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Rover P4
P4 Silhouette
Manufacturer The Rover Co. Ltd.
Production 1949–1964
130,312 units
Predecessor Rover P3
Successor Rover P6
Class Midsize car
Body style(s) Saloon
Layout FR layout
Wheelbase 111 inches (2819 mm)[1]
Length 178.25 in (4528 mm)[2]
Width 65.6 in (1666 mm)[2]
Height 63.25 in (1607 mm)[2]

The Rover P4 series was a group of saloon automobiles produced from 1949 through to 1964 designed by Phil Armstrong. Along with the later Rover P5, it was replaced by the far more modern Rover P6. All P4s were 4-door saloons with seating for four. The P4 designation is factory terminology for the group of cars and was not in day-to-day use by ordinary owners, who would have said simply that they had a "Rover 90" and so on.

The P4 was also the basis of the short lived Marauder car.

Contents

Engineering

The cars used a Rover engine in 4 or 6 cylinder form which came from the 1948 P3 and had overhead valves for inlet and side valves for exhaust. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted shifter at first and floor-mounted unit from 1954. At first the gearbox only had synchromesh on third and top but it was added to second gear as well in 1953. A free wheel clutch, a traditional Rover feature, was fitted to cars without overdrive until Summer 1959[3] when it disappeared from the specifications, shortly before the range rearrangements announced for the London Motor Show in October of the same year.

The cars had a separate chassis with independent suspension by coil springs at the front and a live axle with half elliptical leaf springs at the rear. The brakes on early cars were operated by a hybrid hydro-mechanical system but became fully hydraulic in 1950. Girling Disc brakes replaced drums at the front from 1959.

The complete body shells were made by the Pressed Steel company and featured aluminium body panels until the final 95/110 models.

P4 75

Rover P4 75
1950 Rover 75
Production 1949–1954
33,267 produced 1949-54
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.1 L Rover IOE engine straight-6
Fuel capacity 11.5 imp gal (52 L; 14 US gal)[4]

The original P4, the model 75, arrived in 1949. It featured controversial modern styling which contrasted with the outdated Rover P3 which it replaced, and which was heavily based on the bullet-nosed Studebakers of the same era. One particularly unusual feature was the centrally-mounted headlight in the grille. Known as the "Cyclops eye", it was removed after 1952.

Power came from a 2.1 L (2103 cc/128 in³) Rover IOE straight-6 engine. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted shifter at first and floor-mounted unit from 1954.

A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 83.5 mph (134.4 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 27.8 miles per imperial gallon (10.2 L/100 km; 23.1 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1106 including taxes. [5]

Production of this original model ended in 1954 with 33,267 sold.

P4 60

Rover P4 60
Production 1953–1959
9,666 produced[6]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.0 L Rover IOE engine straight-4

A four-cylinder version of the P4 line was introduced in 1953 as the P4 60. Its 2.0 L (1997 cc/121 in³) 60 bhp (45 kW) engine was the same one Rover used in the early Land Rover, with modifications including an SU carburettor. As the block was shorter than that of the 6-cylinder engine, it sat further back in the frame, and this is sometimes held to have resulted in better handling and compensated for the lack of power. It was replaced in 1959 by the P4 80, which used an updated version of the overhead-valve 2286cc (138 in³) four used in the Land Rover by that time.

In their test of the Sixty in 1954 The Motor magazine recorded a top speed of 76.0 mph (122.3 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) of 26.5 seconds. A fuel consumption of 25.8 miles per imperial gallon (10.9 L/100 km; 21.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1162 including taxes. [2]

P4 90

Rover P4 90
Rover 90
Production 1953–1959
35,903 produced
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.6 L Rover IOE engine straight-6

At the same time as the four cylinder version was introduced, the top-end P4 90 with a more-powerful 2.6 L (2639 cc/161 in³) six appeared. This engine produced a respectable 90 hp (67 kW) and could reach 90 mph (145 km/h). When it was replaced by the P4 100 in 1959, 35,903 had been produced.

Testing the Ninety in 1954 The Motor magazine recorded a top speed of 90.0 mph (144.8 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) of 18.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 20.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.9 L/100 km; 16.9 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1297 including taxes. [7]

P4 75 Mark II

Rover P4 75 Mark II
Rover 75 Mark II
Production 1954–1959
9,974 produced 1955-59
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.1 L or 2.2 L Rover IOE engine straight-6

An updated P4 75 arrived in 1954 with some styling changes. A three-piece wraparound rear window was used, but the 2.1 L (2103 cc/128 in³) IOE engine continued. This model was updated again in 1955 with a larger 2.2 L (2230 cc/136 in³) version of the IOE engine. Overdrive became an option from 1956. In 1957, it was restyled, along with the rest of the P4 line, with a new grille and wings. Production ended in 1959 with the introduction of the P4 100.

P4 105R/105S

Rover P4 105R/105S
Rover 105
Production 1956–1959
10,781 produced[6]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.6 L Rover IOE engine straight-6

The P4 90 was not to be the top of the P4 line. Introduced in 1956, the P4 105R and P4 105S used a high-output, 8.5:1 compression, version of the 2.6 L (2639 cc/161 in³) engine also used in the 90. This twin-SU carburettor engine produced 108 hp (80 kW)[8]. Both 105 models also featured an updated exterior and more luxurious trim inside, with separate front seats and twin spotlamps.

