Blog : SD1 soldiering on

Keith Adams

Rover 3500 caused a storm at Gaydon this weekend.
Rover 3500 caused a storm at Gaydon this weekend.

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I managed to prise the keys for my Rover SD1 from the hands of my mate Scott Brownlee, and all I can say is that it’s running like a train. Mike Humble has done a truly magnificent job turning this good looking but mechanically glitchy classic into something you can jump in and actually use. And that has definitely been the case recently – it’s taken me to Goodwood and to various other events without missing a beat; and it even managed to seduce a number of AROnline readers this weekend at the 10th anniversary celebrations, when they had the opportunity to drive it.

I must admit that I’ve been finding it hard to fault – and I guess with me being me that makes it almost too boring to run. But I only think in these terms when I am out of the car. When driving it, the sound it makes; the way it feels through the wheel; and its whole demeanour have me questioning the idiocy of building it so badly in the first place. But that’s life, and it can’t be changed now.

So, as running reports go, this one’s going to be quite boring. It pulls well, the V8 uses little oil, the gearchange is spot-on, the exhaust is quiet, and most importantly it stops and corners nicely on those new Sava tyres. The car hasn’t let me down at all in some quite trying conditions, and that’s all one can ever ask for. So, sorry for being dull, but let’s hop in this case that pictures speak louder than words.

Thanks as ever to the brilliant Richard Gunn for taking this rather nice snap!

Keith Adams


  1. You have done a fantastic job restoring the SD1, looks amazing. I have very fond memories of the SD1 3500 in White (RTA 48R) my Dad had one. We loved it. It went very well in auto and I always remember my Dad using kick down to over take. It made a lovely noise was comfortable and just looked so good for the time. I think even now it looks modern. I can say this is one of the best cars my Dad owned along with the recent Rover 75 v6. Such a shame the company is no more. The SD1 really did make the BM’s, Merc’s and Granada’s of the time look like boxes!

  2. My boss had a 2.3s from new. In the first week he had to be relayed home (132 miles) because the bonnet release cable broke. Then one day he took out an important customer, switched the engine off, got out locked the car and noticed it was still running. When it rained the glove boxes filled with water! But once it was sorted it was fantastic and I would love one today.

  3. The Rover 3500 was, and is still, my favorite care of all time. My dad had one of the first, on August 1st 1976. Those who remember that August will do so fondly, the hottest ever I understand. Class mates at my school used to look in complete bewilderment as my dad dropped me off at the school gates – I have honestly never known such an amazing reaction to a new car, and the increased interest in me from 11 year old boys was in no way disconnected to that car.

    The follwing year in 1977 for reasons I don’t entirely understand, we drove from Buckinghamshire to Prague. You have never seeen such a reaction to a car in your life, as we waited to pass customs from Germany ( I think) – people would not leave the car alone, it really felt as though we had landed in some 21st C time machine!

    The 3500 was amazing, the best car ever. My dad passed in 1997, at the time he drove an 820i, he sold the 3500 in 1979 for a Mercedes, and even though the Mercedes quality was better than Rover, he changed back again in 1983 with a Vitesse and again in 1986 with a Vandan Plas EFi.

    I sincerely hope that those of you looking after the last SD1s take care. You are the owners of, in my opinion, the best upper exec ever, BMW and Mercedes just couldn’t get close!

  4. I would kill for the perfect everyday, shiny new, hassle free SD1.. good to see it running.. You want boring, take my Jag.. lol!

  5. I love all SD1s and even though I am a seasoned visitor at various classic vehicle gatherings in the South West, a few weeks ago a friend I spent twenty minutes standing by an SD1 discussing it in depth.

    I really could not take my eyes off it, even though it wasn’t my dream version – an E’ registered 3500 Vitesse twin-plenum finished in black.

    Keeping driving and writing about your example, Keith, as it certainly isn’t boring.

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