Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

| 24 Jul 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

Why you’d want a Rover P6

The P6 shocked Britain with its innovative construction, all-round disc brakes, all-synchro ʼbox, de Dion rear suspension, radial tyres and advanced overhead-cam engine.

It was a huge leap of faith for Rover, which, buoyed by Land-Rover sales, had invested more than £10m to double the size of the Solihull factory to build it.

Rover had toyed with base-unit construction as early as 1953. The hull was designed to carry suspension loads into the centre, with a hugely strong bulkhead.

Unusual front suspension provided space for the gas-turbine engines Rover was developing, though these wouldnʼt reach production.

Another advance was paint applied by electrostatic deposition: wastage was 2% compared to 60% with air spraying.

The new four-cylinder engine featured a ʻsquareʼ bore and stroke, with hemispherical combustion chambers built into the pistons.

The overhead cam was driven by two Duplex chains, while the de Dion rear suspension combined the unsprung-weight advantages of independent with the upright wheels of a live axle.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

The extruded aluminium grille was a production first; other modern touches included a one-piece plastic ʻleather-grainʼ dash and Formica imitation-wood trim.

The supremely comfortable seats offered a huge range of adjustment for the driver, along with steering-wheel height; an excellent heating and ventilation system completed the package.

Road testers loved it: ʻComfort is the keynote,ʼ eulogised Motor. ʻFrom the point of view of ride, we would put it in the top three amongst European cars irrespective of price.ʼ

The 2000TC was a bit ʻedgyʼ for most buyers: with 10:1 compression and twin SUs, it needed 100-octane fuel.

In ʼ68 the V8 brought effortless power with an auto ʼbox – and when the manual 3500S came on the P6ʼs eighth birthday, Motor was in raptures: ʻAn unrivalled combination of high performance with reasonable economy, good handling and roadholding.ʼ

The four-cylinder engine became oversquare with the 2200 in 1973, boosting performance and flexibility.

Many components in the motor, drivetrain and rear end were strengthened to cope with the increased torque and the TC became less peaky, with reduced compression and smaller carbs.

It was smooth and flexible, and significantly more refined than before.

Images: James Mann

Rover P6: what to look for

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

Trouble spots

Please see above for what to look for before you check out any classic Rover P6 for sale.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6


The all-new, modern, overhead-cam ‘four’ kept the P6 competitive for 14 years, aided by an overbore in 1973.

The 3.5-litre V8 added plenty of power, and both are durable engines with no major vices.

Look for signs of overheating or head-gasket failure, especially on V8s, and listen for rumbles and knocks heralding rebuild time.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6


The all-new, all-synchro four-speed ’box was strong and would be uprated for the 3500S and 2200.

Auto ‘fours’ are a bit gutless, but the V8 pulls well.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6


Discs were state-of-the-art, but inboard rears can seize if not used, especially the handbrake.

Dunlop parts (to 1966) are rare, but can be updated to later Girling.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6


Leather trim, standard on 2000s and early V8s, lasts well, as does 3500S Ambla; box-pleat nylon is less durable.

Look out for missing or broken items.

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6


Base-unit rot can hide behind tidy outer panels, so beware.

One good indication is where the rear arch panel is also the door-shut face: check for rust or repairs.

Rover P6: before you buy

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

Both four-cylinder and V8 engines can exceed 100,000 miles between rebuilds if kept well serviced: check for excessive oil breathing, leaks, rumbles and knocks that signal a rebuild is due.

Low power can be down to a worn cam and related components, especially on V8s.

Itʼs vital to maintain corrosion-inhibitor levels in the coolant and check for signs of a clogged radiator: V8s are prone to head-gasket failure due to internal corrosion.

Aluminium heads mean there should be few issues with unleaded fuel, but itʼs important that rubber/nylon parts in the lines have been updated to resist ethanol.

TCs and early V8s really need super unleaded: Rover specified 100-octane for 2000TCs.

How many owners or mechanics now know to clean the top timing-chain tensioner filter at 20,000 miles, and to check the steering box and de Dion tube oil levels every 10,000miles?

Ensure the de Dion tubeʼs rubber gaiter is intact because grit can get in and cause rapid wear.

Driver-orientated details included a slow initial throttle opening for better control, doors hinged on easily adjusted spherical joints, and just one grease point.

Over-engineered, the 2000 came with large Dunlop disc brakes that were more than adequate for its weight and performance – and an exceptionally good handbrake, too.

Girling brakes with harder pads and a larger servo were fitted from 1966, among many improvements that included negative-earth electrics and twin reversing lights; a crossflow radiator arrived in 1968.

