Rover 3500 V8
The Rover is
the car that colonial Englishmen dream of and foreigners expect the English to
drive. It is somehow synonymous with all that used to be regarded as the best of
this country; sturdy, dependable, rather conservative and admirable. The English
may have changed a little, the Rover has changed its shape, but has contrived to
maintain these virtues to which must today be added another: performance. This
last factor has never been part of the Rover image, except to the racing
fraternity who see Frank Lockhart campaign his famous 1948 Rover Special single
seater at Silverstone vintage meetings: even there the Rover dependability
the company never changes for change“s sake. Each body shape has a long run,
though it may be developed and modified over the years; when it does change it
is always for a sound reason. So it was when the Rover 2000 first appeared some
years ago. Here was a radically new shape with new thinking on interior layout
to go with it. Here too was a large engine compartment crying out for a bigger
inmate, and so in due course the Buick-based Rover 3-litre V8 was installed and
the result was soon acclaimed. Even after several years, the body still looks
completely up-to-date, whether it clothes two or three litres of engine.
Rover felt the need to update their 2000 and 3500 at the last Earls Court Show
and these are now being seen on the roads. Basically the car is the same and so
is the body. Most important for the 3500 is the revised instrumentation with
circular black dials and white digits replacing strip speedometers; also
important is the added option of power-assisted steering to make life even more
easy for the Rover owner. Externally, the new grille looks like a stylist“s
attempt at making a ventilated brick wall in metal and has also been dubbed the
"chip-cutter". Oddly enough, it looks horrific to those who have come to like
the Rover“s discreet front end when seen is a photograph, but somehow looks
better in the solid metal. There is a polished metal trim rubbing strake down
the side of the body at its widest point and this will save the damage that
afflicts some 2000/3500s. The rear quarter panels are now vinyl covered and bear
the famous Viking badge of the marque, while the curved sill panel beneath the
doors is now matt black and the wheel trims have been restyled. With new colours
such as the mustard of the test car, this all adds up to a more aggressive
looking vehicle even if the performance is the same.
from the revised instruments, the switches are now all rotary, seat squabs can
now take detachable headrests, inertia-reel seat belts are allowed for (though
not fitted to the test car), door and window handles have softer and saver
knobs, there is a hazard warning light system and the quarter lights have the
admirable knurled knob control as on Jaguars. All these refinements cost money
to implement and with generally increased costs the price has been put up, but
at little over £2000 the Rover represents really first-rate value for money by
today“s motoring standards.
safety viewpoint, the Rover is extremely functional with its rigid steel frame
to which are fitted the jig drilled body panels, all in steel except for the
aluminium alloy bonnet and boot lid. The layout is conventional insofar as the
engine is water-cooled, front-mounted and drives the rear wheels. However, the
rear disc brakes are mounted inboard and the suspension is of interest, being
completely independent with coil springs all round allied to double wishbones
and an anti-roll bar in front and a de Dion axle in the rear with Watts linkage
and rubber mountings. The engine compartment is businesslike and the main
routine points for attention, including the spark plugs, are quite accessible.
The big alternator is also noticeable, whereas the battery is not, having been
banished to the boot where it lives a sensibly cool life under a rigid cover and
beneath the carpet. The eight fuses are mounted under the bonnet on the nearside
wing. The boot lid sweeps down to bumper level for ease of loading and has a
sensible non-slam lock. It is carpeted and of a practical shape, added to which
the spare wheel, which also has a carpeted cover, can be mounted vertically on
the left, laid flat on the floor, or bolted to the lid.
is uncompromisingly for a maximum of four occupants, with rear seats shaped
accordingly and with a centre armrest. The front seats are very well shaped for
comfort and support and have reclining squabs with friction-lock handles on the
inner edges. The trim is in hide with matching door panels, deep pile floor
carpeting and a very pleasant light patterned headlining. Other surfaces are
matt black plastic with discreet use of rosewood coloured matt veneer reliefs.
The result is a comfortable, yet fairly compact compartment for four adults.
dominated by the slim two-spoke wheel, which is rather larger in diameter than
necessary with power assistance. The new instruments are an example of clarity,
with large rev counter and matching speedometer incorporating a trip recorder.
Other dials include fuel, water temperature and oil pressure gauges, an ammeter
and a Kienzle electric clock. Lights warn of handbrake left on and choke in use.
Switches fall well to hand with central controls of individual shape for
interior lights, exterior lamps including optional fog lights, and screen
washers and wipers, these having two speeds and an intermittent wipe; an inch
longer on each blade to give a larger swept area would have been an improvement.
There is a cigar lighter and pull out controls for the choke and the 2.5 gallon
fuel reserve. Oddments can be stored in two commodious locking compartments and
the heating and ventilation unit is remarkably efficient, once the fairly
complex controls are mastered. I particularly liked the variable opening fresh
air slots in front of the driver and his consort, a big improvement on the
accepted type which also make the hands cold.
cold weather is instantaneous, but needs plenty of choke. The optional heated
rear window also proves a worthwhile investment at this time of year. The door
skills are fairly high for the less agile, but after a while one is inclined to
forget them. The Rover may be a docile, almost sybaritic town car, but it can
certainly move on the open road. The engine remains quite throughout and with
"drive" engaged, the maxima in 1st and 2nd are 48 and 80 mph respectively. The
Rover is remarkable for its unobstrusive rate of travel, for it accelerates
without fuss or apparent effort and will cruise all day in the nineties, while
the stated maximum is a very respectable 118 mph.
ply tyres are part of the design and contribute to the excellent roadholding.
Avon or Pirelli are specified in the handbook, but Dunlop SP“s were fitted to
the test car and proved very satisfactory. The roadholding was really fine and
the ride was equally comfortable over main highways and country lanes. The power
steering eliminates one of the main points of criticism of the 3500, which was
noted for heavy steering and a strong understeer. Now it is very light and could
almost do with a little more feel, though it will suit all but the most
fastidious. Lighting from the double headlamps is very effective, but they were
set too high on the test car. Braking from the four Girling discs was efficient
and without judder or harshness.
Country Life / UK