Rover 2000

12.000 miles user report

Until the 2000 appeared for pre-production road test in September last year, the possibility that I might become a Rover owner had never occured to me; still less did it seem likely that this union would be arranged within four months of that time. My preferences and their product, I found, had converged abruptly and Rover had opened up a new market far larger than they have yet been able to satisfy.

On January 10th this year, 45 HLB was delivered to the office; it must have travelled from Solihull to the London dealers on a transporter because there were only 41 miles on the clock. The first few miles revealed nothing wrong with the finish and only a handful of operating faults, listed in a separate panel, to which we shall return presently. Meanwhile I was delighted to find that it need not be sent back for its first (free) service until it had done 1.500 miles and thereafter only at multiples of 5.000 miles. In between there was nothing to do but glance occassionally at the various fluid levels; even this is very undemanding because the plastic washer bottle is a sensibly large one and although the cooling system is not sealed Iīve never yet had to add any water.

The running-in instructions were much less pleasing. They said not to exceed 35-40 mph for 500 miles, which I found difficult to believe and still do. At least this leisurely progress left the mind free of receiving impressions: the gearbox sounded excessively noisy in second and third and the exhaust crackled loudly at three separate resonant periods as it ran up the speed range; otherwise the car seerned smoother and quieter than Motorīs road test Rover. In January the excellence of the heater assumed considerable importance, but then the whole heating and ventilating system is well planned for any time of the year: the two facia grilles deliver a controllable volume of cold fresh air at breathing level without any appreciable noise.

At this early stage I began to think about indulging my personal likes and dislikes. The Rover is a car which you drive on the gearbox and you must be able to operate accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously with the right foot to drive fast and smoothly and always be in the right gear. So an extension was made for the pendant accelerator pedal - I think the pedal might well have been longer in the first place because every now and then the toe of my size 8 shoe would slip off its bottom edge.

I like seat cushions to have a considerable backward slope so that gravity keeps the spine firmly in contact with the squabs which, on the Rover, are very well shaped both for lumbar and for lateral support. The manufacturers bolt the seat runners to the floor through distance pieces with a few spare washers in the tool kit so that, within limits, you can adjust the cushion angle to suit yourself. Since I wanted to exceed these limits by about 50 I used longer front bolts on the driving seat but I find the result most satisfactory and the difference between driverīs and passengerīs seats is most noticeable on a really long "two hours on, two hours off" journey. Not everybody likes this modification, at least on first acquaintance, and if you prefer to sit upright rather than to recline it is probably undesirable.

There are two other things to which Iīm not entirely reconciled. One is the curved mirror which gives a splendid panoramic view occupying the whole of the large rear window but which lends false distance to following traffic and makes long range recognition impossible. Even after nearly a year of growing "accustomed to its face" I would gladly exchange it for a wider flat mirror. The other thing is the short stubby gear lever - I believe that a lever some two or three inches longer, raked backwards a little, would come in a more convenient place for armīs length drivers and have a lighter (though longer) action.

At 1.500 miles the car was returned with a written list of delivery faults to the London dealers who supplied it. The under-facia switch and the headlamp setting were both corrected; quarter light wind noise and exhaust crackle, they assured me, were both normal and nothing could be done about them. The driverīs door catch was adjusted to such good effect that the combined efforts of two chargehands and a night watchman failed to shut it at all. About this they were most apologetic and said if I brought it back in the morning their body specialist would put it right immediately. But, of course, it was much quicker to adjust it at home (six minutes).

So far as I could see all the other service work was done satisfactorily except that the free play in the steering (about 1 1/2 in. at the rim) was not removed. The bulkhead-mounted steering box is extremely accessible and adjustment is very simple. If the front wheels are jacked up, as the handbook rightly recommends, the job becomes rather tedious but, if you leave just a little free play to ensure that the worm and follower are not too tightly meshed, the whole job takes little longer than filling the windscreen washer bottle; I make a practice of doing it every 5.000 miles or so and the improvement in steering is quite marked.


At 4.000 miles the car was checked by Crypton equipment which revealed only a slight error in contact breaker gap and ignition timing and an over-rich carburetter setting. The engine is rather sensitive to mixture adjustment at low speeds and if the nut of the SU is more than a flat or two from the correct setting the tickover becomes lumpy and low speed running in top can be very jerky. Early cars also suffered from a trouble well-known to all carburetter men by the picturesque name of "Harry and Willy", a form of irregular running at part-throttle which, in the Roverīs case, produced a to and fro surging motion around 40 mph in top gear. This seems to have been cured now by a distributor giving less vacuum advance.

