Video : The Liver Run

Keith Adams

Police Rover SD1 about to join the M11, with its driver about to do something quite heroic...
Police Rover SD1 about to join the M11, with its driver about to do something quite heroic…

I’ve seen this before on TV – the famous Liver Run, where two Rover SD1 police cars need to transfer a live human organ for transportation in a very limited amount of time. The journey takes place on 8 May 1987, and starts at Stansted Airport, and the traffic officer needs to drive the liver to Essex along some of the UK’s busiest roads in the centre of London, to Cromwell Hospital, Kensington.

It’s an amazing video that shows that traffic officers truly earn their money at times, and that the Rover SD1 could really cut-it in 1980s traffic. It’s amazing how the scenery has changed in the intervening years, though – and you’ll spot some lovely cars in the background, assuming you’re not transfixed by the SD1 doing its bit…

Enjoy the video as it’s replayed on ITV‘s Police, Camera, Action. I know I did.


Keith Adams


  1. As I said on the original YT clip ‘Would a modern police car ‘hack’ that run in 2011?

    I say no-the computer would put it into Limp Home mode.

  2. I downloaded this a long while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. Listen to that awesome V8 burble.

    What about the facial hair on the officers? I wonder if they had some sort of competition back then like there is with moustaches in the Indian Army?

    Interesting to see the officers deal with the sort of things we civilians also have to put up with, like miles of the outside lane of the motorway coned off for no particular reason.

  3. I know the first half of that route very well indeed, I really believe the driver of the SD1 should have been knighted for that drive!

  4. Having another viewing, the SD1 acceleration on the embankment at the 15 minute mark is brutal! Some proper old tat in there, I love the Sunblest Transit following a matching Sherpa, and is the car blocking the hospital a mini moke?

  5. That is absolutely fantastic, especially as they weren’t even familiar with the route. God, the SD1 was a bloody good car and that was some excellent driving.

    I’ve never been to London, but I would presume that there would be a lot more traffic these days – the traffic looks surprisingly light by today’s standards.

    When was it filmed, it looks late Eighties?

    Also amusing that when the call came the coppers were stuffing their faces, which they looked suitably embarrassed about!

  6. I remember this on Police Camera Action.

    A great piece of film, up there almost as a UK version of ‘C’etait un rendezvous’!

    They showed it in close to real time (as close as they could in a ~20 min slot to allow for an intro, ads and short interview with the recipient)

    If I recall, they were met by a mk3 Granada on one of the motorway bridges, where the transfer to their car took place.

    Was great to see the traffic stopped at the junctions, and the short cuts afforded to them.

    Can’t watch it just now, but did one of the motorbikes break down soon after, and one of the motorbike outriders retired soon after too?

  7. Kind of makes you feel proud I think!

    The glory days of police Rovers and officers who were there to really make a difference and not be shackled by the powers that be with thier KPI factors and red tape!

    Brilliant video!

  8. The Rover looks majestic here – doing the job it was intended to do. Is that the A12 or A13 through east London, or something else?

  9. M11 to Gants hill roundabout A12/A406 North circular junction, then pretty much the back of Leyton into stratford (effectively now the Olympics site) through the middle of Stratford to the A13 at bow church, then into the back of the city to the embankment.

    Be a good ARonline outing, meet at Birchanger Green services (Stanstead) and convoy to the Mall!

  10. Pretty well all dual carriage way now then, I think, so yes, interesting to see how its changed, and how much easier it might be to make that journey today. If there was an AROnline outing, we should aim to beat the Police’s time.

  11. Terrific. Saw it years ago and had forgotten it, thanks for posting it. Shame we don’t see Rovers doing that any more.

  12. Brilliant! Saw bits of this on one of the ‘Police Stop!’ videos years ago, but didn’t appreciate just how difficult it was.

    At 14:10, a Pontiac Trans Am, 1973-ish, no less!

  13. Strange lack of bikes on embankment, it was probably just about possible to use a car to get to work in ’87 though.

  14. Se they still had motorway roadworks with nobody doing any work back then as well. No temporary speed limits or average speed cameras though. Ben Adams – of course a modern car could have done this. Probably wouldnt have cooked its brakes either!

  15. Very impressive stuff. Much as I liked the SD1, they were very brave to drive it at speed through the twisty bits!

  16. There’s a French Blue Spitfire at 6:28 heading the opposite direction – wonder if it’s mine??! Original owner wasn’t a million miles from that part of the world… Anybody got a higher resolution version of the video?

  17. This video makes me sad. 1st time I watched it I realised how awesome the SD1 is. Being 29 I didn’t really et to see many SD1’s on the road, and by the time I was taking notice they were all old. Seeing this showed me that the SD1 was a handsome car on the move and that’s a side of it I’d never seen until this video.

