Today’s Pick of the Day is this 1970 Rover 3500S that is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Lenoir City, Tenn. (Click the link to view the listing) It’s a great example of a British saloon that won praise in American buff books at the time but one you rarely see today.
The last time I saw one on the street was in San Francisco in 2003. Earlier, while growing up, I remember seeing them on occasion, most notably the one owned by my dad’s boss, Mr. Aronovici (he also had a white Toyota Crown wagon — clearly one of those special folks who bought imports). Certainly the Rover P6 was an attractive vehicle for the upwardly mobile in its time, though they never sold in great numbers in America, with Ward’s Yearbook showing 571 being sold in 1971, the final year for U.S.-spec imports.
The Rover P6 began production at the end of 1963, initially as the Rover 2000 with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. In 1968, the Rover 3500 was introduced, the same car with a reengineered version of Buick’s aluminum 3.5-liter V8. This was the quintessential fast British saloon, full of sound engineering, good styling, and fast acceleration for its time. The 2000 evolved into the 2200, with that and the 3500 continuing into 1977 when the P6 was replaced.
Unfortunately, while hailed by the British motor press and winning the European Car of the Year award in 1964, the P6 was beset by poor workmanship, especially those after Rover was absorbed by British Leyland. Nonetheless, the Rover sedan is a landmark vehicle of the British auto industry, much like the Jaguar XJ6 that followed it several years later.
This 1970 Rover 3500S is an original American import, as evidenced by the three hood scoops, side-markers and rear wrap-around bumper 3500S (the “S” designation was used on models equipped with 4-speed manuals, but all American imports were designated as such as well). Seller claims only 103K original miles have passed underneath its body, which is remarkably preserved thanks to the use of Ziebart when new. “It is covered in a red paint that is still in great condition and it still has all of the trim items,” says the seller. Fourteen-inch wheels with simulated mags add to the sporty look.
Inside, you’ll find black vinyl with woodgrain highlights, all in nice condition. The reclining front buckets are bisected by a console, with leather tilt steering wheel and Blaupunkt AM/FM/cassette sound system adding to the sport sedan image. Like all U.S.-spec 3500Ss, power windows and air conditioning are present. The aluminum V8 with SU carburetors is mated to a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic. “On the highway this car runs and drives phenomenally, and the transmission shifts smoothly. The brakes feel to have plenty of life left in them as well,” adds the seller.
Fine styling, V8 power, and room for five in a pinch — sounds like a mid-size American car, but this one’s British, chock-full of stiff-upper-lipped sophistication. For $17,999, this 1970 Rover 3500S a classic that will cruise on American highways with ease with the comfort you’d expect from the Brits.