News : Rover P8 breaks cover at HMC

Words: Keith Adams Photography: Eamonn Burnell and Nick Dunning

Disturbing photographs taken last weekend of ‘priceless’ one-off prototypes being stored in the open at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon have been sent into AROnline. The cars – including most notably the only remaining Rover P8 prototype, booted Metro, AR6, and famous ‘pizza delivery’ mid-engined MGF clothed as a Metro.

The Rover P8 has been in hiding for many years, and for AROnline, it’s the first confirmation of the rumour that the car remains near-complete, but damaged following a trailer accident a few years ago. The car looks to have lost significant amounts of trim and fittings, but for a committed restorer it’s far from being a lost cause, even if many of the parts will be one-off bespoke items.

Tim Bryan, of the HMC confirmed that the cars had only been left outside overnight for one evening, and told AROnline, ‘I wanted to reassure you that the cars pictured were actually in transit and only stored very temporarily outside whilst being surveyed by our volunteer team and are now safely in a new interim storage building we have created pending the completion of our HLF collections building.

‘As you may know, part of the first stage of our HLF grant was to carry out a full survey of all the vehicles in the collection and we have recruited 50+ volunteers to do this. They have made rapid and excellent progress on this part of the project, checking and photographing each car.

‘This work will give us a priority list of vehicles for restoration and the P8 has already been identified as a great project for our volunteers as well as a number of other cars  that have not been seen by the public for many years. The survey is part of a bid to be submitted to the HLF in the New Year, and we are making progress on generating matching funding for the project so that we can begin work early in 2014.’

For anyone who cares about the preservation of the history of these cars produced by now-defunct manufacturers, their condition must raise serious concerns over who ultimately retains responsibility – enthusiastic individuals with the resources to fully care for these cars, or museums, which find themselves forced to operate in increasingly commercial conditions.

How the Rover P8 looked just before production was cancelled in 1971.
How the Rover P8 looked just before production was cancelled in 1971.

Back in 2004, AROnline revealed that the Heritage Motor Centre, at Gaydon in Warwickshire, had run into storage issues, and was forced to store a selection of its previously-unseen prototypes unprotected, out in the open. The official line from the museum then was that the cars were being left in the open on a temporary basis while new facilities were found. The cars soon disappeared, and went back undercover in a set of secret bunkers around the country – and we can only hope that this is the same situation again in 2012.

We’ll keep you posted. But for now, feast your eyes on the P8 – was it right for British Leyland to abandon it months before it was due to go into production?


Keith Adams


  1. Nice to see the booted Metro looking so tidy, but the P8 looks stuffed. In my opinion it should auctioned off. Anybody who would spend money on it would be an enthusiast, so it would stand a better chance going into a private collection. Got the garage space Keith? 😉

  2. Why are these cars not in the Museum? Last time I visited it was the same old stuff that was there last time and the time before that, yet there seemed to be plenty of empty space that could accommodate these cars that would really be of interest. A special prototype section on the upper floor perhaps.

  3. According to the DVLA’s database, TXC 160J is taxed (“Licence not due”)!! Quite how on earth it got through an MOT is beyond me but, as I said re the Chrysler Horizon, anything’s possible if you know the right people.

    Poor thing, though. Not a pretty car – looks like a 1970s offering from Toyota or Datsun – but it deserves much better than this.

  4. What a shame. A real big shame. I still don’t understand why they didn’t improve the crash safety of the P8 to help get it into production

  5. Is the Yellow Metro an ADO88 prototype? Actually quite like the Fiat Strada/Innoceni Mini-like rear end. The Metro saloon looks better here than in another pictures though I am sadden to see prototypes being stored out in the open instead of in a museum where they belong.

    Still believe the P8 should have gone into production (albeit though it could have done with a bit more work), its a shame to see the P8 prototype in such a sorry state.

  6. Were BL right to pull the plug on the P8, based on the prototype’s looks my answer is an emphatic yes.

    However, for this, and other, historically important cars to be left in the open is utterly criminal and at best shows incompetence and at worst total ignorance and mis-management of museum assets.

    If they can’t look after them, put them to auction and let private enthusiasts do it.

  7. That is the ADO88, which had very poor clinic results and was put through an emergency facelift to become the Metro at the behest of Edwardes.

