Rover 2000 Automatic

„Oozing charm from every door“

The car which is the subject of this review is not all that old – only 29 years – and has been owned by Jim Hancock of New Plymouth for the past 13 years during which time he has restored it to near-original condition. Rovers are all class, always have been and always will be. The materials used in construction simplify restoration for the enthusiast because it´s all quality. In fact the body of this car consists of 19 panels all bolted together, which means that if one, for example, was showing signs of rust it can be removed without damage to any other panels and the job done on the working bench.

Talking of rust found on the car, this was mostly surface only but then it would find difficulty penetrating the 18 gauge steel used in the building of cars in the sixties. Once all the exterior panel work had been completed the vehicle was painted grey – as close as possible to the original, and work on the interior began. Jim was struck by the quality of the leather on the rear seats (unmarked). He gained the impression that the rear one at least was little-used. In actual fact this is a four-seater car with the rear seat moulded in such a fashion that it resembles two squabs, seperated with an armrest and just the four seat belts – and magnificently finished in red leather. Complementing that is the rich red, cutpile carpet while the surfaces, such as the glove box lid, are finished in the same colour leather and the hood lining is a whitish-coloured material to complete a most attractive interior.

As can be imagined, the car is actually constructed around a framework and road tests were conducted prior to the fitting of the panels. In addition to the latter, the roof was also bolted on and the bonnet and boot lids are finished in aluminium. Amazingly, the chrome work was original since I made the comment that bumpers etc. had been rechromed but this was not the case. One would suggest a tribute to the care lavished on it by the current and previous owner. The car was originally in the back blocks of Martinborough and came into Jim´s possession 13 years ago with the mileage in the region of 50.000 and now currently reads 69.500. In the ordinary course of events the boot would be quite large. But, as often happens with cars, the placing of the spare tyre is an afterthought and in the Rover it takes up a goodly share of space. For those who wanted it, a fitting could be purchased and affixed to the boot lid to hold the spare tyre and this, of course, has a cover. I meant to ask Jim about the tool kit because the Rovers I have driven had the most comprehensive tool kits of any car of its day and I cannot recall any vehicle that would supply a kit to match it.

A Borg Warner automatic gearbox has a feature termed a D1 for normal driving and a D2 range for slower traffic conditions. Four wheel disc brakes provide good braking for what is a heavy car; and the front suspension is a double wishbone with horizontally-mounted coil springs (note not vertically mounted) with an anti-roll torsion bar.

The rear suspension is the De Dion sliding tube type with universally-jointed, fixed-length drive shafts. It is described as a “variable track” and its sole job is to keep the rear wheels parallel to each other. Needless to say, it´s a French invention and most people in the motoring world are well aware of the quality and effectiveness of the French when it comes on this aspect of motor vehicle construction in particular. When we took the car for a drive you could sense the good suspension without getting the benefit because power steering (in those days) had not been introduced. Nonetheless, the single overhead camshaft motor purred along very nicely, not being in any particular hurry to gather speed but performing well for its age.

Turning right-angled corners was hard work, of course, and was akin to driving a ten-ton truck without the benefit of power steering. Otherwise the car glided around bends in very good fashion and for comfort and elegance is just supreme. And just a light tap on the doors (yes, all four of them) and they closed with a clunk which you do not get with most modern cars. Jim, who is the local secretary of the Rover car club, tells me there are other models owned by members which are equally as good as this one, so that will be something to check out in the months ahead. 

NZ 1994