The 105R featured a "Roverdrive" automatic transmission. This troublesome unit was actually a two-speed automatic with an overdrive unit for a total of four forward gears. The 105S made do with a manual transmission with overdrive but could hit 101 mph (163 km).

The Motor magazine tested a 105R de luxe in 1957 and found it to have a top speed of 93.9 mph (151.1 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) of 23.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 23.6 miles per imperial gallon (12.0 L/100 km; 19.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1696 including taxes of £566. [8]

When production of the 105 line ended (in 1958 for the 105R and 1959 for the 105S), 10,781 had been produced, two thirds with the manual transmission option. For 1959 the manual model was described simply as a 105 and the trim and accessory level was reduced to match the other models.

P4 80

Rover P4 80
1962 Rover P4 80
Production 1959–1962
5,900 produced[6]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.3 L Rover straight-4

In 1959/1960 the P4 range was rationalised to two models, the 80 and the 100. The P4 80 was the four cylinder version. The engine was now a Land Rover-derived straight-4 overhead valve engine, this time displacing 2.3 L (2286 cc/139 in³); it is entirely different from the units used in all the other models. With 80 hp (59 kW) available, the car could top 85 mph (137 km/h). Girling 10.8 in (274 mm) vacuum servo assisted disc brakes at the front were new, and the car used wider tyres and had updated styling. Overdrive, operating on top gear only, was standard on the four speed transmission. Options included a radio, two tone paint schemes and either a bench or individual front seats. These options also apply to the 100 (see below).

The four cylinder P4s were never popular, and just 5,900 had been built when the line was cancelled in 1962.

The Motor magazine tested an 80 in 1961 and recorded a top speed of 82.9 mph (133.4 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) of 22.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 23.5 miles per imperial gallon (12.0 L/100 km; 19.6 mpg-US) was found. The test car cost £1396 including taxes of £411. [9]

P4 100

Rover P4 100
Rover 100
Production 1960–1962
16,521 produced[6]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.6 L Rover IOE engine straight-6

The P4 90 was replaced in 1960 by the more-powerful P4 100. Its similar 2.6 L (2625 cc/160 in³) IOE straight-6 engine was in fact a short-stroke version of the P5 3-Litre unit. The car could now reach 100 mph (161 km/h). The interior was luxurious, with wood and leather accents on traditional English car elements like a curved "Shepherds Crook" handbrake lever. Either a bench or individual front seats could be ordered. A heater was a standard fitting. Like the smaller 80 version the 100 got servo assisted Girling disc brakes at the front keeping drum brakes at the rear. Overdrive, on top gear only, was a standard fitting.

16,521 had been produced when it was replaced by the 110 version in 1962.

Testing the 100 in 1960 The Motor magazine recorded a top speed of 92.1 mph (148.2 km/h), acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) of 17.6 seconds and a fuel consumption of 23.9 miles per imperial gallon (11.8 L/100 km; 19.9 mpg-US). The test car cost £1538 including taxes. [10]

P4 95/110

Rover P4 95/110
Rover 110
Production 1962–1964
3,680 (95) & 4,620 (110) produced[6]
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 2.6 L Rover IOE engine straight-6

The final member of the P4 family was the P4 95 and P4 110 series. Introduced in 1962, and looking quite dated by then being in most respects little changed since the P4's launch 13 years earlier[3], the car was later modified to have steel door panels and electric windscreen washers. Though the Roverdrive automatic had been put to rest, overdrive was standard on the 110, whereas the 95 made do with a high ratio differential (3.9:1).

Both models used the same 2.6 L (2625 cc/160 in³) version of the IOE engine. The wider availability of higher octane fuels permitted an increase in the compression ratio to 8.8:1, and the old unit now produced 123 hp (91 kW) in 110 guise[3], which used a Weslake cylinder head, and 102 hp (76 kW) for the 95.

By this time the nose heavy cornering behavior, replete with noisy tyre scrub, excessive body roll and disconcerting levels of resistance from the steering system, was among several features that left the P4 feeling outclassed by more recently designed competitors[3]. The car was replaced by the futuristic Rover P6 in 1964.

Today

Rover P4s, at present, survive in large numbers, and despite certain drawbacks such as a tendency to vapour-lock (which can make re-starting difficult after the car has stood for between ten and thirty minutes) and a complex rod-operated handbrake linkage which is not easy to adjust correctly, they are quite often used as everyday transport. In the 1970s and 1980s they were neglected, but today they are considerably more valuable than their Rover P6 successors; roadworthy P4s almost always cost at least £2000; whereas P6s can sometimes be bought for under £1000.

Rover P4 Gallery

References

  1. ^ Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2.  
  2. ^ a b c d "The Rover 60 saloon". The Motor. January 20 1954.  
  3. ^ a b c d "Used cars on test: 1963 Rover 110". Autocar 127 (nbr 3732): pages 36 - 37. date 24 August 1967.  
  4. ^ "Second Hand car guide supplement". Practical Motorist vol 6 Nbr 68: between pages 768 & 769. date April 1960.  
  5. ^ "The Rover 75 saloon Road Test". The Motor. 1949.  
  6. ^ a b c d e Sedgwick, M.; Gillies.M (1986). A-Z of Cars 1945-1970. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-39-7.  
  7. ^ "The Rover 90 saloon". The Motor. July 7 1954.  
  8. ^ a b "The Rover 105R de luxe". The Motor. February 13 1957.  
  9. ^ "The Rover 80". The Motor. March 1, 1961.  
  10. ^ "The Rover 100". The Motor. February 24, 1960.  

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