Radical, Rare, and Rust Free: 1969 Rover 2000 TC

By Nathan Avots-Smith

Vintage British cars generally trade on old-fashioned, old-world charm. Even the most competitive, up-to-date cars from Blighty in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s carried a whiff of this character: dated styling, wood-and-leather furnishings, knock-off wheels, or some combination of the like. Not so Rover’s radical P6, however, sold between 1964 and 1977 (1966-1971 in the U.S.) as the 2000, 2000TC, 3500, and 3500S. This was a truly modern, advanced car for its time, and it carried no vestiges of tradition. This ’69 2000TC, a rare sight on these shores, carries an asking price of just $3,900, needing just some cosmetic attention to return to all of its radical glory; you can find it here on craigslist out of New Jersey (archived ad).

With its four-cylinder engine (a gas turbine was planned, but never made it into production), the 2000TC took a step downmarket from the preceding P4 and P5 six-cylinder cars; while still comprehensively equipped, it was less opulent, too, taking on instead a more sporting character with handling to match its lean, uncluttered looks. Although more conventional, in many ways the Rover was Britain’s answer to the Citroën DS, even taking inspiration from its novel monocoque construction with bolt-on quarter panels. Unlike the terminally underpowered Citroën, however, Rover eventually added displacement to the P6 in the form of the ex-Buick 3.5-liter V8 in the 3500 models.

Even the 2000TC was no slouch, however, extracting a respectable 124 horsepower from two liters, aided by twin SU carburetors. This TC has been revived from long-term storage with a laundry list of maintenance and repairs, including rebuilt carburetors, a new radiator, and fuel and cooling system flushes. The car is said to run and steer “straight” and “tight.”

Rover put an unusual-for-the-era emphasis on safety in the P6, both active—handling was said to be superb—and passive, including what I’m fairly certain are the first factory-installed rear three-point safety belts in a U.S.-market car. Other clever features included the Icealert, which lit up a warning when the temperature on the road surface fell to a point that might lead to icy conditions, inboard-mounted rear disc brakes, and little indicators at the top of the front side lights to help the driver place the corners of the car.

While the P6’s interior did feature wood trim, it was finished in a modish honey hue rather than traditional burl, and followed the curve of the windshield around the front of the cabin rather than forming an imposing slab of a dashboard. Though the seller touts that the carpet and headliner are in “GREAT CONDITION,” there are some areas of need in the interior, notably a cracked steering wheel rim, a rather lumpy looking dash pad, and multiple large tears in the passenger seat upholstery. Although we are assured that “all parts can be purchased and everything is available,” these won’t be easy to find.

Therein lies the rub, and the one area where Rover couldn’t shake British car stereotypes; the P6 was horribly unreliable, and the American dealer network unable to cope. In an owners’ survey published in their November, 1970 issue, Road & Track found that the 2000TC had more problem areas, and a lower percentage of owners willing to buy another Rover, than any other car they had surveyed before. Still, this is a solid, rust-free example, needing only paint, interior work, and some sorting; after nearly 50 years many of those problem areas will have been worked out, won’t they? I guess that’s the other way the Rover 2000TC is every bit a traditional British car: a healthy dose of blind optimism is needed to buy one!

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Comments

  1. AF

    Forget this piece, what’s behind it?

    2+
    • Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

      I knew someone would go there…

      7+
    • Mark

      1972 Chevy Chevelle!

      3+
  2. Adam T45

    The price is fitting for the condition and rarity of this car. This one is a bit rarer than most as it has a manual transmission. The vast majority were autos, which were a bit sluggish. The manual ones were a rewarding drive. I have driven a few of these, and have always been impressed by them. Someone grab it and give it a good home please!

    10+
    • Brucieco

      Actually almost all of the 2000TC’s were manual where as all of the 3500S NADA models in the US were Automatic.

      0
      • michael

        The only automatic TC that I’ve heard of was built by one of Ruth’s guys at ABC in Abbotsford B.C. All of my 5 TC’s were manual.

        0
  3. Coventrycat

    Inboard rears just like a Jag, and usually worn down to the width of a nickel because nobody wants to replace them. Do like those Rovers, though.

