In depth review of the Rover P6 3500

Michel

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When I was a young teenager in Lebanon, a friend of my brother used to come and pick him up from the house in his TC2000.
Once he took me for a 'spirited' drive and I was blown away by the handling and very short shifter.
I always wanted to buy one (obviously I would go for the V8) but every time the opportunity presented itself, I somehow missed out.
Ah... just like the V12 E-Type coupe that I knocked back at $3000 because it was a brown/anthracite colour, we can kick ourselves.
 

BenzBoy

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Michel is correct. The TC is quite a nifty handler and the ones I have drven have been as desirable as the 3500. Sadly, the ordinary 2000 is slow but otherwise a very nice car in which to cruise. I am talking manual of course...
Regards,
Brian
 

Styria

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The P6 - quite an interesting car in its own right and now starting to attract the correct and well deserved attention that they should have been afforded a long time ago. I have owned quite a number over the years, the last being a five speed manual model that was written off about twelve years ago. For a start, let's examine and evaluate the video that C107 has featured in this thread. Unfortunately, the tester did not really tell us much about the 3500 other than perhaps waxing lyrical about bodyshape, interior features etc. etc., with just a passing reference to some of the mechanicals and road holding, but not always correctly so.

He describes handling as being barge like, and whilst in V8 form the cars are inclined to lean a little - all due to the fact that the mass of the V8 engine is right over the front wheels, with up and down movement controlled by fairly short radius arms, but it is acceptable. In contrast, the 4cylinder 2000/2200 SC/TC have the engine much closer to the firewall, the mass of the cast iron block is further down on the chassis, and the whole assembly is held in check by longer radius arms. Thus, the handling is much more neutral, with lean greatly reduced. Very few people would be aware of the basis chassis/subframe qualities of the various models. A little later in the life of production, the tooling must have become "tired" because the Rover Company, by way of British Leyland, had to resort to inserting shims between the firewall and the upper "cranking lever" front spring support that holds up the car. One major problem that came to the fore was the location of the radius arm attached to the chassis - I have seen the mounting bracket tear a gaping hole in the subframe due to metal fatigue and the "thin wall" thickness of the subframe steel. Easy enough to rectify by way of stiffening plates and additional welding. Working on the front end, as applicable to all models, can involve the removal of the front springs that are humongous in length and size, requiring special tools to effect R & R of the springs. It is a dangerous task.

The tester made special mention of the four speed Rover gearbox. Sure enough, in basic layout it is similar to the box in the four cylinder (2000/2200), but the box is greatly strengthened by much larger gears, and by a special oil pump sandwiched between the main and extension casings. The flat steel body of the pump can be subject to pressure wear resulting in grooving, but it only is evidenced in high mileage examples. Most of the problems are caused by impatience by the driver when coming to a full stop and engaging reverse gear too quickly - it usually attracts an interference noise from the layshaft with the reverse gear becoming pitted and noisy, and even breaking on high mileage units. I used to engage second on stand still and then engage reverse - and it would never crunch when following that procedure. Regards Styria
 

Styria

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To continue on. The last 3500S I owned and drove, and totalled as a result of a collision, was fitted with a genuine Rover 5 speed gearbox. In contrast to the original four speed model which is all alloy, the construction of the main casing is cast iron, and there is a much improved gearchange mechanism (well, it's more "satisfying") when compared with the original four speeder. The five speed model gave about 27.5 miles/per hour in top gear, with the four speeder good for just short of 25 miles per hour. One very popular conversion to replace the four speeder was a Toyota Celica 5 speed box, and it was a Company by the name of Dello (? spelling) that had all the necessary hardware and soft ware to carry out this modification. The only drawback was top gearing per 1000 rpm - 22 miles per hour.

To get back to the test featured in this thread. The rear suspension - it wasn't happy about it, was he ? The Rover Company (bless them) had the choice of a fixed, floating axle assembly, or an independent DE Dion set up as was practiced and adopted by some Formula One Cars in the '60s. The benefit was that both rear wheels would at all times be perpendicular to its each other, with suspension movement being countered by a sliding tube arrangement moving from side to side. In addition, here were (huge !) universal jointed drive shafts (and I mean huge), plus long trailing arms locating fore/aft movement, and the car featured inboard disc brakes, and the whole assembly, including the differential plus an internal splined shaft were bolted to a compact sub frame, supported by flexible rubber mounts and attached to the body - fixed. The same as on a 6.9 ! The road holding and traction achieved by this De Dion set up was second to none - far more sure footed than anything Mercedes, or Rover P4/P5 for that matter, was able to produce at that time - even on loose gravel, one could accelerate quite swiftly without losing traction.

