3.5L Buick V8 Power: 1970 Rover 3500S

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Here’s one you don’t run across very often, not in the states anyway.  The 3500S was one of the P6 series of cars, a model with production beginning in 1963 from British manufacturer Rover Company Limited.  But eventually, the company was sold to Leyland Motors back in 1967, who continued making the car until the P6 run ended in 1977.  The seller mentions that these were big sellers in the United Kingdom, but only available in 1970 and ’71 in the U.S., so they’re not a common sighting on this side of the Atlantic.  This one’s located in Watertown, Connecticut, and can be found here on eBay, with bidding only up to a hundred dollars so far, understandably less than the reserve.  However, it can be yours right now for the buy-it-now price of $5,250.

Reader Kyle K. sent this one our way, and we’d like to thank him for the tip!  It seems as though the P6 cars were assigned a model number based on the engine’s displacement, such as 2000, 2200, or in this case the 3500, as this one came with a lightweight Buick 3.5 liter V8 under the hood.   The motors were mated to a Borg Warner 3-speed automatic transmission, and surprisingly, we don’t get to see a photo of the engine compartment on this sedan.  The owner does say that the 3500 had been in storage for 10 years, but with a new starter installed and some carburetor work, it is now running.

Not a whole lot of information is given about the exterior either, other than it’s said to have no rust and the seller believes the Arden Green is the original paint.  Judging from the pictures, the fit seems good and it looks to be complete, so if it’s just a driver look you’re wanting maybe there’s not much else to be done on the outside.  I’m loving that trio of hood scoops, and I’d really like to see what’s going on under them.

The interior is stated as needing some work, and although we can’t see every nook and cranny overall it doesn’t really look all that bad, other than the passenger’s seat back and the driver’s door panel.  We do not get to view the underside nor is it mentioned, but if it’s anything like the body hopefully there isn’t any corrosion under there either.  I’m guessing this one’s going to meet reserve, or maybe someone will even pull the immediate gratification trigger at $5,250.  What do you think?

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  1. alphasudMember

    I have written about the blue 3500S on the Fiat used car lot when I was in high school. I was taken by its styling as being a quirky but handsome design. It’s a shame that BL had such a bad quality because the Rover could have been a success. We didn’t get the manual transmission on the 3500S over here and that’s a shame as well. What’s also neat about this car was the suspension design with the De-dion rear axle and inboard rear disc brakes just like my Alfa Milano had. Up front was a bell crank horizontal spring arrangement to create extra room for a turbine of all things.
    Also cool is when Rover set out to design this car they used the Citroen DS as the benchmark. Just that alone earns respect from me. I think if one were to turn up in my neck of the woods in good condition I would be hard pressed not to buy it.

    Like 9
    • Garry

      Almost every vehicle in British Leyland’s production “could have been a success”! Malaise Englaise ruined them. At one stage they were the world’s second biggest manufacturer. Now relatively unknown.

      Like 0
  2. Harvey HarveyMember

    Any car with 3 hood scoops has got to be sporty.

    Like 4
    • Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

      Either sporty, or has expectations of overheating. In this case, the latter.

      Very nice executive sedan that you don’t find many of.

      Like 3
      • Martin Horrocks

        Exactly. This was a failing by Rover to develop an engineering solution to the high temperature climates of some US states.

        Even worse, they did exactly the same with the SD1 model, dedigned 10 years afyer the P6. So wonder how the Brits lost the US market to BMW?

        The 3500S is a good car for all that. And you would have to pay a lot more for this car in its native land.

        Worth buying

        Like 0
      • SubGothius

        Looking at the position of the scoops compared to what’s underhood right there, I suspect the scoops were meant to help air-cool the carburetors specifically, likely to help prevent vapor lock and/or flooding due to fuel percolation in a heat-soaked carb.

        Like 0
  3. tommy c

    Wayne Carrenni’s shop?

    Like 2
    • PRA4SNW

      I don’t think the cars in the showroom are exotic (expensive) enough to be Wayne Carrini’s place.

      Like 3
  4. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Didn’t we just have this conversation last week or the week before? Interesting garage it’s sitting in. Spider Veloce, Mercury Comet, Pagoda Benz, Torino, late 40s Ford convert, another Alfa (?), MGB-GT, Stag or Jensen, Porsche, Morgan, GTO, 190 or 300SL

    Like 1
  5. misterlouMember

    Renowned ethnomusicologist Gertrude Rivers Robinson, who conducted the Balinese gamelan angklung ensemble at my university, drove a two-tone blue one. Her Rover 3500s is my strongest memory of her that has survived 35 years. Everyone else talks about her storied academic career. Me?…the Rover.