    Harris Mann and Gordon Sked worked on the project, partly overseen by David Bache.

    This needs to be saved.

  8. I hope that I win the lottery so I can buy a huge warehouse to store and preserve them.
    I would go back to the museum more often if they changed the displays more with different cars like these, instead of moving around the same exhibits. Shame they leave these to rot where we don’t get to appreciate them!

  9. Surprising to say the least! Even if no longer wanted by the HMC surely they should be stored responsibly (ie under cover) until a new home is found.
    Even a few days is too long to be left ‘abandoned’ like this. Surely they could at least stretch to an orderly row under some kind of cover?

  10. HMC, fresh from our own MGF rejuvenation, if you want to give the PR3 ‘Pizza Van’ away, I’ll take it and bring it to life! I have had the pleasure of working with several chaps who worked on this car. I’m sure a few would find little place for nostalgia, it was nothing more than a lash-up to validate engineering, others took great pride in these prototypes and the unique solutions that brought them to lif. HMC and the wider world ought to appreciate just how special these vehicles are, these days, all our prototypes are forced into destruction and some very special vehicles, with colourful histories and interesting twists and turns, all wind up crushed, such a shame. Few will ever appreciate the work that goes into building these intermediate development vehicles, all forgotten once the final car appears, and the prototypes take with themselves these stories to the scrap heap. Much like scrappage.

  11. So they are at it again, sticking some of the rarest BMC>MGR prototypes outside at the mercy of all the elements whilst any old Ford or Toyota tat gets pride of place inside. Its been EIGHT YEARS since they had ‘storage issues’ this is unacceptable and its high time the personnel was changed at this establishment.

  12. A great shame to see the P8 Prototype in such a state but most people would be dis-interested. Obviously it would have needed further development and doesn’t look like the best car design I’ve ever seen – but it’s a piece of British auto history and worth protecting.

  13. HMC also have a habbit of storing vehicles in shipping container’s where they stay damp all the time. The P8 looks almost beyond saving; HMC must be the worst run motor museum of all time!

  14. I’ve often wonder about the aims of HMC but it’s pretty obvious now – to rewrite history and entirely erase the legacy of BMC, Rover, Triumph and BL in favour of some sanitised version where British car makers were never successful. How long will it be before the replace everything with German cars?

  15. Everything dumped outside there has a BL link. What the hell is going on there? The Horizon incident, and now this..Blood at boiling point!

  16. Everything dumped outside there has a BL link. What the hell is going on there? The Horizon incident, and now this..Blood at boiling point!

  17. When was the Metro saloon first thought of, created? The car pictured has the larger post ’84 (TD?) wheels but the older, original front.

    Why was it never launched? Did they think it may adversely affect the hatch’s image? There were, however, a whole host of not especially pretty hatch to saloon conversions around at the time. Booted Nova, Jetta, Onion, sorry Orion, etc. This was a more successful conversion than Maestro to Montego.

  18. Why is it that prototype shots of BL>MGR cars always seem more interesting than for other marques? I guess it’s the ‘what might have been’ factor.

  19. @24, the story was, I think, that there was a choice whether to invest in the saloon or the 5-door Metro, and they went with the latter

  20. I think the p8 looks great – muscular thing. AFAIK early crash test problems were long ironed out…

  21. Discount the poor choice of colour for the P8, and It really was advanced for the time – SD1 dash echo’s, Range Rover pleat style seats, full energy absorbing bumpers front and rear…

    Does the poor crash stability theory actually mean poor US Federal crash resistance?

  22. Thinking out loud, maybe the P8 project was not canned but the intended market had the plug pulled on it?

    This is not a European market vehicle, do you think the P8 was purely the fall out from Leyland pulling the plug on Rover’s entry into the USA? In 1973 Land Rover vanished again from the USA.

  23. It is a shame when any normal classic is left out to the elements but when a museum whose main purpose is to protect British Motor Heritage leaves rare and historic models out with not so much as a cover it is shocking!
    It is unacceptable way to treat these vehicles. They need protection and work. I understand it takes money and time but I am sure they could afford some covers at least?
    I know they are doing work at Gaydon and it is of limited space but its saddening to see part of this islands motoring, social and industrial history left to languish.
    Why not shove the silly Thunderbird’s Lady Penelope Ford Thunderbird outside? Or something less important like that.
    I really hope something gets done about this and these cars are restored to their former glory.
    On another note, the interior of Gaydon with that road through time thing is a good idea but it is a shame the cars at the rear are difficult to see and photograph.

