Wheels - - [Classic Corner] Rear View -

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

Sony Thomas

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.

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