    2+
    • Sirpike

      Remove the rear seat and a little work with a grinder …..

      1+
  4. Karguy James

    Those wheels are made by the same company that made the famous Magnum 500’s that were put on just about every muscle car except they are the one off Rover bolt pattern. I have sold these wheels for $1,000 a set.

    2+
    • Concinnity

      The P.C.D. is 5 inches, so 5 x 5 “( 5 x 127), like some older GM (Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Pontiac), and some current Jeep products. And old BMC big cars and trucks, so with it’s Austin derived suspension, the same as the Jensen Interceptor.

      1+
      • Donek

        ‘Austin-derived suspension’? In what way?

        1+
      • Concinnity

        Jensen based their cars, like most low volume makers on an assemblage of brought in parts from mass producers. The front and rear ‘axle’ assemblies were straight off the big Austin of the time, the A90/A105/A110 series Westminster. Double wishbone with coil springs at the front and leafsprung live rear axle at the rear.
        The last versions of these cars were the ‘Farina’ A110 Pininfarina styled Westminsters, they and their Wolseley sister cars were much favoured Police cars in the UK. It made sense for Jensen to use such a well developed, strong and proven suspension on their cars. See also Austin-Healeys.

        0
      • donek

        Sorry, I see now you mean the suspension of the Jensen and not the Rover.

        0
  5. KEN TILLY

    TC = Twin Carbs

    3+
  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    I always thought this was the nicest smaller British sedan. It had many of the features of the classy luxury British cars, in a smaller package. I’d much rather have the V8, as this would be a bit anemic for our roads today. Very nice car here. Good luck with parts.

    3+
  7. cocobolo

    I had one of these, a chocolate brown 3500 auto, was an everyday driver and reliable as any car I’ve owned. Super comfortable but drank petrol like nobodies business ! Wings all bolted on, easy to replace, sills were prone to rust…

    4+
  8. Achman

    S52 swap material…

    0
  9. BOP Guy

    Funky ! Haven’t seen one of these before.

    0
  10. Jonathan J. Einhorn

    My first car: worst car ever: mine was only a 2000 (single carb) but unreliable doesn’t begin to describe it’s issues

    0
  11. xjerk

    I believe Saab offered the first three point restraint.

    0
    • BOP Guy

      Hmm, I think it was Volvo.

      2+
  12. Reid Hall

    Definitely not radical, and ugly by all means, on the other hand, that 71-72 chevelle, convt.,possibly a ss,and or good clone,is more my speed. One thing is for sure why do people try to sell ugly cars ahead of good cars on barnfinds. Who knows maybe they think this helps to sell the bad car’s, nobody else wants.

    0
    • Donek

      Hardly conventional.

      0
      • Michael

        Sometimes unconventional is better. Like headrests that adjusted up / down, and back and forth. They actually had padding. and did not push your head forward, or were so far back that your neck would be broken by the time that your head reached it.

        1+
  13. Tony Member

    The rover 2000TC is a British icon… and traditionally a pain in the arse to maintain. As with most classic cars, its a love them or hate them scenario….. personally I love the old rovers.. I would happily buy this… just to have an old piece of history. P.S. most of my cars are American muscle cars!

    0
  14. OldGTRacer

    I had a college friend with one of these and he hated to drive, so whenever we went anywhere, I did.
    Pro’s for this car include sports car like handling, excellent seating for 4. excellent visability over the nose and to the sides and good to the rear, amazingly voluminous truck and responsive engine/nice shifting tranny. It also returned good mpg as I recall which was good for us dollar deprived souls.
    Down side was constant issues with a/c system (didn’t notice if this car was fitted with it) and rather anemic top end even when car was not fully loaded…i.e. 2L and 2su’s are not quite enough. You have to drive it aggressively to stay with traffic. We didnt really ever have any other major issues, but it seemed like there was always something that required attention.
    Another friend had a new 2002 BMW and it was less luxurious but also less problematic than the Rover. Seemed more peppy on its 4 banger too.
    Lastly, while seller says parts are available, even in the 70s this car was harder to get parts for and harder to get repaired than any other vehicle I had to deal with. So I would take that with a grain of salt.
    The Rover was a lot of car for the money, but you’ll also spend more money to refurbish this car and keep it going. Getting replacement bits for the little things that will go wrong will not be easy, but if you have a bit of MacGyver in you, you should be able to figure out work arounds.
    Despite all the negatives it was a fun to drive sedan with an upscale feel about it. You either like the look and appreciate the engineering or don’t. There’s no middle ground here.
    To my mind, its worth a shot if you’re comfortable with the knowledge that you’ll be working regularly on something and if the price was about $1000 less. This is not something you’ll buy and sell easily to someone else. Buying a Rover takes a certain intestinal fortitude…and healthy bank account.
    And yet, I’m still tempted.

