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Blues and Twos: Rover SD1 Police Car Sells at Classic Car Auction


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Blues and Twos: Rover SD1 Police Car Sells at Classic Car Auction

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but a 1984 Rover SD1 police car obviously ticked all the boxes for a buyer at auction earlier this month.

Rover’s SD1 fetched £3,700 at the Brightwells auction which was selling the entire Bedfordshire-based Stondon Museum collection following its closure in April. The SD1 became popular with British police forces, especially the V8 engine, due to the car’s sheer speed.

Rover launched the SD1 in 1976 and more than 300,000 vehicles were made up until 1986 when it ceased production. Designed by British car designer David Bache and engineer Charles Spencer King, the Rover is said to have been inspired by the Ferrari Daytona and was a primarily a replacement for the Rover P6 and Triumph 2000/2500. Before Rover stopped making the car, the Police bought a large number of SD1’s and stockpiled them for later use.

At the time Rover was part of the British Leyland group and Bache and King’s model was named the RT1 for Rover Triumph Number 1. The two companies, however, were later put into a new ‘Specialist Division’ of BL so the RT1 became the SD1. The car was never marketed by Rover as a SD1 and was usually named according to its engine size such as Rover 2000 for a two-litre engine.

Available as a three-speed automatic or five-speed manual, the SD1 could be bought as 2.0 four-cylinder engine in petrol or diesel, a 2.3 and 2.6 litre straight-six engine or 3.5 litre V-8. Designed with rear beam axle, the SD1 featured an air vent that was directly faced the passenger on the dashboard. An estate version never materialised although there are understood to be two prototypes exhibited at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire and Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford, Somerset.

The car received the European Car of the Year award in 1977 however it was reported by some in the motoring press that the vehicle suffered from poor construction quality. Although former racing driver Raymond Mays is thought to have described the car as the best he had ever driven so there were clearly mixed reviews of the SD1.

In 1981, Rover moved manufacturing of the vehicle from its Solihull plant, which closed, to the Cowley in Oxford in 1981.

In an episode of Channel 4’s For The Love of Cars, hosted by actor Phillip Glenister, the team rebuilt a 3.5 litre V8 Rover SD1 police car which later went under the hammer at Coys’ Autosport auction at the Birmingham NEC and sold for £11,505!

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