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