The Classic Car Club in Hoxton, London has a varied stock of rare and wonderful classic cars from every era, and one of the most famously British classics on their fleet is this bright white Rover P6, built in Solihull, with the growling 3.5-litre V8 engine and lashings of chrome trim. She’s sleek, fast and achingly 1960s-London-gangster-cool, so let’s get that power-domed bonnet out in the Spring sun for a Motor-Vision Classic Car Club test drive.
When I was a young boy in the late 1970s, the Rover P6 3500 was easily the coolest car in our sleepy Essex town. I didn’t know much about cars back then, but I know that my dad would bang on about the V8 engine’d P6 and how sweet it would be to own one. I just liked the fact that our neighbour’s P6 V8 looked like an angry big cat about to pounce, with its scowling front end styling, power-domed bonnet and lowered-looking, half-trimmed rear wheels.
You can spot the V8s easily, such is the liberal sprinkling of ‘V8’ badging all around the car, and this advanced for the time, aluminium 3.5-litre, 144bhp American Buick V8 not only weighed about the same as the cast iron 2-litre motor in lesser P6s, it took up little more room under the hood. It packed way more performance punch too, of course.
Those gorgeous power bulges in the bonnet accommodate the V8’s taller cam covers, while the front suspension crossover had to be relocated forward to get the growling Yank motor under the hood. Thanks to this American muscle – re-engineered by the Rover boffins for the P6 – she’ll hit 60mph in a very respectable 9.5 seconds and thump on to 117mph at the top – looking cooler than an ice cold cucumber all the way.
Today, this pristine Classic Car Club P6 V8 is a rose-tinted dream to drive for this kid that grew up in love with them. It still looks aggressive and sinister – like every London gangster’s car should – but even a chap up to no good in one of these should be looking seriously dapper, perhaps in a single-breasted suit, skinny black tie and retro Ray-Bans. My outfit today doesn’t quite do her justice, but with the sunroof rolled back and the sun in the Spring sky, all I need are the admiring glances of passers-by and that rumbling V8 soundtrack to make me smile.
This Classic Car Clubs P6 benefits from all the original top-notch showroom extras like the touring spare wheel on the boot lid, perfect period wheels in high-gloss chrome, and as much of the shiny stuff all over the rest of the body to glint the warm sunlight in every direction.
She’s a classic all-right, but with this silky-smooth powerplant and a relatively modern chassis and brakes set up, this Rover P6 V8 is a classic that responds to my faster driving inputs with impressive agility and acceleration. No wonder the cops (and robbers) loved them! And, as one of the Classic Car Club’s most accessible, Grade 2 cars, once a member, this 60s-style stunner is reassuringly inexpensive for you to enjoy for a weekend. All you’ll need are your Ray-Bans and the open road…
By Dan Anslow