Car of the Month : July 2006

Back to form, goes back to what it knows best – thumping great V8 engines driving the rear wheels, and a fine-looking package.

Here, we take a look at Keith Nicholls’ fine-looking example and wonder what more you could possibly want?

Back on form…

David Bache’s finest?

THIS rare Rover SD1 Vitesse is owned by Keith Nicholls from Norfolk, and according to the DVLA is one of only 26 automatic Vitesses left on British roads.

The story fo Keith’s love affair with the tuned-up SD1 started at the 1983 Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone. Keith attended this round of the European Touring Car championship to see the TWR Jaguar XJ-S beat all-comers. Unfortunately, for the racers at Browns Lane, the rain came down like stairods and the Jaguars were unable to exploit the ample power chucked out by their V12 5.3-litre engines. The race began in monsoon conditions and straight into the lead swept the yellow Hepolite Glacier TWR Rover Vitesse driven by Rene Metge and Steve Soper.

The works SD1 dominated the race while the rain got into the Jaguars’ susceptible electrics. The Rover won easily, and it was the start of a lasting love affair between the Nicholls family and one of David Bache’s finest creations. Keith and his sone Ian began to see the big Rover’s race reguarly as they took on Europe’s best in the ETC with the Bastos backed cars.

A move to Norfolk in 1987 saw the purchase of a gold Rover 2600 SD1 automatic from Roverpart, now trading under the name RPI Engineering. This car was exchanged in 1990, for B143 VBH. If you are going to have a Rover SD1 you may as well do it properly and get a V8-engined Vitesse!

B143 VBH was first registered on November 7th 1984 and was bought by Dataport Micro Systems Ltd, Icknield Way, Tring, HP23 4JX. This sounds like an information technology company, but the firm no longer appears to be trading under this name. It was then sold on 30th June 1986 to a resident of East Derham in Norfolk and then on to Roverpart who then sold it to Keith Nicholls in 1990.

After 15 years of gradual decay, B143 VBH had a body makeover in 2005 and in 2006 the wheels were re-furbished.

The Nicholls family have since had other Nineties Rovers, but the Vitesse remains a firm favourite…

Keith Adams

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