May 07, 2005

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May 03, 2005

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Trees Posted by Hello

Rover Owner's Club meeting

On Wednesday night, I went to my first Rover Owner's Club meeting. For some unexplained reason, I have this bizarre obsession with Rover cars, yet, because of their rarity in Canada, had only ever seen three of them before coming here, and had never seen one up close. About a month ago, I got in contact with the club president, Derek, who was very keen to have me come and visit the meeting (young blood at an old-man-car meet?!). After the meeting, as is the norm with these meets, everyone sort of congregates outside and looks at the cars and chats over tea and biscuits, so I, of course, was oh so eager to join in on the fun!

The club vice president, Warwick, had brought along his stunning P5B Coupé that he lovingly completed the restoration of (after buying it off one of his best mates, who had been working on it for the previous 6 years). The P5B Coupé is one of the more rare Rover models, and, to most, is by far the most desirable. The P5 was the top model in the Rover range during its day, is reputed to be the Queen's favorite car, and was the official car of British Prime Ministers up to and including Thatcher. The "B" in P5B indicates that the car is equipped with the Rover 3.5L aluminium V8, an engine first developed (and discarded) by GM for Buick. In fact, the Rover P5 was the first car to have this engine, which later came factory installed in many other cars (see Appendix A)! The "Coupé" is unique from the saloon version in that it is a 4-passenger car (rear buckets) rather than having the 5-passenger capacity of a saloon. In addition, the Coupé had a lower, swoopier roofline, making it a seriously gorgeous vehicle.

While I was chatting, Derek, unbeknowst to me, was busily arranging me a ride home! I ended up getting a ride home with Jim, the man who runs the club store and merchandise, in his P6B 3500S. Jim is a fellow Canadian (from BC) who has been living in Australia for many years now. As he was going to be passing by my house on his way home, he cheerfully offered me a ride in his car. The P6 was the Rover which replaced the P4 as smaller model in the Rover range. It had an incredibly advanced suspension for its day (in fact, it's nearly identical to that in my Alfa), which means even today it has both an excellent ride and great handling. As with the P5, the B indicates that it uses the 3.5L V8, in this case, a high compression version (as indicated by the "S" in 3500S). The 3500S was a much more rare version of the car than the standard 3500 (or 2000 four-cylinder models), and had not only the high compression engine, but a 4-speed manual transmission as well. The car is easily capable of keeping up with modern traffic; in fact, we gave a young guy quite a surprise! We were cruising alongside a new Honda, travelling at around the same speed. A young guy in a new Toyota Celica came roaring up from behind, clearly wanting to go much faster. He immediately changed lanes to pull in behind the Honda, and pulled a very surprised look when this old, stogy Rover squatted down and rumbled on ahead!

In any case, I had an excellent time. Of course, all the Rover guys were all trying to figure out how to get me a Rover to use for the rest of the year for as cheaply as possible - some even offered free cars! However, my job hunting is going to need to get a 100% increase in productivity before I could consider such a thing - V8's aren't traditionally the most miserly of engines. ;)

Appendix A
Unofficial and perhaps not complete listing of production applications of the Rover V8 engine:

Brabham F1 cars
Ginetta G33
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Discovery
Marcos LM500
Marcos LM600
Marcos Mantara
Marcos Mantaray
Marcos Mantula
Morgan Plus 8
Range Rover
Rover P5B
Rover P6B
Rover SD1
Sherpa Van
Triumph TR8
TVR 350i
TVR 350 SE
TVR 390 SE
TVR Chimaera
TVR Griffith
Westfield SEiGHT