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Both were victims of politics, poor crash testing and internal rivalries with Jaguar.
In 1966, the Rover car company literally had the world at its feet – in the shape of the Design Team led by David Bache and Engineering Department headed up by Spen King, the company had arguably the strongest development team of any British car company in post-war automotive history.
Rover was riding high on the success of the Rover P6, introduced in 1963 and new models were in the pipeline.
The success of the P6 had completed the rejuvenation of the Rover image, which had begun with the highly publicised outings of the gas turbine-powered Rover JET1 and then the success at Le Mans of the jet-powered Rover-BRM.
At the turn of the Millennium, the archetypal British executive drove a BMW 5 Series – a large car with a large engine, delivering power and performance and, most importantly, road presence.
Back in 1966, when Rover shoehorned their ex-GM V8 engine into the already successful Rover 2000 bodyshell, it created this breed of middle-management motorcar and enjoyed considerable success with it The other problem for Spen King was that not only was the P5 an ageing car, its engine was also past its sell-by date.
The Rover P7 mules acted as a rolling test bed for the alternative power unit configurations to go in the eventual P6 replacement.
With this work coming to completion, the P7 name was dropped and thoughts were put into an entirely new car.
These models became collectively known as the Rover P7 prototypes and they allowed Rover to investigate various mechanical configurations for their upcoming large car replacement.
A great ride maybe, but not such great handling with lots of roll, just like a 2CV!
How could Rover replicate the ride quality yet provide a sharp handling car, a big car at that?
Keith Adams tells the full story of the Rover P8 and its mid-engined cousin, the P9.
Rover’s range-topping saloon and coupe were killed days before they were set for production.
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King had not wanted a larger car, and the wish to make it bigger came from above: ‘I had a lot to do with the machine that went into P8 before it ever happened, and I didn’t ever want it to be as big a car as P8.