Rover 2000 TC

Predominantly sporting

When we advertised a job on the editorial staff of Motor recently we stipulated as an essential qualification "ability to write lucidly and dispassionately about cars". We might well have put candidates to the test by asking for a dispassionate report on the Rover 2000, a car of such extreme individuality that the most experienced road tester can have difficulty in preserving his detachment. Owners, even those who have had trouble with early models, usually abandon the struggle and admit that they can think of no other car to replace the 2000. The vehicle which exerts this singular influence upon its drivers is not perfect but it represents so clearly an attempt to design an ideal car at a moderate price that many people accept the imperfections cheerfully for the sake of its virtues.

For Rover, when they introduced it in 1963, the 2000 represented a total departure from the tradition which had carried the company out of the depression of the ī30s. Staid conservative design gave way to advanced engineering: an overhead camshaft engine, a form of de Dion rear suspension, four disc brakes and one of the first really effective ventilating systems among many other features. The change in styling, from rather old-fashioned to ultra-modern, was even more dramatic. Most revolutionary of all was the decision to build a car of Rover quality which would sell in far greater numbers and at a considerably lower price (in real terms) than any Rover for years past. It was a great gamble and it paid off. For three years demand has constantly outstripped supply, which is still running at about 600 cars a week. With so much - including the customers - that was different, it would have been surprising if the new Rover had not created an unusual relationship between car and owner.

In cold fact the standard Rover 2000 is a strict four-seater with average luggage space and an above-average combination of performance and economy, good handling, very good roadholding and exceptional comfort. Its engine is smooth and flexible for a four-cylinder - but is still a "four". The interior combines comfort with a practical elegance that appeals to widely varying taskes, and the car is known to be extremely safe in collision.

All of the foregoing applies to the more powerful 2000 TC (for Twin Carburetter) announced for export only in March this year and now available in Britain. For an extra Ģ58, including tax, TC buyers get an engine with modified cylinder head, inlet and exhaust systems; an oil cooler; sealed cooling system; bigger starter motor, and some minor improvements including a rev counter. The result, a marked improvement in performance accompanied by an equally noticeable loss of refinement, is so clear cut that any prospective purchaser would be well advised to try both the single- and twin-carburetter cars before making his choice.

Performance and economy

On very short acquaintance it becomes clear that the TCīs predominant characteristic is sporting. The engine has a "hard" feeling and a bite in contrast to the extreme docility of the normal 2000, though it is tractable enough when warm to pull away quite smoothly from 20 mph or about 1.000 rpm in top gear. Its performance clearly owes much to the 10:1 compression ratio (114 net horsepower against 107 for twin-carburetter cars sold outside Britain and North America with the standard 9:1 ratio) and makes fuel of at least 100 octane rating essential to avoid pinking. Practice soon indicates how much choke is needed for starting - none after starting for a few hours in mild weather, all after a cold night - and the engine settles down to pull cleanly after a few hundred yards; sudden stops before full running temperature is reached are liable to stall it occasionally. On the right diet, generally but not universally available at filling stations in Britain, idling is unobtrusive and the engine is very smooth in the lower and upper reaches of its wide speed range. Between about 3.500 rpm and 4.500 rpm opening the throttle appears to excite a small vibration which is magnified by the structure of the car and produces a rather oppressive boom; in varied use most of our drivers found this no handicap but it can be tiring for prolonged motorway cruising at the legal speed limit.

Performance is not wholly reflected by our comparison charts, for the Rover is a high-geared, four-speed car with relatively poor low-speed acceleration in top, which improves as the speed rises - the more so in the case of the TC which has power and torque curves peaking at 500 rpm and 1.000 rpm respectively more than the normal 2000. With a maximum speed of 108 mph corresponding to 5.550 rpm (still 450 rpm below the beginning of the red band on the tachometer) it should come into its own for long-distance cruising on derestricted Continental roads. The recommended safe speed for the engine is actually in the middle of the red band, at 6.500 rpm. On the principle that most owners would probably use the lower limit we took our published acceleration figures with a maximum of 6.000 rpm; using the extra 500 rpm makes an improvement of 0.4 sec in the 0-50 mph time and 2.7 sec from 0-90 mph.

Fuel consumption, very reasonable for the performance, must be considered with an eye on the price of 100 octane petrol, some 3% more expensive than ordinary premium grade; the 12-gallon tank includes 1 1/4-gallon reserve controlled by a facia knob.


