Police cars : Rover/Land Rover

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Although earlier Rovers such as the P4 and P5 were certainly used by various police forces, the British Leyland-era P6 and SD1 became almost synonymous with the term ‘jam sandwich’, referring to the dayglo orange stripe carried by motorway patrol cars.

The 825 and 827 then went on to become popular traffic cars but, beyond that, the 75 never really gained traction with the boys in blue, aside from a few cameo appearances on the TV.

Rover P6

A Metropolitan Police Force Rover 2000

West Midlands Police Rover 3500 V8 patrol car

Rover SD1

West Yorkshire Police Rover 3500

Rover 800

A 1986 Rover Sterling company demonstrator with Coventry number plates

A 1993 Rover 800 (revised version) in service with Devon and Cornwall Police

Rover 75

Life on Mars

Rover 75 starred in the first episode of BBC TV’s Life on Mars

Midsomer Murders

Rovers were a Midsomer Murders mainstay, with the voice of MG Rover himself, John Nettles piloting them in many episodes

Land Rover

A 1973 Metropolitan Police Force Land Rover

Range Rover

A 1970 Range Rover in service with the Kent Constabulary

A 1978 Range Rover in service with the Wiltshire Constabulary


Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams


  1. Here’s one to have a look at…
    Treasure Hunt (with Anneka Rice) Wiltshire/Avon
    Series 5 1987 Part 4
    Rover SD1 used as rapid transport (courtesy Avon & Somerset Constabulary)Check it out on You Tube

  2. I’m not sure about the current shape Range Rover, but the previous two, in addition to the pre-1994 ones above, both saw service with the police.

    The first MG6 was also used by the Chinese police?

  3. I doubt that Rover 800 Series would have had much of a service life with Devon & Cornwall Constabulary and was likely the only one they would have used as a patrol car. At that time Devon & Cornwall Constabulary had a long established ‘love affair’ with Ford, with many of their response patrol cars being Sierra XR4x4s and Granadas, with a sprinkling of Land Rover Discovery Tdis and second generation Range Rover 4.0s thrown in. All of these were bought from local franchised dealers, usually based in Exeter on the vast Marsh Barton industrial estate, and registered at the local VRO.

    Going by this knowledge and the Midlands registration on the featured Rover 800 Series, I suspect it was possibly an appraisal car, to encourage Devon and Cornwall Constabulary to take them on on a permanent basis. Interestingly, despite the Force’s ‘love of Fords’, I believe the then Chief Constable had an unmarked Rover 800 Series as his personal car.

    I understand Devon and Cornwall Constabulary were loaned a Rover 75 for appraisal purposes, although for reasons unknown to me it did not translate into a firm order being placed to buy them. At that time the main traffic cars were ageing Volvo 850s.

    • Revisiting the photo of the Rover 800 Series, it was possibly photographed outside their vehicle maintenance unit based on the nearby Sowton Industrial Estate.

  4. few rovers in Taggart if memory serves from late eighties/early nineties; once remember talking to an AR press car delivery driver who recalls the Met Rover 2600’s which came with electric windows – they had to pretend to wind a window down when seeking assistance so the general public didn’t cotton on to such luxuries…

    When the Motor Show used to be held at Earls Court, I would drive down from ormskirk overnight to arrive at Kilburn tube station for six ish and vividly recall an 800 ARV in full flight city bound in the middle of the road at 70 plus on a G plate.

    Then there were the 600’s used in one of the S wales forces and a marvellous one off converted 827 used by officers in Stretford for one or two police dogs.

  5. I’ve heard the later SD1’s bought by the Met were a job lot to clear out dealers lots.

    Many of them where high spec models & had to have the badges removed so no-one would notice & think they were spending too much on new cars!

    I wonder what they did about the other bells & whistles?

  6. Now we’ve all seen it before, but this still remains one of the best pieces of teamwork ever…

    Go Rover SD1…

    • I was in the middle of the Hyde Park Corner roundabout today and I thought about that SD1 sweeping across the middle of it near the end of that film! The other standout bit are the two HGVs holding them up by overtaking each other through the roadworks – plus ça change..

  7. A Rover 75 in Police livery also featured in the BBC crime drama series “55 Degrees North” a few years back. Looked good. Yes, I recall John Nettles voicing that MG Rover TV ad circa 2004(?)

  8. My local traffic plod in Warwickshire had a Princess for a while. It lasted about as long as it took for the gearlever to come off in the driver’s hand while on a shout. This particular driver was known to be a bit of an animal though.

  9. Bonjour, pardonnez mon message en français mais il y a fort longtemps que je ne pratique plus la langue de Shakespeare.
    Je suis collectionneur SIMCA et je cherche à refaire cette SOLARA de la police britannique, mais je cherche de plus amples renseignements sur les logos de portières avant et sur la galerie de toit. Cette voiture est visiple sur le site des forum suivent : http://www.forum-auto.com/automobile-pratique/modelisme-modeles-reduits/sujet747-14315.htm

    Amitiés de France
    Marc BARGIER

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