1977 Rover 3500


・Genuine Metropolitan Police provenance
・Fresh from a bare-metal restoration with engine rebuild
・Finished in original police colours
・In West London all its life

The Background

Rover: a name associated with dependability, comfort and tradition. Its P4 and P5 models upheld traditional English styling and quality standards in the years after the war, when many mass-market marques were pursuing cheaper production methods and Americanised styling. As one of the last fully independent British car-makers (until 1967), it was able to act on its own terms, and as such its cars possessed a unique character steeped in old-fashioned quality, with regal styling and interiors which were havens of wood and leather.

However, the P6 model, designed by Rover’s in-house stylist David Bache and launched at the 1963 Earl’s Court Motor Show, marked a change of direction. There was to be no more upright styling and curvaceous edges. The P6, was crisp, low and rather rakish, with its aggressive shark-nosed front, and the design echoed the latest products of the best Italian styling houses. Under the bonnet could be equally surprising. The 2000 model featured a conventional straight-four, but where the higher-end model would once have used a heavy straight-six, in 1967 the 3500 was introduced with the all-new compact 3½-litre Rover V8. Developed by Rover from a Buick design, it would have a long and celebrated life, appearing in Land Rovers, TVRs and other vehicles well into the 21st century.

The initial plan had been to bridge the gap between mid-market 1½-litre saloons and less affordable three-litres, targeting prosperous young white-collar workers as buyers. In successfully marrying big-car luxury with medium-car usability, the P6 found itself winning the first ever European Car of the Year Award in 1964. In 1970, the Mark II appeared with minor styling changes including a new grille. Various police forces ran fleets of 3500s, and they left their impression on popular culture with prominent appearances in crime shows and films such as The Sweeney, The Professionals, Get Carter and Villain. Production ended in 1977 after 322,202 P6s of all models had been built.

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The History

This car has a fascinating past, having been ordered new by the Metropolitan Police and stationed at Northolt, West London, and it has special police-specification front suspension to show for it. It was one of the last 50 P6s ordered by the Metropolitan Police as it began to replace them with a fleet of new Rover SD1s. Unfortunately, we don’t know the details of its service life, but it was eventually decommissioned and sold into private hands.

The vendor, who is the sixth owner, discovered it in 2018 in a block of garages next-door to his house when they were due to be demolished and knew it had to be saved. He reached an agreement with the contractors to purchase it and set about restoring it to its former glory after it had been sitting, the vendor believes, for upwards of 15 years.

The vendor set about stripping the car back to the bare metal, during which he discovered the holes where police aerials and the roof beacon would have been fitted, and embarked on a mechanical restoration which included an engine rebuild. Having completed the project, he is now offering it for sale.

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The Paperwork

Having been rescued from obscurity, there is not a vast paperwork file, but it does include the newly-issued logbook and many invoices for parts and services used in the restoration. A British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate confirms its excellent provenance. Since completing the restoration earlier this year, the vendor has not submitted the car for an MOT.

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The Interior

Having spent so many years in storage, the Rover’s interior is in wonderfully preserved condition and almost entirely original. The leather seats have an attractive, age-related patina, but do not show any signs of damage beyond superficial creasing. The dash, centre console, steering wheel, doors and headlining are superb, with just a veneer of patina which suits them all very well. During the restoration, the vendor decided a couple of leather panels were too far gone so elected to replace them, and he also fitted a set of new carpets and new seatbelts. Period-correct speakers have been fitted and wired in, ready for a stereo to be fitted should the new owner desire one.

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The Exterior

Having been stripped back to the bare metal and repainted in its original police colours, the P6 now makes for a wonderful sight. The paint, of course, is excellent and the glass appears all to be in excellent condition, with new halogen headlights fitted. A particular interesting original feature is the tinted sun strip at the top of the windscreen. The vinyl roof is also in outstanding condition. The bumpers and door handles went off to be rechromed, so all the chrome looks much like new, save for the boot handle which retains a light patina. The boot lid is of the kind intended to carry a spare tyre on top, although the vendor advises that he did not affix the spare tyre to the outside for security reasons. The vendor did not cut corners with his restoration, and bidders will be pleased to note that he fully undersealed the underside for the best protection from the elements.

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The Mechanics

We can confirm that this car runs and drives nicely, and that’s to be expected given all the mechanical work the vendor has undertaken, which includes:

  • full engine rebuild
  • rear suspension and axle checked and rebuilt, with new bushes and rubbers
  • Borg-Warner automatic gearbox checked and adjusted where necessary
  • full brake overhaul including new discs, pads and linings and reconditioned calipers
  • renewed handbrake
  • reconditioned alternator
  • stainless steel exhaust
  • electric fuel pump
  • recorded and upgraded radiator
  • fuel pump cleaned and ethanol-compliant hoses fitted.

After all that, this may be one of the best P6s in the country mechanically, and the police-specification front suspension is a bonus.

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The Appeal

The sharp styling of the Rover P6 has always made it a very attractive car, especially since it was the product of some truly original thinking at Rover. To drive a P6 told people that you possessed a far more modern outlook than anyone in a Jaguar. Then, when the 3500 came along with all that power readily available, it was undoubtedly the car to have. Although hundreds were issued to police forces up and down the country, survivors today are few and far between, which makes them extremely covetable. Being fresh from a bare-metal restoration, this car should be good for thousands of miles of happy motoring, and you’ll have fun pondering just what adventures it might have had when in active service.

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. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale 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 seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1977
  • Make Rover
  • Model 3500
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 59,948 Miles
  • Engine size 3528
  • Location Middlesex
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
12 bids from 8 bidders
  • Magictx•••• £11,500 28/10/21
  • delica1•••• £9,950 28/10/21
  • fiat595•••• £9,700 27/10/21
  • wilkins•••• £9,600 27/10/21
  • fiat595•••• £9,500 26/10/21
  • ray.tho•••• £9,250 26/10/21
  • tom-mur•••• £9,000 22/10/21
  • tom-mur•••• £7,000 22/10/21
  • tony-ro•••• £5,500 22/10/21
  • tom-mur•••• £5,000 22/10/21

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