Rover 2000

I wonīt go into those tired old jokes about "gentlemenīs carriages" and "gentlemenīs railway carriages" that have been brought up and disproved every time a Rover has been tested over the past few years. But one point must be made before I start: Rover has a reputation for making solid, tasteful, long-wearing vehicles which have an aura of prestige and are usually a trffle behind the times.

The Rover 2000 is the nice kind of thing that can happen when a company with this sort of reputation builds a "compact" car without worrying too much about the final cost.

The emphasis is on craftmanship. Not the quaint little old man turning out one ornate chair leg a day kind of craftmanship, but the craftmanship which comes with modern technology.

The kind of craftmanship you get when you tell a group of dedicated engineers to start with a clean sheet of drawing paper and make a motorcar that does everything a motorcar should without worrying about false air vents on the bonnet, trick fenders to make it look longer, or any other useless, expensive or wasteful sales gimmicks.

Thereīs nothing really startling about the 2000. Weīve seen De Dion rear suspension layouts before: weīve seen inboard rear brakes; thereīs nothing new about an adjustable steering wheel, or a stubbly little gear lever that moves about an inch or so from gear to gear, or a skeleton body-chassis unit on which all the body panels and accessories are hung like toys on a Christmas tree - and can be replaced just as easily. But what is worth taking notice of is the way in which all these features have been combined in logical order to make a car which has no feature that can be called bad - only some that I donīt like, but you might, and some that are the other way around.

The basic design of the Rover 2000 is similar to the Triumph 2000īs, which isnīt all that surprising, as both cars started out as a joint affort in the basic planning stage. Rover had the advantage of aiming for a higher price range and the carīs shape has a look of solidity and sophistication which, to me at any rate, makes it a better-looking car. The shape is remarkably to that used on the experimental Rover gas turbine cars and is modern without any of the bad taste that generally goes with the word.

The body-chassis unit is a skeleton framework which has been carefully jig-aligned so that a bingled door or mudguard can be unbolted and replaced with another one which is carried in the distributorīs spare parts stock already painted one of the basic Rover colors.

Although the chassis skeleton is a fairly lightweight construction, rigid box section units are placed strategically to give it tremendous strength. A really solid head-on collision would be needed to force the engine through into the passenger compartment.

Interior trim is modern, with the traditional British pieces of wood thrown about here and there to make sure you know itīs a Rover. Itīs all very tasteful, but the rectangular instrument panel looks like a complicated transistor radio and, to a man who wants to know whatīs going on in the power department, almost as complicated to read at a glance.

Not that thereīs much information available. I would think the owner of such a fairy expensive piece of machinery, with an overhead camshaft and peak revs of 6000, would want more than a water temperature gauge, a fuel gauge and a strip speedometer. Pretty lights along the top of the panel tell the driver if the chokeīs been left out too long, that he hasnīt got any oil pressure, that his electrics have gone haywire, that heīs left the handbrake on, that his headlights are on high beam, or that heīs turning to the right or the left and his indicators are working.

I know the experts tell us that these days warning lights can adequately safeguard an engine and the ownerīs pocket, but I like to know whatīs going on. Whatīs more. I derive great pleasure from watching a speedometer needle chase the numbers round the dial and a strip slinking across a narrow band leaves me cold. You have my full permission to feel otherwise.

The various knobs are carefully placed where they wonīt crack driversī and front passengersī kneecaps, and a padded shield in front of them folds down to reveal a cavernous store for odd bits and pieces.

A parcel shelf runs across the width of the car to bring the controls close enough for the driver to operate them without unbuckling his belt and to provide a platform to rest the beer cans on at a drive-in - if, of course, Rover owners drink beer at drive-ins.

The heater system is excellent and easy to adjust to a nicety, and extra, individual fresh air controls are sited in front of the driver and his passenger with an arrangement by which the cool air can be controlled and directed where itīs wanted.

Nice touches about the controls are the combined wiper/washer switch (the wipers are variable speed) and a light in the lighter socket which operates when other lights are in use.

The all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox is operated by a stubbly lever which sits on the transmission hump beside the driver and which needs only an inch or so of crisp movement from gear to gear. Reverse is easily selected by lifting a handle built round the lever.

The seats, both front and rear, are as comfortable as any lounge suite. Carefully contoured to fit a fairly wide range of human bodies, the driver and three passengers are held comfortably and securely when swaying through corners. A fifth person can be carried in the middle of the back seat, but heīs not meant to stay there for long.

The front seats have a good fore and aft range and ínfinitely adjustable backs. Combined with the adjustable steering wheel, which moves a couple of inches up or down, this makes for an almost perfect driving position.

Performance, while not startling, is good enough for this kind of car, although its superb suspension makes it seem to cry out for a few more horses. Time and time again I found myself lining up for corners 10 miles per hour slower than the suspension could comfortably cope with. Even so, it gets from a stationary position to 50 miles per hour in a brisk 9.15 sec., hits 70 mph in 18.3 sec. and tops 105 mph flat-out. It takes a respectable 19.25 sec. or less to cover a standing quarter-mile.

The brakes, servo-assisted discs on all four wheels, are good enough to keep on hauling the car down from any speed time after time without showing any tendency to fade. A slight tendency to groan when applied gently in traffic is troubling the distributors and pernickity owners, but weīve all got our problems, havenīt we?

The suspension, a De Dion layout with long, massive trailing arms and coil springs at the rear, and cantilever-operated horizontal coils at the front, must take up a fair amount of the 2000īs purchase price.

It looks solid enough to support a truck and gives a ride so soft that first time up youīre sure the car will sway like a schooner in the breeze as it goes through a corner.

It doesnīt, though. The nose dives when the brakes are punched hard and thereīs a certain amount of body roll in tight bends at moderate speeds, but things improve considerably as speed increases.

On long, sweeping bends there is no change in the carīs attitude to the corner at all and it hangs on, and on, and on, and on.

Thereīs a bit of understeer at slow speeds, but steering becomes fairly neutral on the open road. The big advantage of De Dion suspension - the rear wheels remain parallel at all times - means that the road-holding remains constant all the way through a corner at any given speed.

I know itīs costly; Ģ2285 is not the kind of money everybody expects to pay for transport, but youīd have to pay a lot more to find a car so well matched for all-round appeal, versatility and durability.

Australian Motor Sports & Automobiles 8/1965