1985 Rover - Austin SD1 3500 Vitesse 3.5 V8


Poor mans Aston Martin?


Having bought the car with 160000 km on the clock naturally it needed a little attention.

New camshaft, hydraulic tappets were needed.

Beyond that an electric window gave some trouble.

New seal for the power steering reservoir.

Some rust in passenger door.

Slow starter - You need to crank for quite a while, but has never failed yet.

Rear vision can be troublesome when trying to park.

Weird instrumentation.

Interior quality could have been better.

Braking is more adequate than great - (front discs, rear drums)

Feeble ventilation system.

General Comments:

Glorious sound from the Rover V8 giving 193 hp.

Great acceleration - built for motorway cruising.

Good supportive seats.

Good manual gearbox.

Handles really well, and with looks to match.

A big car in city traffic, felt much bigger than my Saab 9000, but once You got the hang of it, You can park perfectly thanks to good servo steering.

The car still has great visual appeal turning heads everywhere. Kids ask if it is a race car :)

Maintenance costs a bit heavy, though.

Fitted a stainless steel sports exhaust, costly, but worth it. Better performance in the high revs..

Fuel consumption varies - relaxed motorway cruising @110 km/h gave an indicated 10,8 km /l however, in the city roughly 7,5 km /l.

All in all a great car, but not flawless.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 1st August, 2003

1984 Rover - Austin SD1 3500 SE 3.5 V8


A classic British motorcar, good performance, but costly


The electric windows - one day one window refused roll up again. I had to dismantle the whole door.. Other times the windows wouldn't work the first time you press the switch.

The door lock broke - You had to slam the door in order to close it.

Contact for sunroof refused to work.

Emergency close sunroof in the boot - the handle broke something there so it didn't work.

General Comments:

Great looking car. Especially series 2 with extra cromework. Still turns heads today.

Very good sound (3500 V8)

Comfortable car - good for long distance travel.

Spacious boot.

Some wind noise at high speed.

Good performance and easy to drive.

Handles really well.

Braking could be better, though.

Depending on version - futuristic instruments - could be better.

Average consumption 7-9 km/l (3 speed auto) ( (20-22 mpg UK)

The car would be fantastic with a 4 speed auto box.

Be aware of rust in sills and doors.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th June, 2002

11th Jun 2002, 03:56

Just a quick note concerning the author's comment on 'This car would be great with a 4 speed auto'. You can actually fit a 'ZF' four speed auto to the V8 cars (I think it originates from the newer Range Rover), it is however quite costly; around £1500!

PS you could always try a breakers.

19th Sep 2006, 21:36

All the faults you mention are par for the course with the SD1. Electrical problems abound even in low mileage cosseted examples. Window motors seizing, sunroof and central locking failing are all common faults, but still look how old it is now! I agree with you about the brakes too - they work, but they aren't very confidence inspiring. It feels like it needs bigger brakes, or at least 4 pot callipers.

29th Jul 2010, 03:47

I owned a 1979 SD1 in the late 80s. It was the best car I have ever driven - even to today (now 2010). But sadly it was a constant effort to replace or bodge window switches, brake boosters (servos), wheel cylinders, window electric motors, central locking bits and pieces etc. It even excreted automatic fluid if parked for more than a couple of days. Someone once said it looked fast even when standing still - which was just as well. Summed it up really - a brilliant idea and design, but built with a shoddy quality that made ownership a love hate relationship.

A great opportunity lost.