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

Classics Monthly - - Contents - WORDS IAIN WAKEFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY SIMON COOKE

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”.

MORE CARS

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.