11 January 2013

Prototype '67 Rover had a short life

Having written last week about the 15 Marauders created by Spen King and Gordon Bashford, it came to my attention that they also were responsible for the 1958 Rover T3 gas turbine car.
Due to my obsession with the Alvis motor cars, it was a delight to discover that when Rover took control of Alvis in 1965, King and Bashford were given the task of designing a fast mid-engine Rover sports car that would be assembled by Alvis. This was literally done in their spare time from the end of their desks.
The project was code-named ‘P6BS’ because it would incorporate the chassis and suspension from the P6 Rover (the 2000) and the BS — not what most of us use the term for — stood for Buick Sports or Special because it would use the Buick 215 cid V8 engine used and modified by Rover under licence from General Motors.
The mid-engine, 3.5-litre V8 engine was fitted longitudinally with a five-an-a-half inch offset to make room for a single rear seat. Due to the lack of a transmission tunnel, the front seating position had a spacious feel about it. The BS also offered ample trunk space and excellent all-around rear and side visibility.
It was a car built using bits and pieces from other production cars: the thin-backed bucket-seats came from the Series I E-Type Jaguar; the steering rack from the much cheaper Vauxhall Viva; the rear suspension was an adapted Rover 2000 DeDion tube using a Watts linkage; and to make this high-speed car stop, four-wheel disc brakes were fitted.
King was fond of using single-angle panels rather than complicated compound curves, a design trait of his which was seen a few years later in the Range Rover
The project was scrapped in 1968, killed off by Sir William Lyons during the British Leyland merger. Some speculated that Lyons was frightened that the very fast Rover P6BS would show up his beloved E-Type Jaguar.
I recently had the pleasure of viewing the only surviving prototype P6BS at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon. If you are ever in the midlands area of England, I would highly recommend a visit or perhaps an electronic visit at heritage-motor-centre.co.uk

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