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Celebrating
41 years of the SD1
 
 
 
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Spen King, who was now in overall charge of technical development of the group’s new models, would oversee the development of the new car, thereby re-uniting the King-Bache partnership that had produced the Rover P6. King was an engineer that would shun high complexity for the sake of it, preferring a well-developed conventional solution, if one were available – and nowhere was this more evident than in the mechanical set-up of the SD1. Budget constraints partially dictated this, but King himself explained that there were other considerations, “costs certainly played a part in the decision, but also kept the back wheels upright all the time, which was a good thing. And while I was away, they had done comparative testing with the live axle and the deDion suspension – and they reckoned it was good. Afterwards, we did comparisons between SD1 and Jaguar and actually bearing in mind the cost and so forth, the SD1 was just as good. I remember that we did a long trip in France in icy weather against Mercedes-Benz 450 and SD1 showed up extremely well.” King had risen through the ranks of Rover and following his work on the Gas Turbine Rovers in the 1950s and 1960s, he played a pivotal role in the development of the P6, P6BS and Range Rover, but immediately after the BMH-Leyland merger 1968, Donald Stokes had deservedly fast tracked him.

The existing Rover V8 Buick engine was mildly warmed over, with its rev limit being upped, slightly giving a small, but useful rise in power (Up to 155Bhp at 5250RPM from 143Bhp at 5000RPM) and also an improvement in driveability through freer breathing and new extractor effect exhaust manifolds, and the change in the torque characteristics (maximum torque being delivered at 1950RPM, as opposed to 2700RPM). When Rover bought the rights to the V8 Buick engine in the mid-1960s, they can't have known just how far-sighted that decision was – this light and infinitely tuneable engine was used up to the end of the 1990s in Rover's products. Through careful development, this sound esign was easily capable of keeping up with more modern power units, and it was still going strong into the twenty-first century

Picture Information: Design sketch for the interior shows to great effect how the symmetrical dash design works.

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1991 - 2017 Rover SD1 Club