Rover 2000 Automatic

In the first issue of ROAD TEST, Volume 1, No. 1 of december 1964 we tested a newcomer to the automotive market, the Rover 2000. This entirely new car was the result of 5 years of research and development and rated so highly in all our criteria that we asked the editorial question “Does the world´s finest car cost only $4000?”

So impressed were we with the fine qualities of this machine that we again, in November of 1965, conducted exhausitive tests to determine whether the 1966 models were living up to the earlier examples of superb quality control and general excellence. That the car met and surpassed the demands of our car staff is attested by the Safety and Engineering Award of Merit bestowed on the Rover 2000.

More than a year later, in April of 1967, ROAD TEST conducted comparisons of the $4000 imported sedans. Included were the Citroen DS 21, the BMW 1800 and 2000 TI, the Alfa Romeo GTV, the Mercedes Benz 200, the Jaguar 3.4 and again the Rover 2000. While all of the tested cars rated far ahead of their domestic counterparts, the Rover, once again, proved its superiority, voted by the ROAD TEST consultants best of all the cars in that group.

During the mote than two years our readers have been exposed to reports on the Rover 2000 we have received numerous letters relating to the car. Some have been inquiries regarding its actual value in comparison to domestics in the same price range. Others have dealt with concerns over the machine´s durability, reliability and longevity. Still other readers have asked us about the Rover dealer and service network, availability of parts etc. There also have been a great number of letters from readers who, on the basis of our reports, have purchased Rovers and found to their delight that the car lived up to all the good things we had to say about it.

Many of these letters we have answered in the FORUM column, still others, when accompanied by a self addressed envelope, have prompted personal replies. No other car we have tested has evoked greater response from the car buying public interested in obtaining the greatest value from their automotive dollar.

Among the many letters received, however, the greatest number contained inquiries about the availability and if available, the desirability of an automatic transmission for the Rover 2000. All of our reports have been based on the car equipped with four speed manual transmission, an excellent unit with synchromesh on all forward speeds and reverse lock-out. A great many readers were impressed with the car but, being accustomed to the convenience of automatic shifting were loath to return to what was, to them, the burden of “rowing” the machine through traffic. Not to be overlooked are the many women drivers who enjoy the luxury and comfort of the Rover but dislike the effort involved in gear-shifting. There is also a sizeable segment of the driving public which rightly feels that a price tag of $4000 should include at least the option of an automatic transmission.

Rovers of England, being of sound mind, quickly took heed of the demands of the American market and in mid 1967 introduced to these shores the 2000 with Borg-Warner automatic.

Before taking an in depth look at the new drive-line component it would be well to acquaint our newer readers with just what it is that has so favorably impressed the ROAD TESTers.

The Rover 2000 is the result of handing an advanced design group a clean sheet of paper and orders to create an entirely new concept, an automobile which would incorporate as standard all of the desireable handling, roadability, styling and safety features most sought by the motoring public. The result is a car so revolutionary that an entirely new $30.000.000 plant had to be built to produce it. To quote from ROAD TEST Vol. 1 No. 1, “It is to the credit of Rover´s directors that they decided to spend the money for palnt, for equipment, for engineering and for design rather than follow the lead of Americans who would rather spend thirty millions in advertising to sell warmed over previous models.” Again to quote, this time from our November 1965 issue, “If the 2000 was a specialized automobile built for appeal to a limited market of sports car enthusiasts, it would not be so remarkable. Nor would it be particularly outstanding if it cost twice as much. However, it has emerged as a family sedan capable of carrying four adults in supreme comfort at high speeds over all kinds of roads with outstanding economy at a price which the great bulk of moderate income families expect to pay for a new car. This, plus the fact that it is a quality car, built to high standards by prideful craftsmen, makes it something special”.

In a car loaded with outstanding features no one area can be singled out. For a starting point, consider roadability and handling. The Rover is equally at home in town, on the freeway or on the open highway. There is a slight heaviness during parking maneuvers but at any speed above a near stop, control is positive, light and quick. Around town, over railroad crossings or other surfaces imperfections the ride is good without a feeling of excessive suspension stiffness.

It is out in the open, however, with highways or mountain passes that the Rover 2000 really comes into its own. It will cruise effortlessly at a steady 65 to 70 while giving almost 25 miles per gallon. On mountainous twisty-turnies the Rover can be hurled into corners with abandon, the de Dion type rear suspension giving the driver complete control. There is nothing unpredictable likely to occur to trip up an enthusiastic would-be road racer. Cruising for hours at nearly 100 mph the Rover still delivers over 19 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Much of the credit for the car´s stability can be attributed to the outstanding combination of chassis-body construction and superior suspension. The structure is a skeletal entity unto itself with the bofdy panels hung on this structure bearing no weight. The rigidity of this unit makes it possible to direct from suspension loads to the strong bulkhead rather than the comparatively weak fender pressings as is common practice with ordinary unit bodies.

In the unusual front suspension layout, coil springs are mounted horizontally to the dash bulkhead. The arrangement results in lowered unsprung weight. At the rear the differential assembly is bolted to the chassis. This is in contrast to the usual practice of the third member being a bouncing unit supported by the rear springs. Rear wheels are kept in alignment by a light tubular axle, called a de Dion tube which prevents wheel leaning and tire scrubbing.

All these body, chassis and suspension components are designed to work in concert with radial-ply tires (standard equipment). The result is outstanding road holding with tires that will deliver up to three times the tread life of conventional American tires.

