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47 years of the SD1
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Review by Sally Sheldon
Club Activities Coordinator
The Rover SD1 Club has had a stand at the NEC for the last 6 years but 2008 was my first go at organising it. Planning for the NEC starts many months before the event, with stand application forms to fill in and looking for suitable cars with owners that are happy to participate. This year I was lucky. Two stunning SD1s had recently been returned to the road after meticulous rebuilds. Gary and Sharon Moreton’s Monza Red series 1.5 3500SE (Monza Red was its original colour even though not listed as a colour option for this car) and Simon Cockett’s “Vauxhall” grey metallic Vitesse. Mark Elliott kindly provided his very classy looking and unrestored Cashmere Gold series 1.5 3500SE (And yes, it really IS Cashmere, again not a listed colour for this car). Finally, to provide a contrast to the V8s, Hoppy Hopkins provided his series 2 2300 which has recently come out of 11 years storage. It has had 4 new wings and a respray and you would not believe how many people took a photo of the engine bay! There was hardly a minute when someone didn’t have their head stuck under the bonnet. Everyone knows about the V8 but it was so nice to see the public taking such an interest in this car.
All these beauties arrived on set up day in pouring rain. Dave, Stuart and I had already made several journeys to and from Coventry with the soft flooring, gazebo and other paraphernalia that has to be set up. Amazingly quickly we had the four cars positioned on the stand and flippin’ lovely they looked too. We were lucky to be allocated a bigger stand this year which meant we could have four cars instead of three and much more room to manoeuvre.
Friday dawned, the first day of the show, and I set off for the NEC with Mark Elliott who came to stay with us during the show. Now I wouldn’t mention this except that we had a most unusual journey…. After being stuck for about 20 minutes at roadworks with the traffic lights set at red in both directions, we were running a little late. However things got stranger…..Passing through Bromsgrove a few minutes later we saw a person walking a push bike, dressed in knee high brown boots, denim shorts, a white blouse, pink scarf…oh and a moustache…and about 100 yards further down the road we saw Robin, very obviously looking for Batman. 10 minutes later whilst cruising up the M42 at warp factor 8 it dawned on us that it was “Children in Need” day! It gave us something to laugh about for the rest of the day.
I must take this opportunity to thank Gary, Sharon, Mark, Hoppy and Simon for bringing their beautiful cars and also the club members that agreed to come and give us a hand looking after the cars while we escaped to visit one of the two sets of facilities that were decided to be “equidistant” from the stand to grab a coffee and admire the West Mercia Police SD1 in another hall.

Gary and Sharon Moreton’s 3500SE

Gary told me he purchased this Rover on the 6th July 2003. The car left the Solihull factory on the 18thseptember 1981, heading to a Rover dealer, Rocar ltd of Huddersfield. Here it spent 10 months unregistered before being sent to Longbridge central administration company vehicles sales block where it was registered on the 13th July 1982. It was used by Longbridge for approx 16 months before being transferred to Warners, a Rover dealer in Surrey. The car was then sold to the previous owner who owned it for 20 years before Gary bought it.

The car was totally original. The body shell and all the doors, tailgate and bonnet were very solid and the interior trim was in very good condition. The main problem areas were rotten inner and outer wheel arches and parts of the sills so the car was stripped down to nearly a bare shell and all four wings were removed. sandblasting was done on all rusty areas and the inner wheel arches were repaired with new metal.

New panels were fitted and all mechanical parts were stripped down, cleaned and painted etc with all nuts and bolts being re -electroplated.

The engine had done only 82000 miles from new and was still running fine but Gary decided to strip it down, mainly for cleaning purposes, and was rebuilt with new gaskets and seals, bearing shells, camshaft and followers etc.

He did the work with the help of a friend who is good with the bodywork side of things. The car then went to the paint shop (Cambridge Metallics) in Southport for painting in Monza Red, which was done in the following stages - first inside the engine bay etc then the outer shell and last of all the doors, tailgate and bonnet.

On arrival back from the paint shop the under body painting and anti corrosion treatment was done.

Then it was on with the rebuild, paying particular attention to detail and originality.

Hoppy Hopkin’s 2300

This car was built in Cowley (Oxford) in 1984. A 2300 model so doesn’t have a sunroof, front spoiler or carpets in the boot (as found in the 2300S) but does have the electric windows all round, electric aerial, power steering and a five speed manual gearbox.

Half of its 24 years have been spent in dry storage but was re-commissioned two years ago and then last winter was treated to an engine rebuild, new front & rear wings and a re-spray.

The 2350cc straight six engine produces only 32 BHP less than a carburettor V8 but is much less thirsty...! This car won “Best Series two 6 Cylinder” at the Club National Show at Crich earlier in the year.

Mark Elliott’s 3500SE

Seen here on Set up day, which also happened to be its birthday, “Douglas” is getting a pampering. The first registered owner of this car was BL Cars Canley, but the second owner, acquiring the car in 1982, was the RT HON Sir Douglas Falconer. Hence the name that Mark bestowed upon it!

Mark purchased the car in 2007 from a small family run garage in Saffron Walden following many emails and 100's of photos.

“Douglas” is original with no modern extras and still has the Philips 480 Turnlock MW/LW radio cassette and the Supercover sticker on the windscreen. The car was quite tidy when bought, requiring little work. Mark intends to keep Douglas as original as possible for as long as possible.

Simon Cockett’s Single Plenum Vitesse

Affectionately named “Jennifer” for obvious reasons, this car was purchased by Simon in October 2006. The rebuild started with a complete strip down to a bare shell to assess the amount of work needed. This proved to be very serious; virtually every panel needed work or replacing! So Simon found a replacement body shell and a rebuild of this was started on 1st January 2007.

The bodywork was finished by mid March 2007.... and she came out of the paint shop by Aug 2007. Reassembly began in September and was complete by March 2008.

The engine is a standard 3.5 single plenum. Apart from the colour and the rather unusual decision to adorn the bonnet with a series one skeletal badge (But it kind of suits it), the only other modification made has been a 2" straight through twin exhaust system. Very nice it sounds too!

Nearby our stand, a mouth watering sight!! This was the inspiration for the SD1 design – the Ferrari Daytona

We will be returning to the NEC in 2009.


Rover SD1 Club 2008
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