R: [ROVERNET - UK] British Leyland and SD1

Lewis, Joseph (Michael) jLewis at wsscwater.com
Wed Nov 28 16:53:45 GMT 2007

As easy as it may be to criticize BL and other British carmakers of that
infamous era in automobile history, I have to respectfully disagree with
any negative criticism of the SD1. My experience with my turmeric 1980
has been tremendous. I've owned it for 17 years and used it as a daily
driver for the first 12. I can only remember it being towed once in that
time span. It has rarely let me down. Small items have come apart and
bits have broken but in comparison to other cars I've owned (Volvos, a
Saab, a Jaguar, 2 Sterlings) it has held it's own. The only major work
undertaken was a new 5 speed gearbox installed ten years ago. Other
parts have failed but they were primarily item that wear through time
such as brakes, ignition parts, wires and hoses. 

One must also remember that the British were not the only country with
awful auto manufacturing practices during that time period. Renault and
Peugeot were little more than garbage cans on wheels during the 70's;
Chevrolet made the Citation, Vega and other assorted rubbish; Ford made
the Pinto!!!; Dodge/Plymouth somehow produced the K cars; AMC's stuff
was so abysmal that they didn't survive the 70's; I rode in my friends
mid-70's Fiat and he said "press your feet up against the panel". Why...
because I could see the ground under my feet through the floorboards.   

Maybe I got one of the good ones but I will never smear the proud name
of Rover or BL from my experience with this SD1. It's all relative I

My two cents.   

J. Michael Lewis
14501 Sweitzer Lane
Laurel MD   20707
jlewis at wsscwater.com

-----Original Message-----
From: rovernet-bounces at lyris.ccdata.com
[mailto:rovernet-bounces at lyris.ccdata.com] On Behalf Of JULIET KEILER
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:46 AM
To: rovernet at lyris.ccdata.com
Subject: Re: R: [ROVERNET - UK] British Leyland and SD1
Importance: Low

Agree re build quality Glenn i guess you had to be around in the UK in
the 70's to get a perspective of the industrial unrest and general
malaise within the what was left of the British car industry. Not
apportioning blame just observing and sadly the SD1 suffered
considerably. A good quality machine ruined by apathy and internal

As you rightly say Rover were handcuffed by Jaguar into not producing
anything that would jeapordise their sales (Oh if only the P6BS had been
produced) and held them to (psychological) ransome by buying Pressed
Steel who of course produced P6 bodies.

Still it's all come full circle as Rover may be dead but at least went
down fighting, Jaguar are almost dead (don't think it will be long as
even Ford can't sustain their losses much longer) but thats as a result
of indifference for their product on the part of the buying
public........ the ultimate insult?


Alan Francis (partviking)

----- Original Message ----
From: Glen Wilson <rovercar at comcast.net>
To: rovernet at lyris.ccdata.com
Sent: Wednesday, 28 November, 2007 2:58:36 PM
Subject: Re: R: [ROVERNET - UK] British Leyland and SD1

Alan wrote:
> This show is well known in the UK but it is important not to take it
to seriously. It is designed to entertain as well as inform and the
presenters (one in particular) are quite outspoken and opinionated.
> Just take it for what it is quite amusing but not really taken
> Alan Francis (partviking)
Alan is ABSOLUTELY correct in his review of Top Gear. Somehow, the 
absolute craziness of what they do causes me to enjoy the show and keep 
liking the presenters in spite of all the sarcasm.

I hadn't seen all four videos when I forwarded them to the Rovernet, and

I might not have done so if I had realized how hard they were going to 
be on the SD1.

Gianluca, the SD1 may be less sophisticated that the P6 on PAPER, but I 
can assure you that the handling was excellent, especially for such a 
large vehicle. It was simpler in design due to budget constraints, but 
it really worked on the road. One review said that the SD1 handled like 
an MGB, and I thought that was a pretty good comparison. To me, the 
steering didn't have much road feel, but it was still quick and 
accurate. My SD1 felt like a much smaller car on twisty roads, even with

elevation changes. Changes in direction were handled very smoothly, and 
the car just seemed to stick to the road. I have only had one experience

running an SD1 against a P6, and the SD1 simply disappeared from the P6 
in fast corners like approach ramps to interstate highways.
Perhaps the SD1 simply had much better tires on it, but it just seemed 
to really stick to the road.

My only criticism of the SD1 is that the build quality of the few cars 
we got in the USA in 1980-81 was terrible. Far behind the P6 or earlier 
Rovers in this respect. My SD1 had about half an inch of open space 
between the back edge of the front door and the center pillar, and that 
was manufactured in. The exterior paint and the materials used in the 
interior simply didn't hold up. And the SD1 was a very expensive 
automobile when sold in the USA. We never got the later cars over here.

All things considered, I think that Rover did an amazing job on the SD1 
considering the budgetary and design constraints they were working


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