Reliant Scimitar GTE
It may have been repainted to match a die-cast model replica, but almost everything else about this re-commissioned, two-owner Rover 2000 is totally original
It took a lot of hard work to get this Scimitar to is current superb condition.
When Rover launched the technically advanced P6 2000 in October 1963, the luxury saloon set a new benchmark for safety and innovation that many manufacturers fell far short off with their existing models. Once in the showroom the P6 immediately went head to head with the Triumph 2000, which had been unveiled to the public a week later and the two models would go on to become bedfellows when the independent Rover Company Ltd became part of Leyland Motors in 1967.
The following year Rover found itself part of the sprawling British Leyland empire and BL’s skilful marketing gurus managed to position the four- cylinder Rover and its competing inline-six powered Triumph into totally different market sectors. It had been Rover’s intention that the new 2000 would find favour with a wider range of buyers than its more expensive outgoing ‘Aunty-style’ P4 Rover. Right from the start the new Rover appealed to senior executives and what made the new 2000 stand out from the
crowd was how the car’s unibody monocoque consisted of a Citroën DS- inspired central frame onto which all the non- stressed outer panels were bolted.
The Rover 2000’s advanced suspension set-up included a De- Dion style rear axle and an usual arrangement at the front featured a pair of bell cranked suspension links that transferred road shocks directly into the front bulkhead. This set-up provided a spacious engine bay that had originally been designed to take a futuristic gas turbine power plant and in 1964 the 2000’s advanced design resulted with new Rover being voted European Car of the Year.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Our featured car is a 1967 Series one 2000 that’s owned by Alex Phillips, a dedicated classic car enthusiast who currently uses the Rover as her main form of transport. Alex reckons she’s picked up the classic bug from her father and told us how he was always buying old cars at auction and working on them at home. “I started fiddling around with car
alongside my dad and really enjoyed it”, recalled Alex before going on to tell us how she ended up sourcing her Rover P6.
“There was always something about this Rover that attracted me and when I found one looking for a new home, I was tempted”. Alex then explained how she occasionally works as a volunteer at the Cotswold Motor Museum, which is based in the Old Mill in the village of Bourdon- on-the-Water and heard about the availability of the car online through some friends. “The Rover had apparently been laid up for quite a few years with a collection of Mercedes- Benz cars and nobody seemed to be bothered about bidding for the P6. Everyone seemed to be more interested in the Mercs and after placing my initial bid I managed to secure the Rover for the princely sum of £260”.
That was back in 2010 and Alex obviously recognised the Rover had been sold at an amazingly low price and she’d managed to secure a genuine bargain. After arranging suitable transport to get the car home, it didn’t take too long before what looked like a sound but neglected Caribbean Blue Rover 2000 was parked up in Alex’s garage awaiting a full inspection to see what work needed doing to get the car back on the road.
“Unfortunately, very little paperwork came with the car, but the tax disc had run out in 1992 and the V5 showed how the car had only one previous owner.” We asked Alex how many miles her Rover had covered, but were told how a replacement speedo had been fitted and zeroed soon after she bought the car. “When I collected the car there were around 76,000 miles on the clock but one of my colleagues noticed the Rover had been fitted with the wrong type of speedometer.
“My P6 is an automatic and apparently the speedo that came with the car was for a manual version, so the previous owner must have had it replaced at some time. One of the first jobs I did was to source a correct speedo head and the mileage is now showing somewhere around 20,000
miles”, revealed Alex before taking out us to see her car.
The first thing we noticed was that Alex’s Rover 2000, which goes by the name of 'Mr Jenkins', is no longer wearing its original Caribbean Blue paintwork. “After running the car for a while, we discovered quite a lot of rot in a couple of the door pillars that needed sorting out. A mobile welder did most of the work in my garage and when all the repairs were completed, I had the car resprayed and that was also carried out in my garage”, explained a grinning Alex.
There was obviously more to say about the car’s paintwork and before we could ask what that was, Alex revealed how she had chosen the new colour by lining up some of her model cars and picking out her favourite. “I have a huge collection of model cars and trucks and chose one finished in what I considered to be a very smart shade of metallic purple and decided that was the colour I wanted my Rover painted,” confessed Alex before going on to tell us about her day job working for the AA as a mobile patrol.
“I live in village mid-way between Gloucester and Cheltenham, so my patrol, or ‘wingspan’ as the AA call it, covers a sixty mile radius from home. This means I can be attending a breakdown in Reading in the morning and be over in Cardiff later in the day. The expression on some motorists’ faces when I get out of my big yellow van and ask what the problem always makes me smile, but I’d rather be working on older cars similar to my Rover than some of the modern stuff I deal with.”