  24. The P8 is in standard prototype Rover grey – all the prototype P6’s were this colour (or similar) as well. Seemingly a very plain colour so as not to attract too much attention.

  25. TXC160J is listed on DVLA as taxed until Feb’ 2013 so it must have deteriorated significantly over the last few months, interestingly the bootlid has been damaged by crow baring it open, is HMC site so insecure that local yob’s have done this or their own staff? Personaly, having seen these picture’s tonight I’m begining to feel that leaving rare vehicles in the care of HMC is akin to leaving a few young girls in the care of Sir Jimmy Saville!

  26. Shameful. Can’t imagine BMW, Mercedes, or anyone really treating their heritage in such a way.

    On the subject of the P8 you wonder how big it was; if it was really any bigger than the SD1.

    Spen King on this very website said that he was not a big fan of P8 as it turned out:

    “CSK: The rationale behind the P8 really became big because Dave Bache wanted to make it big and because the Leyland people, Donald Stokes and George Turnbull particularly, came in and because it was before they got hold of BMC, which had Jaguar, started talking about building a “Mercedes beater”. You shouldn’t try and beat someone you should try and make something that is good, that the public will want. It was ridiculous.

    “KJA: I suppose it was Donald Stokes trying to make an impression.

    “CSK: Indeed. So I was not keen on P8 at all. Eventually of course, there was this kerfuffle about policy and who was going to make what and they were quite rightly trying to tidy things up. The Rover Company would have liked to make a successor to P6 whether it was like that on one hand, and on the other they would have like to have built a sports car. Unfortunately, both of those got killed on the basis that the Rover Company was having one car anyway at least in SD1. And they got Land Rover. So Jaguar ought to be able to have their saloon car and their sports car. It was this sort of balancing act – the variety of things that each company made. You had to rationalise, I mean it was crazy not to actually. Of course, as soon as they gobbled up BMC with Jaguar, this car would look stupid – I could not argue that they were wrong to stop it.”

    But as this website again has informed us, the P8’s wheelbase was 108.5″ – 2.5″ shorter than the SD1’s, about the same as the SWB XJ6’s . That being the case, the car can hardly have been that gross can it? By which I mean it can’t have been hugely bigger than the SD1.

    You do wonder if all of the work on P8’s double wishbone suspension and De Dion rear couldn’t simply have been carried forward to the SD1.

    Of course, there is that thing about the SD1 being heavily related to the similarly-dimensioned (length apart) Leyland P76. But it seems there was little or no commonality between SD1 and P76 (well, you shouldn’t expect BL to have acted rationally.) From this website again:

    “I have a SD1 and a P76 in pieces in my garage right now. The SD1 and P76 have no substantial similarity in the design or construction of their body’s except for the basic concept of fixed front mudguards, front engine / rwd , McPherson strut front end. The front end design has similar basic principals but the structure and layout differs completely in design. As an example – the P76 used a “classic” forward mounted swaybar design fitted to the lower links by rubber insulated vertical arms. The P76 then has rear facing “brake reaction” rods moving from the lower link to the chassis rail. In the Rover design – the swaybar and “brake reaction” rods are incorporated into the one singular forward mounted bar. The rear suspension is completely different. The P76 V8 is clearly derived from the basic design of the Rover engine – but no parts are interchangeable. Although the cars are styled dramatically differently – they are actually very similar in basic size.”

    If there was no commonality between the SD1 and P76 then wouldn’t it have made sense to configure the SD1 around P8 running gear given that the latter car almost reached production, that its suspension, steering, and braking systems must therefore have been developed to a production ready state? I mean, why start all over again with SD1?

    Final bit of P8 nonsense…

    Dredging my memory I recall that Rover developed a P8 with a hydraulic suspension. You don’t suppose they were working on an active anti-roll system for the car:

  27. What was the trailer accident that happened to put this in such a poor condition to start with? Is that what happened to the others (the yellow car has a whacking dent in the side and the pizza van is missing a window)?

