Rover 3500 V8

It is expensive and has only four seats. butit is a sedan apart. In performance, handling. braking, comfort and safety the TT5 is a superb motor car.

Value for money, the Rover Three Thousand Five is the most superb sedan we have driven. There are others exuding even greater technical excellence (the Mercedes 6.3 V8 for thrice the price or the Jaguar XJ6). But as a cosmopolitan car combining the experience of US V8 power, the finest British craftmanship and positive safety design, the Rover Three Thousand Five stands high.

For the uninitiated, it is the Rover 2000 body shell powered by Roverīs new 3.5 light alloy V8. The power-to-weight ratio produces scintillating performance.

The V8 conversion has been executed with great pains to sacrifice none of the basic 2000īs safety or habitability qualities. The only one point we would have changed on first driving the TT5 was the steering wheel. This seems archaically large at 17 inches. The reason is that with 185-14 Avon radials, the static turning torque is more than most Mums can manage with anything less than 8.5 inch leverage. Power steering? In the 2000 there was room in the engine bay but insufficient power; in the TT5 thereīs power but no room. So back to a 17-inch wheel.

Esteemed Rover owning friends of ours assure us the steering on the TT5 is lighter than on the 2000. A variable ratio steering box with 21.5 to 26 to 1 ratio variance and 4 1/2 turns lock to lock with 31 1/2 ft turning circle is the reason. Off the mark when parking, it is heavy but the slightest forward movement makes it possible. On the road it is light and sensitive - the 17-inch span in fact soon becomes homey.

The V8 is the TT5īs success story. It is an engine based on an original Buick block and outgrown by the US power race although Rover try hard to forget this parentage: from the colonies, chaps. It is in fact similar to the Brabham F1 winning engine of 1966. In his Roverised form it has all the most polished points of modern V8 design and wighs only 3 lb more than the TC unit! The block is a all-aluminium with the oversquare cylinders lined in iron sleeves. The engine is aspirated by two SU carburettors which feed through an aluminium alloy cylinder head to shallow bowl-in lightweight pistons. Overhead inline valves run on pushrods and the crank is set in five copper/lead-lined steel shell bearings. On a 10.5 to 1 compression the V8 produces its 184 bhp at high rpm (5200) and will spin to 6000 easily. With battery placed in the boot, the TT5 has a 51.4/48.6 front/rear distribution and a 47 percent power increase over the TC.

The converted Borg Warner 35 automatic transmission especially adapted by Rover is the best to come from the UK. Normal fully automatic changes are smooth and precise. The manual override system is the most logical weīve encountered. The central shift lever has a pushbutton which locks the central shift lever in each position except for a free movement between drive and second, second and drive or first and second. The downchange from second to first is guarded by the pushbutton gate. In practice the gearbox can be worked manually with full confidence. A straight, effortless, precise flick brings in second; push the button (easily achieved with just the ball of the first finger) and haul it into first. The changes back to drive are achieved by just pushing the lever forward with no fear that youīll overrun into neutral. Second is not a "lock-up" position, as in other BW 35 units. Once second is selected, it is retained despite engine or road speed, unlike the "lock-up" position which acts as "drive 2" or allows free automatic change between first and second.

Full use of the inordinately high degree of roadholding can be made with the new V8 power. Wide, fat Avon radials are standard gear on the wider than 2000 rims and their grip in the wet is unrivalled. Extreme ham-fistedness or full torque in first gear was the only way to unseat the leech-like traction. There is so much traction that in the dry the suspension will take-up to its bump stops before the car starts sliding. Overseas commentaries on the TT5 de-cried the carīs understeer. There is pronounced understeer in mild situations but with bags of torque on hand, power oversteer can be called on at will. In short, the TT5 handles superbly. It will do exactly what the driver calls on it to do.

The steering is not unlike the Porscheīs. It is not quite so precise but does have large amounts of feel and kickback without being harsh. Catering for a luxury market, the steering is geared (literally) to a compromise of ease in parking and high speed touring.

