Buyers Guide to:
1967 to 1973
Drive Con guration
Rover P5 Owners Club
J R Wadhams
Adored by British Royalty and Prime Ministers alike, the Rover P5 mixed luxury with a stately appearance. Available in saloon and coupe forms, it was launched with a six-cylinder engine at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show, but the car we’re interested in, the P5B, arrived in autumn 1967. Fitted with the venerable Buick-designed 3.5-litre V8, it came with an automatic gearbox only and could reach 110mph and complete the 0-60mph sprint in around twelve seconds. And while that might have been accompanied by a lovely burbling exhaust note, this car wasn’t about outright performance. Instead, it was perfect for wafting around, enjoying the opulent wood and leather-lined cabin. It stayed in production until 1973.
- Front wings and wheel arches
- Windscreen surround
- Door bottoms
- Door pillars, especially the D-post where it meets the rear wheel arch
- Rear wheel arches
- Rear valance
- Every panel for corrosion. Replacements are available, at a cost, but major restoration is a very expensive job
- The three-piece sills very carefully. With the rear doors open, examine the rear section looking for any signs of corrosion where they meet the rear wheel arch. They rot badly, and the complex design means they aren’t easy to repair
- The inner wings front and rear for any signs of rot, along with the bulkhead around the brake servo. And pay particular attention to the condition of the cabin and boot floors.
- The chassis needs checking, too, focussing on the main legs and the areas around the suspension mountings
- For uneven panel gaps, and look to see whether the doors appear to be sagging. Either of these point to problems with the inner structure, and you could be looking at a very pricey restoration
- That external stainless steel trim isn’t missing or damaged as it isn’t cheap to replace. Examine the bumpers as well – they can rot through, and replacing the rear item is around £500
- The engine for signs of low oil pressure or exhaust smoke that signal an imminent re-build. Properly maintained, the V8 will cover over 150,000 miles before major attention is needed, but the oil and filter should have been changed every 3000 miles ideally
- For a rattle from the top of the engine which indicates wear to the camshafts or hydraulic tappets, and listen for the ticking caused by leaking exhaust manifolds
- For oil leaks and evidence of overheating. The latter will cause head gasket failure, so ensure the cooling system is healthy and that anti-freeze levels have been maintained correctly to prevent internal corrosion
- That the automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly, with no jolts or hesitation. The Borg Warner units are robust, but check for leaking uid or that the fluid isn’t black or smelling burnt. Ensure the kick-down operates correctly, too
- For noises from the back axle, and signs of oil leaks. Vibration can be caused by a worn prop shaft centre bearing, but it’s an easy fix
- The suspension for leaking shock absorbers, or sagging at the rear caused by tired leaf springs. The spring hangers themselves can rot, so check carefully
- That the brakes operate correctly as they are prone to corrosion and seizure through lack of use. The power steering system needs checking for leaks from the hydraulic pump, pipework, and the steering box itself. Also, you should nd the lovely ‘Rostyle’ wheels fitted – they were unique to the ‘B’ - and these can be renovated at a reasonable cost
- The condition of the interior very carefully. The P5B used high quality wood and leather, and major refurbishment will be very costly, so ensure that the seats aren’t torn or badly cracked, and that wood veneer isn’t chipped or scratched. The window winders on coupe models are a known trouble spot
- The carpets, both for overall condition and signs of damp. The latter will require further investigation as it could have allowed rot to develop in the floor
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