The results, compared with our road test car, are interesting: at this stage of its life, 45 HLB appeared to have better acceleration and almost identical fuel consumption up to about 70 mph in top (say 3.500 rpm) but thereafter it fell away badly in both respects and was no less than 7 1/2 mph down on maximum speed. It had led a rather sheltered urban and suburban life with very little long-distance running.

After another 10.000 miles it had lost some of its edge at low rpm (although remaining as good as the test car) but gained considerably at the top end. Maximum speed had risen by 4 mph and high speed fuel consumption had improved. The loss in low speed fuel figures is probably accounted for by the modified advance curve which we have already mentioned.

Personally, I would like a little more acceleration but I would be unwilling to get it by lowering the final drive ratio and losing the present ability to cruise at an unruffled 95-100 mph at a thousand rpm below the rev limit.

At 5.000 miles the brake fluid warning light started to flicker but this was only the result of normal pad wear lowering the reservoir level. At the same time the direction indicator switch failed for the first time - it happenend again at 11.000 miles and in both cases was replaced free. Judging by the difficulty of finding a Rover agent with a new switch in stock, there must be a good steady demand.

In June 45 HLB was scheduled for its first visit abroad, to report the Alpine Rally. The whole 3.000 mile journey proved most instructive but it started in a rather breathless sort of way. Three days before departure a grinding, grumbling in all gears except top heralded the demise of the flexible roller spigot race which connected the input and output shafts of early gearboxes. It was returned in haste to Solihull and in the afternoon of departure day I collected it and drove home rejoicing in a new gearbox of late specification which was in every way a vast improvement on its predecessor. It now had a solid roller spigot race, it was, if not silent, at least quiet in all the lower gears and it had a much better change - lighter and more positive. A new final drive unit had been installed at the same time because the original one was found to be leaking oil on to the inboard rear brakes.

Grand touring

My wife and I had a hasty meal, threw all the maps and luggage into the car and left Camberley at 7.15 pm for the night boat from Newhaven to Dieppe. This is one of the quickest methods of getting a long way in a short time, also one of the most uncomfortable unless you arrive early enough to grab one of the better seats. We didnīt and we spent the night sitting on hard wooden chairs round a small coffee table. By 2.30 am we were free to leave Dieppe and, since there isnīt much to do at that time, we left with the one who was only half asleep driving and the other sleeping comfortably in a well-reclined passenger seat fitted with a Restall headrest.

Driving alternately in short spells to start with, longer ones later on, and keeping down to 60-70 mph for the first 200 miles to run-in the new differential, we headed southwards. There was one involuntary stop when the throttle linkage came adrift. Hard breaking on a very bumpy downhill stretch had produced enough forward movement of the engine to pull the drive rod out of its bulkhead bearing but it took only a minute or two to force it back and bend the bearing forward so that it wouldnīt happen again. We reached our target for the day far too early and pressed on to have tea by the Mediterranean at les Saintes Maries. By 7.15 pm we had looked round the Camargue and motored back to Arles for the night.

Seven hundred and fifty miles, a channel crossing, some running-in and a bit of sight-seeing in 24 hours, and at the end of it we were no more tired than at the beginning. The only point in describing this journey is that it demonstrates the untiring comfort of the car much better than a lot of words. The springing is superb, the seats very comfortable, heating and ventilation are excellent in quantity, distribution and controllability and will cope with a large temperature range without the tiring noise of open windows. Also the Rover has the stability, roadholding and brakes you need for easy relaxed driving. Those who have had the experience, as I often have, of bounding along a non aménagé French road not daring to go any faster whilst Citroens sweep past contemptuously will be pleased to know that this doesnīt happen in the Rover.

One other thing worth noting about this journey is that the overall fuel consumption was 27 mpg and that means, with a 12-gallon tank and a facia reserve tap, that you need refuel only at intervals of about 270-300 miles.

If the first part of this trip illustrated comfort and convenience, the second part, following the Rally round the Alps, put the accent more on roadholding and handling. We picked up a third member of the crew and with three lots of luggage in the boot this revealed a flaw in the suspension - when travelling fast on bad roads with a heavy load there is insufficient bump movement at the back and periodically the rubber stops come into operation. The bump rubbers are soft and there is no jar or shock but the effect is enough to spoil the smoothness of the back seat ride.

