The wild Rover

It was good to see your recent photo of a Rover P6 racing at Silverstone, because this year is the model's 50th anniversary.

The registration number, JXC 808D, is original and shows that it was an ex-engineering department car and the eighth pre-production example built. Rover used specific registration numbers for pre-production cars: singlecarburettor 2000s were JXC 101D, 102D etc; twin-carb cars were 201, 202 etc and V8 cars 801, 802 and so on. My steering and suspension section car was 809D.

In early 1969 808D was loaned to Peter Browning's Competition Department at Abingdon to try it out as a rallycross car, but a couple of outings with Geoff Mabbs driving were not a big success and the car was returned to Solihull. In June that year William Martin-Hurst, Rover's MD, asked me to drive 808D in an autocross to see if it could beat his son Richard in his Rover V8-engined Escort rally car. Heavy rain proved it could not. 808D then went to Bill Shaw Racing to be built into its present form for Roy Pierpoint, who won races before the car was sold to Alec Poole. It was replaced by JXC 806D, which caused a sensation when it retired from the 1970 Marathon de la Route at the Niirburgring with a three-lap lead.

Rob Lyall, Ettington, Warks