    4+
    • dave fishel

      I’m sorta tempted. I considered buying one of these in the late 60’s when I realized a growing family and 2 seater British sports cars were incompatible. Road tests were glowing but the reality of ownership was already getting around. I opted for a 2002, the 1st of several. Still say they were the best cars I’ve ever owned.

      0
      • Concinnity

        A little more likely to exit a slippery road backwards, too. But they do have a relaxingly light feel when away from dynamic limits.

        0
  15. Jubjub

    You all can have the ox cart basic Chevelle. These Rovers were sophisticated and technically daring. The Citroen DS of England. Cool. Cooler if it was a V8 but the four with a manual is supposed to be a good compromise.

    3+
    • Donek

      Agreed.

      1+
  16. Concinnity

    Back in the days of the internet, people in far flung places with similar interests could keep in touch and purchase parts by using their computer and an internet connection. Wait. Those days are now! Get in touch with http://www.federalrovers.com/ and see. Given that last week Hemmings sold this Arden Green 2000TC for $1500, this red one might be a little expensive,with it’s trashed paint on the aluminum trunk lid and hood, & considering it doesn’t have the desirable extras of trunk-lid mounting for the spare, or airconditioning, (which comes with ‘Sundym’ tinted glass), or even the standard front headrests. https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/rover/p6/2038143.html

    1+
  17. Beatnik Bedouin

    Like a lot of British cars of the era, technically advanced (that’s a De Dion suspension system out back), but poorly executed.

    In saying that, I’ve always liked them, especially in V8/4-speed O.D. form.

    There are still plenty around NZ and even a reasonable V8/automatic example goes for a very affordable price.

    1+
    • Concinnity

      Not poorly executed, just made to British quality standards of the time. The Nelson assembled cars were quite well made.

      1+
      • Beatnik Bedouin

        Before moving to NZ in 1981, I used to work on British cars in SoCal. The standards were not all that flash.

        Your comment about the locally-assembled cars might explain the longevity of the P6 in NZ, combined with the fact that they were very much an upmarket car, here. Then again, I’ve seen some shocking stuff that was assembled in this country, when the vehicles were new…

        1+
  18. Michael

    I had 8 of these in the 70’s, a total blast! I never had problems with any of them. The problem is that people thought that you just drive without maintaining them. I had 1 2000sc, 5 tc’s, and 2 3500s’. I drove about 100 mi. in eastern wa. in 58 min. one time to get a friend to Coulee city. Had no problems, and got 28 mpg on reg. gas. Running out of gas was never a problem as the have a 1 gal. res. I had a 1980 3500 sd1 which I sold to Dirk and it can be seen in “Autoweek”, sorry I sold it. I still have a 1970 3500 s. Parts are very much available, at Rover car club of Canada.The carpets came from the same factory that made RRs’. They had separate braking systems, front and rear. Engine and tranny are mounted on break away bars so that they will be forced under the car, not into the passenger compartment. A built in roll cage. Horizontally mounted front suspension above the front tires, instead of bouncing up and down, the tires transmitted the force horizontally. The rear had a De Dion tube (a tube that floated inside of another tube, with 20 wt. oil) this allowed the outer wheel to float out, as it went around corners. As the outer wheel always tracks a wider corner than the inner, this gave the car a wider stance, and meant that you could go around corners much faster than American cars. A friend was driving my TC in Seattle with a “pushy” person in a white Chevy p/u trying to help us around a curve on an exit ramp. He tried to keep up as we slowly speed up, the last I saw was the p/u rolling on it’s side. I bought 1 3500 s for parts, it had been t-boned by a Ford, the fire dept. could not open the drivers door, until the lady asked “would you like me to unlock the door?), they did not notice that it was locked! When she unlocked it, it opened without a problem, it was still driveable. The Ford had to be hauled away, and the driver went to the hospital. I nearly had a wreck one time, I was late for work and speeding on I-405 when a wasp (Washington state patrol) officer pulled out to chase me, except he pulled in front of me, as I stopped before I reached him. These are great cars, if you maintain them, as with any car! Volvo invented the 3 point seat belt. Unlike Volvo’s, Rover used aircraft belts, with a really great quick release system. Princes Grace was driving a Rover when she died. She died of a heart attack, and Princess Caroline, survived the accident. The car performed as it was designed to do.

