|Rover 3500 SD1|
In 1971 British Leyland began developing a new car to replace both the Rover P6 and the Triumph 2000/2500. The designers from both Triumph and Rover submitted proposals for the new car and the Rover design was chosen. David Bache was to head the design team, inspired by exotic machinery such as the Ferrari Daytona and 365 GTC/4, and the late 1960s design study by Pininfarina for the BMC 1800, which also guided the design of the CitroŽn CX. Spen King was responsible for the engineering. The two had previously collaborated on the Range Rover. The project was code-named SD1 (for Specialist Division Number 1) as Rover and Triumph were put in the new "Specialist Division" of British Leyland. The car was in production from 1976 to 1986.
The SD1 was intended to be produced in a state-of-the-art extension to Rover's historic Solihull factory alongside the TR7. It was largely funded by the British government, who had bailed BL out from bankruptcy in 1975. Unfortunately, this did nothing to improve the patchy build quality that then plagued all of British Leyland. That, along with quick-wearing interior materials and poor detailing ensured that initial enthusiasm soon turned to disappointment.
What an amazing car this could have been if only British Leyland had had the money to develop it properly and the skills to make it properly. As it was it fell victim to the management incompetence and poisonous labour relations which characterised BL in the 1970s. I bought a collection of models recently from a man in Abingdon who had worked in the BL competition department then based at the old MG factory. He had been part of the team that prepared the SD1s to race at the Nurburgring. He told me that they were waiting in the pits for the race leaders to come past and the Rovers were at the front, then they waited for the Porsches who turned up a bit later. I don't know the year or the race but the SD1s apparently won by a good margin. The following day Michael Edwardes, chairman of BL, cancelled the SD1 racing programme because it did not project the image he wanted for the car.
|Vanguards VA09000; Rover 3500 SD1 Van den Plas EFI; Black||Vanguards VA09001; Rover SD1 3500 SE; Metropolitan Police||Vanguards VA09002; Rover SD1 2600 S; Targa Red||Vanguards VA09003; Rover SD1 3500 SE; Fife Constabulary; Traffic Department Car||Vanguards VA09004; Rover SD1 3500 Vanden Plas EFi; Plated Chrome LCC|
|Vanguards VA09005; Rover SD1 3500 Vanden Plas; Arum White||Vanguards VA09006; Rover SD1 3500; Sussex Police||Vanguards VA09007; Rover SD1 3500 Vitesse, Moonraker Blue Metallic||Vanguards VA09008; Rover SD1 3500 SE; Cashmere Gold||Vanguards VA09009; Rover SD1 3500 Vitesse; Silver Leaf|
|Vanguards VA09010; Rover SD1 3500 SE; Oporto Red||Vanguards VA09011; Rover SD1 3500 Vitesse, Targa Red||Vanguards VA09012; Rover SD1 3500 Vanden Plas EFi; Australian Spec; Opaline Green||Vanguards VA09013; Rover SD1 3500; Grampian Police||Vanguards VA09014; Rover SD1 3500 Vitesse, White Diamond|