Bastion of Britishness
Introduced in 1958 and launched at the Earl’s Court Motor Show of the same year, the Rover P5 quickly established itself as Rovers new flagship model over the ageing P4 model. The P5 was designed and built as a definite competitor to both Jaguar and Mercedes with their big luxury saloons. With its smooth 2995, six cylinder engine and commanding appearance, not to mention the opulent interior, it was probably second only to the Bentley of the time.
In 1962 came the Mark II with an up-graded 3.0 litre block developing 129bhp and a sleeker look. The Mark II was designated a coupe although it was still a 4 door, albeit with a lower roofline (by 2.5 inches) giving it better proportions than before. More developments in 1965 increasing power to 134bhp in the Mark III, and the Rover P5B appeared in 1967 with the all new Buick 3.5 V8 engine.
Starting with body work and chassis, pay attention to door pillars, front and rear inner wings and the boot floor as well as arches and door bottoms. Also check panel gaps are even and doors don’t sag when open. The V8 engine is durable and capable of 150,000 miles plus, providing it’s had regular oil changes and anti freeze. Overheating can lead to head gasket failure so keep it topped up. Radiators will leak over time so if it’s had a replacement it’s a good sign.
The automatic gearbox whether it’s the earlier Borg Warner DG or later BW 35 should be reliable providing it hasn’t received any abuse – a burning smell suggests problems. Check for corroded break pipes and seized hand brake mechanisms as well as worn shock absorbers and sagging rear leaf springs. Also look out for power steering leaks from worn seals or the steering box.
Brakes if kept well maintained are reliable, but check the bulk head as there is a ledge that supports the brake servo and debris can accumulate here which will cause the metal to rot through.
Interiors are of fine quality but make sure you look out for any water damage as replacements are expensive. Wheels are Rostyle so make sure they are still on the car. If they’re not in great condition, a refurb is worthwhile.
The final letter in the “P5B” model name came from Buick, the engine’s originator. Rover did not have the budget or time to develop such engines, hence they chose to redevelop the lightweight aluminium concept Buick could not make successful