1974 Rover P6B 3500S

Ian Scanlon.

Lover of British Cars

I became interested in cars as boy in the late 1950s and became a Holden fan through fun times in my grandfather’s FJ Holden and later FB Holden. I learned to drive in the FB Holden. As a teenager in the 1960s, despite being a rusted on Holden fan, I became increasingly interested in British cars. The magazines of the day, Modern Motor and Wheels, were monthly reading and what impressed me about the British cars was the level of equipment, handling, comfort and performance compared to the Big 3 in Australia. Underpinning these attributes, British cars had pedigree, they were well-engineered and most importantly, innovative.

Despite all of this, I owned a procession of Holdens including a 1972 LJ Torana XU-1. In 1998 I purchased my first British car, a 1954 Humber Super Snipe, soon followed by 1975 Rover P6B automatic in ‘fashionable’ brown and later this 1974 Rover P6B 3500S. I currently own a 1985 Jaguar Sovereign 4.2, a 1988 Jaguar Sovereign V12 and 1976 Triumph Dolomite Sprint. The 1974 Rover P6B 3500S is featured in this profile.

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Ian’s Rover P6B 3500S at Uluru on the Tour of the Top End in 2015.


The late Robert Penn Bradly, a British car aficionado, has written extensively about these cars. There are two excellent articles in “Restored Car” Issues 132 and 133 from 1999. The P6 followed a proven and loved line of bigger Rovers, the P2, P3, P4 and P5, built after World War II. Rovers were considered part of the British establishment with wide usage especially the P5, as government ministerial cars and royal cars, and the P4 cars lovingly referred to as ‘Auntie Rover”.

The Rover P6

The Rover P6 was announced in 1963 with design work commencing in late 1956. It was the first winner of the European Car Award in 1964. The Rover P6 followed some of the ideas of the ‘D’ series Citroens. The cars were built at Solihull, England. Originally they were a 2 litre 4 cyclinder vehicle with manual transmission. Automative transmission was available from 1966 as was a twin carburettor option. The car was built on a base unit, where all panels could be removed, including the turrent, and the car driven. The suspension was unusual and innovative with horinzontal coil spring mounted high and partly in the firewall. The rear suspension was fully independent of De Dion design. The brakes are four wheel discs, mounted inboard at the rear. The steering was manual until the late ‘60s when power assistance was offered. Most Australian delivered cars were power assisted. The steering mechanism is mounted between the firewall and the engine allowing for a very short steering column, and therefore increased safety in the case of a collision.

The Rover V8

The 4 cylinder was competent giving good performane and economy by mid-1960s standards. By the end of the 1960s, the public was seeking more performance from what was essentially an excellent motor car. The Rover Managing Director, whilst in the United States in late 1963, came across an all-aluminium V8 that Buick had used in their Skylark. It was being assessed by Mercury Marine for fitting into power boats. He negotiated release of the motor and had it fitted to a P6 in England. After long negotiations with the Rover board, and talks with General Motors, all plans and drawings were released and licensing completed in early 1965. Few modifcations were needed to fit the Buick-derived V8 into the P6 and the car was launched in April 1968. The V8 Rover P6 was now the P6B, with B denoting Buick. The P6B continued in production until 1977. It was superceded by nthe Rover SD1.

The Rover V8 Specifications


3.500 inches (88.90 mm)


2.800 inches (71.12 mm)

Number of cylinders


Cylinder capacity

215 cubic inches (3528 cc)

Compression Ratio


Brake horsepower

143 horsepower (106 kw) at 5000 rpm

Maximum torque

202 pound feet (28 mkg) at 2700 rpm

Driving a Rover P6B

Penn-Bradly repeats what many owners have said about the Rover P6B - they should have a badge on the bonnet stating “Highway Eater”. He also observes that they are wonderful to drive in Australia due to their long and soft spring travel, they hold the rode very well, and they can cope with dirt and potholes without fuss. He concludes that the car’s ergonomics are outstanding allowing for high distances to be travelled in a day with little fatigue. I can attest to this fact as we drove 850 kilometres in a day on our Tour of Western Australia in 2014. Penn Bradly referred to the following performance statistics sourced from “Autocar”.


Rover P6B 3500 automatic

Rover P6B 3500 S manual


3 speed automatic

4 speed manual

0-96 kph

10.5 seconds

9.1 seconds

0-145 kph

25.8 seconds

21.2 seconds

Top Speed

183.4 kph

196.3 kph

Standing quarter mile

18.0 seconds

16.8 seconds

Fuel Consumption*

19 mpg

23    pg

*Penn Bradly notes that fuel consumption was generally better in Australia where highway use could easily produce 25 mpg in a 3500s.

In my extended touring in my 3500s the best economy achieved was a “little over” 24 mpg, at a “little over” legal highway speeds.

Motor Motor road tested the Rover 3500 (P6B) and published it in their January 1976 edition. In this article John Crawford states that the Rover 3500 “must represent one of the best luxury personal car bargains available on the Australian market”, and “it doesn’t wear a GT badge, but it might as well”. The car was priced at $8706 new.

My Rover P6B 3500S

I purchased my white Rover from the late Derek Scott in March 2014. He had called the car ‘Ralph’, after the original owner. I was approaching retirement and was about to launch into a long touring program as Events Co-ordinator of Maitland Classic Motor Association. I already had a 1975 Rover P6B 3500 (automatic) and knew how good these cars were as Australian touring cars. My Rover was a little tired and worn, and I sought to replace it with another historic, preferably British but not necessarily so. It didn’t take long to realise, due to my experiences, that a Rover would do the job required with excellence. I advertised in the Rover club weekly journal, RoverNet, that I was seeking a 3500S, Derek contacted me and the rest is history. The car was purchased with 170 000 kilometres on the clock. It now (April, 2020) has 251 000 kilometres on the clock - over 80 000 kilometres in 6 years.

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Ian on the Tour of the Great Ocean Road in 2016

Maitland Classic Motor Association Tours

Prior to 2014, Maitland Classic Motor Association (MCMA) had irregular tours such as the Riverina in 2010 and Tasmania in early 2012. From 2014 there has been an on-going tour program giving members the opportunity to use their historic/classic vehicles ‘in the manner in which they were intended’. It is for these tour that I acquired this 1974 Rover P6B 3500S.




Tour of Western Australia


Tour of the Top End


Tour of the Great Ocean Road


Tour of the Australian Alps.


Tour of North Queensland


Tour of Tasmania (our second one!)


Tour of New England


Tour of the Illawarra and Southern Highlands


Tour of the Kimberleys

My 3500S completed all tours, except for the Tour of the Australian Alps. It performed excellently with no reliability issues except for block fuel filters at Broken Hill in 2015. The car can tour all day at 120 kph on our outback highways and return 22-23 mpg. Furthermore, you do so in comfort.

There have been no serious rebuilts involved in achieving such creditable reliablity. Denis Trigg at Toronto and the Gilberts at Maitland have been instrumental in its maintenance. This maintenance included such things as brakes, water pump, radiator, rear axle bearings and universal joints. I have replaced the tyres once.

The car is original except for a few minor changes. It has some minor modifcations and options including electronic ignition, a period westabo sunroof, a period Motolita wood rimmed steering wheel, period after market air conditioning, original continental kit (mounting a spare wheel on the bootlid), period rectangular driving lights, and period alloy wheels (from a Rover SD1).

I will continue to tour in my 3500S and consider retiring one day, when it will receive a well-deserved re-paint.

Ian Scanlon

April, 2020