For the first time a team of Rover 2000s was competing in this Rally. Before it started I think their drivers felt as I did that, although the roadholding is impeccable, the size, weight, soft suspension and fairly low geared steering would make the car less responsive and sprightly than one would wish for hurtling round narrow mountain passes. To a limited extent this may be true but a lot of compensating virtues soon revealed themselves. High gear ratios, all of them synchronized, make first really useful for the sharpest hairpins and a 55 mph second gear (65 for a rally driver) is splendid for the bits between. The steering is light enough for crossed-hands motoring to be practicable, the bumpy bits donīt deflect the car off its course, it doesnīt roll much and it never does anything vicious on dry roads nor, with the Pirelli Cinturatos, on wet ones. Moreover, you have to go very fast to make them squeal, a virtue which I rate highly.

Front wheel tracking is important: Although the handbook recommends 1/16 in. either side of parallel the best steering, straight line stability and least sensitivity to corss winds demands a toe-in of at least 1/16 in.

The last stage of the journey southwards over the mountains to Monte Carlo was conducted at dead of night with my wife driving, our photographer George Moore navigating and B.M.C. competition manager Stuart Turner, in furious pursuit with a B.M.C. service car, feeling very pleasant with himself, as he said afterwards, because he thought he was keeping up with Anne Hall in her retired rally car. Occasionally I woke up to hear the brakes squealing, a thing they had never done before. When we left Monte Carlo a few days later it becomes obvious that this trip marked the retirement of the front pads from active service at the early age of 9.000 miles. When youīve worn away as much pad as Mr. Dunlop considers wise, his brake cylinders come up against stops so that you canīt grind the metal parts away as well. On the other hand neither do you have any brakes on that wheel and we had to content ourselves with rear brakes only for the 900 miles home.

The inner pads on disc front brakes always present a wear problem. If they have backplate shields they run hot and wear quickly; if they donīt they get sprayed with mud and grit from the opposite wheel. 45 HLB now has a new type of ventilated shield on which we will report later.

For its 10.000-mile service, the car went back to Solihull from which it emerged much quieter. A new exhaust system removed its three-note raspberry and adjustment of the quarter light pivots and rubber seals cured the wind noise. The boot lid was persuaded to stay shut and the heater controls were re-adjusted to let air in at high speed; crossing France in hot weather we had noticed that air flow through the heater would suddenly cease above 80 mph due to air pressure on the heater flap overriding the spring link which connects it to the air control lever.

Running costs

These are listed in the separate panel but deserve a little explanation. Fuel consumption has been amazingly consistent: even though conditions of use have varied from Alpine storming to thousand mile periods devoted almost entirely to motoring in and around London, it has seldom departed far from the overall average of 25.7 mpg. Oil consumption is about 500 miles to the pint.

Tyre wear was plotted from measurements made on the centre line of the tread periphery. Initially I was alarmed to find that the rate of wear at the back appeared to be twice as great as that at the front but this turned out to be illusory; the rear tyres, which are held upright by a de Dion axle and run at higher pressure, wear initially in the centre of the tread while the front tyres run off the edges to a rounded profile. For this reason I disagree with the practice of interchanging front and rear covers which can upset the handling and steering qualities of the car. It is good practice, however, to change them from side to side, reversing the direction of rotation, in order to eliminate the saw-tooth block wear arising from heavy braking.

The tyre wear graph has been extended to 15.000 miles by which time all of them were down to or below the 1-1 1/2 mm. tread depth at which they become unfit for use in heavy rain. Unaccountably, one rear tyre wore out at 12.000 miles; the higher wear rate of the others from 12.000 to 15.000 miles was caused by Continental travelling with four passengers and 3 cwt. of luggage in the boot. Except when heavily laden the tyre pressures have already been kept 1-2 lb. above the recommended pressures; experiments with much higher pressures showed an improvement in handling which was not enough to justify the increase in road noise and harshness.

Depreciation remains the most doubtful figure; a look at current advertisements shows that the Rover still has a scarcity value which makes it almost nominal. We have used a figure of Ģ250 which may be more typical when the supply position improves than it is at the moment.


For travelling really fast at night on unknown roads I was never entirely satisfied by the range of the headlights. Four 5 3/4-in. lights are not noticeably better than two normal 7-in. units; if you go abroad frequently, as I do, there is also the problem of changing from left- to right-hand dipping (and back) which necessiates changing the outer light units completely and re-setting them.

Both these problems have now been resolved in a completely satisfactory way by using Cibié replacement units. The dipping lights, which have normal bulbs, can be changed from left- to right-hand dipping by removing them and moving a small lever on the bulb-holder; this involves taking off the front grille, but the whole job can be done in 20 minutes and leaves the setting undisturbed. The beam is asymmetric - sharply cut off straight ahead with a long range up the kerb to pick up the cyclists.

