﹒Mille Miglia qualifying ﹒2230cc in-line six-cylinder engine with a single carburettor ﹒Restored between 2011 - 2016 ﹒Paperwork includes the original bill of sale
Don’t be deceived by the ‘aunty’ Rover nickname, it’s derived from a compliment by legendary Mille Miglia winner Denis ‘Jenks’ Jenkinson after a Rover P4 had made a particularly tortuous journey seem “just as if going to Aunty's for tea”. This car was loved by the royal and the powerful and is a British motoring icon. The ‘Aunty Rover’ could see you taking part in the modern Mille Miglia. And it has suicide doors!
The 1955 version of the P4 saw a facelift to Gordon Bashford’s design by David Bache. Bache introduced the three-section wraparound rear window, indicator lights replaced trafficators and it got a raised, bigger boot.
This car is powered by the 2230cc in-line six-cylinder engine with a single carburettor.
The restoration work was done mostly between 2011 and 2016 by the previous owner, the seventh. The car has been resprayed in its original Sage Green colour. Various new chrome parts were sourced and the front grille was re-chromed. New Lucas P700 headlamps were fitted.
Paperwork includes the original bill of sale and invoices for work carried out by the current owner. There is a handbook, a workshop manual and a parts catalogue, all in good condition.
The interior has the optional two-seat arrangement at the front and has been fully re-trimmed in green Connolly leather with restored woodwork. All the window runners were re-felted during the restoration.
The whole of the interior is in good condition and very clean. The chromework is bright and all the levers are present and correct. It has the original tool tray under the passenger-side dash. The clock tells the correct time twice a day. The owner tells us the heater doesn’t work and the fuel gauge only operates between one-third full and empty. However, that is the most useful range.
The paintwork is good with few signs of rust and a couple of chips on the door edges. The finish is fine and there looks to be plenty of paint covering the metalwork. There is a hint of orange-peel effect near the edges of smaller panels and close to hard-to-polish curves but the overall effect is very shiny. The paint appears to have been well protected with wax.
The chrome parts that haven’t been replaced or re-plated wear their patina with pride. See the photo of the boot handle for example. But this doesn’t diminish the car’s appeal. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The glass shows minor scratches, as you’d expect on a 66-year-old car. Overall, the exterior looks like this old Rover is nowhere near its pension.
The fact that the car is stored in a warm, dry garage and hooked up to a CTEK battery charger meant that starting ‘on the button’ wasn’t a huge surprise. The engine ticked over very smoothly and quietly as the owner gave the oil time to circulate and warm up.
He took the car off the choke within a couple of miles and the engine revved cleanly through second and third gears, with the driver giving it its head by leaving his up-changes later than he would have with a modern car. “It likes to rev,” he said, and it did, settling down to an easy 60mph cruise once he’d selected fourth gear.
Like most cars of the era, driving is an engaging experience. The steering seems a little ponderous but the ride is smooth. The owner bought the car with his eye on entering the Mille Miglia but COVID-19 intervened and his long-term Rolls-Royce itch now needs to be scratched. “I’d looked at buying uprated steering and suspension parts to stiffen it up for the race but it’s perfect for bimbling down country roads just as it is,” he told us.
The inlet-over-exhaust engine is quiet even when being worked hard and the four-speed gearbox plus freewheel clutch behaved impeccably on our test drive. Mechanically it’s very sound, it had a new clutch at 66,000 miles as well as having the brake master cylinder replaced.
This Rover 75 looks the business, sitting confidently on the road with its slightly squared headlamp recesses and ‘suicide’ rear doors. It looks quintessentially English and the typical owner in 1955 would have been a well-to-do business-owner or bank manager. But today, the P4 is appealing to a rather racier customer, thanks to an Italian racing driver.
1955 was the year Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson won the Mille Miglia, the same year Paolo Lando Barsotti drove a P4 in the historic road race. As a result, this P4 is now eligible to enter the modern version of the event, which runs every year from Brescia in northern Italy.
As a passport to the Mille Miglia, this could be your most exciting aunty ever.
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