Weekend Edition Quick Hit – So, what do you think about this 1980 Rover SD1, and is it worth owning?

1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 121930 PM.bmp
Yes, I know it has been a bit sparse as far as weekend postings go, but we are now over the holiday season (that wacky time here in the states between our Thanksgiving, through Christmas, and the celebrating of New Years) and now we have to look forward to at least 8 to 10 weeks of winter (at least here in the Northeast)… So, I will try and be vigilant in providing at least some entertainment, and why not start with this Craigslist Listing for a Rover…

1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 122004 PM.bmp
This is a 1980 Rover SD1, of which there were over 300,000 built between 1976 and 1986, though it was only available in the states for two years (1980 and 1981). The standard equipment of the North American SD1 included a 133HP V-8 (the same old GM designed V-8 unit that was powering other British Leyland Vehicles at that time, only with Lucas’ L-Jetronic fuel injection installed), with a 5-speed manual as standard equipment, with a 3-speed Automatic as an option.
1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 122010 PM.bmp
According to the Listing:

Rare British fastback sedan with the Rover 3.5L V8 and desirable 5-speed manual transmission. Unrestored low-mile original car in running condition. Straight body, nice glass and very complete. Significant recent investment includes a fresh repaint in “Midas Gold”, new tires & powdercoat rims, new electronic ignition system, fuel system & fuel lines, new shocks front & rear (w/ front adjustable), front suspension bushings & ball joints, front brake hoses, calipers, brake master, recent alignment. Engine runs smooth, all gauges work and drives well. Radio/heater/wipers/power windows/lights all working.
1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 122007 PM.bmp
This car also has a working power sunroof. AC compressor removed but included. Tons of receipts, manuals, spare & tool kit, show poster, clear title currently registered and passing smog.

1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 122020 PM.bmp
With a little over 50,000 miles on the clock, the asking price of $3,800 doesn’t sound too bad… Remember, only about 1,200 of these sedans were ever sold in the states, and you have to ask, how many of them were equipped with the stick… See the listing here, and tell me what you think about owning a Rover SD1.
1980 Rover 3500 SD1 5-speed - Google Chrome 132015 122030 PM.bmp

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  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    I can still remember when I saw my first SD1 ever, at my local Volvo dealer aged 15. What a beautiful design! And now is the first time I've seen a specimen with sealed beams and underbite bumpers…it's not bad at all. But that black box on top of the otherwise brown dashboard looks a bit odd.
    To my eyes this is a great offer at this price, and one can only hope it will be bought by someone who knows to appreciate the rarity of it! Great find.

    1. HSA❄ Avatar

      The detached-looking instrument block on the dashboard is something very genuine to Rovers. When the BL people later in the 1980s helped Honda to make their cars more "European", the same style was introduced in Hondas.
      The sealed beams look extremely strange in an SD1.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      It's clear the dashboard was symmetrical so they could use it for LHD and RHD applications. You can even see the HVAC vent on the right side is in the same position as the steering column. Just move the instrument pod and column to whatever side is needed!

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Yeah, I also noticed that! It just doesn't make a pretty layout, but I guess that's just taste. Didn't know about the Honda-fact above though.

  2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Hmm…not bad…wait, NO!!!
    <img src="http://cdn.hark.com/images/000/440/572/440572/original.jpg&quot; width="500">
    "You're the devil."

  3. racer139 Avatar

    Its nice to see one so original and so complete. IIRC The interiors in these started to disintegrate as they where being assembled. I love the style of these and think they could make one hell of a unique touring car with the right mods.

  4. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    3800 is definitely buy territory.
    but one hundred thirty-three horsepower. that's, like….i'm not really a speed freak, but if originality is sacred, then i'm all for desecration in this case. hail satan.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Weakest V8 ever?

      1. PC Talob Avatar
        PC Talob

        The 4.2 V8 in the early Fox body Mustang made about 120hp.

      2. dimpl08 Avatar

        It´s the same engine as in Ye Olde Range Rover V8.
        But there it pulls out 193 BHP- so maybe this is just a typo error.

        1. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
          Ate Up With Motor

          Nope, it's U.S. emissions vs. (then) less-restrictive Europe; European cars didn't have catalytic converters or EGR. Carbureted Triumph TR8s (which also used the Rover V-8) had the same rating.

        2. Gwilson Avatar

          Probably not a typo, but there are TONs of mods that can be done to this engine including increasing the displacement to 5.0 liter.