The centre pair are Cibié quartz-iodine units which give a well-spread light of staggering range - these are, in fact, by far the best lights which I have ever driven behind. They could be improved even further by re-wiring of fitting relays to eliminate the 1 1/2-volt drop which exists between the battery and the bulbs but this seems hardly necessary now. Foglights are not easily chosen for the Rover - to avoid interference with the headlights or the cooling airstream they should go below the bumper where only rectangular units harmonize with the frontal appearance and leave adequate ground clearance over high kerbs. These again are Cibié and they have neat translucent plastic covers to protect them from low-flying stones.

One other addition was made. Growing rather tired of sitting in traffic jams without entertainment, I decided that a radio was essential and acquired a Pye 2000T push-button set. Since Iīd never fitted a radio I bought a fitting kit and the recommended roof aerial as well. You have to get behind the roof trim to bolt the aerial on so I had this done professionally; the rest of the job is well within the capacity of the average handyman because Rover have already provided all the necessary holes, flanges and spaces for bolting it in place and the terminals for electrical connections.


In general, 12.000 miles have reinforced rather than modified the views we expressed in our road test. There was, however, a paragraph criticizing the standard of mechanical refinement, part of which is worth quoting.

"The gearbox, too, could well be less audible in second and third speeds and the engine becomes rather fussy well before its generous 6.000 rpm limits is reached. We have to make these remarks on the evidence of two pre-production samples although we are well aware that substantial improvements may have been made by the time production cars reach the public."

By the time 45 HLB was delivered the engine had become much quieter at high rpm - we believe that the road test cars had experimental heat shields over the exhaust system which resonated at high rpm. We have already remarked on the improvements made to later gearboxes. A lighter change would be an improvement - the present one needs little more than finger pressure for slow movements but offers considerable resistance to rapid changes.

Miles have mounted quickly since the end of the recorded period so that the clock now shows 16.500 miles but it still feels like a new car; the engine sounds the same as it did originally, there is no rust and there are no body rattles. There are, in fact, only two signs of deterioration both of which first appeared before 12.000 miles: the front quarter light pivots have become loose enough to slightly when they are open and the clutch engagement from rest has become juddery.


Comments from Rover:

-  This car has clearly been driven hard, and in general we agree with the comments made.

-  The running-in instructions have now been deleted from the service guide, and a modified instruction giving general advice, with no restriction to 40 mph, has been put into the instruction manual.

-  A flat dipping mirror is available as an alternative, although this does, of course, obscure full width view very much more than the curved mirror fitted as standard.

-  We have tried a longer gear lever, but did not like it as much. The gear lever cannot be moved rearwards because it interferes with the handbrake, which in turn is already as far rearwards as is practicable for short drivers.

-  The improved exhaust system and ventilator window sealing rubbers fitted to this car are now standard,

-  The direction indicator switch is a standard proprietary article, and it is agreed that it has not been reliable. It has been improved.

-  The front wheel tracking instruction has now been modified to call for 0-3/32 in. of toe-in.

-  Improved front brake shields have reduced front pad wear.

-  Modified adjustment on assembly has now cured the tendency for the heater air flap to fly shut at high speed.

-  The Cibié foglamps referred to will shortly be available as a factory fitting.

-  We have now eliminated clutch jadder and can cure this on cars already built (it now has been cured on this car).




Other ownersī views

We were able to find very few Rover owners who had done enough miles to contribute useful experience and there would be no point in analysing these statistically. Gearbox trouble, differential oil leckage and direction indicator failure are apparently the main weaknesses. Several drivers complained of the audible clonk from the linkage which accompanies gear changes. A minority had suffered persistant brake squeal - there seemed to be some evidence that these people seldom used the brakes very hard. One owner disliked the plastic material used for some of the trim and upholstery (the seats, of course, are leather) which he described as sticky and liable to gather dirt.

So much for the complaints. Overall impressions are generally most favourable. Most owners are delighted by the Roverīs comfort (in the widest possible sense), visibility, economy and quietness - with some reservations about noise at high rpm in the lower gears which probably applies mainly to early cars. Opinions about the quality of service vary with the agents concerned.




  at 4.000 miles at 14.000 miles
top speed 96.5 mph 100.6 mph
overall fuel consumption 25.9 mpg 25.7 mpg



Motor / UK December 1964