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Rover P5: Buying guide and review (1958-1973)

Rover P5: Buying guide and review (1958-1973) Classic and Performance Car
Rover P5 Rover P5
Designed by David Bache, the P5 followed a long line of large and luxurious executive Rover models dating right back to the turn of the century. Lavishly equipped interiors and an understated yet handsome exterior appealed to a number of very high profile clientele. The Queen, Margaret Thatcher and many dignitaries all chose a P5 as their mode of transport, even once production had ceased they remained in favour well into the late ‘70s. Despite their high-profile status, values have generally remained low.

Well-built, quick in V8 form and with an interior that offered a real sense of occasion, the P5 may just be the ideal classic car for the gentleman driver. Read on to learn more about these under-appreciated cars.

Which Rover P5 to buy?



The P5 started off in 1958 as a heavy 115bhp 3-litre saloon, with drum brakes all-round. Production of the well-loved model ended 15 years later, with a sporty 160bhp 3.5-litre V8 offered, gaining the option of a highly-desirable four-door coupe body shell too. 

The 3-litre cars progressed through three major updates. High points were the introduction of disc brakes in 1959, and a Mk2 version in 1962 with 129bhp and the option of a four-door coupe body. The MK3 came in 1965, with power up again to 134bhp. Available in either four-speed manual or three-speed automatic options, these early cars are consummate cruisers and respond to a measured driving style. The leaf spring rear suspension was not designed for aggressive cornering antics. Unless you are specifically looking for an early car, your best bet is to stick with the Mk2 and Mk3 cars for their upgraded brakes and additional power. 

The V8 P5B arrived in 1967, combining a lighter aluminium Buick-derived motor (knows universally as the Rover V8) to make this a proper sporting saloon. Standard equipment included fog lights, power steering, upgraded leather interior and twin exhaust pipes. These are the driving enthusiast’s choice and while not quite as smooth as the earlier 6-cylinder cars the additional power and torque make for a far more engaging drive. The interior of all P5 models was a classy mix of leather and wood and minor updates over the years meant better quality trim – and from 1968 a bit more rear legroom too.
 

Performance and specs



Rover P5B Saloon
Engine 3532cc 16 valve OHV V8
Power 161bhp @ 5000rpm 
Torque 210lb ft @ 2750rpm
Top speed 115 mph 
0-60mph 10.0 seconds 
Fuel consumption 15-20mpg 
Gearbox Three-speed auto
 

Dimensions and weight 



Rover P5 Saloon
Wheelbase 2807mm
Length 4737mm
Width 1778mm
Height 1549mm
Weight 1587kg
 

Common problems

 
• 3-litre P5s may be less powerful than their V8 counterparts, but they are smoother running. Rough running may indicate worn cam followers or worn valve guides.
 
• V8 motors need regular maintenance to avoid excessive wear on camshafts. Regular flushing of the anti-freeze is important to avoid potential overheating issues. Frequent oil changes are recommended for both models.
 
• Automatic gearboxes should be smooth; discolouration of the gearbox fluid may mean problems down the road.
 
• Manual gearboxes on 3-litre models should be robust but check that the overdrive, if fitted, is functioning correctly.
 
• The interior of the P5 is hard wearing but the wood panelling and leather seats need periodic maintenance to keep them in good condition. Replacing trim can be expensive and water leaks from the heating system or door seals can irreparably damage the leather and carpets.
 
• Suspension is independent up front, and bushes need renewing occasionally. The rear is leaf sprung and sagging may mean new springs are required. Dampers can break and the heavy curb weight of the P5 means they can also wear out regularly.
 
• Steering boxes tend to leak, especially the power assisted ones in the P5B, however upgraded seals can be installed that usually solves the problem.
 
• Fuel consumption is heavy regardless of which model you choose, with the overdrive equipped 3-litre manuals offering marginally better efficiency than the rest.
 
• Rust is the big enemy of the P5. The Monocoque chassis design is prone to corrosion in a number of areas and any potential purchase should be thoroughly checked over.
 
• Problem areas include rear wheel arches, rear inner wings, front wheel arches and chassis members linked to the sills.
 
• Joining the Rover P5 club is highly recommended as members are knowledgeable and can offer a lot of valuable advice to new P5 owners. A number of specialists still stock or manufacture parts for the P5 models too.
 

Model history

 
1958: Mk1 P5 3.0 saloon launched at Earls Court Motor Show. Three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission options available
1959: Front disc brakes now standard fitment. 3.0-litre engine uprated
1961: Mk1 A update sees the introduction of optional power steering, quarter light vents and minor trim changes.
1962: Mk2 P5 launched, power output was 129bhp and suspension was updated over the Mk1. Coupe body style released. Power steering now available as well as more comprehensive dashboard instrumentation. Additionally, ‘Hydrosteer’ variable ratio power steering is optional on Saloon and standard on Coupe.
1965: Mk3 P5 launched. Power now up to 134bhp. Interior trim updated. Automatic gearbox now a Borg Warner unit. 
1967: Rover P5B launched, featuring Buick derived 160bhp 3.5-litre V8, speed and acceleration were greatly improved over P5. Twin exhausts, fog lights and Rostyle wheels were standard fitment. V8 only available with Three-speed automatic transmission
1968: Rear seating space improved
1972: Inertia reel seatbelts introduced
1973: Final year of production for Rover P5B. Gearing revised with change-up speeds marked on dials
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.roverp5club.org.uk – UK based Rover P5 club
• www.thersr.co.uk – The Rover Sports Register
• www.davidgreen-p5.co.uk – P5 parts stockists
• www.roverp5.com – Another P5 club
 