On the P6, the rear braking arrangement was, or is, fairly complex. The brake pads are adjusted automatically by a toothed wheel arrangement contained inside the rear callipers, and adjustment is effected automatically every time the handbrake is activated - it just uses a notch each and every time. Intimate knowledge of the calliper internal workings is essential, and unless one is familiar with the system, you're up against it. When working well, the handbrake works a treat - in fact, good enough for a trip through traffic from Hornsby into the City without using a foot brake. How do I know - because I did it as an unexpected experiment.
 

Styria

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Michel is correct. The TC is quite a nifty handler and the ones I have drven have been as desirable as the 3500. Sadly, the ordinary 2000 is slow but otherwise a very nice car in which to cruise. I am talking manual of course...
Regards,
Brian
BenzBoy, what just about no one knows is the fact that in acceleration up to fifty miles an hour, the single inch and three quarters of the single carburetted car will out accelerate the TC model with its twin 2" Carburettors. Really quite remarkable. The best one I had at one stage was a very, very rare 2200 Automatic - a much better and torquier engine, with beautiful road holding. Regards Styria
 

Styria

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Thanks for the compliment, Patrick. There is one important facet to my musings that is missing badly - they would be just that more interesting if photos were to accompany the text. As I was writing, I kept on thinking as "where the hell are all your photos" and it becomes an additional exercise or task that I find difficult to tackle whilst sitting in my cold garage. Regards Styria
 

Styria

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Well, as I am typing this at 3.26 PM, it is quite cold yet again. The Hair Dryer is helping to some extent. Getting back to the original assessment of the P6 Rover 2000/3500. One area of constant criticism has been the small size of the boot. We should remember that the perceived usage of the Rover 2000 initially was to be the province of well heeled, and young, London executives. One could hardly envisage that any 25 year old "executive" would haul three kids, wife and perhaps mistress all over the continent - well, let's just say three kids as wife and mistress would have spiflicated each other prior to leaving the shores of the Motherland. I do like to digress, don't I ? Anyway, the boot of the P6 is NOT small, it is just different in configuration. I'll explain why. Take my Gleaming Beauty in the shape of my 116 - 6.9. If say one had to transport four 14" tyres, you'd be hard pressed to fit all in the boot of the Mercedes. The boot, because of spare wheel well and petrol tank behind the back seats is shallow and not deep. The much maligned Rover - the boot is also shallow on account of the fuel tank, but the boot is deep, extremely so. In addition to the spare which is stowed upright on the passenger side, one can also fit an additional four 185.70.14 tyres side by side and still close to boot lid - in fact, one could even fit 15"ers in the same manner.
Anyway, on account of the constant criticism, the Rover Company came up with an ingenious, but ugly solution, erroneously much revered today, and that was to fit the spare outside and on top of the bootlid. There was, or is, a very complex mounting point bolted to the inner side of the boot lid and supported by two huge struts criss crossing and riveted to the double skin of the lid. A small, but sturdy Alloy platform was then attached to the boot by way of a bayonet fitting which was prevented from turning by a spring loaded clip that fitted into a small channel. Thus, if anyone wanted to steal the spare, they'd have to force the bootlid and disengage the spring loaded clip. Whilst it appears that the tyre would be resting on the boot lid, this was not so. It sat proud of the lid by about 10mms.
The upshot of all this was a huge tyre sitting on the lid just behind the rear screen, restricting rearward vision and resulting in an air drag that increased fuel consumption by three miles to the gallon - on a manual, 25mpg on the open road, but with spare on boot - 22mpg. Just as a matter of interest, I once towed a twin horse trailer, with my favourite gurnsey cow as sole occupant, and that increased petrol consumption to 17 mpg instead of 25.
 

Styria

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The second article or reference found by Bryce is probably a much better synopsis of the P6 2000/3500 range. I have read it carefully and I am pleased to relate that two of my critical observations have been confirmed. One is the road holding/cornering of the V8 engined car - the positioning of the power unit is really at odds with the shape of the chassis - you can tell that it really was not designed with a V8 in mind. I am being perhaps a little bit over the top with my assessment.

The second is the reference to weight saving reducing the thickness of the sheet metal to save just, what was it, 44 kilos ? On memory now. It is no wonder that the subframe supporting the forward radius arm on two cars that I had, plus one customer's, holding the heavy duty suspension would simply tear a gaping hole in the subframe, with the mounting bracket hanging down and still attached to the radius arm. I think Rover started the weight saving, but Leyland certainly cultivated it to another degree. Regards Styria
 
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