Our Cars : SD1 reaches a milestone

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

A mileage landmark, and no mistake
A mileage landmark, and no mistake

Back to the using the SD1 as my daily hack, and despite the driving position, which is increasingly annoying me, I am enjoying using the car in a manner appropriate to what it was designed for. I was interesting to see it roll past 50,000 miles after a particularly tiring press week at Octane and this little ticking over of the mileometer certainly lifted my mood.

Truth is without a meaningful service history, it’s hard to say whether it’s 50,000 miles covered. Or 150,000. Or even 250,000. But truth be told, it really doesn’t matter. It drives wonderfully, and seems to be in incredibly fine fettle all told.  I’ll admit I placed the car up for sale last month (or was it the month before?) but the more I think about it, and the more I use it, the less I really want to be parted with it.

I’ve now seen that I can buy a new headlining for £250, and if I can find a nice interior from a Series 2 (because I think the seating position’s better), I’ll fit that to make it more habitable. What do I mean by that? Well, I do have long legs (and a short body), and need lots of rearward travel. Both Mike and I have looked to see if we can move the driver’s seat back on the SD1, and from what it looks like, this could be an impossible task.

As I recall the SD1 Series 2 was a much nicer fit for me, I am going to bite the bullet and fit an interior from one of these. I think that might upset some purists, but the truth is I just want to use the thing and be comfortable in the process. Not too much to ask is it?

Not a simple seat mechanism to modify, that's for sure...
Not a simple seat mechanism to modify, that's for sure...
I need two grommits to plug this hole. Thought I'd struck lucky with this Citroen part, but, er, it wasn't man enough.
I need two grommits to plug this hole. Thought I'd struck lucky with this Citroen part, but, er, it wasn't man enough.
Hmm the headliner board has been in for a while, but I do think a nice new one will transform the interior.
Hmm the headliner board has been in for a while, but I do think a nice new one will transform the interior.
Rear plate now firmly affixed. Looks better for being original 1970s spec.
Rear plate now firmly affixed. Looks better for being original 1970s spec.
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. Keep it Keith! I think that the interior swap is an excellent idea, you’ll be far more comfortable in it – if you keep the original interior somewhere safe for eventual re-fitting, the purists can hardly complain, can they?

    There are two later-spec SD1s being broken on eBay, one of which is white so you’d even have the correct interior colour for your car!



  2. Is there no scope for fitting the seat runners / mounting from a series 2 but keeping the actual seat?… Or am I thinking a bit to modern??.. No, surely not, our GT6 has a separate assembly for the runners…

  3. Cant you adapt longer seat runners to the existing seat Keith? I know someone who did that to a Pauxhall Nova. And he shall we say is a rather tall chat being nigh on 7ft tall!

  4. Oh Keith, you went through this kind of phase a couple of years ago when you suggested adapting the old girl to LPG.

    After all the time, money and ‘love’ you’ve invested in keeping her original, why on earth do you want to mess around with her now?

    I read somewhere (maybe it was here – I can’t remember) that there are only 2 white Series 1 autos left in existence; I can well believe that there aren’t that many more manuals left either. Why mess up such a rare beast? If you prefer a Series 2, go and buy a Series 2 and tinker around with that instead.

    And, if I may say, stop wasting other people’s time posting ads if you aren’t a genuine seller.

  5. I am in favour of non-destructive modifications – and I was dead-set against LPG when Keith first mentioned it, but having lived with the car, looked at the practicalities and so forth, and the holes from the towbar, I’m actually in favour of LPG conversion on it now – when I considered buying it, I even asked about the LPG kit.

    The seats need mild restoration anyway. IMO, swapping in S2 seats for comfort, and sending off the S1 seats for a few minor repairs, would be supremely practical.

    FWIW, I think 50K is probably right, for the feel of everything else on the car.

    You have no idea how pleased I am to see the tide changing to “keeping it” though. I shed a tear pulling it out of the garage, and watching it go up the road – I’d have been making a very determined attempt to buy it if I hadn’t broken my leg 🙁

  6. You have got a pre `79 car and on that cars trhe fitting of the front seats differs a lot of the past ´79 cars!
    If you want to fit a later interior like on the first VDP Types of 1981 you had to change the carpets and weld some parts from a newer model into your old car!
    I have once done that for a customer but I think it is better to buy a later original car!
    Early cars are so rare that they should not be converted in something which will destroy the orinality!
    PS.: If you want I still have got about 5 complete SD1 interiors in good condition at home. These were all from 1981 cars. That means you could still use the old instruments!

  7. you could always get TWR to dress it up 🙂 alex (full of bright ideas again) otherwise great article. i never driven an SD1, ive seen a couple of Sd1 viteese for sale and have been tempted. would go great with a disco engine in it 🙂 alex

  8. original is always best in my opinion. had my s2 sd1 v8 vdp 22yrs only none original thing on it is a v8 badge next to the vandenplas name!! like the series ones as they came from the factory.

  9. LPG is a slight faff, there’s no way round it, but it will drop running costs massively and you’ll use it more as a result -and the more you use it, the cheaper it gets as the conversion cost is divided by a larger number. Limited range is a problem with LPG – the donut-shaped tank in the spare wheel well in my 820 gets me 260 miles – so it’s worth finding a reliable local filling station or one that you pass often, as the range can be frustrating.

    I’ve seen the filler caps done very sympathetically too – one was beneath a body-colour-matched flap under the rear bumper which was done to look like a towbar over-ride plate – not invisible, but perhaps better than a 2″ hole in the rear wing?!

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