Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Powered Under Licence - Rover P5B 3.5 litre Coupe

In September 1960 the author of a technical review on the then new all aluminium 185 hp Buick 215 V8 engine could have had little idea of how prophetic for the British automotive industry his following words would be, "We will wager that the most widely copied engine of the next 10 years will be the superb new aluminium V8 by Buick."

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Despite it's glowing press the Buick V8 and various Oldsmobile and Pontiac variants these motors were only in production from 1961 to 1963, after 750,000 units had been produced the Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac switched back to cheaper to manufacture iron blocks which were cast with thinner walls than had hitherto been possible.

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Rover managing director Bill Martin-Hurst was on a sales mission trying to get Mercury Marine in Wisconsin interested in Rover gas turbine engines for marine applications when he stumbled across a Buick V8 being prepared for power boat racing on the Mercury Marine shop floor.

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Bill realised immediately that such a motor might have a future in several Rover car projects and had the motor on the shop floor shipped to England and made enquires at GM about making their recently discontinued aluminium motor under licence.

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Somewhat disbelieving GM agreed a deal which eventually included the soon to retire designer of the aluminium Buick 215 Joe Turley who would help prepare the V8 for production in a market that put engines under more stress, no speed limit at the UK at the time, than encountered in its original US application.

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The Buick V8 was first tested in a P6 prototype, but the final iteration of older P5 design seen here, with a B for Buick designation, was the first Rover to be offered to the public with an aluminium Buick 215 V8 derived motor in 1967.

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Four successive British Prime Ministers and the Queen of England used P5B's, so impressed was the British government with these vehicles that they bought the last batch of them for future government ministers to use in 1973. Indeed Prime Minister Margret Thatcher was often seen in one as late as 1979, before switching to a Jaguar.

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A Rover P5B featured alongside a Lamborghini Islero in 'The Man Who Haunted Himself' starring Roger Moore, Olga Geoges-Picot and Hildegard Neil.

Vehicles featured on GALPOT that are powered by variations of the aluminium Rover V8 include :-


Reliant Scimitar GTE V8

Triumph TR7 Rally Sprint Replica

Triumph TR8 Convertible Replica

Triumph TR8 Twin Turbo

Further examples of Rover V8 powered vehicles can be found in these less specific blogs :-

GMC Suburban

Darian Wildcat T89 GTR

MGB Kayne Special

Rover SD1

Thanks for joining me on this Powered Under License edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you will join me again for a Scandinavian Edition tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

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