  28. I am absolutely fuming at this (as I was back in 2004 when you ran the story for the first time and I emailed the BMIHT and told them so). I genuinely thought the situation had improved. However, I was clearly wrong and mislead. The Heritage Motor Centre needs to realise that these cars were given to them for their safekeeping and preservation for future generations to enjoy and learn from. You only need to look at the rotted out front wheel arch of the last Triumph 2000/2500 on display inside the museum to realise that they are not doing this.

    I am a supporter of the BMIHT and the work it does in preserving important artefacts such as one-off cars and first and last production models. But this really is not the way.

    LAND ROVER – IF YOU ARE LISTENING, for God’s sake please will you free up some space in that vast technology centre next door to the HMC called “Gaydon” and allow these vehicles to be stored and preserved in a manner that is befitting them. I know many of the ‘historic’ Land Rover vehicles you have nabbed for your own publicity use and have not been returned them to the HMC yet (such as the last Range Rover Classic, last Discovery Series 2, first Discovery…). But you really can’t tell me there isn’t such space available when former Rover employees of the Rover Group days tell me otherwise. That place is vast!

    In all honesty, how can the BMIHT expect to gain public support for their ongoing work and a Heritage grant for their future plans if this is how they are publicly seen to be ‘preserving’ vehicles? A PR disaster!

  29. P.S. My apologies for being blasphemous in my previous post but I really am livid by this news. Unless the BMIHT changes its storage policy and heads rolls for this, I will boycott the BMIHT and any of the services and events it offers. There is no point me making a three hour drive to see cars that are neglected and in the case of some of the cars featured in the photos, abused.

  30. I didn’t even know that a P8 prototype existed, I’ve only ever seen pictures of the clay model. A real shame about the state of the prototype, looks as if it’s sat in the breakers for a few months, no glass, interior stripped or perhaps the banger boys are getting it ready for the next big Rover meet!!
    Who owns HMC now? I know the rot set in when Ford took it over and wanted to run it on a more commercial basis. Mind you it must cost a bit to run. I was fortunate enough to visit the museum back in the 90’s before Ford got their hands on it. Really good exhibitions upstairs and loads of BL BMC related cars and prototypes. The HMC is now a shadow of it’s former self, with upstairs now an empty void. Some of the exhibits seem to be catering more to the family day out visitor rather than the history of the British Motor Industry. I’m left with the impression that venue is being run as a conference centre which has a car museum attached.
    I can’t understand why if they have space issues is there so much empty space upstairs. My recent visit left me a little disappointed, these pictures make me sad. At one time I thought HMC was staffed by enthusiasts, if that was the case they would have at least covered the cars with a tarpaulin, especially the P8 without its windows!! Part of the reason the HMC has such a huge collection is due to BL employees acting on their own initiative to save records from skips and save prototypes from the scrap man.

  31. The Heritage Motor Centre is a national disgrace. The curator should be fired for such vandalism of British motor heritage.

    Imagine the hopes and dreams of those that worked on developing these cars.

    The traitors at The Heritage Motor Centre are clearly deliberately destroying icons of endeavour within British motor history.

    They are clearly unworthy custodians of any British motor historic artefacts, since they are careless even with indoor exhibits.

    These prototype cars should be kept indoors.

  32. I don’t see the P8 as that huge as Spen King saw it, but mate that is really impressive in despite of that! With that style, it was not made for low profile people.

    Just a theory, but maybe King disliked it that much not for its actual size, but for its style? Too much american for a Rover?

  33. The P8 is looking sad, but it is certainly not stuffed. Far from it. But it will be if it’s left outside like that. The situation is a shameful disgrace. They can’t even be arsed enough to put covers over these unique cars.

  34. Having read this I have written to Gaydon myself to protest. I last visited the Museum in April this year and was struck at how stale the exhibition has become. An incoherant pile of Minis, Minors and MGs. As I said above there seemed to be a fair amount of space still available that could accommodate these prototype vehicles. As noted above by others, those responsible for running Gaydon seem to be as incompetent and cluesless as those who ran British Leyland!

  35. I have just emailed the museum to enquire what is happening as regarding these important prototypes.

  36. Perhaps SAIC/MG could rent them a few hundred sqaure metres to store them, at least over the winter months? They could do with the cash and they’re not exactly pushed for space…

  37. @ Keith Adams:

    Could you give us a direct email link to the ‘lady in charge’ at the BMIHT so that as many concerned individuals as possible can make their views known?

