Robert Thornton R.Thornton at adelaidecitycouncil.com
Tue Jul 20 04:36:05 BST 2004


In my opinion the great thing about the SD1 is its shape. The inimitable
David Bach styling, sleek, sexy, timeless. Not many other cars this side
of the exoticas have managed to achieve this. If it wasn't for the
exclusive shape I probably wouldn't have bothered with an SD1, would
you?  The other, a little  less intoxicating, attraction of the SD1 is
the ex Buick V8 engine, but this was never really developed to its full
potential in the SD1 by Rover, though the Vitesse came a bit closer to
the mark. 155 bhp (134 for the Oz cars) from 3.5 litres to haul around
1400 kg was a bit meagre. 

Go bigger capacity and you can get some serious performance -
performance that compliments the SD1's Ferrari-like good looks. I
remember when the SD1 was first released in Oz the motoring press went
overboard in anticipation...such a stunning looking car...surely it
would have serious power and performance to match. When they test drove
it and found how paltry that performance was they realised that the
shape that promised so much delivered very little in the way of actual
grunt. They described it as a 'slug in hare's clothing'.

Series 2 cars are generally acknowledged to be better looking, though at
the time they were introduced many people I remember did not like the
bodywork changes. They've of course got the front spoiler and 'black
plastic' bumpers which can crack and deform whereas the earlier cars had
the stronger stainless but all too easily dented bumpers. 
The Aussie series 2 cars (and the NAS cars) had the so-called federal
fuel injection (adapted from the US spec TR8s). This can be more trouble
than it's worth, and doesn't deliver much power into the bargain. Not
that there is much power  to be had given the puny detuned, detoxed 3.5s
that Australia got (compared to their British counterparts and what this
engine is capable of - witness TVR's offerings for instance). The series
1 cars got the twin stromberg zeniths, also pretty horrible and not as
good as the English SUs. The series 2 is heavier so the extra few hp
generated by the injection is swallowed up.

Best solution, in my opinion, is to fit a Weber 4 barrel, or perhaps the
later Hotwire injection from the Discovery if you can be bothered
sorting it all out. 

Arguably the series 2 had a nicer interior, but the electronics are more
complex.  The electric windows and central locking systems were
reputedly more reliable on the later cars, though I've never experienced
much in the way of problems with mine that I couldn't fix easily. The
console switches for the electric windows can cause problems because
they fill up with dust - take them out, clean the contacts. The windows
need to be used, otherwise they can get lazy. Most of the central lock
problems are caused by the wiring to the tailgate lock - mine has been
replaced with two lockable flush fitting Speco hood pins mounted on the
Vitesse rear spoiler.

The series 1 seats wear well but the dash cracks if the sun gets to it
for too long and the hood lining breaks down with exposure to the hot
sun for too long also - series 2s suffer the same way. Avoid sunroofs
wherever possible. The GM autobox on the later series 2s can prove
troublesome; the earlier BW 65 is better but not much. The manual is
preferable, though rare in the Aussie imports especially with the series
1s. Better still throw out the autobox and fit a Supra or T5 box -
strong, reliable and lighter. Dellow in Sydney and Castlemain Castings
in Victoria (near Melbourne) both do kits to fit the Supra W 55 - 58
steel case box to the Rover, and you can choose from the 4 sets of
ratios these came with.

The V8s are usually ok provided they've had regular oil changes and the
cooling systems has been looked after. Otherwise they can suffer
premature camshaft wear, blown head gaskets. The radiators are a bit
marginal for the Aussie heat - take them out and add an extra core is
one solution, replace with an early Holden Commodore unit is another. 

Power steering racks and pumps can and do leak, pull them out and get
them rebuilt by the pros 'cause it's worth it in the long run. Use
either a series 2 (long nose) or a Discovery/Range Rover pump in
preference to the heavy and leak prone series 1 item. 

The aircon on both models is a bit feeble for the Oz summers but
probably ok for North America; whereas the factory integrated system
found on the series 2 and late series 1 cars can be a real headache to
get right the earlier 'add on' Australian system made by Alpineair in
Sydney  is relatively easy to upgrade (this has the extended central
dash air vent panel- unique to the Australian models I believe). 

In the final analysis it's the body you should consider closely. Most of
the mechanical parts are relatively straightforward to rebuild or
replace if they go wrong. The trim and electrics can generally be
repaired or replaced. But the bodyshell will cost lots if it's in a bad
way. Look for serious rust and accident damage. Fortunately many of the
rust problems with the SD1 were cosmetic - door bottoms, tailgates -
rather than structural. The sills don't generally rust out, but the
lower firewalls and inner guards around the engine bay can rust badly,
and pay attention to the rear wheel arch where this meets the body, and
the trunk floor (which locates one of the Watts linkage mounts).  

It's usually conceded that the later cars were better built and finished
(by Rover's standards) at Cowley than the earlier Solihull ones and that
the rust 'proofing' was superior. Twenty years later the issue is
probably more about how well the cars have been maintained, garaged and
generally cared for. 


-----Original Message-----
From: rovernet-bounces at lyris.ccdata.com
[mailto:rovernet-bounces at lyris.ccdata.com] On Behalf Of Linda & Ben
Sent: Tuesday, 20 July 2004 10:53 AM
To: rovernet at lyris.ccdata.com
Subject: Re: [ROVERNET - UK] SD 1

Hi Bill
        I read Ron's glowing report on his SD1 and thought I'd add my
comments.  Memory is a little rusty as I purchased my 1979 SDI in the
mid eighties and only kept it a year.. I agree that its a wonderful car
to drive and very nice to look at. However it let me down more times
than I care to remember. Mostly electrical faults, mainly in the
ignition. There were times when it would just quit for no obvious
reason, and refuse to start. This happened once out of town, the next
morning I had it towed to a garage, we pushed it into a bay, the
mechanic sat in it and it started??? Rust was also a problem, my car
wasn't very old but already showing signs of rust, perhaps in better
climates its not an issue?? My door locks were problem-matic too,
particularly the hatchback. Besides this I have read on Rovernet several
times were front sub frame bolts break and misalign the car. In my
honest and humble opinion a 1970 P6B is a far better buy. Having said
all that, its fair to ad that today with the great value of rovernet
many of my problems might have been more easily solved. Back then with
no computer or email I was on my own,  only the workshop manual to refer
                Good luck whatever you decide, but be careful not to pay
too much, very difficult to resell later.


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