Rover P6 price guide


  • 2000: £500/4000/10,000
  • 2000TC: £750/5000/12,000
  • 3500: £1000/5000/13,000
  • 3500S: £2000/7000/20,000 

2200s worth c20% less than 2000s; prices correct at date of original publication

Rover P6 history

1963 Rover 2000: leather seats, single carb

1966 2000TC: new head, manifolds, wire-wheel option (alloys in US); 2000 Automatic

1966 FLM Panelcraft estate (c150 to 1976)

1968 Three Thousand Five: auto, firmer suspension, bigger radiator/brakes/wheels

1969 3500S for US market: power steering, electric windows, air-con (2043 built to ’71)

1970 MkII: new grille, bonnet, trim, dials (except SC); power-steering option on V8

1971 3500S for UK/Europe: manual, Ambla seats, vinyl roof, spoked wheeltrims

1973 2200 replaces 2000, with stronger running gear; 3500S seats now nylon

1976 Final 150 V8s in Platinum; V8 production ends July,2200December

The owner’s view

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

“I’ve only recently got back into cars,” admits Bryan Lawlor, “after arthritis made my previous hobby of archery impossible.

“As a kid of eight years old I used to wash cars locally – a neighbour had a P6 and I loved to clean it and would sit in it for hours, looking at the dashboard and pretending to drive.

“I’d always wanted a red one and prefer the Mk1 with the aluminium grille and simpler bonnet.

“I’ve had more than 60 cars over the years and traded a Marina GT for this: my wife isn’t a car person but she loves the Rover and won’t let me sell it.

“I love the comfort and futuristic design – I can still sit looking at it for hours, it’s just beautiful. It’s so easy to work on and handles well for a big car.

“This one is very original: it only had three previous owners who all cherished it. I’ve changed the starter, the solenoid and the battery chasing an electrical glitch, but otherwise I’ve just enjoyed it.”

Also consider

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6
Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

The Volvo 144/164 (left) and Triumph 2000 are alternative buys

VOLVO 144/164

With single/twin-carb options on the 1.8 or 2.0 ‘four’, alongside 3-litre ‘six’ (both with fuel injection at the end), the rugged Volvo became a strong rival. Two- and five-door versions boosted sales.

Sold 1966-’75 • No. built 1,360,179 • Price now £3-12,000*


Rover’s toughest UK rival became its bedfellow and sold in similar numbers. Another very competent family car, but rust again is the challenge. Prices are reasonable and back-up is strong.

Sold 1963-’77 • No. built 316,653 • Price now £2-10,000*

*Prices correct at date of original publication

Rover P6: the Classic & Sports Car verdict

Classic & Sports Car – Buyer’s guide: Rover P6

Rover P6s are thoroughly usable classic cars and, after decades in the doldrums, really exceptional 3500Ss are hitting some high prices – but there are still plenty of very good cars to be found for much less.

There are also many neglected, bodged cars out there, so check very carefully for the most unmolested and structurally sound example possible.

A good history is desirable, but current condition is much more important.


  • Comfortable, quiet and reasonably lively
  • Healthy enthusiast and parts back-up
  • The P6 is one of the more painless classics to own and is ideal family transport



  • With values still low, restoration of the complex structure costs far more than the end result will be worth, so beware

Rover P6 specifications

  • Sold/number built 1963-’77/329,066
  • Construction steel monocoque base unit, steel and aluminium panels
  • Engine iron-block, alloy-head, ohc 1978/2205cc ‘four’, or all-alloy, ohv 3528cc V8, with single/twin SU carburettors
  • Max power 91bhp @ 5000rpm to 153bhp @ 5000rpm
  • Max torque 115lb ft @ 2500rpm to 204lb ft @ 2750rpm
  • Transmission four-speed manual or three-speed Borg-Warner auto, RWD
  • Suspension: front independent, by lower wishbones, upper leading arms, anti-roll bar rear de Dion, trailing/leading arms as Watt linkages, Panhard rod; coils, telescopics f/r
  • Steering cam-and-roller, optional power assistance on V8s
  • Brakes discs, with servo
  • Length 14ft 11in-15ft ½in (4547-4585mm)
  • Width 5ft 5½-7¼in (1664-1708mm)
  • Height 4ft 7-8½in (1397-1435mm)
  • Wheelbase 8ft 7¾in (2635mm)
  • Weight 2772-2923lb (1260-1329kg)
  • 0-60mph 20.8-9.3 secs
  • Top speed 96-122mph
  • Mpg 17-29
  • Price new £1723-2104 (1972)


All Classic & Sports Car buyer’s guides

Saloon bar brawn: Rover P6 3500S vs Triumph 2.5 PI MkII

Separated at birth: Saab 99 vs Triumph Dolomite