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47 years of the SD1
  Welcome to the Rover SD1 Club - Profile  
Ian 'Del' Lines, SD1 rally driver and Club Technical Advisor,
"Convert to the SD1".

Ian “Del” Lines was born in Mansfield, Notts in 1942. Married to Roberta, he now lives in Marbella, Spain. Del’s engineering background was formulated in his Father’s factories in and around Mansfield. In May 1970 he moved to Weston-super-Mare and set up business at the Atlantic Garage on the sea front, specialising in the Triumph range. In time he acquired an international reputation for his expertise on the 2.5 P.I., Stag and Dolomite Sprint.

Del’s rallying experience started with Triumphs in the late 60’s, he rallied a Triumph 2000 MK1 which also doubled as his “day to day” car. Around 1973, his company built a Triumph Toledo 2 door rally car, but in 1975 sold it and ventured into rallying a Porsche 2.7 Carrera for approximately 18 months.

His first acquaintance with the Rover SD1 was in 1975 when he bought an old Triumph 2000 engineering car from Triumph. It had a strange 6 cylinder engine with a single O.H.C. head and a very heavy cast iron block coupled to an auto/box and a torque-tube type rear axle in the modified rear end. At the time he didn’t give it a second thought and threw away the mechanicals and used the shell for a rally car! The engine was the 2600 Rover and the car was the “mule”.

Del also recalls that whilst on one of his regular visits to “The Triumph” he was driving along the motorway near Coventry when he was passed by a strange, unbadged, heavily disguised car which later turned out to be the “new” SD1.

His first SD1 driving experience was a 3.5 in 1977 when a client brought one in for service. His reaction? “It really did nothing for me. At the time we were developing the 16 valve TR7 rally car into the V8 car, and the Rover SD1 seemed to be a large ‘lump’ by comparison, so every time an SD1 came into the workshop I gave it to my foreman to deal with.”

It wasn’t until 1985 when Del was offered the complete Austin/Rover Middle East Rally Team, which was based in Dubai, that his interest was revived. The team consisted of:

3 x GRP II Rover SD1 rally cars;
A377 VUK – the “recce” car; left
A379 VUK – Tony Pond/Rob Arthur’s car; centre
A683 NJO – Abdullah Omar/John Daniel’s car; right

Also in the deal were:

5 x “spare” engines (300 BHP) – complete with dry sump pumps, paddle clutches and 4 Webers;
4 x “spare” Getrag Racing Jaguar gear boxes;
4 x “spare” 4 HA disc brake rear axles;
205 x rally tyres;
100 – various 6”/7”/8” x 15” “Speedline” wheels;
and enough spares to build another 4 cars!


Spares and spare engines in container:

    "Locals" about to load 300 tyres     Wheels etc in container

As he said, “I believe we paid £45,000 plus shipping costs for the lot! Not a bad deal.” However, all three cars were damaged so Del’s team set about rebuilding them (2 for sale and the Pond car to keep).

    Test drive just outside Dubai, "Self inflicted! I was told
    to keep clear of soft sand hence I got stuck.";
    Three fuel tanks (capacity total 45 gallons)
    Attempts to cool 300 bhp engine in desert:
    "After the factory mechanics tried every method known to man to solve the problem, and failed, all we had to do was cut two
    Ford RS2000-size holes in the bonnet, just behind the radiator, to within 5 inches of the outside of the bonnet and .. problem

The first rally for A377VUK was in Belgium. His driver, Ruben Borjesson (a member of the King of Sweden’s bodyguard!) was lying first in the event when the battery exploded due to the ‘Pavé’ roads in Belgium.

A377VUK ("SYB1L") (ex-Middle East Recce Car) Driving, Del Lines - Co-driver, Steve Turvey.
Porlock Toll Road May 1986 Somerset stages.

Original Middle East spec., basically standard/uprated front suspension; 300bhp engine; 'Getrag' Jaguar gearbox; 4HA LSD rear axle; twin shock absorbers (4 in total); 4 link rear suspension with Panhard rod; wheels 8" x 15" with Pirelli gravel racers.

Timberscombe forest - Somerset stages

In all Del’s team did around 25 events with “A377” and “A683” with some success. The program came to a temporary halt in early February 1986 when, due to ‘driver error’ Del planted the Pond car A379 VUK into a large, one thousand year old tree in Longleat Park – in full view of his then Bank Manager! “A683” was sold to Mick Moore in Lancs and “A377" was used on a Himalaya rally in 1986 and not seen for some time, it is now being rebuilt by the present owner for another rally in Asia.

"Bastos" shell ( A379VUK - rebuilt 1986-7) Driving, Del Lines - Co-driver, Keith Rumary. April 1989 Southwest stages Rally.
The car is still in race trim but has not been rallied since 2004.

Same spec as white car but with TWR fron racing hubs; larger cross drilled discs; racing calipers; all Rose-jointed front suspension. Wiring on this car was by TRWR/Lucas electrician John Smith and was handmade using fire-proof cable. (The same man wired all the Silk Cut Jaguars for Le Mans.) "This car is the definitive SD1 rally car" (Tony Pond's words)

It took him a year to rebuild the car into an ex-Bastos shell donated by Tom Walkinshaw Racing who let him have the shell only on the proviso that Del bought the ex-Jeff Allam/Ahmin Hahne Bathurst car and the ex-Tony Pond Computervision car (B565AOX). In 1995 the rebuilt car was sold to Duncan Holder in Somerset for his museum.

Del’s first SD1 road car came to him almost by accident. “My van hire business went quiet due to alterations in Mr Lawson’s mortgage tax relief scheme. So, as a gesture, I sold my 827 Vitesse and drove around in a “W” registered 3500 SD1. I kept doing little tweaks and alterations until I really came to enjoy driving it. My partner at the time nicknamed the car ‘Trevor’ – the reason for this still evades me.”

Since then Del has owned close to 50 SD1’s! Some good 6 cylinder models have been converted to V8 and sold on. The rest have been dismantled for spares. For example, in 1991 he had a good bodyshell that he built into a 4-litre Vitesse, complete with Getrag gearbox, 3.00:1 L.S.Diff/disc brake rear axle, oil coolers on engine and power steering, U.S.A. spec headlamps, Jaguar XJS front brakes, electric roof and 7” revolution wheels with 215/60 x 15” tyres – painted flame red, the same as his 827 Vitesse. This car is currently in Lisbon due to the fact that en route from Madeira to Marbella a Portuguese fork lift truck driver drove into the front of it. It has taken 1 year to sort out the insurance. As a consequence Del issues a stern warning - "Don’t prang your car in Portugal"!

In the last year Del has found a new virgin bodyshell in a lock-up in Evercreech, Somerset. This is the base for a new 4-litre car – at present taking shape in his Fuengirola workshop. Basically a left-hand drive, it will use the mechanical and trim parts from the car in Lisbon. It has no sun-roof so Del plans to fit air-conditioning. The old car will be straightened and used as an “EFI” tow car.

Finally, Del’s reaction at being invited to be the Club’s Technical Adviser? “It is an honour. I will answer member’s questions by e-mail and all postal requests will be channelled through the SD1 Club via Club Secretary Helen Andrew.”

We very much welcome “Del” as Technical Adviser on V8’s, his experience is undoubtedly a great asset for the SD1 Club.

Rover SD1 Club 2005
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