The Rover is powered by a free-breathing over head camshaft, four cylinder engine displacing 120.8 (1978 cc), bore and stroke are square at 3375. Compression ratio at 9:1 is not high by today´s standards and 113.5 pounds/feet of torque are delivered at 2750 rpm. By SAE standards the little four banger puts out 100 bhp at 5000 rpm. Calculating it the way the British do it comes out to 90 hp. While relatively heavy, the sturdy engine is a fine workhouse for sustained high speed operation. The five main bearing unit is redlined at 6000 rpm.

One unusual feature of the engine is its flat cylinder head surface which mates with the block. Combustion chambers are formed in the tops of the pistons. This configuration results in a reduction of combustion chamber temperatures by approximately 20%. Also, varying compression ratios can be achieved simply by casting different piston crown shapes.

In the realm of brakes and safety little has been overlooked in the Rover 2000 design. Four wheel disc brakes have a swept area of 436, an enormous amount of braking for a car weighing less than 2800 lbs. Of special interest is the braking test carried out at the Rover proving ground. In contrast to general practice of calculating fade after 10 stops from 60 mph, the Rover program calls for 50 full fade free stops from 90 mph! In our own tests we found an increase in braking performance after the 10th stop from 60 mph. Rear brakes are inboard at the differential housing which decreases unsprung weight thus adding to the road holding and handling.

A warning light is incorporated into the braking system to prevent driving off with the handbrake set. The same light also flashes on should there be a drop in the fluid level of the master cylinder. Long before any concerted hue and cry over safety, Rovers took it upon themselves to look long and hard at this matter of grave concern. Door locks, for example, have been made, if not childproof, at least child difficult. The locking buttons are located near the driver´s and front seat passenger´s ears. Operating with a loud click (designed in) they call attention to adults if children in back are attempting to open doors. There is ample padding where driver and passengers might encounter the interior in a crash.

All cars are delivered with combination lap and shoulder belt designed for easy and comfortable use. In the event of a collision both the front and rear of the car are deliberately designed to collapse at a pre-calculated rate while the central package remains rigid. Under severe impact the engine will be driven under the car and not rearward into the front compartment. The steering box is located on the firewall, far to the rear of any involvement in a crash.

More than any car near its price range, the Rover caters to the comfort and the convenience of its driver and passengers. Seat backs are adjustable to any position from fully reclining to fully upright. The seats themselves may be located at any position within a six inch range. There are none of the usual two or three inch stops, adjustment within the range is infinite. The bucket seats were designed with the cooperation of orthopadists and never before have there been automobile seats which give such proper support to the small of the back. Thigh support is excellent and the seating position is designed to offer the driver excellent vision. Instead of the convetional glove box there are tilt out bins for both driver and passenger which are not only padded for protection but also will collapse slowly on impact. Additionally, there is genuine leather in the seats, pile carpeting, arm rests and smatly designed controls that give the appearance of a car costing thousands of dollars more. The Steering wheel is adjustable for angle and even the ash trays are windproof.

The basic West Coast P.O.E. price for the Rover Automatic is $4198 and included as standard equipment at no extra cost are the following items: bucket seats, front and rear; reclining front seat backs; genuine leather upholstery; four wheel disc brakes; high speed tires (radial-ply); handbrake and brake fluid warning light; deluxe wheel covers; electric clock; power brakes; back-up lights; variable speed wipers; windshield washers; trunk interior light; cigar kighter; adjustable steering wheel; visor vanity mirrors; reserve fuel tank and control. – Most Americans are accustomed to paying extra for such items.

Now about that automatic. In exchange for the ease and convenience of no-shift driving the buyer must expect two concessions. Both straight line performance and economy fall off slightly when compared to the Rover 2000 with four speed manual transmission.

The fine handling and roadability, however, have in no way been compromised and this will undoubtedly be the deciding factor for those considering a fine car in the $4000 price bracket. The advent of this latest Rover will appeal to a great many men who must daily do battle with traffic and should the car be left at home there is a degree of peace of mind in knowing that one´s family is entrusted to one of the safest cars produced anywhere today. Women will appreciate the convenience of the automatic while purring in contentment in its luxurious fittings.

The Borg-Warner transmission as modified by Rover is one of the smoothest units it has been our pleasure to test. Console mounted, the quadrant is illuminated in the gear selected and, as now required, has the standard P R N D L positions. Set in D1 and left there, the Rover will move off smoothly and at the appropriate speed shifts up through the gears to cruise in third. The reduced driving effort in the all automatic mode enables the driver to fully appreciate the superb handling and roadability of the car.

For the enthusiast, however, there is provision for manual shifting which will delight the most hardened stick-shifter. If the car is started in L the lever can then be moved to D1 and then to D2 allowing shifts into second and then third. Should you wish to downshift into second simply move the lever back into the L position and second gear will hold until such time as one of the D positions is again selected. A welcome feature is the “hill holding” action of D2. If a stop is necessary on a hill, movement of the lever into this position will hold the car indefinitely.

In an emergency situation there is a kick-down switch under the throttle for engaging a lower gear to gain extra power. When pressure is released the higher gear will automatically be re-engaged. In all, a most flexible and thoroughly enjoyable automatic transmission.

Our previous consensus theat the Rover is among the best cars in the world is enhanced by the addition of the automatic. When you strap yourself in (shoulder and seat belt) a true feeling of becoming a part of the car takes place.

With nothing to do but steer and brake one may enjoy to the utmost the characteristics of handling that makes the Rover one of the outstanding cars on today´s market.


Top speed 97 mph


0-60 mph approx. 16 seconds


Fuel consumption

19,1 to 20,8 mpg



USA 1967