A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £26,438
In 1965, Rover's Managing Director, William Martin-Hurst, secured the tooling and production rights to the 3528cc all-alloy OHV V8 ‘215’ engine from Buick and, after a period of development, it was ready for use in Rover’s model range. Although a marriage of expediency, the union between Rover's stately P5 and the ex-Buick V8 resulted in an unexpectedly fine motorcar. The new aluminium V8 was significantly lighter and considerably more powerful than its predecessor, delivering 160bhp and a massive leap in torque to 210 lbs/ft. at 2600rpm, vastly improving pace, comfort, balance, handling, economy and reliability.
Launched in 1967, the Rover P5B (or P5 Buick if you prefer) was conceived to stave off increasingly refined competition from the likes of Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Available in Saloon and Coupe guises, both of which employed four doors, the big Rover was equipped with independent torsion-bar front suspension, a leaf-sprung 'live' rear axle and disc /drum brakes. Fitted with three-speed automatic transmission and power-assisted steering as standard, it proved a relaxing drive although capable of a comfortable 115mph. The exterior was mostly unchanged, apart from bold '3.5 Litre' badging, a pair of fog lights which were added below the headlights, creating a striking four-light array and the fitting of chrome Rostyle wheels with black painted inserts. The svelte Coupe had a slightly lower roof-line, slimmer chromed window surrounds, twin-armchair rear seats and additional dash instruments, and is the most collectable variant today.
Well-appointed in the best Rover tradition, the P5B’s 'Gentlemen's Club' interior made it a firm favourite with businessmen, politicians (Harold Wilson's car was reputed to have a pipe rack in the back) and even HM The Queen who apparently still owns her Arden Green Saloon. Production lasted until 1973 by which time 9,099 Coupés and 11,501 Saloons had been built.
HPX 301H was first registered on 01/06/1970 and was finished in Admiralty Blue with a Silver Birch Roof and a Cream leather interior. It may have remained with the dealer for a period of time as its first registered owner was Trevor Tiffin Nash who acquired this 3.5-Litre Coupe on 12/04/1972 from Boorers Garage in Broadwater with the original Bill of Sale for £1,750 in the owner’s file. Boorers were, in fact, the Rover agents and, somewhat poignantly, within the file is a small faded advert cut from the Sussex Argus and dated 07/04/1972 for this car (£1,895) clipped to a copy of the same paper’s obituary of Mr Tiffin on 7/01/2008. He had, in fact, sold the car to Charles Regan on 9/02/2001 who also became a long-term owner, passing it on to Owen Lavington on 13/09/2017.
The history file is huge with well over 100 invoices for maintenance, routine repairs etc. with only two larger invoices obvious, one for a gearbox rebuild in May 1981 and one for new sills and inner and outer arches dated January 2008. The file also contains lots of MOTs, SORN notifications from 2004 to 2014 and V5s etc. There is a plastic wallet containing the original Owner’s Operating Manual, Owner’s Instruction Manual and the stamped service record which starts at 1,579 miles on 29/06/70 and finishes on the last page at 40,700 miles on 8/05/83.
It appears that HPX has never been restored and is all the better for it. The Admiralty Blue paintwork still shines, the brightwork is excellent and the Rostyle wheels look crisp. The Rover’s cream interior certainly feels original with that cosy lived-in feel often present in a much-loved family car, and the car simply ‘stands well’.
The mileage of 72,915 appears to be corroborated by the car’s MOT and Service history and we understand that it runs and drives superbly. The P5B is a go-anywhere, welcome-anywhere kind of ‘Classic’ and, unlike an old MG, you don’t have to don seven layers of clothing to go to an event. In period, these big Coupes were head-turners and were perceived to belong to comfortably off owners who appreciated quality and had a certain sense of style, and basically, nothing has changed. This lovely Rover is only available as our inveterate collector vendor has found one with even lower mileage.