    4+
  19. Pete

    Rimmer Bros in UK have most parts available. And normal maintenance will ensure reliability. Not a ton of torque but use the gears. Both sporting and comfy. On anything else than dead straight and level roads it wil keep up or outrun most contemporaries from the big three. With the V8 in later Vitesse form it will outrun all of them everywhere.

    2+
    • Concinnity

      Don’t worry about the Vitesse motor. Go straight for the 4.6 out of a P38 RangeRover combined with the ZF auto.https://classicroverforum.net/index.php?threads/4-6-gets-the-green-light.41681/
      Or with the manual box like this one

      1+
      • Sirpike

        The 4.6 is just a bored and stroked ( derivative ) of the old Buick 3.5 ! Just throw a 350ci Chevy lump in it …

        0
      • Concinnity

        That the 4.6 is a bored and stroked 3.5/215 is correct. So it weighs about the same and is completely interchangeable. It just has more power and torque. A SBC is waay heavier, by hundreds of pounds, and would destroy the 50%/50% weight distribution these cars have. Besides, lots of these conversions have been done and they are well known and straightforward, there is a huge base of knowledge to help you.

        2+
  20. James P Bandy

    Roll Over Rover and do it again…

    Yea.yea…Have had three of these…really, really liked them…although I am a bit weird…but technology very interesting…I bought one each for my son and daughter when they reached 16years old…very, very safe car..but, but troublesome..As mentioned the DeDion rear end..good,good…inboard dis brakes a pain..but so does Jaguar..the front suspension very neat…engine OK..all of mine were manual transmission…(The little plastic ball on the end of the shifting lever always worn out or whatever…one 71 had vinyl seats..not leather..the ’71’s had two “bumps” on the hood…and a egg crate grill…..The English Police had them for awhile…but with mechanical problems…they dropped them…doors come off like Citroens…all in all neat car….but worth…This one…hummm $800.00 (Maybe)

    0
    • Concinnity

      The British Police didn’t drop them because of mechanical problems, they dropped them when they stopped making them. Before that happened, they over-ordered and stockpiled them. They were held in very high regard. That process was repeated later with the SD1.
      The rear brake pads are shared with the XKE/E-Type. The same part number.

      2+
      • Liam W

        You are correct. Most used as Police vehicles in the UK were V8 ‘S’ models. In the UK, S models are the manual transmission models, whereas in other countries like the US, you could get an ‘S’ model with automatic transmission. UK Police also used other engine variants of the P6, though not in any great numbers in comparison to the V8 model.

        1+
  21. funfunfer Member

    Ah, the Barn Finds story hour. My dad’s white/red was a factory delivery, non-TC. If this one were the same color I’d have to buy it. IIRC the 3-point harnesses was made by the Irwin Parachute Company. They saved my teenage butt when I put the car in a ditch. Properly repaired, I eventually ended up with the car, an 80 mile commute, and the ongoing curse of Lucas electonics. Had to sell it to a guy who thought he was getting a “low cost Jag.”

