1962 Rover 3 Litre mark 1A P5
It seems to be a shared feeling within the classic car communities that the Rover P5 is a treasure among vehicles. It may come as a surprise,then, to learn of the Rover’s oddly humble beginnings, for the first Rover was not a car at all, but rather a stylish tricycle built in 1883 by the Starley & Sutton Company of England. In a time of constant change and upheaval, however, tricycles with excessively large front tires (“penny farthings”) went from being considered an uncomfortable must-have luxury to a safety hazard
As a result, the Starley & Sutton Company had their first chance to prove their salt by producing what eventually became recognized as the world’s first “modern” bicycle.
Fast forward nearly 80 years to 1958, and we meet up with with the Rover P5, an incredibly sturdy “saloon” (or sedan) automobile that was considered both the “middle class Rolls-Royce” and the darling of the U.K. aristocracy. Standard for the P5 series’ Mark 1 was a 3.0 litre, straight-6 f-head engine and either drum brakes or power discs, with the drum brakes being less common. Optional for the Mark 1 was an automatic transmission and power steering. In 1961, the Mark 1-A line was introduced, with the only notable difference between it and the Mark 1 being the addition of front quarter windows. All told, only 20,963 Mark 1 and 1-A Rover P5s had been produced by the time the series ended in 1962.
These days, the P5 series is something of an endangered species, and its relatively low production numbers are only a part of the problem. Most unfortunate is that the car’s famed durability has made it valuable to many so-called “banger racers” in the U.K. As more and more P5’s are appropriated by racers only to be wrecked beyond all repair, there is urgent need for Rover collectors–like the dedicated owner of this rare end-of-series beauty–to step forward and help preserve these storied vehicles.