Rover 2000 TC

Quite regardless of driver ability, a motor car should have the maximum of built-in and bolted-on safety which broadly means good handling, braking and acceleration power to avoid accidents, and engineering and equipment to protect the people inside if it is involved in an accident.

Rover came up with what is regarded everywhere as one of the best examples of the design for safety when they made the 2000. Now the 2000 TC (twin carburettor) development has arrived in Australia.

Basically it is a 2000 with a hotter engine, different badges, imitation wood rim alloy-spoke steering wheel (tree wood can splinter and hurt people), real wood gear lever knob and a tachometer. So it has the same degree of built-in and bolted-on safety, but quite a piece more of inherent safety - better, more sustained acceleration and extended cornering powers.

Rovers, of course, are not for everyone - new ones particularly - because they are expensive and often overcomplicated in design. But in the case of the 2000 and TC it is justified because the design had to be that way to get precisely what the makers wanted.

The body is contrived like the human body. A very strong steel skeleton carries the panels rather like the human skeleton carries the skin.

The idea is that crash forces will spend energy compressing back and front ends while the skeleton enclosing the people stays in shape to protect them. I have seen two badly pranged 2000s - one a front end casualty, the other with a boot up the backside. The ends travel about six inches back before the structure locks up and allows no further penetration.

The final reckoning of the disaster depends, of course, on the speed of the crash. No car can be absolutely accident-proof. Letīs just say that one of the cars had hit a tree head-on at between 50 and 60 and it was repaired at a cost of $1.450. The two important points are that driver and front passenger were only bruised - and that the car IN FACT could be repaired.

Inside, all projections, from minor controls to door latches, are either recessed or protected by overhanging padding. If someone is thrown against back or front screens the glass will pop out in one piece instead of bashing and lacerating them on the way through. The steering column extends only to the engine bulkhead so that it cannot spear back into the driver.

The engine is set in front of a bulkhead shaped to push it down and under the car instead of letting it through into the passenger compartment. The braking system is divided, front and back brakes work independently.

With a design like this a separate assembly line had to be built for it - no question of running alongside other Rover models. It needs different equipment and assembly techniques - one good reason for high price.

Another is the suspension. Independent all round, the front is a combination of the McPherson strut system, but with the coil springs mounted horizontally instead of enclosing the strut. The back has vertical springs, a de Dion tube that is splined to take up halfshaft movement and keep the back wheels always parallel. It is a messy-looking arrangement, but totally justified on the road.

Marvellous ride

The ride is marvellous over rough or smooth going. The car is already well set up for cornering by a weight distribution of 55 / 45 per cent front to back. No effort is needed at the steering wheel - attitude is governed simply by varying the lock and throttle opening. It corners in a fluid fashion, rather like a snake doubling up on itself. All wheels in contact all the time.

The 2000 is good enough, but the extra 34 bhp of the TC make it a very rapid follower-through. Plant the foot as hard as you like, wheelspin is never a problem on any reasonable surface. Not only is the extra power there, it is totally useable.

Tyres on the test car were Pirelli Cinturato - and magnificent. These or Dunlop SP 41s are standard equipment. The car was designed for them.

The braking cannot be faulted. Better than 1g. is the norm in ordinary use. One of the reasons for the remarkable resistance to fade is that the back discs are set inboard against the diff. Better for cooling, and also unsprung weight is reduced.

With the power assistance, pedal pressure stayed light and almost constant. The cooling capacity of the back discs produced straight-line stops all the time.

Steering is a precise three turns lock-to-lock. A fraction heavy because of the directional tread of the radials at low speeds, but exactly suited to the carīs demands.

The two-litre, four-cylinder, five main-bearing engine has a single overhead camshaft. It puts out 124 bhp at 5.500 rpm on a very high (for our petrol) compression ratio of 10 to 1.

This means the fuel has to be doctored for anything like full performance. On pump staff it is always smooth but sluggish and tends to run-on. This sensitivity is put down often  to the fact that the head is flat and combustion chambers are hollows in the piston crowns.

Other cars can run happily with just as high a compression on ordinary super, so perhaps this is the reason. The theory is that the pistons cannot get rid of head bold-up as quickly a cylinder head with water flowing through it.

The test figures were obtained with a mixture of five parts super to one of the methyl benzine, an additive that is fairly freely available at big city service stations.

The car ran out to a true top speed of 106.5 mph, with (at 6.000 rpm) 32 mph available in first, 55 mph in second and 84 mph in third. Pushing on to higher revs is possible, but does not improve acceleration times.

Zero to 50 mph came up in 9.2 sec., 0-90 mph in 29.3 sec. Third gear strides into things in both middle and upper ranges. 40-60 mph 7.1 sec., 50-70 7.8, 60-80 8.9. A marvellous machine for overtaking over a very wide speed range.

But we feel this sensitivity to fuel is a limiting factor to sales - until we get better, of course. Only enthusiasts should own a car like this, but it would be nice to let the unwasted know what real machinery is like. We fear they wouldnīt put up with the fiddle of keeping the mixture right, though.

Actually the TC is a big on pump petrol. The four very widely spaced gears mean constant shuffling up and down in traffic - and for very little result, too.

We suggest that the TC would do much better as things are here with a lower compression and five-speed gearbox, the way the little Alfas are organised..

And there is the basic difference between the 2000 and TC. The 2000 will give its excellent best to any driver anytime, anywhere if he has the faintest ability. The TC needs a bit of fuss and attention in return for giving its all.

This brand of Rover has been done over many times in intimate detail. For the rest of the story it is a fast and selfish four-door four-seater (with very little knee-room in the back). People just look at the four individual seats and want to take them home.

Instruments are fairly basic, but every other bit of equipment is featured in superlative form - the heater demister is of enormous capacity and will keep all glass demisted.

Windscreen wipers are variable speed, locking gloveboxes in front of driver and passenger knees are padded and an integral part of safety design. Lap and sash safety belts in front. In fact, nothing is stuck-on, and it has a precise reason for being there.

But buy one and youīll find it fits like the best suit of clothes you ever had. It will become an extension of you, as distinct from a sort of wheel-chair thatīs handy to have around. There is no better reason for trying to save up $5.162.

Modern Motor / Australia August 1967