Farm Find: 1969 Rover V8

Rover’s famed V8 sedan remains an under-appreciated classic today, offering stately looks, a comfortable interior and reliable Buick V8 power up front. This example hails from California, where the previous owner collected it from a farm estate sale and drove it to South Carolina. That owner passed away and the restoration never got off the ground, so it’s now here on eBay with a $1,000 opening bid and no reserve. 

The story of how the Buick V8 ended up in a Rover is a good one, but the upshot is that Buick designed a truly special engine with its lightweight eight-cylinder. Rover’s team pursued General Motors aggressively to sell the company the tooling to build the engine for mass production, and even re-located a former Buick engineer to the UK to act a consultant once given the green light by the General.

This Rover has some rough patches on the body but it’s unclear if those areas are poorly repaired prior bodywork or hiding something more sinister than some surface rust. The body looks straight from where we’re sitting, and all of the attachments – lenses, bumpers, trim, mirrors – appear to be in fine shape, save for some missing beltline trim on the passenger side. The seller notes the car has “….all the options for 1969,” and is “…very restorable.”

The interior does look quite nice and like it would respond well to a cleaning. The Borg-Warner sourced transmission, combined with the Buick-derived V8, likely makes these British saloons easier to live with than you’d expect. This example has been largely ignored by the bidders on eBay so far, and with two days left, there might be a chance to snag this no-reserve project on the cheap.


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  1. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    Doesn’t look like a regular UK V8 as it has the wrong grille. Could be USA spec of course.

    • ROAR

      same grille etc as mine here in Calif. Hello Saloon car racing! bomb proof bits and full independent suspension Engine will easily produce 200+ hp and turn 7K!

    • donek

      It’s a NADA-spec car: LHD, automatic, bonnet-scoops, wheeltrims, different bumpers, Icelert, extra front lamps, amber front sidelamp lenses, side-marker lamps and reflectors front and rear wings, electric-windows, small rear number-plate plinth, spare-wheel mounting on boot, ‘new’ dashboard, airco, box-pleated seats, tinted-glass etc. etc. Absolutely super car if rust has not taken hold.

      Like 1
  2. Blyndgesser

    A general rule with these cars is that all rust is structural unless proven otherwise.

  3. Rovinman

    This car is one of the NADA (North American Dollar Area) models, equipped to a higher standard than UK cars. These are also often referred to today as being “Federal Specification”.
    The export models were all fitted with the Borg Warner 35 automatic transmission.
    The Grille you’re thinking about Ken, was introduced in 1970.
    Only 1500 Rovers (2000-3500) were exported to America

  4. Francisco

    This model was referred to as the 3500. One of the unique features of this motorcar is that all of its body panels can be unbolted, presumably by the owner. In a model similar to this car, Princess Grace of Monaco accidentally careened off a cliff to her untimely death. Her daughter, Stephanie, a passenger, survived the accident.

    • Michael Green

      Come people, it has California plates… DAH! It’s NADA Car, meaning; “North American Dollar Area” This is a “3500S” not 3500

      Like 1
      • Kevin

        Michael Green. 3500S had manual transmission 3500 was auto.

      • donek

        As Michael already wrote, it’s a 3500S NADA. These were BW35 automatic.
        In the UK and Europe, the 3500 was BW35 automatic and the 3500S 4-speed manual.

        Like 1
  5. S.S.McDonald

    I have a complete fuel injection unit for a Rover V8 engine for sale. I don’t know where to advertise its availability. Photos and info upon request.

    • Roland

      I have a complete rebuilt (running) OLDSMOBILE (six bolt heads) 215 CID, for sale. This is the (six bolt) turbo head engine, with the special turbo block. Also have the complete olds turbo, with the olds special side draft, with methanol injection. The car body was stolen, so I giving up, and selling the engine.

  6. grant

    Princess Grace was driving a glassfibre Reliant Scimitar, not a Rover…..BIG difference! This car was built on the same principal as a Citroen DS, with all the mechano style unstressed outer panels unbolting, so the basic understructure is where the rust would be if there is any, and the outer panels are unstressed and easier to mend, being basic sheetsteel of simple curvature…..easier to spray paint too, both inside and out! Interesting front suspensions too, with all stresses taken up by the front bulkhead, so this is an important area to check for corrosion. Great cars with strong engines.

    • Lionel Guilbert

      On September 13, 1982, Kelly was driving back to Monaco from her country home in Roc Agel when she had a stroke. As a result, she lost control of her 1971 Rover P6 3500[37] and drove off the steep, winding road and down the 120 foot (37 m) mountainside. Her daughter, Stéphanie, who was in the passenger seat, tried, but failed, to regain control of the car.

