With its modern styling and cutting-edge technology, the Rover P6 was one of the most successful British executive saloons of the late Sixties and early Seventies. By
Back in the
Sixties, Rover was not a carmaker likely to create a stir in the market with a revolutionary product. But that was exactly what the British carmaker did in 1963 with the P6. Aimed at the newly affluent executive class who were on the lookout for a solidly built, technically sound and reasonably spacious four-door saloon, the car caused quite a sensation with its compact styling and ground-breaking technology.
It also proved an instant sales success as word soon got around about the innovative de Dion tube suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and a full synchromesh transmission. The first P6, the 2000, was powered by a newly developed 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developing 104bhp. This engine was later tweaked to deliver 20 more horses thanks to twin SU carburettors in the 2000TC models that came out three years later, first for the overseas market and later in the UK. The biggest change came in 1968 when Rover plonked a 3.5-litre aluminium V8 under the P6’s bonnet. The Buick-derived engine was coupled with a four-speed manual gearbox as well as a Borg-Warner Type 35 three-speed automatic transmission. Designated as the 3500, this model topped out at a respectable 183kph, making it faster than almost all its rivals. Boasting extraordinary performance for an executive saloon of the time, the 3500 helped elevate the P6 to the status of Britain’s executive car of choice. However, things took a turn for the worse in the mid-Seventies. The brand was taken over by British-Leyland, and soon the cars started gaining notoriety for lack of reliability, with some publications branding the P6 as one of the worst cars in England and it was replaced in 1977 by the SD1. Despite the not-so-rosy part of its history the P6, especially the V8 3500, is still in demand in classic car circles in the UK and the USA, where well-preserved or restored examples are not uncommon. If you can source one from the pre-Leyland days, it would take between Dh20,000 and Dh35,000 to snap up one of the most popular British saloons of the Sixties. Remember though, parts are not easy to come by and working on these could be more complicated than American or German cars from the time.
If that’s something you can live with, then go get one.