Specification

   
  • Parent company British Leyland (from 1968)
  • Manufacturer Rover
  • Production 1963‚Äď1977
    322,302 produced
  • Designer(s) Spen King, Gordon Bashford, David Bache
  • Body style(s) 4-door saloon
  • Successor Rover SD1
  • Engine(s) 2.0 L straight-4
    2.2 L straight-4
    3.5 L V8
  • Fuel Capacity 12 imp gal (55L; 14 US gal)(2000TC)
    15 imp gal (68L; 18 US gal)(3500)
  • Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
    5-speed manual
    3-speed automatic
  • Height 56 in (1,422 mm)
  • Length 180 in (4,572 mm)
  • Width 66 in (1,676 mm)
  • Wheelbase 103 in (2,616 mm)
  • Kerb Weight 2,810 lb (1,275 kg)(2000TC)
    2,862 lb (1,298 kg)(3500)
  • Predecessor Rover P4
    Rover P5

The history of the Rover P6

   

The Rover P6 series (named 2000, 2200, and 3500 for its engine displacements) is a saloon car model produced from 1963 to 1977 in Solihull, West Midlands, England. It was replaced by the Rover SD1. It was voted European Car of the Year in 1964.
The P6 was sixth and the last of the 'P' designated Rover designs to reach production. The vehicle was marketed first as the Rover 2000 and was a complete 'clean sheet' design intended to appeal to a larger number of buyers than earlier models such as the P4 it replaced. The P5 was sold alongside the P6 until 1973.
The 2000 was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully-synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame, inspired by the CitroŽn DS.The de dion set up was unique in that the "tube" was in two parts that could rotate, thereby giving the rear suspension a quality of independent suspension while keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body.
The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced. The car featured all-round seat belts and a carefully designed 'safety' interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions.
One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the unusual design of the front suspension system, in which an L-shaped rotating bracket conveyed the vertical motion of the wheels to horizontally-mounted springs fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulicly dampened arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering.The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover's Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the Gas Turbine engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the cars initial launch for the 2000.
The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space. This was due to the 'base unit' construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional run-flat technology.
The car's primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover. In continental Europe the Rover 2000 contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four cylinder engine - a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover's compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was never as spacious as those of the Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre.
The first P6 used a 2.0 L (1978 cc/120 in≥) engine designed specifically for the P6. Although it was announced only in the Fall / Autumn of 1963, the car had by then been in "pilot production" since the Spring, so deliveries were able to begin immediately. Original output was in the order of 104 bhp (78 kW). At the time the engine was unusual in having an overhead camshaft layout. The cylinder head had a perfectly flat surface, and the combustion chambers were cast into the piston crowns (sometimes known as a Heron head).
Rover later developed a derivative of the engine by fitting twin SU carburettors and a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000TC. The 2000TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe. Limited availability of the redesigned induction manifold needed for the twin carburetter engine was given as one reason for restricting the 2000TC to overseas sales. The manufacturers also stated pointedly that the UK's recently introduced blanket 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit would make the extra speed of the new car superfluous on the domestic market. Fortunately for performance oriented UK buyers, supplies of the redesigned inlet manifold must have improved and the company relented in time for the London Motor Show in October 1966 when the 2000 TC became available for the UK market. The 2000 TC prototypes had run in the Rally of Great Britain as part of their test programme. It featured a bigger starter motor and rev counter as standard and was identifiable by TC initials on the bodywork. The power output of the 2000TC engine was around 124 bhp (92 kW). The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000SC models. These featured the original single SU.
Rover saw Buick's compact 3.5 L (3528 cc/215 in≥) V8 from the Buick Special as a way to differentiate the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover's own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host by more than three decades (its original host being the P5B, not the P6).
The 3500 was introduced in April 1968 (one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph's owner, Leyland) and continued to be offered until 1977. The manufacturer asserted that the light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car's maximum speed of 114 mph (183 km/h) as well as its 10.5 second acceleration time from 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. (The glaring exception was the Jaguar 340, substantially quicker and, in terms of manufacturers' recommended prices, 15% cheaper than the Rover 3500, the Jaguar representing exceptional value as a 'run-out' model, shortly to be replaced by the Jaguar XJ6.)
It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space in order to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine-bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car's battery which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot/trunk. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller engined original P6.
Having invested heavily in the car's engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and, for occupants, beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, though this decoration later appeared also on the car's four cylinder siblings.
A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission option until the 1971 addition of a four speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter 'S' didn't denote 'Sport', it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: 'Synchromesh'.
The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, involved a number of revisions to all Rover P6 variants and was launched in 1970. It included new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips - even for the 4 cylinder engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500, and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The battery was moved to the boot for all Series II versions.
The final years of the Rover P6 coincided with production problems at British Leyland. This was highlighted in August 1975 when 'Drive', the magazine of the British Automobile Association awarded a trophy to a Rover 3500 as the worst new car in England. It reported that a Rover 3500 purchased in 1974 had covered 6,000 miles (9,600 kilometres) during its first six months, during which period it had consumed three engines, two gear boxes, two clutch housings and needed a complete new set of electrical cables. The car had spent 114 of its first 165 days in a workshop. The runner up prize in this rogue's gallery was awarded to an Austin Allegro with forty faults reported over ten months, while a Triumph Stag came in third.The story was picked up and reported in other publications not just domestically, but also in Germany, at the time Europe's largest national car market and an important target export market for the company. Further evidence of poor quality control on the 3500 assembly line at the Solihull plant appeared in a report in Autocar magazine in October 1976, surveying the experiences of company car fleet managers with the model, though the report also suggested, apparently wishing to appear even handed, that at least part of the problem might have arisen from excessively optimistic expectations of the model.
The 2200SC and 2200TC replaced the 2000 and 2000TC. Announced in October 1973 and produced through to the early part of 1977, it used a 2.2 L (2205 cc/134 in≥), version of 2000s engine with the bore increased from 85.7 mm to 90.5 mm: the stroke was unchanged at 85.7 mm. Gear boxes on the manual transmission cars were "beefed up" to cope with claimed power increases to 98 bhp and 115 bhp for the SC (single carburettor) and TC (twin carburettor) versions respectively, along with the improved torque.
The last 2200 came off the production line on 19 March 1977 and was a left hand drive export version, which was converted back to right hand drive by Tourist Trophy Garage, Farnham.
There was also an Estate version of the Rover P6 known as the Estoura made as a conversion of the saloon P6 with between 160 and 170 produced. The first estate was not an approved conversion, but all subsequent conversions were of a Rover-approved type and therefore warranties were carried forward.
The conversions were completed by H.R. Owen and Crayford Engineering and used panels supplied by FLM Panelcraft. Conversions could be carried out at any time in the car's life. Most conversions appear to have been carried out when the cars were 12 months old or older because if a car was converted when new, the conversion would be liable for Purchase Tax like the car itself.
The last Rover P6 off the production line was built on 19 March 1977.

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