Lance LaCerte's 1970 Rover 3500S (P6B)

Lance LaCerte's 1970 Rover 3500S (P6B)

as published in British V8 Newsletter, Volume XV Issue 3, December 2007

Owner: Lance LaCerte
City: Denver, CO
Model: 1970 Rover 3500S ("P6B")
Engine: 3.5L Rover V8

Engine: 3.5L Rover V8. These engines were originally built with 10.5:1 compression ratio, and were rated at 184hp at 5200 rpm, of torque at 3000rpm. Lance's engine was rebuilt in August 2007 by Ted Ax. A later-model Rover SD1 engine block was substituted, and neoprene seals were used in lieu of original rope-type seals.
Induction: twin 1.75" bore SU "HS6" carburetors (stock).
Ignition: Lucas distributor with condensor/points (stock).
Cooling: re-cored radiator and mechanical fan.
Exhaust: stock iron manifolds, single muffler.
Transmission: Borg Warner 35 (3-speed automatic).
Front Susp.: Rover's uniquely designed double-wishbone IFS, featuring telescoping shocks and horizontally-mounted coil springs! 19mm hexagonal-section sway bar (stock). Adwest Varamatic power steering (stock).
Rear Susp.: Rover's uniquely integraged "de Dion tube" suspension. Like all de Dion suspensions, the design features low unsprung weight because the differential and brakes are mounted to the chassis and connected to the wheels by u-jointed "half-shafts". The wheels are held parallel to each other by a rigid tube. Also, like many other de Dion suspension, coil springs with concentrically mounted telescopic shock absorbers are used. The rear suspension is located by trailing links and side-to-side displacement is restricted by a Watts link. However, Rover's apparently unique development over other de Dion suspensions is that the half-shafts don't feature slip-joints. Instead, the de Dion tube itself telescopes to accomodate body roll.
Rear End: Rover differential, 3/08:1 gears (stock).
Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes with Girling hydraulics and servo assist. Electrical pad-wear sensors. Rear discs are inboard-mounted.
Sources: "All British Cars" in Vancouver Canada.
Completion: August 2007. (135 miles driven, as of the Colorado Conclave in September.)

A few special notes about the Rover 3500 and 3500S models:

Lance's car is one of only 2043 Rover 3500S cars built to North American specification.

The Rover 3500S body is composed of non-structural steel panels; they can all be unbolted and removed from an underlying monocoque structure. When the body was originally being designed, Rover planned to install their own gas turbine engine. The unusual front suspension was developed to facilitate an extra-wide engine bay.

The "Icelert" warning device (aka: "penguin detector") was factory-installed. It senses humidity and temperature, and warns as outside air temperatures drop.

Princess Grace was driving a Rover 3500 when she lost control, wrecked, and died in Monoco. (She had apparently suffered a minor stroke while driving. Her daughter, Princess Stephanie, survived the accident. By all accounts the Rover 3500 was an exceptionally safe and "crashworthy" car by the standards of its day.)

Look for Rover 3500s in many movies... especially as a police car! Remember that scene at the end of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when the police arrest King Aurthur and Sir Bedevere? They're also driven by futuristic police in the film "Gattaca" and by an evil henchman who chases Austin Powers in "The Spy Who Shagged Me".

1970 Rover 3500S (P6B) engine

Rover 3500 aluminum V8 engine

twin 1.75in. bore SU HS6 carburetors
Twin 1.75" bore SU "HS6" carburetors.

engine torque rod

cannister-type oil filter?

how far can we get the brake booster from the pedal?

forged steel lower control arm

rover 3500S front suspension

horizontal coil spring... hidden!
We don't have good pictures of it here, but the front suspension features coil springs that are mounted high up
behind the tires and actuated via bellcranks. At first glance, the telescoping shocks look conventional, but in fact
by virtue of their mounting, their function is reversed from normal - the shocks actually extend when a tire hits a
bump, which is a good thing because it eliminates binding and improves shock absorber life. The steering gear
and all steering linkage are behind the engine, and mounted high, so that in a front-end impact the steering wheel
won't normally be pushed rearward toward the driver. (Thus a collapsible steering column wasn't required for
Rover to comply with the Federal "USA Safety Act of 1966".) The front anti-sway bar is similarly tucked neatly away.

