Rover SD1 design inspiration

BMC 1800/Rover SD1: separated at birth?

David Bache is today considered to be one of the finest post-war British car designers – and I certainly back that opinion. His SD1 was certainly inspired by the creations of Pininfarina, though – and although the SD1 was a finely balanced, beautiful design, I present some pictures that will show that his most British of creations had Italian genes. See what you think.

With special thanks to Guillaume Stutter


This rear three quarter view shows an uncanny similarity between the two designs. Only the grooved belt-line of the SD-1 differentiates the designs - and those side swage lines were used on another Pininfarina design: the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona.

This rear three quarter view shows an uncanny similarity between the two designs. Only the grooved belt-line of the SD-1 differentiates the designs – and those side swage lines were used on another Pininfarina design: the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona.


The rear lights are also frighteningly similar - The Pininfarina design even featured "ribbed" lenses...

The rear lights are also frighteningly similar – The Pininfarina design even featured “ribbed” lenses…


Front three quarter view shows the similarities between the two cars into great relief. Not only was the SD-1 a car influenced by this Pininfarina creation, but also the Citroën CX (which appeared before the Rover in 1974) and also smaller Citroën GS. Pininfarina did actually act as consultants on the GS design, which appeared in 1970 - I wonder what might have been had BLMC taken their option on the 1800 and smaller 1100 and produced them instead of the Allegro and Princess?

Front three quarter view shows the similarities between the two cars into great relief. Not only was the SD-1 a car influenced by this Pininfarina creation, but also the Citroën CX (which appeared before the Rover in 1974) and also smaller Citroën GS. Pininfarina did actually act as consultants on the GS design, which appeared in 1970 – I wonder what might have been had BLMC taken their option on the 1800 and smaller 1100 and produced them instead of the Allegro and Princess?


The Ferrari connection

This Kevin Spindler sketch for the Rover SD1 shows a clear Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona influence. Note the side swage lines and indicator lenses: details which were followed through to the production model.

This Kevin Spindler sketch for the Rover SD1 shows a clear Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona influence. Note the side swage lines and indicator lenses: details which were followed through to the production model.


Those indicators in close-up. Pure Ferrari Daytona!

Those indicators in close-up. Pure Ferrari Daytona!

Posted in: Rover SD1
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.

5 Comments on "Rover SD1 design inspiration"

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  1. Stewart says:

    You forgot the real inspiration, for almost the entire car. 4 seats, V8, Hatch back, The inluence of the Maserati Tipo 116 Indy is undisputable when you see one, however only 40 odd were imprted to the UK it’s rarer than the GTB365/4 hoever there was one at the rover factory at he time when the SD1 was being desigend as there are photos of it next to the SD1 styling clay dating from 1972

  2. Stewart says:

    [img]http://www.classicargarage.com/common/pictures/smithsveglia/2006/0606/indy-01.JPG[/img]

  3. Stewart says:

    sorry that did not work, but I have found one of the photos of the indy with the styling clay on this very site.. http://www.aronline.co.uk/images/sd1p_2.jpg

  4. Grahame Innes says:

    There are some other ‘influences in the Rover SD1. If you take as the starting point the Maserati Tipo 116 it is not far to go to note the Maserati engined Citroen SM of around the same era or the soon to follow Citroen CX, both of which the Rover SD1 resembles (although it is wider and sturdier looking). But pre-dating even those Citroen models is the Pininfarina 1800 designed for BMC, and the Ferrari Daytona, both of which also clearly influenced the look of the SD1. Apparently Pininfarina accused Citroen of ‘copying’ his design for the BMC 1800, but all these cars share aesthetic and structural beauty.

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