Whether or not you like the Roverīs gearchange depends largely on your preference for a short, fairly stiff movement or a long, light one. There is some evidence that the quality of the gearbox is now very good but that high loads in the remote-control linkage have taken the edge off its lightness and precision. Fairly quick changes can be made cleanly with very light pressure but snatching, especially on a downward change without double-declutching, needs more effort on the short lever. Most people commented that first and third were too far away for comfort and a longer, cranked lever would be an interesting experiment. The clutch, fairly light by the standards of three years ago, is beginning to feel a little heavy and still has some of the "over-centre" feel of certain diaphragm types; it is well cushioned, smooth and positive and its action is made easier by the high driving position.

Quite conventionally paced gearbox ratios feel strange at first because of the high overall gearing. In practive the effective final drive ratio of 19.5 mph/1.000 rpm, combined with an engine giving smooth, useful torque over a range from 1.000 to 5.500 rpm makes this a car which you can drive in top or third with much less gearchanging than usual if you feel like it; we can think of very few medium-sized, four-gear saloons which would benefit less by an extra gear. In contrast to some early models the gearbox is now quiet.

Handling and brakes

A Motor road tester not known for hanging back commented after driving the 2000 TC: "What goes first when you lose adhesion?" The answer is that you can break away either front or rear wheels on a very tight corner, by deliberately upsetting the weight distribution with brakes or throttle, but only by driving in a manner which most owners would not even contemplate; to do so on a fast bend you would have to trespass on the borders of "without due care and attention". This very high cornering power, coupled with tyres which do not squeal until they finally begin to lose their grip, makes the 2000 deceptively fast and extremely safe. Oddly and characteristically (oddity being one of the things that give the Rover its individual charm), sports-car road holding and finely balanced handling go with directional control of a rather touring nature. Above a walking pace the steering is unusually light but low geared - the wheel is larger than most. Some kick-back which is still noticeable on bumpy corners (when the suspension is heavily loaded) has been damped at the cost of slight sponginess, making the car feel less responsive in a tight bend than in a gentle one or on the straight. These criticisms are made against a high standard for at anything less than very fast touring speeds the 2000 is in the top class of manually-steered saloons.

The brakes, with a harder friction material but larger servo than the original 2000 are now among the best we have ever tried; they recorded over 0.9g (the best that many cars will achieve) at only 50 lb. pedal pressure and gave a 1g stop for 85 lb. without the over-sensitivity of very lightly braked large cars. On a dry road with only the driver aboard a hard push will lock all wheels practicallysimultaneously, pulling the car up quite straight. A 27% rise in pedal pressure during our fade test is no better than average for a sports saloon (the earlier car was completely unaffected by this test) though the high maximum speed of the 2000 TC ordained braking from a higher speed than before.

For most peolpleīs use there is more scope for improvement in the watersplash recovery, which is rather slow and very uneven. The handbrake, easy to reach and powerful enough to be useful in emergency, holds comfortably on a 1-in-4-hill and will just deal with 1-in-3.

Comfort and controls

The Roverīs longest suite is comfort. Our 1963 report on the 2000 observed that for riding comfort it was then in the top three among European cars irrespective of price, and we still have no cause to modify our high opinion. It is at its best out of town, riding rough or wavy roads with almost Detroit-style insularity at speeds far beyond which the ordinary American saloon would become unmanageable. Pitch hardly exists, except for a small amount of dive on braking, but there is a quick sideways rocking motion move noticeable to strangers than to owners who have "grown into" their Rovers. In the same way drivers coming fresh to the car receive an exaggerated impression of cornering roll, which can be shown as really quite moderate by driving fast through a tight S-bend. At low speeds the ride is still good, though not outstanding, with a certain amount of the "Cats-eye thump" usually associated with radial-ply tyres.

Opinions among seven or eight of our staff were unanimous on the comfort of the driving seat but sharply divided about how to cure its one failing - a tendency to let the driver slide forward so that he loses the benefit of a well-shaped back rest. Some, with experience of a similar car, were in favour of using the distance pieces supplied in the toolkit to give the seat a permanent backwards tilt; others found this a good deal worse and would have settled for a rest to brace their left foot against; the only alternative is to place it rather uncomfortably flat on the floor, for the toeboard is too far away for anyone who likes to sit at armīs length from the wheel. Wide variations in driving positions are possible with fore-and-aft seat adjustment sufficient to put a six-foot driver out of reach of the pedals, a steering wheel which can be raised or lowered 1.2 in. and seat backs adjustable for rake, with a friction lock to hold them at any angle, instead of the more usual rather coarse toothed adjustment.