accordian seal over telescoping de dion tube
A "de Dion tube" keeps the two rear wheels absolutely parallel in all situations. Rover's de Dion tube is
unique though, because its two parts were designed to telescope and to rotate relative to each other.
In this picture you can see the accordian-pleated seal that protects the joint. You may just barely see
the oil-fill lug at mid-tube. Inside, the de Dion tube has bronze bushes lubricated with thick gear lube.

new poly bushings

fixed length half shafts
Unlike most independent rear suspensions, the half shafts are fixed-length.

heavy duty trailing link

Rover 3500S differential
Obviously, the differential has a very long pinion section. Where it mounts to the chassis (with a rubber shock
mount) there's a harmonic-tuned weighted block to reduce vibration. In this view you can also see the cable
operated remotely-controlled valve that's used to access the "reserve capacity" of the fuel tank.

inboard disc brakes
Inboard disc brakes reduce unsprung weight for improved ride quality.

rover 3500s interior

rover 3500 dashboard
Knee bolsters on both driver and passenger side of the dashboard fold down to reveal glove boxes.
The driver side actually has two separate compartments, with room for the steering column between.
The fuse and relay center is easily accessible behind the passenger side knee bolster.

rover 3500 instrument cluster

Icelert controls / warning lamp
Looking through the steering wheel, in this view you can see the Icelert switches and warning lamp.

transparent-green illuminated knobs
Low and to the right of the center console... the cable-operated remote-control for the reserve-fuel petcock.
Check out the transparent green illuminated dashboard knobs. Rolls Royces don't have this much quirky goodness!

The vinyl-covered lower dashboard panels were constructed of honeycomb plastic to absorb energy in a crash.

adjustable head rests
A lot of engineering went into Rover's headrests, which "cam" rearward in an accident to absorb energy.

parking brake lever

very cushy! fold-down arm rest
Rear bucket seats and a center arm rest make this a comfortable touring car for four.

Rover rear bucket seats
It's not really shown here, but all four seats were equipped with three-point seat belts.

front door trim panel
Rover provided generous, compartmentalized storage space. Door pockets neatly hide a paperback or maps.

rear door trim panel
That's real wood veneer. Incidentally, Rover sourced their electric windows from GM's Delco division.

spare tire
Rover placed the fuel tank over the differential to enhance rear-end crashworthiness.

trunk lid prop rod
Torsion springs hold the trunk lid up, unless the spare tire is secured on top of the trunk-lid. The red
prop rod that's shown here can be used to hold up the trunk lid when the tire is stored outside.

a hint that there's an underlying monocoque structure
All the exterior body panels come off easily. They can be repaired or repainted off-the-car.

trunk mounted battery
The trunk-mounted battery box seals up nicely.

this blue wasn't a factory color

1970 Rover 3500S grille

Collector Vehicle

Rover Icelert
The Icelert sensor monitors humidity & temperature. (The alarm lamp and switch panel were shown above.)

Rover Car Club of Otago insignia
Rover Car Club of Otago, New Zealand insignia. Rover cars have a loyal worldwide following!

3500S grille emblem

the lens extension make parallel parking extra easy
The lens extensions make parallel parking extra easy.

triple hood scoops! (a US market feature)
Distinctive triple hood scoops were unique to the North American version. The center one is gasketed to the
engine air cleaner. The two smaller scoops are for summer-season cooling. Rotate the valve for winter driving.

V8 hood badge

fender emblem

Lance LaCerte

locking gas cap
The Rover 3500S came standard with locking gas cap. A less obvious feature is that the rear-deck panel can be
removed very quickly with just a couple fasteners. Once removed, rubber clamps that secure the rear glass are
easily loosened. Remove the clamps, and the glass slides down and out! The windshield is mounted similarly.

Rover club emblems / insignia

Rover viking ship emblem
This trunk-lid badge is quickly removeable. The spare tire can be moved from inside the trunk to
the top of the trunk-lid where it mounts here on a special adapter - freeing-up extra luggage space!

Rover 3500S side marker (for the US market)

Rover 2000 3500 3500S taillamp

Rover badge and taillamp

V8 3500S badges and tail light

stainless steel Rover 3500S hubcaps
The Rover 3500S stainless steel hubcaps don't need to be removed for lugnut access.

This article is part of a set of SIX!  If you enjoyed this article, check out:
      Rover 3500S Press Release (circa 1969)
      1970 Rover 3500S Specifications and Pricing
      Rover P6 Design Innovations
      Rover V8 Engine History (courtesy of Autocar magazine)
      Leyland "Eight GE" Concept Car Press Release (circa 1968)

Photos by Curtis Jacobson. All rights reserved.

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