The cars : Rover SD1 Prestige by Wood & Pickett

The Converters: Wood & Pickett

Borrowing its name from the Citroën CX, the Rover Prestige was Wood & Pickett’s luxury version of the SD1…

It came in many variants, and could be built exactly to the customer’s requirements. Why, then, were so few built?

Rover Prestige: a bit of posh

With Minis and Range Rovers already under its belt, specialist converter, Wood & Pickett next added the Rover SD1 to its range of conversions in late 1979.

In the now-familiar W&P tradition, customers would start by choosing their base model (usually a Rover 2600 or 3500), and then select from a long list of options to produce the final specification.

Making its debut on this model was the novel idea of keyless entry. In the days before remote-control and transponder-operated central-locking had appeared, this amounted to a numbered keypad mounted on the B-pillar, allowing the driver to unlock the car by entering a combination code. W&P later employed the same system on their Sheaffer TRZ.

A memorable interior

The Prestige's interior, showing the electric seats, walnut-tastic dashboard and inlaid door cappings. Note also the add-on turbo-boost guage, neatly mounted at the extreme right of the lower dashboard rail.
The Prestige’s interior, showing the electric seats, walnut-tastic dashboard and inlaid door cappings. Note also the add-on turbo-boost guage, neatly mounted at the extreme right of the lower dashboard rail

The Prestige’s other remarkable feature was its enormous walnut-fronted dashboard, complemented by inlaid walnut door cappings. It is well-documented that many people did not take to the SD1’s original minimalist dashboard design, and this £560 option was Wood & Pickett’s attempt at something a little more traditional.

While some felt that its height was likely to induce a feeling of claustrophobia, it did at least look impressive, and provided an additional storage locker on the passenger’s side.

Other items on the options list included the usual kind of Wood & Pickett fare, such as electric front seats, leather or Dralon upholstery (including door cards and quarter panels), Wilton carpeting, manual or electric sunroof, cruise control and an onboard computer.

More power to your elbow

To help cope with the extra weight, a Janspeed turbocharging option was offered on the 2600 or 3500 models, along with on-trend front and rear spoilers to announce the go-faster capability.

Naturally, Wood & Pickett’s demonstrator (99 EFC, as seen in these pictures) had all the boxes ticked which, as can be seen from the table below, would have added more than £13,000 (including VAT) to the cost of the base car.

Wood & Pickett was also happy to upgrade customers’ existing cars if they so wished. One curious omission from the options list was air-conditioning, although the company would undoubtedly have quoted for this if requested to do so.

Upgrades, but no stereo

There is also no mention of in-car entertainment options, so it can be taken for granted that the final bill would be likely to rise further still.

Aerodynamic front spoiler£145
Aerodynamic rear spoiler£95
Front fog lamps£75
Complete respray to coachbuilder’s standards£1550
Chromed spoked wire wheels fitted with Dunlop 185/70VR15 tyres£1095
Walnut-veneer fascia full-width and front/rear door cappings£560
15″ 4-spoke steering wheel in polished wood or leather£85
Deluxe interior retrim in Dralon or leather, including Recaro “C” Type electrically adjustable front seats£3050
Recarophonie headrests with built-in speakers£285
Leather-welted Wilton carpeting (including luggage area)£715
Deluxe soundproofing£135
Electric tilt/slide sunroof in metal£765
Digital keyless entry system£695
Electronic cruise control£245
On-board computer£190
Air horns with changeover switch£75
Turbocharging of engine£1795
Total (*including fitting, but excluding VAT @ 12.5%)£11,555

Exactly how many of these conversions were carried out is not known, but in her 1998 book on the Rover SD1, Karen Pender commented that only around five were known to have survived at that stage.

The Prestige in the image at the top of the page was fully specced, and belonged to the then Wood & Pickett Director Eddie Francis Collins (as reflected in the registration number). According to Andrew Elphick, who supplied the picture, it was mechanically standard but given the full interior makeover, as well as Wolfrace alloys.

Pictures: Declan Berridge, Pete Chalmers and Andrew Elphick

Keith Adams


  1. I don’t mean to be rude but sometimes the original is just the best! The SD1 is a beautiful car and I can’t imagine they sold too many of these? Am I wrong?

    Not too sure what the view out of the front was like after the dashboard modification, the dash looks a little high.

  2. I agree, the efforts of Rover’s design team were far more convincing than this example by Wood & Pickett. Look at how wood and leather was used in the Series 2 version and you quickly appreciate why they had to be visually integrated with the existing interior style, not merely thrown in as a token effort in the Rover Prestige.

  3. Personally, I think a lot of Wood & Pickett’s work is a dog’s dinner and ruin the original by being over-busy, questionable in the taste department, and unjustifiably expensive.

    I recall reading in MiniWorld about someone who restored a W&P Mini/Margrave that had a roof make-over with stupid looking false hinges on the side and silly windows. Their interiors, as perfectly demonstrated by this Rover, were way OTT and added nothing to the interior look of the car. I mean, how the hell can you even have time to look at half the dials and knobs they add on?

    To me, W&P are a bit like the Red Hot Chili Peppers – they have become enormously famous and rich without anyone being able to pinpoint a particular reason why…..

  4. Did Any of these types of converted cars ever sell? I’ve only ever seen them on this website, contemporary magazines and motor shows, never in the real world!

  5. Looks like someone’s gone berserk with the Paddy Hopkirk catalogue…..very nasty indeed, especially when you could buy the gorgeous 3500S, then later the Vitesse or VDP.

  6. Wood & Picketts creations sold very well indeed, with a high export turn over. Vulgar or not, everything was comissioned by a paying customer.

    Fact du jour: Simon Le Bon’s brother was one of W&P’s paint sprayers!

  7. A very crass,tasteless looking car, reminds me of Capri’s with rear louvres with the leaf springs raised 17 storey’s.

  8. Wire wheels (a throwback to the 1950s)on an SD1? What were they thinking? Another example of what people with more money than good taste did to cars back in the 1970s/early ’80s – similar to how they ruin Range Rovers, Cadillac Escalades and other SUVs today.

  9. I never heard of this version before and this is an interesting article. A unique car perhaps, but I think all the extra trim and add-ons were a bit OTT. I agree the normal factory SD1 cars were as attractive as they needed to be in those days.

  10. I had one of these, and yes, the dashboard was too high really. It was just too imposing and would have looked better if half the height. The steering wheel and door caps were nice though – funny to see these photo’s now.

  11. Never heard of this until now.

    Some strange alterations which tend to spoil rather than enhance. The dash lent itself well to modification but not this one – simply too high. Worst of all, the “go faster stripe” on the top car, photo.

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