News : Rare SD1 Twin-Turbo unearthed

Craig Cheetham

A TWIN-TURBO Rover SD1 V8, believed to be one of only two survivors, has been unearthed in Lancashire.

Era-defining graphics and wheels set the Janspeed SD1 apart from the crowd
Era-defining graphics and wheels set the Janspeed SD1 apart from the crowd

Currently offered for sale via eBay by a classic car dealer in Bolton, the 34,000-mile from new car can be viewed here. It has spent the past 25 years in a private garage after the owner became unable to drive it through ill-health, so hasn’t been on the road since 1990, when it was only 11 years old.

The SD1 was fitted with twin turbos as part of a conversion kit, offered to fit both six-cylinder and V8 SD1s from 1979 onward by aftermarket supplier Janspeed, headed up by Hungarian racing driver and tuning expert, Jan Odor. Odor came to the UK in 1962 as a refugee and was one of the key development engineers at Downton Engineering in Salisbury, Wiltshire, before forming his own company, so had quite a background working with BMC/BL cars.

The Janspeed (pronounced Yan-Speed) turbocharger kits were sold as bolt-on parts and were relatively easy to fit, though at £900 were certainly not cheap. When you consider the list price of a V8-engined SD1 started at a shade under £9,000, it would be equivalent to spending about £3,500 on a £35k car today.

Janspeed Turbos were sold as bolt-on installations
Janspeed Turbos were sold as bolt-on installations

That said, the turbocharger units reputedly brought the 0-60mph acceleration time of the SD1 down to just over seven seconds, with a top speed of over 130mph. Turbo lag, apparently, was ‘manageable’, and it was described in its day by Motor Sport Magazine’s Editor Bill Boddy as ‘by far and away the best turbocharged petrol engine I’ve ever driven’.

Janspeed plaque a sign of authenticity
Janspeed plaque a sign of authenticity

The car is authentic right down to the ‘Turbo’ body graphics, which were very much of their era and came in the box of bits supplied by Janspeed, along with the turbos, manifolds and pipes required to complete the conversion at home. Janspeed also offered a range of additional performance accessories, including uprated rims and tyres, suspension upgrades and bigger brake discs, all of which are fitted to this example and make it even more desirable.

Standard SD1 interior, but this early example appears to be almost mint
Standard SD1 interior, but this early example appears to be almost mint

AROnline will be watching closely to see how much this almost unique piece of SD1 history will eventually sell for, but if you fancy a punt you’ve only got until Monday 22 February…

Vinyl roof, sunroof and spoiler - iconic accessories of their time...
Vinyl roof, sunroof and spoiler – iconic accessories of their time…


Craig Cheetham


  1. A really special car… It combines the comfort and the class of a Rover with the performances of a sports car. Is the perfect executive saloon! So, prepare yourself to see the price increasing.

  2. I remember in the early 1990s in Alton Hampshire following a Range Rover that accelerated like a scalded cat, I caught it up at one of the roundabouts on the A31 and on the boot lid it had a ‘Janspeed’ sticker and a Turbo-Twin’ badge… my RS Turbo couldn’t keep up with it!

  3. so besides a TWIN plenum vitesse there already was a TWIN turbo?? very nice and rare indeed, still remember the time when my uncle changed his 6th mercedes for one of the first 2600’s in NL… wow what a fine 6 cil car that was and what a depreciation after couple of years.. 😉

  4. This is just wonderful and just about as rare as any SD1 can get…!!!

    My only question is “where is the other Janspeed Twin-Turbo SD1…?!?!?!”

  5. Ive often wondering about twin turbo charging my 110 (3.9 v8) it would seem on the face of it that it would be quite easy to do. I imagine also that the 0 to 60 time above is only limited by the ability to get the power to the ground.


  6. It’s surprising that they also did a kit for the 2.6 as well. I can’t imagine many people choosing to turbocharge the 2.6, rather than getting a V8 in the first place, if they were after decent performance!

  7. The bodywork ‘add ons’ are certainly very seventies and today a bit questionable. The wheels look a bit lost in the arches too. There is, however, something I like about the look of this car.

    What’s the power output? The above performance figures are pretty similar to a Vitesse.

    Surprised the conversion could be done “at home”.

    That original SD1 dash still looks great!

    • No these kits were not sold as DIY, the brochures stated that they had to be fitted / built at JanSpeed, or one of their dealer outlets around England.

      I have spoken with both my cars previus owner, and also owner,s in both France & Holland who has confirmed this.

      All cars were given upgrades on both brakes – suspension & fuel system when JanSpeed converted them.
      Each car has a numbered alloy tag plate fitted to the body/chassi after completion

  8. 135 mph was nothing to be sniffed at in 1979, particularly when most cars of similar size just about reached 120 mph. Bet this Rover could have given owners of Italian supercars a few frights at the time.

  9. Performance difference-or lack of- is probably because the turbo boost is going to be at quite a low pressure by modern standards. The engine is a bog standard factory V8, with no low compression Pistons, no extra piston cooling or stronger head gaskets. Reliability would be thrown out of the window at higher boost pressure.

  10. I drove a wild Rover for many a year,
    spent all of my money on brand new Goodyear.
    Set off a speed camera on a night full of frost,
    and now I have found that my licence is lost.

    -and it’s no, nay, never – no nay never, no more
    -will I drive my wild Rover, no nay never, no more.

    I am reminded of a chap I met at a party in Nuneaton (we do have them)
    -who owned a Dolly Sprint fitted with a 400 bhp Ford Zetec engine.
    Apparently he takes it to a body shop every few months to get it pulled straight again.

    Janspeed – I once visited their factory in Salisbury, so they could move a bracket on a new exhaust manifold I had bought for my Viva 2300. They were very helpful, and ground off the weld, so that I could put the bracket wherever I liked.
    My friend and I returned to Gwent by train, after playing hide and seek with a shunting engine at Westbury.
    We made our own entertainment in those days.

  11. Good luck with that. The story of this car and pictures look superb (especially that interior). Despite its age I still find the SD1 appealing… maybe because I remember the launch back in 1976 when it was viewed as modern and futuristic – and I was younger!

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