The Rover P5 appeared in 1958, replacing the much-loved but elderly P4 (then a tired 25-year-old). The P5 was a larger car that took the Rover line up market, appealing as it did to senior businessmen and civil servants. It was also a very good car, soon becoming established as one of Britain’s best-selling luxury motors of the 1960s.
The Mk I was powered by a 3 litre straight six. This solid four-door saloon had independent front suspension, whilst servo-assisted front discs soon became standard. Automatic transmission, overdrive on the manual box and power steering were options. A minor upgrade in 1961 saw front quarter lights introduced, but that was just a holding operation until the Mk II appeared in 1962. This featured better suspension and a tuned engine, also offering the choice of a coupe version with sporty lowered roofline. The Mk III of 1965 was little changed, though the styling was updated and the engine’s power output further tweaked.
In 1967 the best P5 of all appeared — the P5B. The B stood for Buick, for Rover had taken the American company’s unsuccessful lightweight aluminium V8 and improved it out of all recognition (indeed, evolutionary versions would remain around for decades). This engine gave the P5B lots more grunt, which was teamed with standard Borg-Warner automatic transmission and power steering. Not much changed externally, but a pair of fog lamps gave the front magisterial four-light look and (lest anyone should doubt that this w the new model) chrome Rostyle wheels were complemented by prominent ‘3.5 Litre’ bulging.
The P5B has become a collectable modern classic, and still gives drivers a superior feeling as they glide effortlessly amongst lesser vehicles. The saloon was produced in the largest numbers, making the coupe rarer and therefore more desirable.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1967 (until 1973)
3,528 cc V8
Coupe – top speed of 113 mph (182 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The P5 may have remained as an aspirational purchase for the British middle classes, but was classy enough to be acceptable to Royalty and Prime Ministers – Queen Elizabeth II used one, as did PMs Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher.