In-house designs : Rover SD5

New age Landie

FOR all those who thought that the only Specialist Division prototypes produced were the SD1 and SD2, here’s something of a treat for you. During the early 1970s, BL management investigated the possibility of replacing its long-lived Land Rover, and tasked the Specialist Division to come up with a low-cost, easy to produce alternative, which would carry on the name into the 1980s and beyond.

The photograph of the buck (below) clearly demonstrates that the new car, codenamed SD5, ticked all of those boxes and could have been very effective with V8 power under the bonnet (as is the case in the pictures). However, in the event, development came along at just the wrong time in BL history and not only was funding a no-go in the post-Ryder Report era but Solihull still had a waiting list for the Land Rover and Range Rover. Did the market really need an updated car?

The SD5 project was therefore cancelled and the company’s next new model launch would have to wait until 1979 with the arrival of the V8 powered Land Rover.

V8 engine and short wheelbase would have been a winning combination...

V8 engine and short wheelbase would have been a winning combination…

Styling sketch clearly shows that the Solihull stylists were looking to continue where the Land-Rover left off...

Styling sketch clearly shows that the Solihull stylists were looking to continue where the Land-Rover left off…

 Hose clean interior was a must...

Hose clean interior was a must…

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

9 Comments on "In-house designs : Rover SD5"

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  1. Mikey C says:

    “Cheaper to produce.” The SD5 was a missed opportunity. I’m sure the current Defender must be horribly labour intensive to produce.

  2. Richard Moss says:

    I hope that any production model would have been better looking than the rather home made looking version shown. It doesn’t look very substantial, either – even if it was rugged, vehicles in this market segment need to look the part, too.

  3. Steve says:

    @Richard Moss, How does it not look robust? It’s one of the most robust looking cars I’ve seen, not bad looking too, although the front is rather too similar to the 1970 Range Rover…

  4. Chris Baglin says:

    Looks very home-made, but then the original pre-production Range Rover looked very crude in places. So this could conceivably have scrubbed up well under the pen of David Bache.

    That said, we might not have had the first gen Disco. Again very much a ‘cobbled together’ design, but extremely well done (and the mostly bespoke interior really made that car).

  5. DeLorean's Accountant says:

    So,
    SD1 = 5 door hatch we all know.
    SD2 = Fiat-looking Dolly replacement (correct?)
    SD3 = Rover 200 based on Honda Ballade
    SD4 = ??
    SD5 = As this article.

    What was SD4 then?

  6. Will M says:

    All google delivers is Land Rover Freelander diesels for SD4, which can’t be quite right…

    Project Bravo, the SD1 facelift, would it have taken a the 4th SD code?

    Always thought the SD2 was more BX than Fiat.

  7. The Wolseley Man says:

    It has got a Tim Dutton look about it rather than a robust LandRover look in my view.
    I think they did the right thing to leave it as a concept.
    Great to read about all these things though.

  8. Karl says:

    Personally I think this looks great. I’m very fond of the Series Land Rovers, but this would have brought the Land Rover right up to date in the 1980s. If they’d built them as good as they looked maybe the African market wouldn’t have been lost to the Japanese… (in my alternative rose-tinted reality, a range of BL products would still be available on every continent of course!)

  9. Justin Cross says:

    My Uncle, Tony Poole was one of the top stylists for land Rover and gave the name to the Range Rover. He can be seen on ‘The Land Rover Story’ by James Taylor. I have his original sketch of the SD5….

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