Concepts : Rover P8 gallery

Styling models

Full-size styling buck of the P8 circa mid-1967, as styled by David Bache shows that he wanted to achieve an imposing look for the new car, which had been dubbed internally, the “Mercedes Eater”. Interestingly, this model sported “4000” badges on the base of the C-Post, indicating that a mild stretch of the V8 was in order to give the new car the performance required of it.

Full-size styling buck of the P8 circa mid-1967, as styled by David Bache shows that he wanted to achieve an imposing look for the new car, which had been dubbed internally, the ‘Mercedes-Benz Eater’. Interestingly, this model sported 4000 badges on the base of the C-Post, indicating that a mild stretch of the V8 was in order to give the new car the performance required of it.

Profile view of the above car gives the impression of a pleasingly balanced design...

Profile view of the above car gives the impression of a pleasingly balanced design…

1970 and the final version of the P8 takes shape... The front now looks a lot tougher.

1970 and the final version of the P8 takes shape… The front now looks a lot tougher.

...although the rear remains reasonably untouched, still badged, as it is, a 4000 V8....although the rear remains reasonably untouched, still badged, as it is, a 4000 V8.

…although the rear remains reasonably untouched, still badged, as it is, a 4000 V8.

Rover P8 interior

P8 interior mocked-up and ready for production: some very nice features incorporated in this classic Rover interior design. The basic architecture is typical post-1960s Rover with its flat dash and boxy instrument pack mounted atop – an arrangement that closely resembles that of the SD1. Note also the use of soft-feel plastics and integrated switch gear – something that would become common later on in car design – again Bache’s team was ahead of it’s time. The only downside was the over-large “quartic” steering wheel – another feature shared with the later SD1 and more (in)famously, the Allegro.

Styling sketches

Rover P8 drawing by the Bache studio: Striking and imposing are two words that come to mind, even in this early stage of design. (Picture: MOTOR magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

Rover P8 drawing by the Bache studio: Striking and imposing are two words that come to mind, even in this early stage of design. (Picture: Motor magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

An alternative frontal design, incorporating elements of the P6 and Range Rover. (Picture: MOTOR magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

An alternative frontal design, incorporating elements of the P6 and Range Rover. (Picture: Motor magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

Glassbacked sketch: An interesting idea, although one suspects that the cost and engineering implications of this would be too much for Rover. Ahead of its time, nonetheless. (Picture: MOTOR magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

Glassbacked sketch: An interesting idea, although one suspects that the cost and engineering implications of this would be too much for Rover. Ahead of its time, nonetheless. (Picture: Motor magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

Bache interior made it to pre-production almost unchanged. Note the quartic wheel in this sketch (c.1969), and then compare this with the same picture in the SD1 development story. (Picture: MOTOR magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

Bache interior made it to pre-production almost unchanged. Note the quartic wheel in this sketch (c.1969), and then compare this with the same picture in the SD1 development story. (Picture: Motor magazine), supplied by Jerry Ford.

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.

12 Comments on "Concepts : Rover P8 gallery"

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  1. KC says:

    I reckon that, even making allowances for the time, the styling is a bit heavy-handed.

    This Rover P8 concept looks like a case of Toyota Crown meets Datsun Laurel.

  2. KeithB says:

    The design of the Rover P8 doesn’t work for me – it’s too brutish. The car would have suited Chrysler, Ford or Vauxhall badging but not Rover.

  3. Michael says:

    I have now doubt that the Rover P8 would have been fantastic car. I especially like the P6/R-R frontal treatment in Picture 8.

    However, for me the project is the root of Rover’s undoing. I am sure it would have sat at the top of the Leyland range and blasted the German competition to the other side of the Iron Curtain, but I just can’t understand why P8 development was continued at a cost of millions for three years after the 1968 merger with BMH. Indeed, the same goes for the P6BS/P9 and XJ-C/XJ-S.