    I believe it is still Ms Tew?

  38. Not been following the storage saga very closely, but this is clearly an absolute disgrace. Has the Heritage Motor Centre lost direction completely? Time, perhaps, for an in-depth feature telling the full story of the difficult path the collection has trodden since the days of Leyland Historic Vehicles and before. The BMIHT was the only organisation that seemed to care for its prototypes in any significant way but seemingly that intention has now been put to one side.

  39. I’ve been researching, partly for myself and partly for someone who is producing a comprehensive study of the, the Triumph World Cup Rally cars from 1970. At one stage, BMIHT had ownership of the second-placed Brian Culcheth / Johnstone Syer Triumph 2500 and I believe that this was exhibited at Donington, then possibly at Syon Park. Between thenm and the opening of Gaydon, the car disappeared and was reported as having been scrapped. Just wondered if anyone had any more information on that outcome and / or any pics of the Triumph at either Dongton (in the Leyuland historic Vehicle days) or at the museum at Syon Park.

  40. A Mr Tim Burgess from gaydon has kindly replied to a email sent only this morning and he assures me its tempory while these vehicles are checked over etc and they will be under cover sooner than we think-in othe words they are safe and i understand they will be restored,more info re:email later as im at work. Once again,thank you Mr.Burgess.

  41. The P8 wasn’t all wasted. The side windows seem to have ended up on the Saab 9-5, and the bootlid at least inspired the 900 2-door – or maybe something by Mercedes.

    It didn’t go ahead because it would have competed with the XJ6; just as the P9 would have scuppered the increasingly corpulent E-type. (Was the P9 engineered for A/C? There should have been room under the front lid!)

  42. I would hope that if the HMC finds itself in a similar situation in the future it will either bang rather loudly on Land Rover’s door next door, or possibly enter into agreement with a storage provider such as Eddie Stobart and possible offer them some form of advertising opportunity at the museum.

  43. Im glad they never made the P8 it looks bloody awful – even worse than the awful australian P car! I now know why Spen King hated it.

  44. @56 i remember the pizza van and “RTC couriers” on the MGF mules in scoop photos in CAR magazine years ago!

  45. From ‘Ottertronic’ on the MGF forums:

    ‘Early in the MGF development programme they wanted to get cracking on checking that the mid-engined, Metro-based layout would actually work. Hence, a Metro van shell was hacked about to make a mid-engined ‘simulator’ which was christened Sim 1. It kept the standard Metro wheelbase, lacked fully interconnected Hydragas and was by all accounts A BIT FRISKY.

    After that at least two more Metro bodied mules were built, this time more heavily modified and basically like Metro pick-ups with the engine in the back and a lift up shell over the rear end to make them look like innocuous delivery vans. The one you see here has a longer wheelbase to match the eventual MGF’s dimensions.

    Around the same time four mkI Toyota MR2s were bought from a Midlands-based specialist – all by Rover employees using personal cheques to avoid arousing suspicion – and these were fitted with K-series engines so that cooling, cold starting and various other bits of calibration work could be carried out to make sure the engine would function when mid-mounted. ‘

  46. It doesn’t look good does it. I didn’t realise the prototype P8 still existed, but there it is – windows broken/vandalised, side stoved in, boot lid forced open with a crowbar. I agree with the sentiments above as regards BL/Rover heritage – it seems like its a case of “who cares”.

  47. The message from Tim Bryan (not burgess!)
    Thank you for your message via the museum website.

    A note of explanation is indeed necessary regarding the pictures on the ARonline website.The cars in question were not left outside on a permanant basis but were awaiting movement by our workshop team into a brand new interim store recently commissioned for our site.

    The cars had been moved to enable them to be assessed by our volunteer team who have been undertaking a comprehensive survey of allour vehicles as part of a £2.5 million pound lottery-funded project that will enable us to to create a new public access store that will enable us to make all of our collection available to the public.

    We recruited 50+ volunteers earlier this year and they are from car clubs and ex motor industry-they have done a fantastic job doing condition surveys on every vehicle and we now have a list of projects that will be undertaken by the team in the next few years.The Rover P8 mentioned by Kieth Adams is a restoration project that may well be one of the first to be done,and i spoke to him today about involving his web site and its contributors in the process.