      The Car Accident
      French police report: It was shortly after 10 am Monday morning of September 13 when the car Princess Grace was driving missed a curve and catapulted down a cliff. It is a road that Princess Grace often travelled yet not often drove herself, but that morning she dismissed her chauffeur as there were dresses and boxes in the back seat. With her daughter Princess Stephanie as her passenger (as witnessed by a police officer as they drove by), Princess Grace set out on what should have been a relatively short drive in her beloved 11-year-old metallic green Rover 3500.

      • Concinity

        See reply below.

  7. Ian

    The outer panels undo easily for quick repair and access to underneath. Was European Car of the Year one year….rightly so too-popular police cars here in the UK…and those not being destroyed on the demolition derby tracks here are being saved now as practical stylish cars.. and the US spec like this are being brought home by a few enthusiasts…..
    Parts are quite easy here too

  8. peter spooner

    princess grace was driving a 3 lt Rover when she died.

    • peter spooner

      sorry, l got my facts wrong.

  9. Peter K

    I had one of these in the 70’s Drove the living’ piss out of it. Fast, comfortable, unassuming, could scare the crap out of any Mustang or 350 Camaro. I turned it unto a rally car and wadded it up in a race in the midwest.

  10. Concinity

    Kevin.There were two Rover P6 models labelled 3500S. The first P6B (B for Buick, yes really!), model sold as the 3500S was the NADA 3500 V8 sold in the North American Dollar Area, as stated by Rovinman above. With the Series 1 aluminium grille and Series 1 bonnet/hood but with three extra bonnet scoops for better engine cooling. These cars also introduced what became the Series 2 interior with the very clear to read round dials replacing the strip speedo. (The strip speedo was retained for all single carb four cylinder models until the end of production in 1977) The S2 box-pleated seat coverings, often not leather but Ambla, a type of vinyl, were also introduced on these. Different, larger more wraparound chromed bumpers were also fitted to these cars only and no other P6s, as well as the under bumper extra front indicators and side reflectors, (from the MGB) and side repeater indicators, (from the larger Rover P5B). Again, unlike ALL other P6s side intrusion crash bars were fitted inside the doors to meet federal side impact standards. Integrated air-conditioning with a completely different integrated heater core and heater box was also standard, as was the ‘Sundym’ tinted glass. Electric windows on all doors used period GM(Buick) switches and motors replacing the wind up windows fitted to all other P6s. The doors are also fitted with under-armrest dropdown storage pockets.

    All these little detail differences add up and make these cars highly desirable to Rover P6 fans elsewhere in the world, some NADA cars have been re exported to Britain and Europe, and even converted to RHD.

    Those ‘spoked’ stainless steel wheel trims and the 3500S badges were slightly later used on the final permutation of the P6, the manual transmission version, and second, 3500S, only made as a Series 2, with the new bonnet/hood and plastic grille. Very few, almost zero S2s were sold in the US, and no manual V8s were. They are the most powerful P6s, the slightly straighter exhaust giving more power and better fuel economy and a nearly 10 mph higher top speed of 125mph.They often give gearbox trouble, the modified four cylinder gearbox at it’s limit, and often replaced by the later 5 speed from the SD1.

    The S standing this time for Synchromesh, not Special, or Sports and for most people in the UK or outside the USA, this is the 3500S they know about.

    See also:


    And Princess Grace getting into her favourite car, a ’71 Rover 3500.

    The car after the accident, caused by Her Grace suffering a stroke while driving as covered by Lionel Guilbert above.

  11. MikeH

    Wow! That was a hell of an accident. Was there ever any mention of seat belts worn by either?

    • Concinity

      They both were wearing seatbelts. The Rover was Princess Grace’s favorite car and was driven every day for eleven years. Her daughter survived the accident with minor injuries, a testament to the crashability of these cars which were in advance of most other cars of the time. Unfortunately suffering a stroke while driving is invariably fatal.

  12. cocobolo

    I had one of these in the 80’s, Mexico Brown with contrasting vinyl roof and beige cloth/velour interior rather than the leather. All the wings were rusted through and got some from a donor car and had it resprayed. Rust came again and gave it away. Loved the ride/comfort and effortless acceleration from memory, but its been 30 yrs :-(. In UK S was always manual, mine was Auto, sometimes cars had boot mounted spare and they came as an estate, or wagon as you call them.

  13. chad

    “…came as an estate…”
    now that’s 1 I wanna C….

  14. Barry Pidwell

    I had a 1969 Rover 2000 back in 1978 while residing in the UK and loved the comfortable ride it gave. It was a good solid car but I hated doing the rear brakes on it. It was slightly damaged when I got it but it was so easy to just unbolt the fender and door and replace them. Hated to get rid of it.

  15. Bill

    One of the best cars I ever had. Mine was a 2000 TC (2 liter 4 cyl, dual carb) Still broke 100 mph no sweat. Handled great, looked great. chassis rust was it’s undoing, but to be fair, it was almost 50 years old by then. Would have likes a 5 speed though.

  16. Russ

    They used to modify and race them back in the day, too. 4 1/2 litre engine in this one…

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