These cars were as staid and conventional as the upper
middle class who were the main customers at the time, although
some people considered the design controversial in those early
post-war years. Undoubtedly British to the core with their
regal appearance and lots of polished walnut, Wilton carpets,
leather covered seats, etc., the range was, nevertheless,
closer in styling to some American autos of the mid 1940s.
In fact, rumour at the time of the launch,
was that Rover's technical director, Maurice Wilks, had brought
two Studebakers over from the States and used these to help
develop and loosely base their new saloon around. Certainly,
the resemblance between the two marques were similar, with
very few characteristics of the P3 (which itself perpetuated
the body shape of the pre-war P2 model) introduced a year
or so earlier.
The pre-production P4 prototype even became
known as the 'Roverbaker' to those in the know at the time.
But without visible running boards its design was very different
to most other British cars of the era, although the generous
full width body did reveal a narrow step when the doors were
It also differed from most of its contemporaries
by using a light-weight alloy known as Birmabright for the
construction of the bonnet, doors and boot lid, although some
later models in the early Sixties used pressed steel for these
|| A distinctive
feature of the early P4s was undoubtedly
the centrally-mounted fog light,
generally referred to as the 'Cyclops
eye', but this concession to Americian
tastes was soon done away with,
as were the square-
shaped instruments in favour of
round ones as shown.
Over the next decade a number of fundamental
changes were incorporated, including a wrap-round rear window,
restyled boot and a floor mounted gear change lever to replace
the steering column shift-change. At the same time new models
sported different type designations, although the basic P4
shape remained true to the original. When the car finally
bowed out in 1964 its ancestory to the early 75 was still
In all some eight different versions were
produced over the years ranging from a four-cylinder 60 to
the powerful 1963 six-pot 110, although if you take account
of the marginally different body shapes, then the number of
variants are well over a dozen and this can be increased still
further if account is taken of a few low volume models, such
as the 1950 Cyclops-based 75 Drophead (of which only one remains),
the 100 Woody Estate of 1960 or the P4-derived Marauder built
by a company affiliated to Rover.
Interestingly, Rover's experimental gas-turbined
car JET 1, first seen by the public in 1950, was based on
the model. This was the first attempt world-wide to use a
gas-turbine power unit to propel the motor car, testomy, if
it's needed, to the strength and structure of the P4 chassis
and running gear.
Affectionately known as 'Aunty' from an
early age - its general air of respectability and gentility
afflicted it with that nickname - over 130,000 examples were
manufactured with a good few still going strong to this day,
some as everyday transport.. Obviously quality construction,
allied to an extremely robust chassis, contributed to their
longevity. They just seem go on and on, like most old aunts!
The P4 is extremely well catered for by
enthusiasts such as members of the Rover P4 Drivers Guild.
Formed in 1977, the organisation caters for all variants including
the 60, 75, 80, 90, 95, 100, 105 and 110. Visit
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