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42 years of the SD1
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What BL created with this clever piece of “parts bin” engineering was a moderately successful attempt at an entry-level model. Under the bonnet, where previously large, multi-cylinder engines resided, a dainty twin carburettor version of the 1994cc O-Series engine, which it has to be said, looked almost lost in the engine bay. The Rover 2000 was a better performer than its modest 104BHP and large body would have lead one to expect: Topping 105 MPH and completing the 0-60 dash in about 13 seconds. It was, however, a culture shock to drive one though, if you had previously driven the effortless 3500 or 2600 models. To get the best out of one, being in the right gear ratio at the right time was an absolute must.

Importantly, the SD1’s build quality and rust resistance improved markedly at this point in time – no longer would you see new Rovers sat on the hard shoulder of the Motorway, bonnet up and the driver looking in, a mixture of rage and exasperation on their face. Trade-in values were low, and had remained so since 1977/78, as the trade viewed the SD1 as an unreliable long-shot. Problems with the early ones were legion - paint, trim and electrical fragility were commonplace, but also the 2600 and 2300 suffered from camshaft failures, due to poor design. These new models came at a time, when the SD1’s image was at a low ebb, and sales did pick up slightly as a result of the bargain priced (£5-7million) face-lift, and the lift in quality. The group as a whole also posted increased sales in 1981 and 1982, as the new cars, which offered far more buyer appeal started to appear.

Further SD1 variations came thick and fast as British Leyland continued to develop the car. Late in 1982 came the SD Turbo model, a 2393cc Turbo Diesel engine as donated by VM of Italy slotted under the bonnet, which gave a handy 90BHP. Hardly a rocket ship, but as diesels circa 1982 went, it was not a bad piece of kit. Top speed was over 100mph, which made it one of Europe’s fastest oil burners. Unfortunately, like the similarly powered turbo diesel Range Rovers, it did suffer from voracious Turbo lag and did not go on to sell in particularly large numbers in the UK, but it did do well, particularly in France and Italy – the markets that it was designed for.

What Rover watchers had been waiting for though, appeared in December 1982; a higher powered development of the V8 version: The Vitesse

Picture Information: The jewel in Austin-Rover's crown: the 1982 Rover Vitesse.

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1991 - 2018 Rover SD1 Club