1983 Rover - Austin SD1 Vitesse 3.5 Twin Plenum V8 petrol from UK and Ireland


Executive cruiser and muscle car rolled into one


Typical 20 year old car stuff:

Suspension bushes


A couple of minor oil leaks

Dirty injectors

Dicky fuel gauge

Interior trim loose / broken.

General Comments:

Bought this car for sixty quid 8 years ago. It had been sat in a garage for 4 years without even being started. The bodywork was fairly OK, but the sills and floor needed attacking with a welder. Tyres were flat, brakes were seized. The usual.

A like minded mate and I spent six months worth of weekends and evenings slowly putting it all right. We stripped and rebuilt the engine which needed very little work - it had clearly seen regular servicing and was quite clean with all bearing tolerances and bore clearances within spec. Valve seals, rings and oil pump were changed as a precautionary measure.

It was an anxious moment when we put a new battery on and fired her up for the first time, but the off beat bellow from the V8 as it fired up was enough to make us grin for days. This car can send any petrolhead into heaven on noise alone.

Once the bodywork was done, a full respray was the next job, in the original Moonraker Blue metallic. The car looked superb. Together with interior parts begged and borrowed from various sources, we got the car looking almost as new.

To drive, the Vitesse is still a wonderful bit of kit. The twin plenum injected V8 is a peach, thumping out a solid 190 bhp to the rear wheels, and the kind of torque that only a big V8 can muster. Even though this is a big car, it was built before crash regs were even thought of meaning it's as light as an average modern hatch. 0-60 comes up in around 7 seconds, with the V8 torque sending the rear tyres up in smoke in the lower gears if you're careless with the throttle. It handles too staying remarkably flat, and giving good feel through the steering.

I love this car because it is such a bruiser, and because it still looks fantastic. The car has been restored to original spec, without any bolt on mods.

It's a feelgood car. The noise turns heads, the performance makes hot hatch boys gawp, and you waft along on a wave of V8 torque, feeling happy and not stressing about the 18 mpg fuel consumption and the interior which seems to degrade by the day.

I love it and will never sell it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th June, 2003

26th Nov 2004, 04:47

I have a 1985 single plenum, and love it for all the same reasons. I paid £400 off ebay. Best buy ever. Sadly at the moment its siting patiently in the garage awaiting a new rear panel and some rear dampers. Fantastic cars.

10th Sep 2005, 01:07

I have a 1985 SD1 Van den plas with 125000km on the clock. I agree with the previous comments. Great cars I really enjoy driving it. Mine is the auto twin SU model and has shocking fuel consumption around 13MPG. But the V8 is so great I just ignore that. Paid more than the other guys, but many here in NZ are rust free. No salt on the roads, but nothing has to be done to it other than a few minor trim issues.

1983 Rover - Austin SD1 2600SE 2.6 inline 6 from UK and Ireland


A classic slowly gaining recognition


It's only stranded me once (which is not bad for a car in its late teens) although things do go wrong with it. It's had a replacement power steering rack, alternator, clutch master cylinder and gearbox. It also needed a new suspension strut at one point. Things go wrong with it in fits and starts, and some years have passed with only routine maintenance required.

General Comments:

It is a fast and reliable car, and I have no inhibitions about using it for long journeys. Since buying it (1997), public attitudes have changed and I now find myself on the receiving end of admiring glances at the car, rather than people being puzzled as to why I would want to own such a thing. The owners of the remaining cars have also started flashing their headlamps at each other.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th August, 2000