News : Pre-production Rover SD1 goes under the hammer

Keith Adams

Rover SD1 Charterhouse (2)

Charterhouse Auctions is offering this 1975-registered Rover 3500 at its 16 February 2014 sale, held at  at the Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet in Somerset. However, as the SD1 wasn’t introduced until 1976, that makes this one rather special.

The car, which sports chassis number 005, is what Charterhouse describes as an, ‘important piece of British motoring heritage’, has an estimate of £7000-9000. The car has something of an interesting history and many SD1 aficionados will tell you that it’s far from factory original – especially the interior, but the identity of the car is in no dispute.

Classic Car Buyer Editorial Director, Peter Simpson, recalled, ‘I first saw that car in around 1987-’88 – it went through the infamous ‘pay out on the night if you’ve got a utility bill’ Maidstone Car Auction. The auctioneer announced that it was a prototype, but in that environment I just didn’t believe them and assumed it was a nicked car that had been ringed by someone who’d used the ID of an N-reg P6 3500. At that point it was running, MoT’d and didn’t look too bad. The sickening part, though, is that it seemed to sell for £250.’

Octane‘s Deputy Editor, Mark Dixon added: ‘I rescued this car from a field in the early 1990s. Sadly, the guy who restored it didn’t retain unique pre-production features like the boot floor, shaped for a straight exhaust pipe – he preferred to replace most of the repairable metal with new panels from Rimmers.’

Mark added: ‘I paid about £250 for it. Or, more accurately I persuaded the mag I was working for, Popular Classics, to buy it and offer it as a competition prize. The winner didn’t want it, so we did a deal later on.’

In 2007, the car was offered again, now sporting a new interior, which had been been taken from a 1979-registered example, which had been sold by Keith Adams.

For more information, visit the Charterhouse website.

Rover SD1 Charterhouse (3)

Rover SD1 Charterhouse (4)

Rover SD1 Charterhouse (1)

Keith Adams


  1. £7000-£9000?
    I’m no expert so shoot me down if you will, but it might need a silver-tongued auctioneer to get that kind of cash.
    That said, if the identity is solid, then it is an interesting buy for someone. Yes, some panels have been replaced by ‘new’ versions, but how many folk would crawl under the thing to look, really? And does the interior really matter? The evidence points to it at least having lived a little! 😀

  2. Can you really put a price on this? Imagine the pleasure derived from this talking point at classic car shows and the like.

  3. @3

    Totally agree with you. I said similar about a pre-pro Wolseley Wedge that had been ‘converted’ into a Princess, trouble is no one else agreed with me.

  4. A beauty indeed…but surely too much of a hotchpotch of parts from different production years to command as high a price as £7,000 – £9,000. For example, the air-vent slat that sits on the panel above the front number plate and below the Rover badge was introduced around 1980/81.

  5. Sounds a very sorry tale whereby a few of those special features/characteristics that typify a pre-production car have been ‘lost’ by less than sympathetic owners over the years, while others have been given the chance to own it as a competition prize but have passed on it. Makes you wonder why they bothered considering to take it on in the first place.

    Its a lovely example and one that does have an interesting history. I really hope it will find itself in the hands of a very caring new owner who will look to keep as much of its remaining ‘characteristics’ as possible. After all, I’m getting fed up seeing early SD1s fitted with Vitesse wheels and other Mark 2 body panels and trim, not to mention after-market front clear indicator lamp lenses, which are then often used as period prop cars on television programmes. I can spot them a mile off!

    If I had the money and a large centrally heated barn, come February I would be standing this auction on that draughty site just off the A37 with an enthusiastic bidding hand.

  6. Has this thing be kept in some totally hermetically sealed chamber for the last 35 years. That does not allow any interaction with any oxidising agents. (one of those underground dark matter research facilities and the like)

    Thinking of my dad’s 79 2300 and what it looked like in 1982 !

  7. Wonder how/when it gained London number plates? They don’t enhance the impression of authenticity, but I’m happy to believe the story.

