News : Ex-Police SD1 makes almost £10k at auction…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

The Grampian Police Rover at the Autosport Coys Auction, shortly before it sold for £9,750
The Grampian Police Rover at the Autosport Coys Auction, shortly before it sold for £9,750

A rare Rover SD1 specially commissioned by Grampian Police has returned home after selling at auction for £9,750 – a figure which is believed to be a world record for a roadgoing variant of the model.

The 190bhp SD1 pursuit car was bought new by the force in 1985 and, unlike many Police SD1s, was commissioned with a manual gearbox in order to keep pace with the influx of high performance cars coming into Aberdeen via wealthy oil industry workers.

The car had been off the road for some time, before it was rescued and recommissioned for the Channel 4 TV Series For The Love of Cars, in which the SD1 will feature in the second series to be aired later this year. Prior to that it had been owned by a handful of SD1 enthusiasts, the most recent of whom had partially restored the car but had been unable to complete the project for personal reasons.

SD1 was restored for the BBC Show For the Love of Cars, with the help of Stag and TR7 specialists, Robsport, in Hertfordshire
SD1 was restored for the BBC Show For the Love of Cars, with the help of Stag and TR7 specialists, Robsport, in Hertfordshire

It was sold at a Coys auction held during Autosport International at the NEC in Birmingham on 10 January, and was snapped up by the Grampian Motor Museum, ensuring it will remain in preservation for a long time to come.

Speaking to his local newspaper, the Press and Journal, curator Mike Ward said:  “We’ve been aware of this particular vehicle for some time now, it’s no stranger to our museum and, in fact, has appeared here before.

“When we found out that it was up for sale, it was always our intention to try and bring this rare example back home.

“The hammer went down at £9,750 which is a new world record for a Rover SD1 at auction.

“It’s sure to be a fantastic addition to our collection, and we’ll also make sure it’s put to good use at our very popular Emergency Vehicle Rides session which takes place on 10 April.”

C356YST in its heyday, on patrol for Grampian Police
C356 YST in its heyday, on patrol for Grampian Police

Much of the restoration work was carried out by SD1 and TR7 specialists Robsport in Royston, Herts, including a full strip down and respray, mechanical overhaul and sympathetic recommissioning of the original Police livery, bringing it up to A1 condition.

Original Police details were either sympathetically restored or carefully replicated
Original Police details were either sympathetically restored or carefully replicated

AROnline was aware of this car coming up for sale a couple of years ago – indeed, the Editor almost bought it, but was living overseas at the time and had no way of storing it until returning to the UK. It was significantly cheaper back then, but in unrestored condition – what price perfection? Instead of £9,750, though, we reckon it might have been more appropriate at £9,’999’…

As it appeared advertised early in 2013. Photo credit:  Gumtree
As it appeared advertised early in 2013. Photo credit: Gumtree

If you’re intrigued by the original sales advert from 2013, you can see it here.

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

14 Comments

  1. 30 years ago this Rover was a familiar sight on motorways everywhere as it could keep up with most cars at the time and most police forces bought British. A restored police car would make a welcome addition to any classic car meet, particularly as Rover SD1s are very rare now.

  2. Lovely simply lovely!
    I bet that a lot of motorway traffic still gets out of the way when that appears in the rearview mirror.

  3. You can tell the American police influence was being made on British police cars by the mid eighties with the light bar on the Rover’s roof and no doubt an American police siren, which was replacing the traditional nee naw siren at the time.
    Also while not totally on topic, another British police tradition is going, as West Yorkshire Police join Police Scotland and Thames Valley by abandoning the traditional custodial helmet( the pineapple shaped one that foreign tourists like so much) for beat policemen in favour of the flat cap used by police in cars. Actually I’d think the custodial helmet offers more protection if a policeman is hit over the head.

  4. The airhorns had to go they were only audible in the car,In car entertainment was getting louder than the horns People often only knew you were behind them when the blue light reflected off some thing in front of them.

  5. So good to see this car back home. I saved it from the scrapyard back in 1997 as I knew it was rare at the time, but not how rare being a one-off in that spec as it turns out. I had a call from a friend of a friend who bought it to put the engine into a TR7 but he didn’t know anything about the EFi and how he could plumb it into the TR7. When I got there the engine was out and ready to be fitted to the TR7 but the guy wanted to put it back onto carbs as it would have been easier. I then supplied and rebuilt a carb’d V8 and fitted it for him in return I took the SD1 home and refitted the engine with a view to restoring the car. Unfortunately a few months later my father passed away and the garage I was going to use was no longer available so I took the decision to sell the Rover as a complete running (although rough in the bodywork) car needing restoration. In the article above, Mike Ward mentions the car had been at Grampian Transport Museum before, that was when I put it in their annual auction. It never reached reserve price so I placed an advert in a national publication and had a call from London and a deal was done. I knew the car had lain untouched for a while and had a call a couple of years ago asking if I wanted to buy the car back but at the time I simply couldn’t justify spending money on another project. It’s great that it’s been saved though and even better to see it back in it’s homelands being looked after and preserved for the future. A real piece of local history. I even remember being in the back seat once getting a stern talking to by a traffic officer for my driving ‘style’ back in the 80’s just after i’d passed my driving test!

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