Rover P5B Guide What you need to know be­fore buy­ing the best of Bri­tish.

Stylish, im­pos­ing and pow­er­ful, it’s no won­der the P5 got a royal seal of ap­proval

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS -

There aren’t many cars stately enough to be able to claim that they’re fit for the Queen, but the Rover P5 is one of them. HRH has owned four of them, in­clud­ing the last P5B made. Var­i­ous Bri­tish prime min­is­ters also loved the P5’s lux­u­ri­ous draw­ing room-in­spired in­te­rior, cos­set­ting ride and fab­u­lous build qual­ity.

From the in­te­rior swathed in teak and leather to the very sub­stan­tially-built bodyshell, the P5 oozes qual­ity from every pore. De­spite this, you can buy a good one for un­der £10,000, while run­ning costs can be slashed if you’re me­chan­i­cally minded.

Which one?

The ob­vi­ous an­swer is a P5B Coupé, as that’s what every­one wants. It’s the fastest and most stylish of the breed, but V8 cars came only with an auto gear­box, and the Coupé has a roofline two inches lower than the sa­loon – the back seat was low­ered, so those in the back might feel claus­tro­pho­bic on a long jour­ney. You’ll pay less to buy a sa­loon, which of­fers the same driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as a coupé – and it’s more re­fined as there’s less wind noise.

You’ll also pay less for a 3.0-litre than for a V8, yet the smaller en­gine still pro­vides am­ple per­for­mance. What­ever you buy, it will prove a sur­pris­ingly us­able con­veyance – these cars are so well engi­neered, and hence so ca­pa­ble, that they’re a gen­uine al­ter­na­tive to a mod­ern car thanks to the re­fine­ment, pace and build qual­ity.


Poor re­pairs are com­mon be­cause, as Rover’s first mono­coque, the P5’s struc­ture is large and com­plex. But it’s also a strong con­struc­tion, so se­ri­ous struc­tural cor­ro­sion is rare. Your first check should be the three-piece sills, which can rot badly. You can in­spect the outer sills by open­ing the doors; the in­ner sills can be checked from un­der­neath. Rot­ten orig­i­nal met­al­work can be fixed rel­a­tively eas­ily; re­place­ment sills that have been welded onto a car weak­ened by rot and twisted out of shape are more of an is­sue. De­spite the uni­tary con­struc­tion there are stout chas­sis legs that sprout from the sills. The me­tal is thick and durable, al­though of course it can rot, es­pe­cially around the leaf spring mount­ings.

The outer pan­els tend to last well but the rear in­ner wings can rust out of sight. Peer­ing be­hind the boot trim gives a good idea of whether there’s rust or not. Also check the rear valance and door bot­toms; de­cent used doors are scarce. The orig­i­nal hinges must be kept, as they were set up to achieve the cor­rect panel gaps. The bulk­head, sill and door post meet at the back

of the front whee­larches; there’s also a cav­ity where the wiper box drains, and mud can col­lect here, in­duc­ing cor­ro­sion. If left unchecked this can spread into the bulk­head; if so, the car is fit for parts only. If there’s ev­i­dence of cor­ro­sion or filler in the scut­tle panel just walk away.

Oily bits

The 3.0-litre en­gine is a bored-out P4 2.6-litre straight six, and like a well-main­tained V8 it will last at least 200,000 miles be­tween re­builds. Cylin­der and valve guide wear will be ev­i­dent on a ne­glected six-cylin­der en­gine – oil is burned when the en­gine is started and un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, pro­duc­ing blue ex­haust smoke. Valves burn out and valve seals go hard, so a top-end over­haul may be needed, while on a high-mileage en­gine the cam fol­low­ers will

Odd bod A one-off P5 MKI es­tate was built, but wasn’t put into pro­duc­tion be­cause de­mand was deemed to be too lim­ited.

The P5 was the first Rover to fea­ture the firm’s leg­endary V8 en­gine. Orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by Buick, the ‘B’ in P5B stands for Buick. Quote from Lan­caster In­sur­ance 45-year-old male, post­code SP2, 5000 miles per year, garaged, sec­ond car, club mem­ber....

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