  8. @lockupchap:

    This was likely done for the same reasons as why the pre-production Range Rovers (known as Velars) were also registered on London registration marks – to hid the fact they were forthcoming productions of the Rover Company based in Solihull. Using Coventry or Birmingham registration marks would have given the game away.

  9. Hmmm. As said above, all you have here is an old SD1 in admittedly very good condition. Without its pre-production bits, where’s the added value?

  10. The streets are hardly awash with good SD1’s, here we have a restored one with wrong parts fitted, so the new owner can either source “correct” parts or enjoy it as it is.

    At least it hasnt got mismatched seats and holes everywhere.

  11. had my 84 vdp v8 restored this year and wow they look good ehen as new condition, i cant believe the attention it gets when im out in it. they really do stand out now!!! if only i had the money to buy this one aswell……

  12. Whatever its history, the car, colour and interior look yummy. Even with the changes in vehicle design these days (different but not always better), this car still has what I repeatedly call “that look”

  13. This car demonstrates what a superbly styled car the SD1 was.

    I’m sure when the next round of retro styling comes around in the car industry ( I predict around 2018 ) this would be the perfect moment for the Chinese to revive the Rover name with their modern take on the SD1.

    Now that will be a car to look forward to.

  14. @ Cliff (Comment 18):

    Quote: “I’m sure when the next round of retro styling comes around in the car industry ( I predict around 2018 ) this would be the perfect moment for the Chinese to revive the Rover name with their modern take on the SD1.”

    The Rover name is not owned by “the Chinese” but by Jaguar Land Rover’s Indian owner, Tata Motors. It was previously sold by BMW Group to the Ford Motor Company in September 2006, who wanted it to protect the interests of the Land Rover brand. In March 2008 the Rover name, along with other dormant marques Daimler and Lanchester, was sold to Tata Motors as part of the deal to buy Jaguar Land Rover.

  15. What a car the SD1 was: way, way ahead of its time in design terms, when you think that was produced in 1975 – that’s 38 years ago!

    As for this particular example, though… nah. It’s “Trigger’s broom”. Interesting history for sure but take the auctioneer’s hype with an SD1’s bootful of salt. That’s a lot of salt.

  16. Undoubtedly an important car, sadly there are many restoration alterations. Some are easy fixes, the rear badges are later black-ended rather than silver-ended for example. Some are difficult to fix, the front grille slot, the incorrect strut tops (which are later production items, not just production parts). Not to scorn the restorer though, the car was rescued in poor condition at a time when it was not worth even considering SD1 restorations as there were still plenty of better ones about.

    One hopes the new owner displays the car – I’ve never seen it at any show or even pictured at one, anywhere in the country….

    Intriguingly a sister car to this, JYF228N, remained taxed until 1991 and had several owner changes. I wonder if that is holed up in a garage somewhere?

    A couple of prototype SD1’s were registered by Rover as “Cilroen” – one being the often pictured MLY375L. This, along with other prototype and pre-production cars have London-area suffix registration marks.

  17. @ 20, David 3500

    You are of course correct, but in my defence my suggestion was slightly tongue in cheek.

    If you ever get the chance to visit BMW UK HQ in Bracknell I’m sure you’d be fascinated to read the list of old British marques that are registered at that address.

  18. Hammer price was £6000, plus 10% commission, plus VAT on the commission. Buyer therefore pays £6720. Three bids, not sure if the first bid was from the same bidder as eventually got it.

    JYF227N retains some interesting pre-production features, particularly the position of the door courtesy light switches. But the interior has been replaced (with incorrect type and a poorly recovered parcel shelf) and later body panels are fitted. Mileage reading is 3290, which is incorrect (obvious error, car has a six-digit odometer speedo head fitted, early SD1s were five-digit odometers).

  19. I actually bid on this car at Maidstone auctions although in my mind I remember it being that lovely shade of mustard.!! It did sell for £250 although I do recall it coming back round another few weeks later. I wondered what happened to it.

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