Buying Guide Rover P4

Look­ing for a quintessen­tially Bri­tish clas­sic that doesn’t cost a for­tune? You’ve just found it…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - WORDS Richard Dredge PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

‘The P4 en­cap­su­lates post-war Bri­tain per­fectly’

In a world that’s ob­sessed with im­age and style, the Rover P4 is one of those rare gems that’s ac­cepted ev­ery­where. Time­less and grace­ful, the P4 en­cap­su­lates post-war Bri­tain per­fectly, even though its lines were in­spired by con­tem­po­rary Stude­bak­ers. Ut­terly us­able and em­i­nently af­ford­able, these up­right, solid Rovers make a great clas­sic buy for all year round use.

The orig­i­nal ‘Cy­clops’, with its dis­tinc­tive cen­tral light set into the grille, 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. That cen­tral front light proved too rad­i­cal and bit the dust in 1952; the fol­low­ing year the more af­ford­able 60 and 90 ar­rived. At the same time the gearchange was moved from the col­umn to the floor and a con­ven­tional hand­brake re­placed the old ‘shep­herd’s crook’. A new rear end with dif­fer­ent lights was in­tro­duced in 1955. Servo-as­sisted brakes ar­rived the fol­low­ing year for the 90 and Lay­cock over­drive was of­fered in place of the pre­vi­ous free­wheel sys­tem. The front wings were re­designed the same year, while 1957 saw the ar­rival of the 105R (for Rover­drive) and 105S (for Syn­chro­mesh, de­not­ing a man­ual gear­box), with twin carbs and ser­voas­sisted brakes. De­vel­op­ment slowed af­ter that, with just a fet­tled ra­di­a­tor grille for 1958; the fol­low­ing year saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the 80 and 100 and disc front brakes fit­ted to all mod­els, while in 1962 the 95 and 110 first went on sale. Steel bon­net, doors and boot panel fi­nally re­placed the pre­vi­ous alu­minium items in 1963, which sug­gested that the writ­ing was on the wall. Sure enough, P4 pro­duc­tion ended the fol­low­ing year, af­ter 130,342 ex­am­ples had been made.

Beware dam­aged leather – a full re­trim costs £3k.

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