The Rover 800 underwent a very interesting development programme, with much work being undertaken at Canley before the Austin Rover engineers and stylists ever got near Honda in Tokyo.
Some of the advanced theme were toned down somewhat for production, but the end result was still very pleasing… In time, the Rover 800 will be seen as a suitable replacement for the SD1
The new age arrives
1981 and Roy Axe’s styling studio presented these images to ARG management. This was their vision
of how a future executive car should look, and interestingly, much of the character of the final car
The full-size model schemed from the original drawings is remarkably similar to the futuristic proposal. What is very evident from this picture is just how much Austin Rover were aiming for a highly aerodynamic car.
...and so it proved at MIRA's wind tunnel, where a potential drag co-efficient of 0.27 achieved. Across Europe, competing manufacturers were coming up with similar solutions (look at the 1982 Audi 100).
When the original DEV1 scheme (above) was dropped, a move to more conventional proportions and width was sought. This computer scheme of the DEV2 model shows just how CAD/CAM played a role in the development of the Rover 800. And to scotch all those "unequal length sides" stories, it should be stated that the the 800 was the first Rover to have its bodyshell checked by laser cameras - 93 key dimensions digitised, to fractions of a millimetre. If you look at the massive jigs used to weld up panels, there's absolutely no way you can get variations of more than a millimetre or so, unless the jig is wrong to start with - and that's unlikely to go unnoticed, as the first cars off tools are always scrutinised the hardest. Models from the 800 onwards had mono-sides anyway, so again , it's almost impossible to introduce length variation even if you wanted to.
…and then DEV3 is translated into clay at Canley.
DEV3 mid range clay model in near-final guise for evaluation by the management and potential
customers (above) and a Sterling spec model mocked-up (below).