Rover P5

Rover P5 1960s British classic saloon car

The Rover P5 was transport par excellence. For years, it moved the great and the good. Government ministers - and top civil servants - parked themselves and their briefcases on its sumptuous seats. Security staff - at Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace - would have detected the purr of its engine a mile away. On grand occasions, then, the presence of a P5 or two was a given.

The P5 was impeccably drafted by David Bache. Its exterior was the pinnacle in saloon car sophistication. Sober lines and hues exuded gravitas. The interior, too, bespoke quality. The materials used said it all. The P5's dash was fashioned from African cherry wood. Its carpet was Wilton. There was almost a glut of luxury leather ... but not quite, of course! The P5 was a baronial mansion on wheels. The pliancy of its ride mirrored the subtlety of its styling. That was largely because the Rover P4's separate chassis was now history. The P5 was so-named because it was 'post-war design number 5'.

Seemingly, the Rover P5 was the quintessence of 'Englishness'. Ironically - from '67 onward, at least - America lay just beneath the surface. A 3.5-litre Buick engine had been installed. It brought some much-needed 'poke' to the P5 package. Previously, it had been powered by a 3-litre motor. The Buick V8 made 185bhp. P5 top speed increased to 110mph. Rover purchased the powerplant from GM. They got it at a knock-down price - when it became surplus to GM requirements. Now, not only could it ferry the crème de la crème to their soirées - it could get them there on time! Transmission of this American-sourced speed was via a 3-speed auto. Should any problems occur en route, Rover provided a toolkit. It was discreetly tucked away in the dashboard. Not that the P5's passengers would have had a clue what to do with it! Many of the key decisions of our times could not have been made without the Rover P5. And for that, we must all be thankful ... I think!

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