    I’d like to reassure you that the cars pictured are safely under cover in our new interim store and we hope that our new project will enable us to provide a better enviroment where important cars can be seen by the public.I am working on raising funding at present to allow work to to begin in 2013.

  48. They’ve recruited 50+ volunteers from various car clubs and not one of them posts here? Something stinks there. I believe the readership of this place is huge and on top of that we all talk to one another. If Gaydon had made such an approach I’m sure one of us would have heard about it.

  49. I’m encouraged by Tim Bryan’s message. Is there some way of making a donation to the museum from here in NZ? It’d only be a small sum (young family, single income, two classic cars and one more likely to arrive), but whatever money I can spare I’d put where my mouth currently is.

  50. Frankies comment (no.1) about the only hope for a proper P8 resto being with an enthusiast is correct. Incidentally I’m surprised how ugly it when see out in the open.

    We must remember many of these vehicles are only of interest to a tiny number of car enthusiasts (I’m one of them) so will never attract the investment required to restore or even maintain them in the way we would like to see. I don’t like it but it is a fact.

    • Any idea when Keith? – I was up there last year having a wander around the new storeage area – no sign of it – and the manager on at the time denied they’d even had one.

      • @ Julian Mildren:

        Prior to the completion of the new storage area, there was a collection of shipping containers sited on the open fieldland beyond the steep bank. I.e. the containers were behind you as you faced the main frontal entrance into the museum. I saw them when attending an event there back in 2013 and a lot of the ‘overflow’ display cars had to be parked up on the field above the steep bank.

        I don’t know whether those storage containers are still up there, but if they are then my guess is the P8 is stored inside one patiently waiting to be given the T.L.C. is so desperately deserves.

  51. Good to hear restoration is still planned! Yep, it does look very much like a Datsun/Toyota, even Mazda of the early 70’s… or should I say they looked very like a Rover P8?

  52. I think this article has given the powers that be at Gaydon a rude awakening, and to be honest, I think if it wasn’t for these photos, the cars would have probably spent a little while longer outside. These cars deserve the tlc they urgently need. I know Keith would probably love to get his mitts on some of these, and for some perverse reason, I kind of like the Metro saloon, it has that kind of ‘fugliness’ that makes it interesting

  53. The Metro saloon would make people take a double take, as the Metro hatchback is so ingrained in popular memory.

    The pizza van would be my choice. It looks like a Metro but would take off.

  54. I hope that P8 (and the others) get restored as they deserve. The P8 is an ugly beast though- much like its presumably much larger Antipodean cousin the P76. Although I’d very much like to see it brought back to it’s former glory I am damn glad that it wasn’t put into production, as the SD1 was a vastly more attractive car- although I fully accept that with detailing work especially at the front end it could have been much better looking- you only have to look at the first Range Rover prototype with improvised styling to see how the hand of a skilled stylist like David Bache (we’ll draw a veil over the Maestro/Montego for now…) can make a huge difference to how the end product looks.

  55. Wow that beige metro ‘van’ brings back alot of memories, i was an apprentice at Rover Gaydon when that, and a black one were around. I worked on both! They were pickups at one time, note the hooks down the side for the tonneau cover. The back was hinged on the roof of the cab and was fully removable.
    I also worked on the 4 blue toyota mr2 cars. A light blue one was kept as standard toyota running gear.

  56. @75 Bache designed the Maestro in the early 70s – it would have been ground-breaking then. He wasn’t at BL when the Montego was designed……

  57. @72

    Thank you for the link, Magnus. I’m taking a look now. No obvious means of making a donation from this side of the world, but I’ll flick them an email.

  58. I was working in Export Finance in the early 90s and I recall the Metro with a boot being being promoted as a turnkey project for manufacture in Indonesia. At the time my understanding was that it had been specially designed for this project. It all fell through though.

  59. @5 Magnus

    Bearing in mind the age of the car if it has working lights, brakes, wipers and washers with no corrosion it would probably pass an MOT. No emissions nonsense for the engine so would probably obtain a ticket fairly easily……

  60. @80, Paul
    That gives me hope for my 24-year-old 205 – I’d love to know who does their MoTs, though… 🙂

  61. @77 – I’m sure I read that David Bache did a lot of early work on the Montego. He was sacked on the spot by Harold Musgrove when he presented a proposal with an American style, round opera window in the C pillar. His replacement Roy Axe was left to sort out the mess.

