Such was the optimistic mood in the early Seventies, no doubt fuelled on by the promise of anticipated huge sales figures
furnished by the sales networks, Rover managed to secure finance from British Leyland’s management to build a new factory
at the Solihull site, solely to build the new car. This £31 million investment, although, endowed with good intention did
prove to be a major problem for British Leyland, with a poor Labour relations record, resulting a huge amount of lost days due
to industrial action. Lauded as a state of the art factory in 1976, the car producing plant was put on ice as a consequence of
the great rationalisation of the Company in 1982.
In the Months leading up to the launch, the SD1 was put through many customer clinics and the feedback was excellent. When
lined up against such rivals as the Audi 100, Rover’s own P6 and Volvo 164, people adjudged that the SD1 was a much more
expensive car – comparing it favourably with the Jaguar XJ6. This should have spurred Rover on to price the 3500 at a
higher level than these immediate rivals, but as we can see, this is not the case – Rover faced a political situation
within the Specialist Division of British Leyland and it was decided to pitch the Rover at a price level comfortably below the
“basic” XJ6, the 3.4 Series Two model in order to avoid internecine competition.
The existence of the upcoming SD1 was possibly the worst kept secret in the history of the British Motor industry up to that
point and yet it still did not lessen the impact of the car's launch, when it finally came in July 1976. The press were ecstatic,
raving about the car's styling, the way it performed and how quite simply the car felt so right. The press lauded the SD1 for
many aspects but what they particularly liked was its strong, torquey performance which combined with its high gearing making it
a very relaxed car to drive indeed. The charismatic V8 added charm to the package.
Picture Information: The Rover SD1 In prduction at a "State of the art" facility in 1976.