    This makes me sad because it lead me to realise that so much of a cars styling only works when it’s moving in the wild…

    There’s an endless list of cars I’ll never see in the wild, and therefore may have completely missed the point on.

    I include the E-type in that list.. Yeah, of course I’ve seen an E-type in use these days but that comes with “Wow, look at that E-Type, what a lovely example”…. It’s properly 100 times more beautiful if it glides by you as another car…

    D’ya know what I mean?

  18. Back then it would have been possible for drivers to get out of the way by entering bus lanes, or crossing red lights with little fear of prosecution, as there were no cameras to fine and issue points with. Moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle is not considered an adequate excuse for either offence if you are captured by a camera now. I wonder how much that would slow them up by now?

  19. Makes me proud of the Forces for the effort they put in and also makes me proud of the car I drive (SD1 as a daily driver in Oz- never, EVER lets me down. Wish I could have a crack through London at those speeds in my 3500SE Rally Car!

  20. The route is, as Andy points out. Usually used it to go from Chelmsford, then Brentwood services then M25 rather than stay stuck on the A12 going through Redbrigde way.. Not the shortest route but always the quickest.

    Essex police were promenant Ford users because of the deals the local company gave on the fleets. I remember Granadas as the bahn stormers but then they switched over to Vauxhall Senators.. And they loved them- so much so, their last unmarked traffic car, a maroon colour, soldiered on 4 years after production stopped. Colchester had an unmarked silver Sierra Cosworth, yes, with huge whaletail and even a dump-valve fitted.

    These days they tend to use Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru Imprezas as they have to patrol the dragstrip which is the A12- it’s a common route for drug trafficking because of Harwich Port.

    It was great to see the SD1 in action and it seemed to take it in it’s stride. I remember seeing an interview with Tom Walkinshaw in which he said that they had to drive the car hard right from the start of every BTCC race in order to keep up with the Volvo 240 turbos. These cars would then have to take it easy three-quarters of the way in which allowed the SD1’s to take over at the right moment. Seeing these machines race at the Birmingham Superprix (on youtube) was also a sight to behold.

  21. Terrific account, with huge credit to all participants: the fantastic planning of the route, the policing moving onto the route, the quality of the driving and the cars. The vast bulk of population getting out of the way and patiently waiting at the lights, whilst a bobby in a shirt holds up the traffic, in the capital. The NHS delivering a world beating performance free of charge. The unquestioned commitment of all the services in support of the surgeons request. This was 1987, 11 years after launch and 10 years after being the best “European car of the year” for ages. The SD1 was still doing the business and still looking a big step above most of the tat around it. Stunning. I don’t know about anyone else but I forgot what a super car we built then.

  22. The SD1 looked right from all angles and as one of the previous posters says it looks perfectly fit for purpose in this video, live axle and all. I haven’t been to London for years and judging by some of the comments above it sounds horrendous now. Perhaps they would use the helicopter today.

  23. Ross there happened to be the odd Granada kicking about, in 1992 I did a course at Essex police HQ on the skid pan (the skid pan is the I.T. dept now!) followed by a run up the A12 (with full commentary) in an umarked Saloon Granada – great fun!

  24. I hope you don’t think I am stupid, but why didn’t they use a helicoptor to a point close to the hospital where a car would only have to drive maybe a mile to the hospital? The chopper would have made most of that distance in maybe 10 minutes, so saved 20? Still, it is great to see such a great run, with the rumbling V-8 sound, like a car chase scene in a movie but without the dramatic crashes.

  25. “I hope you don’t think I am stupid, but why didn’t they use a helicoptor to a point close to the hospital where a car would only have to drive maybe a mile to the hospital?”

    I did wonder that myself, I’m not familiar with London but all I can presume is that there was nowhere suitable / possible to land a chopper. Assuming that there was one available anyway – even now not every Police force in the UK has one.

  26. @Tanvir – November 19, 2011
    “This is interesting too. An IAM video of driving from London to Bath in 1963.

    That’s fantastic – everything back then looks completely different, the signs were so much harder to comprehend at speed (but were far more pleasant to the eye) and lane discipline seemed to be non-existent! Good find.

  27. I also have to ask why a chopper couldn’t be used, but then we wouldn’t now have this awesome footage of the SD1 in its full glory. What a fantastic V8 sound! I’m sure the acceleration is nothing special by modern standards, but watching the video it seems as if those cars just blast when the pedal is pushed down.

    Makes me want to go and find a good SD1 to go with my P6.

  28. I remember seeing this on TV a few years back.

    Looking at the map on the link I was wondering why they didn’t use the north circular rather than go that far into the city centre.

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