Concepts and prototypes : Rover SD1, concept 3

Some images from the projects that produced the Rover SD1…

The winning proposal

The winning proposal – the SD1 as we know it today. This version managed to maintain the five-door layout of the others, but with the extra dimension of genuine style. The character clearly comes from the details: sweeping side indicators, side swage lines and the dipped belt line. Clearly, this was David Bache at his best. (Note the low loading lip in the top picture – intentional?)

Wind tunnel model

Interior sketches

Keith Adams


  1. It’s a shame this car wasn’t built with the quality it deserved, and regularly updated. With the proper materials and, dare I say it?, a true sedan variant, this would have been enough to cause people to think twice about a BMW.

  2. Interesting as always to follow the transition in SD1 car design from concept 1 to 3. Often I prefer the earlier stage images but on this occasion I think concept 3’s development deserved to reach production – as it did.

  3. I still miss my Rover SD1’s, I had an 82 2000 model and a last off the line 2600 model, both in Moonraker Blue (Easily one of the SD1’s best colours).

    Only my Citroen C5 comes close in ride quality and comfort (And size!), though I still hold on to my Rover roots with my MG TF.

    A shame the car is gone though, and not so many left on the roads these days.

  4. I’ve said it many times on here before, this has got to be one of the finest mainstream car designs ever!

  5. A truly beautiful car and one of my favourites, but one where form came before function.
    The interior was too cramped for an executive car- especially in the rear seat, and the design of the rear doors meant the window glass could only be lowered half way!
    Three or four more inches in the wheelbase could have made the car a whole lot better.

  6. I had an SE in Australia from 1992 to about 1995 when it just stopped (would cut out on any rh turn). I really miss it, however it was nothing but trouble, shuch a shame.

  7. Given the success of the original Range Rover and criticism by some on the SD1 being a fastback hatchback with Ferrari-like styling, could the SD1 have worked had it featured styling elements from the original Range Rover onto a downsized Rover P8-inspired three-box saloon body almost reminiscent of what BMW and other opposition were producing at the time?

  8. Must admit that I always liked the original SD1 dash design, it was nicely minimalist and functional, a proper successor to the Round Dial P6 dashboard, unencumbered by stray bits of wood and Chrome.

    The cunning of making it symmetrical to reduce costs of LHD/RHD interchangeably is also great design.

    A three spoke steering wheel, Matt aluminium for the spokes and black leather for the rim, would have looked good too.

    I wonder if the removal of the low rear loading height was an acknowledgement of the horrible crash performance of a certain other Rover design from a few years previous?? Play safe by having the shell a bit stronger.. The extra rigidity would help the handling too.

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