Rover Refinements

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Bill Boddy

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The Editor Drives the 2200TC and Re-appraises the 3500S

A Rover 2000TC proved to be an admirable Editorial car until it was pensioned off in favour of a BMW 2500, and subsequently a BMW 520i. It is still giving excellent service, having now covered an astronomical mileage, some of it with a caravan up behind, I am told. So it was nice to be in a Rover again, in this 70th anniversary year of this very British make, this time in the form of the 2200TC.

This is not much changed from the comfort and convenience I enjoyed over so many miles in the older model. The single o.h.c. engine, with its bucket tappets, fiat head, and combustion spaces in the piston crowns, gives 115 b.h.p., although at the same time as its size was increased from 1,978 to 2,205 c.c. the c.r. was dropped from 10 to 1 to 9 to I. There is ample acceleration now, yet the power unit remains very smooth. The same nice gear change, less notchy than before, is there, reverse guarded by that lift-up toggle. The minor controls, always so well arranged, are much the same, with small changes. Nicely-formed knobs on the facia control wipers, lighting, and the map and interior illumination. Two stalks do the rest; perhaps the wiper switch should be transferred there. When signalling a turn, the horn can be sounded inadvertently. The instruments are now behind a single transparent panel. There is a manual choke, and those useful knee-level wells and the fuel reserve tap remain. The comfortable seats, upholstered in soft brushed nylon, retain friction locks for the adjustable squabs and the steering column adjusts.

I thought the feel of this 2200TC more taut, its road-holding with the horizontal coil front springs and de Dion and Watt’s linkage rear-end superlative. There is strong understeer which renders the steering heavy in spite of the big-diameter steering wheel and although this is a quiet car the Dunlop SP Sport tyres made some hum. The transmission exhibited lost motion as the rather heavy clutch engaged but the high gearing is notable, the engine turning at only about 3,500 r.p.m. at 70 m.p.h. The luggage boot is ridiculously small, so that lid-mounting of the spare wheel is provided for, but the lid is very easy to open and it shuts gently, a Rover hall-mark. Fuel consumption is heavy, at 21.3 m.p.g. of 97-octane petrol. All in all, however, this is a very notable car, comfortable, fast, with a top speed of 107 m.p.h., having improved pick-up (0-60 m.p.h. in 1 1 sec.), yet being decently dignified. The all-disc servo brakes are light to apply, 15 gallons of fuel can be carried, and here for £2,681.64, VAT included, is a compact four-seater luxury saloon from those great Solihull engineers who cope equally well with four-wheel-drive, mid-engined coupes, and the turbine-car. My old Rover hardly ever asked for fresh Castrol and the 2200TC had consumed no oil in 600 miles, naturally.

The next Rover I tried was the 3500S. If this light-alloy V8-engined compact was American or Continental we would go crackers over it. For here is a beautifully-appointed 103.37 in.-wheelbase car capable of 0-60 m.p.h. in just over nine sec., with this pick-up going on up the speed range and a top pace of around 120 m.p.h. from its 3,528 c.c. engine, which sells for £3,203.94 with Dunlop Denovo tyres that call for no spare wheel and thus give a little more room in the boot! Power steering has to be used with these wide-base burst-proof tyres. I was trying the Rover V8 again (incidentally “V8” used to be a Ford protected trade-mark!) because the first test car got a curious weave-on and made its occupants sick. Rover did nothing to allay my criticism at the time but now I was able to convince myself that this characteristic was hardly noticeable on the re-submitted Denovoshod 3500S. Indeed, I took two 70-year-old ladies for a fast 200-mile run, putting them in the back seats after dinner, and they chatted happily all the time! So I can rate this another great Rover, for those who want the smoothness of eight cylinders and the much enhanced performance. Fuel thirst was 23.6 m.p.g., taking into account a small quantity of petrol lost when the fuel pump fell off and caused a traffic obstruction in Welshpool, a calamity expeditiously rectified by Messrs. Vincent Grenhous. Probably for the same reason a pint of oil was needed to restore the level of the sump after 350 miles.-W.B

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