|Scott's Old Auto Rubber & Scott's Old Rover Parts|
ROVER P6B ESTATE
I have been interested in Rovers for many years, starting with my very first car, a 1956 90. It cost $150, was registered and in very good condition. It's former owner was a well known rally driver, and he worked his magic on the mechanicals, as it went like a rocket. Unfortunately my father took it to work that night to go over it, and wrote it off on the way. That must have set a trend, as at the time of writing, my wife and I are proud owners of 5 of them, a 1947 16, a 1956 60, 1 1974 P6B, a 1975 P6B and a 1970 P6B Estate. Also my job has a lot to do with them as well!
As you can tell, I like different Rovers, having also owned a 1970 P6B fitted with an original glass roof (if only I could have it back?), a 1926 Rover 9 Tourer in original condition, a 1955 90 fitted with a 3.5 litre engine and have just sold my P5 Rover fitted with a 5 litre Chev V8 so that my new wagon will fit in the driveway!
I remember looking through a copy of James Taylor's "The Classic Rover" and seeing a P6 Estate, noting that they only made about 150 of them. Even though I liked and wanted one, I realised they were far too rare to come my way, or even to see one. Then 10 years ago (approx) Colin Grey, a member of the U.K. P4 Drivers Guild and his wife were in Australia visiting our establishment, and reported with glee that they had no sooner disembarked from the plane than he was overtaken by a P6B Estate, something he had never seen in the U.K.!
The hunt was on!
From that moment, the hunt was on! For the last 10 years I have tracked down every lead, every bit of information. I came to the conclusion that the car was in Ringwood (a suburb of Melbourne) somewhere. Each time I went to Ringwood it took far longer than it should, as I drove around looking for the wagon. For the last few years there has not been a lot of information forthcoming about it, so I forgot about it.
Then my brother was driving around Ringwood with his wife looking for the house she used to live in. They got lost after taking a wrong turn and ended up in a street which had parked in it a P6B Estate! He left a card on the windscreen (which looked as is it had not been washed in several years), with a note asking if the car was for sale. The owner rang several days later and said he had owned the car for 20 years and would never consider selling the car as it had become a part of him. After arranging for him to bring the car to the National Rov in April, I was disappointed, but glad that I would finally get to see the Estate. Then a week later he rang again to say that the car had deteriorated and deserved better, and since he had bought a new diesel Discovery, he was prepared to sell the car if I promised to look after it and give it a good home.
The next weekend I was up at 4 am, as the previous owner was an early riser, and sprinted down to Pearcedale where he had moved to a couple of years before. After all this time, there it was, sad but basically sound. Because I was coming he'd given it a quick wash which made it look worse, the interior was alright but it had that much dust in it that the beige interior had a brown tint to it. The rear bumper bar was shaped like a banana from where his daughter had tied a rope around it and had tried to tow a friends car.
The price rose dramatically
We had agreed on a price over the phone, but since he had 4 other Rovers he wanted disposed of as well, and because I had no way to store them and did not want them, the price rose dramatically, making me go home to think about it. Needless to say I bought it anyway! Driving it on the way home for the first time was a revelation! A very tight motor car for one that has been driven on dirt roads it's whole life, except that the steering box had almost a quarter turn of free play. Other than the fact that there is so much more room in the car it is very much a standard P6 to drive. A little louder perhaps, but I'm sure the fact that the rear muffler is missing helps. They are rather odd looking cars, made by FLM Panelcraft U.K. using fully assembled cars and mostly standard panels. The roofline sweeps down toward the rear, giving it a 'sat on' look and gives the impression of movement even at rest. This is an early version that uses a re worked boot lid as the tailgate, the later cars had exposed tailgate hinges and a higher line to the rear and a less squat look and used a Mk II Cortina tailgate.
On the road it is very anonymous, looking a little like a Hillman Hunter wagon from behind, and a little like a Volvo wagon from the side, so in traffic you are hardly even looked as (except by other Rovers). As a wagon it is fairly small inside, due to the sloping roofline, but as a P6B it is very useable, a standard will fit 2 extra spare wheels in the boot, if you're lucky, but in the wagon I picked up 8 Rover 16 wheels & tires with a fair bit of spare room!
The first job to do was obviously, clean it! I won't mention much about the interior, except that I filled 3 vacuum cleaner bags full of rubbish and the carpet was rotted due to a leaky windscreen for the last 20 years. But under the mudguards surprised even me. The first day I used a garden hose on full blast and covered my front lawn with mud. The next day I used a jet attachment and covered my lawn again! It still was not clean so off with the wheels and out with a screwdriver to chip the last super tough bits of dirts off. I've taken so much dirt out of the car that it now sits one inch higher and I'm still not finished!