      3. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        1985 Cadillac HT-4100…coupled to a four-speed slush-O-matic and hauling at least 4,200 lbs., dry, around.
        120 HP.
        'Twas rather taxed. Comfy, but man, was it slow.

      4. danleym Avatar

        Late 70s AMC 304 was in the same ballpark, I think the 258 was 120hp, and you could upgrade to a V8 if you wanted another 5 or so.

  5. Kris_01 Avatar

    Wow. Just…. Wow. Love it, want it, located on the wrong coast, have no money, blah blah. Don't care, I want it.

  6. zetep Avatar

    Actually unloved, but not real bad cars. Fantastic driver, when in good condition, but body parts can be hard to find these days.I owned one in the same color somewhere around 1995, that was the moment here in Europe when they could be found dirt cheap, like 150 dollar for a decent one. Mine was a auto, and slow……guess a stick will make it a much better car.

    1. Rover_1 Avatar

      But thanks to the internet, and courierage, parts supply is very good for bodywork or mechanical parts. Largely thanks to the ill-fated Standard 2000 SD1 venture in Chennai India, http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/cars/rover/sd1-ro… ,many brand new body parts became available and were bought as a job lot by Rimmer Bros in the UK and so are available now at quite reasonable prices <a href="http://.http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/content–name-Rover-SD1-Introduction” target=”_blank”>.http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/content–name-Rover-SD1-Introduction
      Just for example: Brand new Vitesse 15" factory alloy wheels are available
      <img src="http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/ItemImages/Large/GRID009011.jpg&quot; width="500'/">
      And EVERY sheet metal panel pressing,including all the inners
      <img src="http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/ItemImages/Large/GRID009054.jpg&quot; width="200">
      <img src="http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/ItemImages/Large/GRID009855.jpg&quot; width="200">
      <img src="http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/ItemImages/Large/GRID009985.jpg&quot; width="200">
      <img src="http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/ItemImages/Large/RO1162.jpg&quot; width="200">
      And of course there is a strong owner's club http://www.roversd1club.net/index.asp
      <img src="http://www.roversd1club.net/images/logo300s1.gif&quot; width="200">
      How I like to remember the SD1.
      The European Touring Car Championship winning TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) Group A SD1 Vitesse of Tom Walkinshaw and Win Percy winning at Nurburgring ahead of the factory BMW 635s in 1985
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/03/Rover_Vitesse_19850706.jpg/1024px-Rover_Vitesse_19850706.jpg&quot; width="600">
      And a little closer to home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPehfYITgJI
      And how many people in the UK remember the SD1. The Police liked these cars so much, they stockpiled more than 100 of them and were introducing them brand new into 1990. (Presaging the US Police Panther stockpiling)
      Coming past in the fast lane at 100+mph somewhere on the M1 or M6 for this East Midlands Car.
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a4/West_Midlands_Police_Rover_SD_1_Traffic_Car_c.1985.jpg/800px-West_Midlands_Police_Rover_SD_1_Traffic_Car_c.1985.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. HycoSpeed Avatar

        <img src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7479/16011432537_92ce9771c9_o.jpg&quot; width=400>
        Thank you it making me want it even more! That is a hot little 4 door, and sure it's quirky, and sure she'll likely break your heart at some point, but look at that Texaco livery!!

        1. Rover_1 Avatar

          For a while they were the car to beat in Group A which was the worldwide racing category for all manufacturers. The arrival of turbochargers spelt the end of these and the Holden V8s, the Jag V12s and the BMW sixes and fours in favour of the Volvo, then Ford, then Nissan Turbos. The Rovers always looked fast though with those swooping lines.
          <img src="http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/racing/twrbastos/bastos013.jpg&quot; width="600">
          <img src="http://racecarsdirect.com/photos/_DSC9955b53Gixamr.jpg"width="600"&gt;
          <img src="http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m225/malscar/photos/Old%20race%20photos/1984/102-Copy2.jpg&quot; width="600">
          <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v298/benderboat/Nissan%20Mobil%20races/WalkinshawRoverNissanMobil500861.jpg&quot; width="600">
          <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5331/14107977674_b93c81f2b3.jpg&quot; width="600">
          <img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2442/5721021445_a96c8e6705_z.jpg&quot; width="600">
          <img src="http://roversd1australia.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/rover-sd1-vitesse-250pix.jpg&quot; width="500">

  7. Jay_Ramey Avatar

    Remaining SD1s in the states, where only about a thousand were sold for one single model year, tend to be in really good condition. I think there are still plenty that were used for like three years and then locked up in a garage.

