Having regard to the controversy which followed the introduction of the Rover 3,500S in September 1972, I thought that some readers may be interested to hear of the practical aspects of the car, after 12 months and 14,650 miles running.
On taking delivery, on January 10th, 1972, I found that there was quite an extensive dent in the luggage boot lid, the steering wheel was mounted some 10 deg. out of true, the special plug spanner and the third steering lock key, to which reference is made in the literature, were absent, and there was a persistent misfire at 1,400 r.p.m. when accelerating. So much for Agents pre-delivery checks!
The 1,000 mile Free Inspection produced a third key, but no plug spanner (I still haven’t got one!) and the mis-fire was as bad as ever. Indeed it was not before two visits to the local Joseph Lucas depot, without avail that, on the advice of a friend, I fitted a set of Champion L92Y sparking plugs, that the engine fired regularly on all eight cylinders.
Having overcome these difficulties, I really started to enjoy my motoring. The engine starts instantly, even on the coldest day, and runs sweetly throughout the speed range. Acceleration, which is the performance feature I value most, is superb, whilst brakes and suspension are excellent. On one occasion, whilst cruising at 70 m.p.h. on the M1, I had to brake and swerve simultaneously in a most violent fashion, to avoid a plank, which had been travelling on the back of a lorry, and which became airborne in my direction. The car reacted magnificently, and I was indeed glad that this emergency had not arisen whilst I was driving a lesser vehicle. I have no doubt that the Rover is one of the safest cars in the world. My one complaint, in respect of handling, is that the steering is very heavy at low speeds, and power steering seems to be most desirable.
About servicing: When 6,000 miles came up the car was running so well that I decided not to entrust it to a garage—and risk it coming out worse than it went in—but to service it myself. This I did, except that I did not consider it necessary to change the engine oil, or to renew the filter clement. Again at 12,000 miles, I decided on a D.I.Y. exercise, except that on this occasion, I had the engine oil changed, and the filler clement renewed. Petrol-consumption has worked out at 22.93 m.p.g. overall, whilst on one occasion, cruising at 70 m.p.h. on Motorways and good class-A roads, I averaged 28.8 m.p.g. Most of my running has consisted of short journeys, otherwise no doubt, a higher average figure would have been obtained. Oil consumption has been virtually nil. Tyre wear has been modest, and an average life of 25,000 miles seems likely. Total expenditure on servicing has been £10.22—and this includes a tyre repair, when I picked up a nail in the first few hundred miles, and two sets of sparking plugs (at cut price, of course) the first of which produced no improvement. In recent times, it has become fashionable to compare the 3,500S with the larger of the BMWs. Can anyone provide a comparison, at the mileage above mentioned? I note from the article “Ten European Capitals in Four Days” that the BMW 3.0 CSI coupé recorded 15.13 m.p.g., and suffered heavy tyre wear—admittedly driven hard. I also note that it costs £6,399—almost three times as much as the 3,500S. What do you get for the extra £4,192?
I. F. C. Beswick.