Summary and prices

The P5 is one of those rare cars that is undervalued, despite being a very usable and desirable classic. Avoid cars with excessive rust or too far gone interiors, and rather focus on well cared for examples. Good 3-litre cars can be found from as little as £8000, while the desirable P5B can be found in good condition from £10,000. Top cars, as well as ones with interesting histories, may command up to £18,000. The four-door coupes add a touch of sportiness to the P5, and sell for around 10-15 per cent more than the saloons.

Luxurious, smooth and rather good value, the P5 and P5B can be the ultimate classic cruiser. If it was good enough for the Queen, who are we to argue?

Words: John Tallodi
Rover P5 Rover P5
Last updated: 3rd Jan 2017
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Rover P5
11995 11995 GBP
  • Rover P5

    £11,995 £11,995

    This beautiful Rover P5B Coupe is available for a negotiated sale around £11,995 which is in the middle of our estimate range. Visit TradeClassics.com to see the full details of the car including videos of it running and over 300 images. https://www.tradeclassics.com/auctions/rover/1970-rover-p5b-coupe/ EXTERIOR The car has a real wow factor even today when you see it. The paintwork is absolutely lovely to look at, and I was really surprised to see how good the brightwork looked too for a car of this age, testament to how Peter has cared for the car. Wheels & Tyres Featuring the very American and of the era, Rostyle wheels, they set the car off well. The wheels looked to be in good condition, and tyres looked to be in order too, as documented in the media. The rear offside wheel is missing its Rover centre-cap, all others being present. Bodywork The bodywork on this P5B presented itself in good condition. The video media we have included covers every panel, and there was only one small spot of bubbling noticed, this is on the boot on the offside corner nearest the windscreen. The video under the car also shows the car to be in good condition. Paint With the quality and finish of paint on the car, Peter assumed that the car has been restored at some point in its life. The blue paint across the car looks deep and not faded in the slightest. Peter has looked after the car by waxing and polishing and this shows in the clear reflective properties too. There are a couple of areas where in the past doors and boots have met on the inner bodywork and the paint has been removed, these are documented in the video review and are not visible externally. Glass and Trim The glass, trim and brightwork all look in good condition. There are a number of areas on the car where it seems clear that rubber seals have been replaced and treated as they look very fresh. The brightwork across the car is particularly striking, and there is very little pitting present that you would expect. The nearside front passenger door window rubber has perished somewhat, and has visible cracking as documented in the video, all others appeared in good order. INTERIOR Interior on this car presents itself in original condition. Unlike the exterior, the interior does not appear to have been restored, but it is still a very nice cabin and shows some nice patina. Seats and Carpets The seats show a nice patina across the car, but could be brought up to a better standard with the right treatment. The seat bolsters and cushioning are all in good order. The carpets look original and a little tatty in certain areas where they have been caught. The front seat belts have covers attached to them which has worn over time, although the seatbelts themselves are in good order as expected with the car passing its MOT. Dashboard The dash and woodwork in the car looks very rich in colour. It has really held its own compared to the patina shown on the seats. There is no cracking in the dash, and the car features a neat little tool kit which is accessible from a tray in front of the gear lever. Steering Wheel / Gear Stick A lovely steering wheel wearing the Rover emblem with pride, and thin inner horn ring put you in control of the car. The automatic gearbox is controlled via the central console, and this presents itself in good order, with the gear selection indicator clearly visible. MECHANICS I went on a short drive with Peter around the local area to observe how the car handled from a passenger perspective. You can see the video along with a cold start in the media provided, and the detail below. Engine and Gearbox The car started first time on all occasions I was present, and idled smoothly. There was no smoke to worry about coming from the exhaust on start up or after a run. The car went through its gears without issue, including reverse. As mentioned in the video, when cold the change of 1st gear up to 2nd had a noticeable jump, as you would expect for a car of this age. Suspension and Brakes The short run took us through the village which included a number of speed bumps. The car handled these well and no knocks or rattles were observed. As described and detailed in the video the ride was comfortable both through the town and on a dual carriageway at speed. The Drive Both through the village and on the fast road at speed, the car pulled well along with going through its gears without issue on the run. Electrics and Other Peter has reported that everything works as it should do, although he has never tried to use the period radio that is present in the car, preferring to listen the sound of the V8 in the cosseted environment of the cabin.

    • Year: 1970
    • Mileage: 62898 mi
    • Engine size: 3.5
    For sale
    £11,995 £11,995
    #trade_classics
    01926426635 View contact number