  62. That’s ADO88, not AR6, no?

    [edit] I see it’s parked next to AR6 – as you are!

    Also – there’s one common factor between the SD1 and the P8 – truncated rear doors. Only they work with the roof profile of the SD1 – not sure they entirely do with P8.

  63. That P8 is an important bit of British automotive history, so it’s dreadful that’s been allowed to get to it’s current state.
    As a design, it’s dreadful though, it’s hard to equate that the same team would have produced the Range Rover beforehand, and SD1 afterwards

  64. @ Paul:

    David Bache did indeed do a lot of the early work on the Montego, as evidenced by the centre ‘belt-line’ groove and numerous other design cues. His role with the company came to an end in January 1982, with Roy Axe taking on his role over the coming months and having to finish off the design requirements for the Montego, not to mention undertaking a few last minute changes to the Maestro in time for its March 1983 unveiling.

    I seem to recall there is reference to this very uncomfortable episode in Barney Sharrett’s book Men & Motors of “The Austin”: The Intriguing Inside Story, which was published in 2000.

  65. Yes, thats where I read it. Makes reference to David Bache rather laid back style. He failed to prepare for design meetings, arrived late and generally got up Harold Musgroves nose until one day he exploded and fired him.

  66. @86

    It’s all detailed on this site. Click on ‘the cars’ and ‘Maestro/Montego’, then go to ‘development history’. Inwardly digest and enjoy 🙂

  67. What a fantastic looking car the P8 is. It still looks like the car to stick it to the Germans and the Americans. While I like the SD1 for it’s sporting appeal, this car with the 4.4lt engine was way a head of anything else on the mass market at the time. Pity about the current condition.

  68. What a fantastic,menacing looking brute.Does this vehicle have a 3.5 litre engine or the 4.4 litre ?
    I have the 4.4 litre P8 engine sent to Australia for evaluation & testing.
    I had a visit from Alan from England,I believe his last name was Firth,he inspected the engine & informed me it was a p8 engine.
    I wonder how many P8 bits are lyng around.

  69. I love the look of the P8. The sort of car Mad Max would drive.

    How that has not been in a temperature controlled store room for 40 years is a mystery to me

    I used to supply computer systems to Rover and I remember being told at Canley they had a sort of secret museum of cars that there was no way they could show me…. now I know what it likely contained….!!!

  70. Fascinating Geneva report – I saw this all happen with Charles Morgan dashing over to talk to Ratan Tata! Journo’s wondering what both had in mind re future and to hell with Harvey Jones!!

    I was at Rover Co Ltd 1954 and recognize many of the special projects and experimental cars shown on your site – happy days!


      I would love to read an account of your time at the Rover Co. Ltd during this very interesting period when the company had just employed its first stylist and was also involved in a number of interesting projects (e.g. the Road Rover and gas turbines for potential road use).

      So many people who were involved with the Rover Co. Ltd are sadly no longer with us, while for others memories fade with time. I hope you will be encouraged by this to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) for us sometime.

  71. I hope to have a P76 at the RSR Diamond Jubilee in June at
    Alcester, Warcks. It is Chassis no 1 sent over to BL UK for
    assessment and approval as part-built import from Australia.
    It would possibly have replaced P5B in saloon, 2dr coupe and
    also a station wagon form. The engines would be 2.6ltr six
    and 4.4ltr V8, an Australian only development of the 3.5ltr

  72. I know this is an old thread, but with the Heritage Motor Museum now reopened as the British Motor Museum this weekend with the new collections centre, has anyone been? If so, has the P8 resurfaced yet?

    • @ Fred Rich:

      September 2018 would be an ideal date for it to resurface, to coincide with the P5’s sixtieth anniversary. No rush, British Motor Museum…

  73. Last year BMM told me P8 was away being restored. This year they told me it was in “deep storage” off site. All one can guess is that the condition of this wonderful car is an embarrassment to the BMM’s management. I really do wish the museum would stick to articulating the BLMC story. It tries to do too much and does nothing particularly well. The presentation of the collection could be so much better.

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