Police cars : Rover/Land Rover

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


  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?

    • 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..

  6. 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(?)

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. In 1961 the Devon constabulary purchased two Austin Healey 3000’s with hardtops and disc wheels.
    Registrations 117 HTT and 118 HTT.
    I own 117 HTT.

    • Please let me know if there are any articles about the cars and if any photos of the period are available?

  10. Cumbria Constabulary favoured Fords for traffic work in the late seventies and early eighties, usually V6 Cortinas and 2.8 Granadas, although a Range Rover was occasionally seen on the M6. British Leyland’s main contribution to the force’s transport were Mini panda cars, bought on cost grounds and not popular with officers, who were glad when Cumbria Constabulary switched to a mixture of Metros and Fiestas in the early eighties.

  11. Rover did make an appearance in Cumbria in the early nineties when a batch of Rover era Maestro turbodiesels were bought for patrol work. I’d imagine 50-60 mpg and an engine that could take plenty of abuse was attractive to the procurement manager in Penrith. However, traffic work by this time was in hands of Sierra Cosworths and Vauxhall Senator 24 valves, a car that was designed for motorway work due to its huge boot and 140 mph performance.

  12. Yes Glenn… the Senator is another car from the past hardly remembered these days. My MD had one for a few years – it looked big & impressive

    • @ Hilton D, they were a highly desirable luxury car in the late eighties and police liked them because of the performance and reliability. The Mark 3 Granadas never had the same presence or performance, and seemed inferior to the Mark 2s used by many forces, so weren’t used as much. Also the saloon Rover 800 didn’t find many takers in the police as it had a smaller boot and lacked the V8. I think the 1987 Senator came at the right time.

    • I’m not sure the Senators handled that well. My abiding memory is seeing a jam sandwich spec model enter the Birkenhead tunnel from the Liverpool side fully sideways.

      • @ Alastair Warwick, they were big rwd cars intended mostly for executives travelling long distances, but plod liked them in 3 litre form due to the performance and Vauxhall running costs. I doubt many of the old school V8 Chryslers American police forces used handled much better.

        • The Holden Commodore VN /VP which has the same body as the Senator B had the Buick V6 engine as it’s entry model and Vauxhall could have used the 3.8 Buick V6 as a top of the range engine and originally Vauxhall were going to do a sports version of the Senator in partnership with TWR who were racing the V8 Holden Commodore versions with the Senator body in touring car racing in Australia

  13. I can remember one police force trialling the Plymouth Fury in 1969. While a very powerful cat with a huge V8, I’d imagine the cost of converting the Plymouth to rhd, the massive fuel consumption and difficulty in obtaining spares ruled out any Plymouths coming over. Also police forces then operated a buy British policy.

    • A few police forces had Ford Zephyr Mk4s & Vauxhall Crests PCs as patrol cars, mostly for motorway duties.

      According to the police section here at least one force had Jaguar E types especially for high speed pursuits.

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