Blog : A little present, from us to you…

Keith Adams

A great image from the Rover SD1 launch brochure
A great image from the Rover SD1 launch brochure

As you’ve read elsewhere, Richard Kilpatrick is currently enjoying the patronship of my Rover SD1. And by the looks of things, he is relishing the experience, even if he’s finding that he’s going to have one or two little jobs to do along the way (isn’t that always the way?) He seems to be getting into the swing of things, though – so much so that he’s already bought himself the matching launch brochure to go with the car.

He’s scanned it in and sent it across to me… and I thought it was too good an opportunity for you all to miss. So click on the link and enjoy the full 1976 Rover SD1 experience in its full brown-beige-and-goldness in true 21st century PDF’d glory.

Let us know what you think… is this still the best car British Leyland managed to build badly?

Keith Adams


  1. No. A Princess with a hatchback running a Lucas fuel injection (all probable) was the missed oportunity.

  2. Andrew: That’s as bad as the missed Vauxhall VX490 with 5-speed Getrag and fuel injection – reputedly putting out an easy 150bhp from the 2300 slant four, delivering a sub 7-second 0-60. Opel weren’t impressed.

    Never understood why GM Europe were so keen to kill off the slant four, it wasn’t a bad engine.

    But in fairness, the injected (and diesel, and hatchback) Princess wasn’t made, and the SD1 was. And how many of the ’70s cars – plughole on front wing or not – were British Leyland through and through?

    Princess, SD1, TR7, Allegro. Marina maybe, Metro arguably.

    Other BL things were already in development, or sort of evolved.

    Not having driven a Princess, or owned a TR7 for any length of time, I can’t comment fairly. My take is that the SD1 is not as far from a CX as I first thought, which is a good starting point.

  3. My turn – it was the P6BS – the mid-engined Rover/Alvis sportster powered by the magnificent 3½ litre engine that was the best never built Leyland 🙂

  4. Yes.

    Thirty two years on, I still have many vivid memories of Dad’s white 3500 auto which I won’t burden you with again here. A truly superb car. I weep at the wasted opportunity to potentially become the first ‘global’ car.

    Thanks for the gift, Keith (and Richard) – true automotive porn…

  5. Anyone know where this brochure was shot? Pg 7 in particular looks awesome, probably somewhere in Scotland, looks a great shot to recreate one day!

  6. No, I don’t think any BL car had the reputation that the SD1 did for poor quality. It was shockingly bad. The Princess wasn’t badly assembled, really, it was let down by engineering problems that BL didn’t solve quickly enough.

  7. TR7 in my my mind was the missed opportunity. Killed way too early, all it needed was fuel injection and some more up to date details and bumpers and it could have carried on for another eight years or so, ready for to bring out a new open top (MGF) before the Mazda MX5.

    If only…

    (MGB was killed way too late though.)

  8. You only have to read this brochure to appreciate what a fantastic package the SD1 was. Its hard to imagine this brochure is 35 years old! – So yes it is the best car BL built badly. An absolute tragedy that only the British could manage to pull off.

  9. A shame as this car had so much going for it, but was ruined by poor quality, cost cutting( where was the wood and leather) and smaller engined versions had awful reliability in the early years.

  10. The SD1 is definitely the best BL-era car (except that live rear axle, and the Jaguar XJ-series – but that wasn’t really a BL car was it), and certainly a major lost opportunity – much as the 800 was modern, it just didn’t have the presence – it was too much like a big Montego. However, the biggest missed opportunity in my opinion at least, was the Maxi – it should have been an epoch-making 70s car, that set the format for subsequent generations of family hatchbacks. Sadly, saddled with the most uninspiring body, interior, gear-change and engines, it was always going to fail. A great shame. The Maestro should have put everything that was wrong with the Maxi right, but managed to repeat almost the same errors……shameful!!

  11. Thanks for sticking the brochure on here!

    It is a joy to read and look at, and it awakes my permanent bad conscience about the ’79 2600 I’ve kept in dry storage now for … 17 years.

    The build quality of the early SD1s was terrible, there is no question about that. But it could have been so good, and it really deserved so much more. I mean: it is a lovely drive, but it just doesn’t stay together.

    But it took me a Princess to really appreciate how good the SD1 was.. I once saw a Princess for sale, and myself and a mate went along (in my SD1) to take a look at it. We took it for a drive, and that really made me realise what an enormous difference there was between the two. The Princess’ design had always intrigued me, but actually driving the thing made me realise how bad it actually was. We got into the SD1 again and drove off home again, and it was a relief. I praised the SD1 all the way back.

    And somebody asked about the press photo in the brochure, if the photo was taken in Scotland. I don’t know where it was taken, but I do remember that very photo being featured on no many Top Trumph cards when I was a kid, as the 3500 always seemed to be included there along with the Lagonda (Towns car) and whatever else 🙂

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