Monday, June 29, 2020

A Beautifully Restored 1980 Rover 3500 SD1

Wow. Just wow.

I have written about the 3500 SD1 in the past. I even owned one. To save time, I am copying some of the text from a previous post.


I think that of all the "odd" car I've owned, the one that got the most attention (as in, "What the hell is that?) was my Rover SD1.

Had I lived in Europe when I owned that car, the reaction would have been "So what? It's another Rover". Here in the US, where it was known as the 3500, the SD1 was sold for only one year, 1980. Only 800 were sent here and it took Rover well into 1982 to find homes for all of them. To say it was a failure would be putting it mildly.

It didn't have to be a failure. On paper it was a brilliant car. But quality control at BL's factories in the 1980s was awful and the cars that rolled off the assembly lines were poorly screwed together and broke down often.

My Rover at a car show circa late 1980s.

The 3500 came with Rover's ubiquitous aluminum V8. This engine is one of the great engines of all time. It has powered everything from Land Rovers, Triumphs, Rovers, Morgans, TVRs, MGs and a whole bunch of kit cars. Lightweight and fairly powerful, it was the perfect engine for the SD1. (In the UK the SD1 was also available with 4 and 6 cylinder engines.)

The interior was extremely comfortable, very roomy and relatively luxurious. It was also "modern" by British large car standards. There was not a piece of wood veneer to be found. The design of the dashboard was made symmetrical in order to allow for the assembly of both left and right hand drive cars. It had two gloveboxes. On a LHD car like this, there is a vent where the steering wheel would be if the car was RHD.

In every place other than North America, these were great looking cars. In North America they had the mandatory big US bumpers and awful looking sealed beam headlights. More than anything, the loss of the flush headlights (also mandated by US law at the time) ruined the look of the front end of the car. If you buy one pay whatever you have to pay for a set of European lights. It makes a world of difference.

My SD1 was a reliable car. It never failed to start, it never left me stranded. It was fun to drive and, as I mentioned, attracted attention everywhere I drove it. I traded mine for an MGB, a move that I now regret. The MGB was a good, fun car, but compared to the Rover they're a dime-a-dozen. I should have kept the Rover and bought an MG. Oh well.

This is a pretty amazing find. The seller states in his ad:
This Rover (not Land Rover) 3500 or “SD1” is 1 of about 800 left hand drive models made by British Leyland for the US market in 1980.

Mechanical restoration is mostly complete and it starts and drives great. The paint and interior are all original, and quite nice for their age.

5-speed manual, Pendelican White, 3.5L Rover V8 EFI 130hp. Always garaged. Always passed smog. 33k miles on chassis, 3k since rebuild.

Things that work: All exterior & interior lights. All gauges. Wipers. Seat belt buzzer. Blower fan and heater core diverter. Quartz analog clock.

I bought this car with its drivetrain removed, performed a frame-on restoration of the engine bay and installed a rebuilt engine from another SD1 bored .030 over. All parts under the hood are either new, or rebuilt.

New brake, clutch lines & hydraulics, rotors pads drums & shoes. Rebuilt steering rack & power steering pump. Rebuilt front suspension, powder coat cross member. New EFI wiring harness and computer. Rims and spare power coated in Prismatic Gold. Most lighting converted to LED.

Included with the car is a large collection of spares. 18 or so boxes and a few larger items. Original workshop manual with USA model wiring diagram. 5 rims. Steering rack core. NOS interior trims, sensors, relays etc. Buick ported heads. European Vitesse front spoiler. US model chin spoiler. NOS tail lights and corner marker lights. Full upholstery set in light brown (or use as pattern for your own choice). Full set of A/C parts. A/C condenser. Spare radiator. Cruise control computer & throttle actuator. Fitted indoor car cover.

What can I say? This is a car you don't often see, that has been lovingly restores. It is worth the $9500.00 the seller is asking.

Located in San Jose, CA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

1 comment:

pickles said...

Another dream car. Last posting, the Le Car, now a Rover? Sexy. This is one of those shapes that's hard to get wrong. Audi A7, Sterling (Rover) 827, BMW 4-series Gran Coupe, even the second gen Prius... it's a great shape that always reads, smart/sleek/capable/better than a sedan (though the BMW 3 and 5-Series GTs were homely.) The Rover 3500 really invented this silhouette for us and it's still amongst the prettiest cars. Such envy that you had one. This white one in San Jose seems to already be sold.