    Sir William Lyons was on the board and the XJ was already in production (although not yet at any volume rate) so it should have been clear to Stokes that the P8 was, sadly, no longer a viable option. A tragedy, yes, but the bulk of the development work could have been reworked for something else.

    Instead, Stokes followed a pipe dream of self-glorification and Rover lost a stinking great heap of money, time and credibility in the Leyland portfolio. After all, Rover had never built big saloons – the P5 was only Jaguar Mk2-sized – and, even if the new XJ6 was a little traditional compared to Rover’s future-focused proposal, it nevertheless represented the pinnacle of Jaguar achievement up to that point and was still a very saleable proposition.

    By 1969, Rover should have been throwing all of their energy into replacing the P6 to reinforce themselves as the makers of intelligently designed, pioneering high quality saloons. Instead, they faffed around for a bit with P10 and then, after seven years, finally got round to launching the SD1. A superb car, yes, but a superb car for the 1970s, not the early 1980s – it was seven years too late for the market and, by 1989, it was Jaguar (with its antiquated facilities and attitude) who’s future was assured, not the pioneers in Solihull!

    An Aristotelian tragedy or what??! 😉

  4. Hilton Davis says:

    I still like the look of the “final” P8 shown here – particularly the twin headlamps, which create an aggressive and sporty impression.

    I never liked the quartic wheel on the Allegro and it doesn’t suit the P8 mock up. However, that’s academic now as we are going back 40 years…

  5. Simon Woodward says:

    I am slightly glad this one didn’t get made – British Leyland wasn’t exactly flush with cash and we probably wouldn’t have had the excellent SD1. I’ve looked at the pictures of this car many times over the years and it just doesn’t do it for me – it reminds me of the P76.

  6. Angus says:

    Hmmm… The P8 looks huge! One problem the Designers ans Engineers weren’t aware of at the time was the impending Fuel Crisis. I think that would have killed sales of this behemoth instantly.

    What’s more of a shame is that the SD1 was not released earlier and, had the money that was poured into the P8 been spent on quality fittings etc, in the SD1, it would have done so much better. I guess I am biased – I think the SD1 was the best car BL/Rover ever made and that includes the XJs.

  7. Michael says:

    Angus,
    I agree. If we’re talking about cars conceived, designed and built under BL, then the SD1 has to be the best car they ever made. I would love to say that it was the Stag, but that engine just let it down in practice. I’ve heard all the arguments about why the RV8 wasn’t fitted, but I’m still not convinced the Triumph V8 was a sensible choice. Fair enough, if the RV8 wasn’t available at the time, and/or Canley wanted to use a Triumph engine, then what was wrong with the 2.5PI straight six? (Apart from age?)

  8. Ian Marvin says:

    I think it needs to be looked at in the context of its era, had it been launched we would be looking back at it as something representing a perfectly valid ’70s Rover. Remember the P5 was produced up to 3 years before the SD1. Also, remember that the first BMW 7 series was introduced in 1977, also a bit of a leap in size from previous BMWs. There are features on the P8 that would take a long time to become mainstream, integrated body colour bumpers for example, not seen in Europe until the Porsche 928 I think, although the P8 was inspired by the Pontiac GTO in this I believe.

  9. Nate says:

    Like the Rear in picture 5 and the alternative frontal design that incorporated elements of the P6 and Range Rover, though would of made it less Brutish or American/Australian and more European.

  10. Ian Parker says:

    Still think that the P8 would have been a great replacement for the Triumph 2000/2-5 series

  11. Adrien says:

    Very interesting… Do you know the issue of the Motor Magazine, from which we can see the photos here ?

  12. Hilton D says:

    Looking again at that nice sketch of the blue P8 from Motor mag makes me think it looks a bit like a mid / late 70s Datsun 180B Bluebird (particularly due to the grille & twin headlamps). Considring that period, the interior mock ups don’t look that bad either…

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