Rover 3500 SD1

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Rover 3500 SD1

1976 - 1986
United Kingdom
3528 cc
102 kW @ 5000 rpm
3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
127 mph / 175 km/h
Number Built:
1 star
The Rover 3500 V8 represented a major advance on its predecessors. The David Bache designed hatchback was well situated in performance, looks, and economy, and helped bring back perhaps some lost prestige and desirability to the famous British marque.

But what made the 3500 so great was that, while broadening Rover’s appeal to other buyers, it never alienated the traditional Rover die-hards.

The Buick-based 3.5-liter engine had its rev limit raised from 5200 rpm to 6000 rpm by valve alterations and improved cy1inder head porting and manifolding.

These modifications allowed the svelte V8 to not only rev more easily, but increase power to a healthy (for the time) 102 kW at 5000 rpm, with torque of 245 Nm at 3000 rpm.

The maximum speed was 175 km/h and the Rover could make 0-100 km/h in a respectable 12.4 seconds, not blistering but not too shabby either.

In fact, the Rover 3500 came at a time when it was the norm for cars fitted with an engine displacement below 4 liters, and in automatic form, equated inevitably to fairly dull performance.

But the 3.5 liter donk and the wonderful streamlined body ensured the car would always get the best out of the engine, even when coupled to the three-speed Borg Warner 65 automatic transmission.

Ride was improved over previous models due in part to damper modifications, they being lengthened to allow to longer travel and more progressive damping.

Up front the Rover 3500 was fitted with a MacPherson strut, while the live rear axle was controlled by radius rods and a Watts linkage. This helped reduce squat and dive to a minimum. The brakes were power-assisted 258 mm discs at the front and 229 mm drums at the rear. The firm suspension virtually eliminated nose-dive in most braking situations.

The power assisted rack-and-pinion steering was accurate and responsive. with only 2.7 turns lock to lock and a turning circle of  10.4 m Best of all, the Rover 3500 was a highly maneuverable car.

The styling was a complete break with previous Rovers. David Bache admitted at the time that the 3500’s design was strongly influenced by models from Ferrari and Maserati, but most saw the connection the minute they laid eyes on it. The aerodynamic design of the nose section, the steeply raked windscreen, and the absence of a grille all helped minimise drag and turbulence.

In fact, the 3500 boasted a low drag coefficient of 0.39,  contributing strongly to Rovers' ability to avoid the then unwanted image of V8's as “gas-guzzling” monsters. In fact its economy was more than respectable, sipping a modest 12 to 15 liters/100 km.

The standard equipment was lavish, and included alloy wheels, adjustable steering column, metallic spray, fog lamps, power-windows, air-conditioning, and remote control exterior mirrors. A sun roof was available as an option. Luggage and carrying space were excellent and the rear seat folded down, nearly doubling the luggage area.

A thoughtfully made and well-performed vehicle, the Rover 3500 went on to steal plenty of business from the Volvo 264, Peugeot 604, and, dare we say, even the up-market Fords and Holden’s.

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