19 May 2017

More than an old car #2: Rover SD1

What you are seeing here is a 1978 Rover SD1 3500. So, what exactly is Rover? You may be forgiven if you mistook it as a short form for the Land Rover, which are in fact the ones around this yellow gem.

Rover was a British automobile marque that started making cars in 1904, after its humble beginnings as a bicycle maker in 1878. It was absorbed by British Leyland Corporation, which also made double-decker buses for SBS Transit also! However, Rover maintained its brand name until 2005 when it became insolvent.

The SD1 stands for "Specialist Division Number 1", the code name given for the vehicle. First made in 1976, it was equipped with a powerful 3528 cc Rover V8 engine [engine with 8 cylinders providing power] and a 5-speed manual transmission [ie 1st gear to 5th gear]. It was capable of a top speed of 203 km/h and an acceleration of 8.6 seconds [0-60mph].

It was initially well-received by the press but problems started appearing soon enough. This included poor door seals: daylight was still visible even when the door was fully shut. Furthermore the paint flaked off easily, forcing Rover to invest a lot in repainting the cars. However, this did not stop the British police from using them as police cars!

What made this rare in Singapore is that Rover cars are unicorns, even the late-model ones in the 1990s-2000s. Interestingly, SD1s were sold in Singapore back then, but with the lower-capacity 2600 cc engine. This specimen here was imported from the UK a few years ago, as seen by the relatively new number plate. It seems to be the only one here to the best of my knowledge--you can consider it your lucky day if you see one!

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