The suspension, of course, is strictly Rover 2000. At the front it is by a basically double wishbone system but the weight is taken through the kingpins to horizontally-mounted coils. The top links are angled to resist dive under brakes. If thatīs not enough, a torsion anti-toll bar keeps things level. The rear suspension is by semi-independent de Dion tube. The de Dion tube forms virtually a live axle behind the differential unit. Drive is taken to the wheels by two double universalled half shafts. The whole unit is mounted on two long trailing arms suspended mid-arm by coaxial coil damper units. Two radius arms mounted on the body aft of the de Dion tube counter any longitudinal movement.

The whole system is immensely sophisticated, at the same time simple - which is why the TT5 handles so well and can accept the V8 torque so easily.

Brakes (increased in size to handle the V8) at the rear are mounted directly on the axle half-shafts inboard, resulting in less unsprung weight. The fronts are also discs, big discs that stop the TT5 like dumping a 50 foot wave on Gipsy Moth IV.

All the aforesaid TT5 recommendations point to positive safety, which the TT5 exudes. There are other points (seatsī fresh air ventilation to counter drowsiness and so on); but if you must have a head-on or the like, the TT5 (or 2000) is the car for it. Thatīs if you want to step out and smile. The body is designed in two parts: a base unit with front and rear pre-determined crumple rates and a skin of easily bolted-on panels, which in the event of small bumps can be repaired or replaced individually without disturbing the whole back side or front of the car. Padding abounds in the cockpit on glovebox lids, dash, front seat edges and sun visors. The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and is heavily dished to minimise injury.

Back on positive safety, an excellent ventilation system - the best we have yet encountered bar full air-conditioning - keeps the driver fresh and alert at the same time leaving the passengers in snug comfort. Any combination of fresh-hot air to screen-floor with fresh air to face level louvres with or without blower assistance is available. The flow is strong and even in torrential rain we never saw a trace of mist on the wide screen despite floor and face vents being wide open too. The controls are simple, their effect instantaneous. The rear through-flow vents are runningly disguised under the C-pillar panels and draw sufficient volume to de-mist the rear light as well. A Triplex heated rear window is optional - it should be standard in a six grand car, really.

The wipers give an excellent sweep but would seem designed for lhd. The driverīs doesnīt drop far enough, so the traditional parker catseye is blurred by unswept screen from the wheel seat, embarrassing in parking and lane-dodging work. There is an intelligent wiper rheostat speed variance except that slow-to-very-fast is more slow-to-not-much-quicker. The passengerīs wiper ceased working on the test car during a week of "English" drizzle - poor show, wot?

Habitability is high. Seats are leather with vinyl side inserts - tricky compromise that. Comfort is superb, support all round and a clutch recliner for infinite squab variation.

Now for our list of things they forgot: wind noise around the front quarter vents-roof section is atrocious. With though-flow there is no need for vents but buffeting around chrome mouldings is primarily responsible, we think. There are no courtesy lights for the two big, lockable gloveboxes. Some short-legged drivers will find no left foot rest annoying as there is cavernous space with no support. The heavy bonnet is supported by a manual stay, no less. There is no vanity mirror. The carpets on the test car were loose fitting and the front door handles clobber the passengerīs knee.

Rover, realising that the boot (quote) "has to be all things to all motorists" (unquote), gives you a choice of three spare positions - under floor, upright left or boot-lid mounted. The test car had (b) we favor, (a) giving more space, (c) gives maximum but looks dreadful. With (a) there is adequate easily-packed space for fourīs luggage for a trip.

Fix up those forgotten things, add tacho (maybe, for those sporting moments), headrests and heated rear window options and you have a damned near perfect car - or as perfect as we suspect any sedan can be. For that, six grand would be a steal. As is, the TT5 is good buying and it was indeed a near tear-jerking time when we had to hand back those keys to British Leyland, our test car supplier.

0-60 mph 11.5 sec.

quarter mile 17.4 sec.

top speed 114.6 mph

fuel consumption overall 20.5 mpg


Wheels / Australia 8/1969