Born into an era that was hungry for change, and especially for some good news, the 1976 Rover SD1 was a breath fresh air in for the entire British auto industry, and for the British public in general (SD1 stands for Solihull Development One). At least at first. Designed to replace the rapidly aging P6, the Rover SD1 was designed by David Bache. It was inspired by the late 60s Pininfarina aerodynamic study, which explains its resemblance to the Citroen CX, as well as to the very prized Maserati Khamsin. The exterior wasn’t the only new part. On the inside, a modular, clean-cut and extremely modern dashboard awaited, build in such a way as to facilitate switching production to left-hand drive.
As for engines, the original Rover SD1 was introduced with the excellent Rover 3.5-liter V8 that produced 155 horsepower and plenty of torque, paired to a five-speed manual transmission. It was good for a top speed of 123 miles per hour, and accelerated to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. Six cylinder engines were offered in later model years.
Unfortunately, all was not perfect with the SD1, and its flaws caught up with it rather quickly. Beyond the skin and the engine, it was quite ordinary and offered nothing new. The suspension was OK, and so were the brakes, but nothing fantastic or new here. Rover’s relaunch on the all-important US market was a disaster, and the model was retired in 1986. Sadly, the 1976 Rover SD1 remains a beautiful car that wasn’t launched in the best circumstances.