  8. karonetwentyc Avatar

    This car looks familiar; I think it may have been on Craigslist within the last year or two and in rougher condition than it appears to be now. It is possible that there was another one in the same colours (and the seller does mention that this one was repainted), but even the location seems familiar.
    Quite honestly, these aren't as good as the P6 that they replaced. That's not to say that they're bad cars, but in many ways they didn't represent much (if any) of an improvement either dynamically or in terms of comfort. Remember that these were a product of the darkest days of British Leyland, and much of the traditional Rover engineering was penny-pinched out of them. Build quality was always somewhat iffy, and many of the US-market-only items on the car now range from incredibly difficult to find to outright unobtainable.
    This is a car that should have been better than it was, but as a product of the time and place where it was designed and built was pretty much doomed to fall short of its potential. Even at a relatively low $3800 asking price, there are better choices out there for someone looking for a British car – but it's completely understood that the sheer oddball status of it could make it very attractive on that basis alone.
    Just beware of rust hiding under that new paint. Don't buy sight unseen, and bring a magnet and put it everywhere if you're considering buying the car.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      There was one mentioned here that looked really close to this in Oregon. I'm thinking it was $1500?

      1. salguod Avatar

        Washington state, 2 years ago:
        <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3Ed3G73Ja5I25L65W1cc889751ba0941713f0.jpg&quot; width="500/">
        I was wondering if it was the same car, but the black part of the dash seems longer on the Washington car, from the one interior shot through the back door:
        <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3L53Ma3Na5I45G45H8cc8e960201b95401a18.jpg&quot; width="500/">

        1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

          A friend of mine bought that car, I later did an article on it once it was cleaned up a bit: http://autoweek.com/article/car-life/we-take-ride

      2. karonetwentyc Avatar

        My memory could be playing tricks on me, but I'm almost positive that the car I'm thinking of was on SF Bay Craigslist and not featured here (or elsewhere). Somewhere in the timeframe of late last Spring into the Summer seems right.
        Then again it wouldn't be the first time that I was misremembering something. That said, it's definitely not the one shown above in Washington; I remember that article, and it's not a match for what's in my mind.

    2. Rover_1 Avatar

      You're quite right about the P6 being the better car, despite it's similar reception in the USA. My ultimate Rover-ish V8 motor with a P76 block and Buick 350 crankshaft, Buick and Chev V6 other bits with Bosch injection, and 6.0 litre capacity will be going in a P6 rather than an SD 1. Though it is very easy to make a Group A replica with an SD1, I think that the effort with a P6 can lead to a nice result.
      Like this one
      <img src="http://p6v8.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/bill_shaw_racing_restored01.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        That's an interesting selection of component choices, and the P76 block is rather intriguing. I've also been toying with the idea of a seriously quick P6, but have mainly been considering a late Range Rover 4.6 as the donor vehicle. If you have any recommendations for further reading I'd love to take a look; one thing that has me stumped is what the options are for beefing up the diff and halfshafts.
        For the sake of background, I used to own a P6 (2000 Automatic), which I loved but absolutely needed more power. We've also had a couple of other P6s in the family, and while I've never owned an SD1 I've driven enough of them (and known people who have had them) to have some definite opinions as to which car was the better overall package.

        1. Rover_1 Avatar

          A late model 4.6 is definitely the easiest way to get good power, and with this guy http://www.mez.co.uk/TuningTheRoverV8-intro.html ,he shows there can be lots of it.
          Or there is this, http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/basictuning.html which can be more useful and is well illustrated.Particularly this page http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/tuningindex.html which has pictures like this
          <img src="http://www.roversd1.nl/sd1web/tuning/v8motoren/002.jpg"width="500"&gt;
          left to right: P76 4.4, Rover 3.9, Buick/Olds 215

          1. karonetwentyc Avatar

            Thank you for those links; they're going to come in very handy once I start into this. Step one is finding the space to do this in; step two is acquiring the car. It'll be a while before it can happen, but all in good time.

          2. Rover_1 Avatar

            For the diff, alter the subframe and fit a Jaguar one. Or make up your own subframe.
            Of the factory racers, at least one had a complete Jaguar rear end. Half shafts, everything.
            As a result the Jaguar rear end with no DeDion tube is homologated for motorsport. Someone in the UK or Ireland has one a 3500S he rallied. Try a search with a famous search engine thingy on the interweb.