    1+
    • Michael

      The trick was to replace the gages, convert the su’s to webber, or as on my v8 to a carb. On my 70 3500s, other than the ice alert every thing works, I do have some spares though.

      0
  22. Sirpike

    Well at least the bonnet / hood , boot / trunk won’t rust anytime soon !

    0
    • Liam W

      Only the hood and bootlid were Aluminium or Aluminum if you are in the US!

      2+
  23. GearHead Engineering

    Gone! Looks like it sold.

    – John

    1+
  24. Liam W

    Great cars which I have some knowledge and experience of. Unfortunately, reading through many of the comments above including the orignal write up, it is always clear when people who have never owned one or had first hand experience of a car, do a write up based only on information sourced from the internet or old magazine articles. Finding parts for these cars is not difficult! There are several places in the UK doing used and new re produced parts for these cars now. I currently own 2 V8 models, and have owmed a total of 5 of these cars, including the 2000SC and the 2200TC. The V8 is a torquey car and can keep up with the best of them! It is an engine that has seen many years of success in several British cars. As someone correctly stated, if maintained correctly these are a very reliable car, especially the V8 model, though it is pretty obvious if cars are maintained correctly they will be far more reliable than any machine which is neglected! It was the first car to win the ‘European Car Of The Year Award’ in 1964, and when released, was one of the safest cars in the World.

    1+
    • Michael

      I’m getting older, I had 9, I forgot my 67′ 2000sc, the one with the sticker “By appointment to her majesty queen Elisabeth the 2nd”. If it’s good enough for her, I’m ridin in style!

      1+
  25. duke

    i really really wish everyone here in the USA would stop calling the 3.5 the Buick engine
    GM sold everything to the Brits in the early 60s right after they came out with the engine-GM had the engine for less than 2 years and it went to the UK
    ever since then its been 100% British – the Brits managed to use it in everything from the rovers to land rovers to range rovers to triumphs to the mg line too—-its British…the displacement grew through the years too….
    while this being of USA origin and the narrow-minded installing a 4 barrel carb and different intake onto the engine….making it look like crap i might add—-
    the 4 carbs that were on these 3.5 V8 engined would give you amazing power and throttle response if they were set up properly

    1+
    • Concinnity

      Even Rover called it the Buick engine, the P5 with the V8 became the P5B, likewise the P6 and P6B. The B stands for Buick. Rover did redo the manufacturing process to go from diecasting around the liners, with it’s higher failure rate, to sandcasting with pressed in liners
      Rover’s carbed V8s all had twin SUs except the race cars with quad Webers. 🙂

      1+
    • michael

      My 1969 3500s only had 2 SU’s, not 4! My other 2 had already been converted to carbs, which worked very well and were easy to keep tuned. Either way I still enjoy the 3500s. As I am in the desert in eastern Washington, rust is not a problem. I saw a comment about the rear slipping , never happened and I drove mine as fast as possible! I drove in Seattle’s rain, snow, with Samson tires from Isreal, best tires ever. Never needed to put on snow tires, the Sampson went every where.

      1+
  26. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Rover P6. I’ve seen pictures of these cars, but regrettably, I’ve never seen one in person. I love the early models with the horizontal speedometer.

    0
  27. Mitch Ross

    I had on of those when I was in college, it started every time, only issue I had was that it kept eating generators (1966) due to the generator having a brass ring for a rear bushing rather than a roller bearing. I do remember the low power to weight ratio, once I was taking off from a light,foot to the floor, reving it out and quick shifting the box when I looked to my left, there was an old guy in a LeSabre with his arm resting on the back of his seat, not just driving normally and accelerating faster than me

    1+
  28. Russ

    It wasn’t just the fenders and rear quarters that unbolted on these – the rear pillars and even the roof panel unbolted, too! I knew of a guy back in the late 80s who was ‘restoring’ one and did everything on his driveway as he had no garage and then took every panel and painted them in his dining room! He sheeted it in plastic – floor, walls and ceiling and hung the panels on wires to spray them. Yes, he was married and his wife ok’d it as long as the dining room got a full makeover afterwards. Must have taken ages to lose the smell of the paint, even if he had patio doors open…

    1+

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