    Like 8
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. IMHO, this has the best looking front end appearance of the Rover P6 generation. Given its condition and rarity here in the USA, I’d be willing to pay around the asking price of $5250.

    Like 4
  7. Neal DionMember

    I had the pleasure of owning the 2000TC version of the P6 line, a 1968 if memory serves me right, and it was a great car. The TC had a 4 speed manual and Car & Driver proclaimed it to be the worlds greatest sports sedan in one of their mid sixties issues. I put 60K miles on it in about two years then totaled it one dark July night – the car rolled, came to rest upside down but the roof had only sheet metal damage (I had no damage thanks to that). The insurance company had a hard time figuring the buy out on the car and the number that they came up with was only about $400 less than what I paid for it — turned out to be a great deal!

    Like 3
  8. OldsMan

    I am pretty sure I saw this Rover at Country Classic Cars in Illinois last year…I think that is where the photos are taken

    Like 2
  9. ClassicCarFan

    it’s a bit of a stretch to say this had a Buick 3.5 engine. Rover built the engines. It was based on the old Buick 215 design, that Rover bought the license to back in the early 1960s. The Rover engine was different in quite a lot of details, they a lot of time on development work to modify it to their own needs. They even hired a retiring senior GM engineer over to the UK as a consultant. So, it shares the dimensions and architecture of the original Buick 215 but is also quite different and all the engines Rover used in the cars were built by Rover in the UK.

    Like 7
    • VTDan

      Very true. Buick didn’t have the aluminum casting knowledge to successfully mass produce the engine blocks. The scrap rate was reportedly over 50%. So they gave up on the Al design, especially since GM perfected the thin wall cast iron process. European manufacturers already had extensive experience with AL casting so Rovers supplier changed the design and tooling to be able to cast the blocks. The Rover 3.5 engine is based on the Buick design but its quite heavily modified.

      Like 5
  10. Frank Barrett

    Speedometer needle has taken a dive. Interesting Alfa Romeo Junior Z in the background.

    Like 1
  11. angliagt angliagtMember

    I saw one of these in North Redding,Ca,along with a
    big collection of interesting cars,most of them non-running.
    .There was a ’78 Datsun B210 that the owner gave to me.
    I went by there later,& someone had smashed all of
    Rover’s windows.Sad to see that.

    Like 1
  12. Big C

    Those inboard disc’s are a pleasure to service!

    Like 2
  13. R Bruce

    There is a complete one of these located about 1/4 mile away from me — or at least it was a few months ago when I saw it — at a business called British Car Service on Stone Avenue in Tucson, Arizona. If you need the car or even some parts they may be willing to do a deal. Phone 520-882-7026.

    Like 2
  14. Steve J

    Note the large badge in the middle of the boot lid. If you wanted more boot space a mounting bracket was available to put the spare tyre on the outside. The badge hides the mounting point.

    Like 4
  15. SubGothius

    I’m always fascinated by how this design manages to look both stately and radical at the same time, depending on which details you pay attention to.

    Like 2
  16. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $4,700.

    Like 1
    • Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

      That was a steal. Hope a Brit buyer bought it and is bringing it home.

      Now, had it been a P5B in similar condition…I’d have jumped…

      Like 2
  17. Scott

    The beige ‘other Alfa’ is a Formula Junior Zagato.

    Like 1
  18. Charles Portner

    I have lusted after only two cars: the Studebaker Avanti and the Rover 3500S. I used to work on these Rovers some 50-odd years ago for a defunct Rover Dealer in Kensington, MD. I don’t even recall the name of the dealership, but it was owned by a gentleman whose last name was Altimus. For the longest time before Manhattan Auto in Rockville, MD started selling the Land Rover in the later 70’s, Altimus was the sole source of parts for the older P-6’s and Land Rovers in the entire Washington, DC area. I always preferred the 3500 over the 2000TC. It was heavier and it rode better, and to this day is still unparalleled in road handling. As the English would say, “It sticks to the road like s–t to a blanket!” I feel very fortunate that I was able to find this car, and yes $4700 was a good deal. It took a while to contact the owner who listed it on Ebay because none of my emails to “Contact the Seller” would go through. I believe I called every European Auto repair shop (including Alpha’s and Porsche specialists) within a 50 mile radius of Waterbury trying to find the listing-person to ask some fairly specific questions regarding the condition of the car. Oddly enough the owner called me the next day! We came to an agreement on the price, and I am now the lucky owner. No. It is not going back to the UK or Poland for restoration. It is staying right here in the US in Virginia Beach for a long time to come and many hours of driving!
    Oh yeah, and the Avanti? I found a ’62 R1 about 3 years ago, and it is in the shop for a frame-off restoration.

    Like 2

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