Car of the Month : May 2009

Being the Events Organiser for the Rover SD1 Owners Club, Sally Sheldon usually needs to transport boxes of club stuff, flags, gazebos, banners, scaffolding poles and all the other bits needed to set up a proper club-stand. Good call that the SD1 does not only look good, but offers a very practical, huge load space…

But Sally hasn’t just chosen the SD1 because of its practicality – she likes the looks, the pace and the fact that it turns heads.

Words and pictures: Sally Sheldon


All the grace, pace and space you’d ever need…

MY Series one and a half 3500SE is truly a classic in every day use – not that it goes to work every day, as I work from home. But it gets used for just about everything else you’d use a car for and is certainly not closeted away in a garage. Affectionately named ‘Foti’ by members of the SD1 Owners Club, it gets everything the weather can throw at it, even goes shopping when there’s salt on the road.

The SD1 does have the minor luxury of a car port, but has three Triumphs and a Volvo as stablemates and the two shiniest Triumphs bag the garage! Being used for a family holiday in North Wales over Easter and a trip from Worcestershire to Rimmer Bros in Lincoln for the Club Spares Day the Rover covered more than 1000 miles in April.

I bought the car just over two years ago – on impulse and without seeing it – and, luckily, I have not been disappointed. Structurally it’s very sound for an SD1 and, apart from when it was built at Solihull in 1981, it has never been welded! It suffered from a leaky windscreen, as many, if not all, do at some stage. This was one of the first jobs to be tackled. As there was a stone chip that was likely to cause an MoT failure, I opted for a new windscreen and sorted the hidden rust problem at the same time.

Constant use has brought to light many other failing components. The brake master cylinder, clutch, starter motor, and radiator have all been replaced with new during the last two years. I have also fitted a replacement interior including the dashboard, from a low mileage car that was donating it’s engine, sadly, to a Triumph Stag. Really, Foti needs a respray but there are a few dents and dings to sort out first. And if anyone knows where I can get some of the correct rubber bumper trims I’ll be eternally in their debt [after me – Ed].

Foti has only let me down twice in that time, the first being a total loss of gears due to a bolt dropping out of the selector linkage. A quick and cheap fix – the cost of a bottle of lock tight! It didn’t really break down either as I could still crawl along in first gear – which is what it got stuck in! The second time was due to a failed rotor arm. Foti had a misfire problem for a couple of weeks, starting during my Welsh holiday. I changed the plugs leads and dizzy cap to no avail so my next job was the rotor arm but it conked out on the way to Halfords! They didn’t have one anyway, but it made the RAC man’s day to sort her out, taking me to a local motor factor that did have one in stock…. he served his apprenticeship on SD1s working at a Leyland dealer. I will always keep a spare in my classic cars now, as I have had fourdifferent cars break down on me over the years, all due to faulty rotor arms.

I am the Events Organiser for the Rover SD1 Owners Club and, as such, am in regular attendance at car shows and club events. And it doesn’t get chance to sit pretty on these occasions either, usually transporting boxes of club stuff, flags, gazebos, banners and rather a lot of scaffolding poles. Next stop Haynes Motor Museum on the 19th July for the Club’s National Rally with a few more little shows before then.


Gallery

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

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