The outer seat belt anchorages are properly placed for safety but liable to humper movement of the front seats on their runners. With a six-foot driver comfortably disposed, a passenger of the same height can sit at ease behind him; having taken the bold step of building an uncompromising four-seater. Rover have logically made the rear seats just as well contoured and deeply upholstered as those in front. Very few cars in the world share out their comfort, including riding comfort, so impartially to four occupants.

However it is adjusted, the driverīs position is commanding,, largely because of his height above the low floor. Undoubtedly one of the strongest factors in the Roverīs highly personal appeal is the way in which one almost puts it on, like a good sports car, instead of just sitting inside. Visibility is very good except for those who like to see a marker on the near-side front corner of the car, which is out of sight at the end of a short, steeply sloping bonnet; even with practice one can be excessively cautious about driving close to a left hand garage door post. Variable-speed wipers and electric windscreen washers are very good and the Rover, usually again, has a convex interior mirror giving a wide but distorted view which delights some people and distresses others. The four headlights are fair.

At the time of its introduction the Rover 2000 set new standards for heating and ventilation, combining the face-level air supply of some Continental models with a much more effective heating system and simple controls. Some, though not all, of its competitors have since made an effort to catch up but we have yet to meet a better all-round arrangement for quiet, draught-free ventilation; only in very warm weather with the engine working quite hard it is necessary to open a window for the sake of better cool air circulation between face and feet.

This ability to travel with the windows closed is one of the things that make the normal 2000 an unusually quiet car at any speed. In the TC quietness is the one real victim sacrificed to performance, for the noises produced by the engine - mechanical at low speed, exhaust at higher speed and particularly at wide throttle openings, with various resonant combinations in between - are always in attendance. To the sporting driver they are purposeful enough to be perfectly acceptable but the motorist who has always thought of a Rover as being totally refined should be prepared for something different. Above 80 mph the engine becomes much less obtrusive and the lack of wind noise makes the 2000 TC a quieter car than most.

Fittings and furniture

If you set out, with no inhibitions, to design your own "ideal" facia you would probably get most of it right and make a few minor mistakes. Rover did much the same. In keeping with its major controls the 2000 has carefully thought-out switches, shape-coded and labelled so that anyone familiar with the car can find what he wants instantly and without fear of mistake, provided only that he can remember right from left; the horn-and-indicator stalk on the right of the steering column is identical in shape with the dip-and-flash headlamp control on the left. On ergonomic grounds some people would prefer a horn button or a ring on the wheel, and a choke control nearer the starter key, but the controls are otherwise hard to fault and work with a precision all too rare when the costing department comes to the small items at the end of the list.

Breaking abruptly with tradition the 2000 offers its driver instruments to record only speed, distance, water temperature and fuel, relying for the rest on coloured lights and putting the whole in a single panel as near as possible to the line of sight. Adding a rev counter to the set for the 2000 TC has meant renouncing symmetry; with the clock, formerly mounted in the centre, it is fitted to the left of the main panel, swivelled towards the driver and perhaps a shade more impressive than useful - especially as realistic recommended speeds for the indirect gears are marked on the speedometer face. A bad reflection from the chromium-plated instrument panel surround appears in the windscreen.

Fittings elsewhere in the interior are thoughtful and attractive. The full-width facia shelf would be even more useful with a non-slip surface or some baffles (a rubber "pimpled" mat is available as an extra) but two deep lockers, padded and constructed of energy-absorbing material to prevent injury to the knees in a crash, will take most of the usual permanent litter of maps, dusters and torches. Armrests can be used without getting in the way. Soft visors each carry a mirror. There are ashtrays in front and rear as well as separate interior lights. The boot is bigger than it looks, taking 8 1/2 cu. ft. of our test luggage with the spare wheel in its normal upright position; it may also lie flat or be mounted on an external bootlid bracket costing Ģ14 15s. (inc. PT), fitted.

Servicing and maintenance

Unique front suspension design, originally fostered by a search for extra width to accommodate the Rover gas turbine engine, leaves the 2000 with a beautifully uncramped engine compartment and very easy access to the battery, dipstick, hydraulic reservoirs and fusebox. Regular servicing at 5.000-mile intervals is a job best left to professionals, since it include attention to the steering, but is otherwise quite straightforward, with the only grease nipple on the propeller shaft sliding point. Rover ecommend changing tyres from side to side, but not front to rear; the pillar jack has four sockets under the body sides, and can be operated without opening the doors.

0-60 mph 11.9 sec

top speed 108.4 mph

overall fuel consumption 22.3 mpg


Motor / UK October 1966