    3. Gwilson Avatar

      These cars were not (and don't ask me why) rust buckets. I have found them in the NE U.S. with very little rust, and what there was was not structural.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        US-model cars may have received better rustproofing than models sold elsewhere (possibly due to Rover not wanting to deal with warranty claims and lawsuits, though that's speculation on my behalf), but I can say that based on my experience with UK- and Irish-market models, they would rust and very significantly so.
        Take a look at the diagram on the sidebar of this page detailing these cars' common rust traps. I've seen all of these and then some on them. Doors are particularly vulnerable from what I recall.

  9. Vavon Avatar

    Oh MZS… Where are you???

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      You know how much I want this Vavon, I've slept on it cause there was one thing really bugging me last night. I think that 'midas gold' paint job is more a tongue in cheek reference to where it was painted rather than the hue. The overspray looks very bad here in particular, I've convinced myself I even see it on the seats. <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/1980-Rover-3500-SD1-5-speed-Google-Chrome-132015-122030-PM.bmp.jpg"&gt;

      1. Vavon Avatar

        That's just British Leyland build quality… Happy New Year to you too!!!

      2. Gwilson Avatar

        Midas Gold is the factory name for that color. In fact, I think it was simply Midas.

        1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
          ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

          I know, but where I live Midas is a chain of places that will do mufflers, brakes, tires, alignment, LOF, and paint jobs – ones where they just tape everything and when it's really cold it flakes off – but they don't cost much. Really nice comment below, I've always desired these cars, saw one in Poland driven by a German family on holiday and it just looked so futuristic to me, cheers!

    2. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      [youtube BnTNRfuDxLI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnTNRfuDxLI youtube]
      Happy New Year Vavon, stay out of Spain though, at least if you drive a 205!

  10. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Always liked the look of this machine, and one should be able to source LHD Euro lights for it.
    Yep, I'd DD it…and put a V6 turbo Buick 231 cid motor in it.

  11. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    I used to lust after these, thought they were the whole future. But I think I'm over it now. Between the poor performance, and the letdown interior, I can't quite go there.

    1. Rover_1 Avatar

      A P38 Range Rover 4.6 V8 bolts straight in. The biggest factory version of the Rover/Buick V8. With 225 hp (168 kW) @ 4,750rpm and 280 ft lb (380 Nm) at 2,600rpm. Surely these are cheapish now?
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/1995-1998_Land_Rover_Range_Rover_%28P38A%29_4.0_SE_wagon_05.jpg/1024px-1995-1998_Land_Rover_Range_Rover_%28P38A%29_4.0_SE_wagon_05.jpg"width="400"&gt;

  12. Jonathan Avatar

    American headlights are brutal to the styling…

  13. Gwilson Avatar

    My favorite SD1 pic is of one of the rally cars sweeping through a gravel corner looking low and mean. Those rally cars had the round headlights.
    I think the factory name for this color was simply "Midas" with no mention of gold. I owned a virtually identical car.
    There were actually many more 5-speed cars than you might suppose based upon what survived in the USA. The five speed had a real stump puller of a first gear, but fifth would give you something like 1800 rpm at 60 mph. It was not a slick trans, but it got the job done.
    The SD1 handled extremely well for a large with a live rear axle. There were Watts links back there to keep things stable, and rack and pinion steering in the front. There are tons of performance parts available for these cars.
    The engine is the same one the Repco-Brabham is based on and I believe it brought Black Jack a championship. There are all sorts of performance parts for this engine due to its popularity with the hot rod crowd (small aluminum V8), its use in many specialty British sports cars and to its many years in production in the Range Rover. You name it and it's out there. The simple thing is to put a Holley 290 four barrel, an aftermarket cam, and some headers on it, and you'll be flying in short order. The original factory camshafts were made from lousy metal and didn't last, especially because there were easily fixable oiling problems early on. There are a number of minor issues with these engines, but all are easily remedied when you take the heads off to do the camshaft.
    It was an effortless cruiser, the seats were comfortable, and the was a HUGE amount of space inside. Since it has a hatchback and the rear seats fold down, you could really load it up. Original rear shocks were self-leveling Nivomats.
    If the car looks familiar to you, compare its profile to that of the Ferrari Daytona coupe. David Bache had to have been influenced by that car. I always say that if you're going to be inspired by something, be inspired by the best.