As the 1940s were coming to a close, Rover had to take stock and rethink how it was going to make cars. The war had been hard on Rover, with factories bombed into oblivion. And of those that weren’t, the new Land Rover was taking up production space. Car production wasn’t something Rover had been able to really focus on for some time given what was going on in the world. But it couldn’t let that be an excuse. Rover was a proud and important brand, and it needed to rise up again. But cars like the antiquated P3 weren’t the way to do it. Rover needed something new, something fresh and something that would inspire confidence and desire in the brand.
Penned by Gordon Bashford, the P4 as it was known internally was a revolutionary car. It embodied the emerging styles of the time like pontoon styling, but while still retaining plenty of traditional elements such as chrome and acres of wood and leather inside. The P4 was a bold, exciting car and one that we flocked to.
The lineup of P4 models started with the six-cylinder 75 in 1949, followed by the four-cylinder 60 and the 2.6 litre six-cylinder 90 in 1954. The latter of which being the car we have for auction here. The top of the line, highest specification model.
In late 1954, the P4 range was given an overhaul, which brought with a new, bigger, three-piece rear window, a bigger boot and the addition of indicators rather than trafficators. And in 1956, the P4 was changed again, this time with new front wings complete with separate side lights and indicator units. Being a 1959 model, the car listed for auction here has all those late features.
Fires registered on the 11th of July, 1959, this Rover 90 remained with its first owner until 1990, at which point it was sold and kept for a decade before being sold once again. It would seem, going off what the current vendor tells us, that those ten years and the following five until 2005 were hard on the old Rover. When the current vendor’s father acquired the car in 2005, it was in need of a complete restoration. Happily though, that’s exactly what the car got.
Always an avid buyer, driver and fixer of old cars, the vendor’s father had owned several old Rovers in the past, so was unfazed by the condition of the 90 when he got it. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to save a once wonderful old car. With a good history and small number of owners, it was rough but honest. The perfect base for a restoration.
The 90 was stripped down, and any and all rot and rust were cut out and replaced with new metal. The body was prepped, filled, fettled and finally painted in yellow over grey, and then the car was reassembled. As far as we can ascertain, the engine is original, as is the interior trim. Though obviously there were works carried out to all aspects of the car, not just the aesthetics. The suspension, brakes and electrics have all been checked, repaired or replaced where needed.
Completed a few years ago, the 90 was put into regular use, both as a daily driver and as a car to take to shows. Beloved by its owner, it was kept in excellent condition over the coming years, resulting in the car as you see it now. It still resides in a warm, dry garage when not in use.
Sadly, the vendor’s father who so adored this car recently passed away, and as such they are looking to find a caring, appreciative home for this really rather lovely classic. In excellent order, all the hard work has been done. But it is now time for it to start a new chapter with someone who will care for it in the same way the vendor’s father so passionately did.
There is plenty. The chap who restored the car was most definitely one for keeping hold of every bit of paperwork relating to the car. As such, there is a folder brimming with documentation relating to all the works carried out on the car. There are also photographs present of the 90 during the restoration, giving you the knowledge of exactly what was done to this old car in the past.
Looking through the paperwork, there are old MOTs, there are myriad invoices for things like the new shocks, drop links, brake lines, battery and so on. There are invoices for a new exhaust manifold, new tyres, paint, new ignition equipment. The list goes on. Basically, with this Rover 90, you have its full life on paper, including snippets and photographs of when the car has been in club magazines, which is a lovely thing to have.
Open the door and slide and you’re in perfectly period surroundings. With just enough enough wear to add charm, but not so much as to make it seem battered and old, it’s a charming, comfortable place to be. Details are difficult to drill down, as the current vendor wasn’t a huge part of the car’s restoration. However, we would be confident in saying that the red leather interior in this 90 is the original trim and looks as though none has been replaced. There is some wear to the door cards, and to the carpets. One front seat has a small tear in it (pictured) and as such, it all smacks of being the original interior. The same goes for the dash, the remote gear change and all the switchgear. It’s all very honest and very ‘right’.
Nothing appears to be broken, nothing seems to be missing either. It all seems dry, with no signs of damp at all. All the windows work, too. However, bidders should note that we were unable to open the offside rear ‘suicide’ door - in trying to do so, it was evident the door has perhaps slipped on its hinges, and thus needs adjustment.
Opening all the other doors, the mechanisms, the hinges and the sills all looked solid and all functioned. The base of the A and B pillars looked solid, though the latter might need some cleaning and paint as there is some corrosion creeping through. But certainly nothing sinister.
Finally, we have the boot. We were unable to get in too far, as the car is still full of tools and manuals and other motoring paraphernalia. However, the floors, outer edges, locks and catches were all reasonably accessible and all in excellent order. Furthermore, the vendor tells us that all those tools etc in the boot will come with the car.
As you can see from the pictures, this 1959 Rover 90 presents extremely well. The paintwork is in generally excellent order, the chrome is all present and correct as are all the correct badges, fixings and fittings. Obviously being an older restoration, the Rover has picked up some age over recent years, but nothing hugely detrimental. There is a scrape on the nearside lower rear quarter, but in terms of issues with the paint, that seems to be about all there is to report. The rest has clearly been expertly applied and to a high standard, as it’s neat and uniform across the car. The panel gaps are good (with the exception of the rear door mentioned earlier), all the looks and handles work and all the glass is in good order.
The all-important chrome is all present, and while there is some slight pitting on show, it’s largely presentable and is certainly free of any serious corrosion or issue. It certainly presents well, which is the main thing.
Looking underneath the car, there is some surface corrosion on some components, which is to be expected. But by and large, it’s clean, tidy and with no sign of any damage or corrosion. The jacking points are solid, the floors too. New suspension components can be seen up front, and the inner arches both front and back are solid though some previous restoration work can be seen.
All four wheels have been painted and wear recent rubber, and all are in excellent condition and are complete with the central chromed hubcaps.
All in all, this is an exceptionally handsome, well-restored car that any classic car enthusiast would be happy to own. The yellow over grey colouring suits it to a tee, but also helps make the big car seem somewhat lighter and less intimidating than its siblings painted in more muted hues.
The big 2.6 straight-six engine, which delivers 93hp in original trim, fires into life with ease and settles into a deep, burbling idle happily. There are no grumbles, no bangs and no knocks. The indicated mileage of 85,844 is almost certainly accurate.
We’re told the car pulls well, and that the four-speed transmission works well (though be aware that this model doesn’t have overdrive, nor does it have a synchro on first). The brakes are all in good order, having been renewed in recent years. The same can be said of the suspension, of which a great many components are again new.
It’s on the button and ready to be driven. The vendor informs us that the car was used in all weathers and at all times of the year, and never failed to get the driver where he was going. The byline of Rover in later years was ‘engineering in a finer form’ but it turns out, looking at this Rover 90, that that was the case for a long, long time. It seems to be in rude mechanical health and should do its next owner a good turn of service.
This 1959 Rover 90 is a car that has been brought back from the brink, and been cherished ever since. It’s a car that has a rich and detailed history, and one that stands today in excellent condition. It’s ready to be driven, ready to be paraded about at shows and ready to be loved and enjoyed. One had to consider that this sale has only been brought on by the unfortunate passing of its owner. Were it not for that, he would still be driving this beautiful old car around.
It’s now time to pass the car on though, and the vendor is hoping that one of you bidding on this will be the person to give the Rover 90 the home it deserves. If you want a car to cherish, and one to enjoy just as the last owner did, there are few finer than this 90.
Notice to bidders
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sales of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
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