVER SD1

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

I could have rea­son­ably se­lected the Ford Fi­esta, Honda Ac­cord, Lo­tus Esprit or Porsche 924, but for me, the new car de­but of 1976 was the Rover 3500 SD1. This is not just be­cause it be­came the Car of the Year for 1977 – the last time this was be­stowed on a Bri­tish mar­que – but for the sense of hope it gave to the re­cently na­tion­alised Bri­tish Ley­land. Plus, there is the fact that the sixyear-old me had never seen a car quite like it on the mean vil­lage streets of Swan­wick in Hamp­shire, now down­wind of the M27.

The blend of David Bache’s coach­work with the proven 3.5-litre V8 engine was in that great Vik­ing badge tra­di­tion of defin­ing the no­tion of the Bri­tish ex­ec­u­tive car. At £4750 it also rep­re­sented ex­cel­lent value for money, but a Car mag­a­zine road test of Au­gust 1976 sadly an­tic­i­pated the prob­lems that were to blight it. ‘Pro­duc­tion (if it can be called that) has ground to a stop once more as this is be­ing writ­ten, leav­ing Citroën, Re­nault, Peu­geot, Mercedes, BMW, Opel and all the rest to count the money Rover should have had.’

Un­for­tu­nately, that ‘new tra­di­tion’ in­cluded poor build qual­ity on the early mod­els.

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