After having a chat about some of the more interesting breakdowns she's experienced, Alex went on to describe the mechanical work that’s been done to her car. “When we got it started, the Rover’s 1978cc inline-four ran really rough, so I decided to take the head off and found a couple of burnt out valves”. Alex then explained how while the head was in the machine shop, a new set of hardened valve seats were fitted so the engine could run on unleaded fuel. This proved to be a useful
upgrade, as the Rover was going to become Alex’s daily driver.
In total, Alex reckoned it took about three years to get her Rover back on the road and the estimated cost of the initial work, including the body repairs and respray came to around £3500. A new carpet set brightened up the interior but according to Alex everything else inside the Rover’s cabin, with the exception of the replacement speedo head, is totally original. When asked if she favours any particular parts suppliers, Alex said how she usually gets most of the bits for her Rover from Wolverhamptonbased Mark Grey, who runs MGBD Parts (01902 689975).
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Alex’s Rover, as the car was unfortunately written off in an accident while she was driving back to Gloucestershire from a touring holiday on the Isle of Wight. “Fortunately I was able to purchase the car back from the insurers and after having the damaged side professionally rebuilt, the Rover returned to the road. This was back in 2014 but fate struck again when the other side of the Rover was damaged not long after”.
We were still curious as to why Alex calls her Rover ‘Mr Jenkins’ and the answer was that it the car was named after its first and only other owner. “I thought it was a suitable name for the Rover, as it had probably been laid up after the owner passed away. I’ve also got a Austin Allegro that I’m rebuilding and that’s called Peggy”. Alex didn’t go into why her 1974 Allegro was christened Peggy but she did go on to reveal that she also owns an ex-military Land Rover called Nimlet. This is suitably named after the village where she bought the vehicle.
Alex had not long returned from a 600-mile jaunt down to Cornwall and back in the car when we turned up to photograph it. “The Rover is great for long distance cruising and I regularly take the car over to the Isle of Wight. As I don’t have to commute for work – I’ve
got the van for that – the Rover is my regular drive and I use it all the time when not on duty”.
However, Alex did admit that she’d bought a Mercedes- Benz C180 to use while the Rover was in the bodyshop being repaired after the last accident and is just about to move it on to a new owner. “I hate to say it but I really enjoyed driving the Mercedes. It’s a real tank of a car and goes pretty well too but having said that, I much prefer getting behind the wheel of my Rover”. Although a lot of work has been done to Alex’s Rover 2000 since it was dragged out of long-term storage, this enthusiastic owner has strived hard to keep the car as original as possible.
Alex admits that her car isn’t one hundred per cent perfect, as there is still some work to do. But she is determined to retain as many original parts as possible. As Alex explained: “I tend to tackle jobs out on my Rover as they're required and will have to get the front brakes overhauled soon. The rears are inboard on the P6 but a specialist who knows more about working on these than I do kindly overhauled these a while ago”.
One item that caused a bit of amusement during our photoshoot was the Rover’s roof rack. Alex asked if we wanted to photograph the car with the rack off, but explained how it was an original Leyland part specially designed for the P6. After hearing that we though it was better left on! Alex admitted that the rack does come in handy, as one of the P6’s biggest criticisms was the limited amount of boot space the car offered. That’s why so many of these cars have the spare wheel mounted on the bootlid. Rover used to offer a kit that included a large Rover badge to disguised the special mounting but when the spare wheel is relocated to the top of the boot lid, this can seriously restrict the driver’s view through the rear view mirror.
Alex has really struck lucky with her internet purchased Rover and before we went in for a well earned cup of tea, Alex explained how she was driving the car around a few months after sorting out the burnt valves. “Although the Rover eventually required a fair bit of welding, it passed the MoT okay and I drove it while planning what jobs to tackle first”.
Nearly 20 years on since Alex first saw her P6, bargains like this are getting scarcer by the year as the true value of these highly practical classics is appreciated.
There may be a more Rovers from the Swinging ‘Sixties tucked away somewhere, but you can bet they will cost a lot more than Alex paid for ‘Mr Jenkins’. And they will probably require a small fortune spending on them before they can be returned to the road in an equal condition to this one.
The original paintwork was rubbed down on the owner's drive. Removing the wings revealed a bit of corrosion that needed to be repaired. As delivered, Alex prepares to work out what jobs to tackle first. Most welding was done at home except for the hard to reach bits.
All finished and Alex's metallic purple Rover P6 glistens in the sun. An accident wrote the P6 off but Alex had the damage repaired. Fitting the new carpet set required a lot of the interior to be removed. Alex's Rover was primed and top coated in the garage at home. The Rover's non-standard metallic purple was copied from a scale model die-cast P6 and really suits the full sized version.
Alex's P6 turned up sporting a genuine period roof rack specially designed for the P6. One of the first jobs Alex had to do her Rover was to remove the head and replace a couple of burnt out valves.
The only modifications Alex has carried out to the Rover's cabin was to fit a new carpet set and replace an incorrect speedo head.