All I need now is an early bonnet, grille and badge, as the fool the last owner had working on the car after a minor bingle put a late model grille and bonnet on the car as well as a 2000 front bumper bar with rear over riders. I did a fair bit of work on it to prepare it for the National Rov at Easter and it came up very well, and didn't it create some interest! All I need now is a bit more garage space and I'll be able to do it justice.
Several months later - 27/2/97
The more I do to the wagon, the worse it looks, and the more I treasure our climate in Australia because our cars are so unaffected by rust compared to the "Motherland". Because the wagon spent 2 years in England before finding it's way to these shores, rust has found it's way into quite a few places. The fact that a replacement heater was fitted without a gasket has meant that a lot of water found it's way into the front of the car, especially on the left hand side. It must have been awful driving it around with so much water in the car, and all the carpet had rotted away or been washed out of the holes that had begun to appear.
I knew the car was full of rust when I bought it, but after finding someone capable and willing to take on the job, it was time to strip the car so that welders and cutters would not damage anything. Then I found rust! The motor and gearbox had to come out, as the gearbox was in need of major work, the seats and interior were next, followed by the mudguards and doors. The left-hand front floor was thin and holy, and the water had collected next to the sill from front to back and ate away the metal into the sill and out the bottom, the right hand side was not as bad. I found rust in places I had not seen before. Upon lifting up the rear seats, I found I was looking at the ground and could not work out why rust had found it's way there! We eventually worked out that the panel that fills the gap between the seat backs and the seat bottoms was bolted either side through the wheel well, and whoever had bolted it in the last time had left it loose so that water and mud was splashed up from the rear wheels past the bolt and into the superstructure under the seat where it rusted away the rest of the sill and floor around it.
I very rarely recommend people who work on cars, as invariably it always reflects on me, although I have no hesitation in spreading the word about Graham Carter of Carter Automotive Restorations, as the car I got back from him is now totally sound and ready to reassemble. He rebuilt every section of floor and sill by hand, with very little to go on and each contour matches perfectly.
While the car is in pieces and the transmission is being rebuilt, I had the rear main oil seal replaced, as it was the rope kind, and since they are such a pain to replace I thought I may as well, or I'd put it all together and then it would leak! The heads will be next, then the camshaft and rockers (yes they were all noisy). The motor goes well and has plenty of power so there is no need to go further.
So that is that for now. I will not be painting it straight away as it is quite respectable and I do not have time to do it properly, and want to put it together and get some use out of it, after all, that's what it is for.
Update as at 5/7/99.
The automatic transmission was reconditioned, and while the engine was out we decided to replace the rear main oil seal. While it was at the workshop, the factory burnt down, damaging the engine, now in need of a major rebuild with new liners etc. This was quite a blow, and has taken over a year before I could think of working on it again, and other interests took over.
Now the new windscreen has been fitted, with new rubbers of course, and a "new" engine taken from my daily driver to replace the damaged one.
Update as at 8/1/01.
The old century has gone and another year has also gone by. Not much has happened as our house needed a couple of renovations, and the pergola at the rear of the house needed replacing and a new roof. Since I am not very able with hammer and nails, this took a lot of time. As soon as that was finished I had to get ready for the new arrival, not a car but our new son, so a great deal of alterations and painting had to be done to the nursery, and while that was being done a few other things had to be done, and each job started others! So now that is all over and I am realising the joys of fatherhood, I can again get started on the Estate.
The engine is waiting on a new heater tube under the inlet manifold before it goes back together after the new timing chain and seals have been fitted. Then the engine and transmission will go back together and into the car. I can give no guarantee, but I hope it will be back on the road before the end of the year. We shall see.
Update as of 1/5/05. Not a lot has happened to the poor old dear, as you know I had a child, followed by another 14 months later, so time has been very well spent running after 2 very lively children, as well as house renovations and changes to our business, I now am at work every day of the week for the whole day, so time has not been spare! I began stripping the front end to replace the worn front end, and noticed a crack on the underside of the chassis near the lower link to sub frame, so off to Carter Automotive once again for a Rover Car Club Of Australia chassis stiffener kit to be put in, and while that was there I decided to have rest of the panels repainted. The car came back stiffer than before and a lot stronger, and all the panels were stripped and painted, and 2 doors were put back on the car to re assemble the window frames etc. The window frames came to work so I could put new bailey channel in and paint and polish the frames when I had a quiet moment, and for the last year have been waiting for one!! Now that the kids are growing and can look after themselves to a greater extent, I plan to begin putting it together over winter, or at least make a start. Once again we will see.
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Well here we are in mid 2006 and as per last update not much has happened. My business partner moved on to other things, meaning that my workload doubled overnight, and my young children want a little bit of time with me so poor old P6 has been patiently waiting for assembly. And then last year our business moved 3 doors up the road which took months, and we still aren't fully settled yet, with renovations and finding places for everything to go, and then finding them again! Hopefully as we settle in there may be some time to do some work later this year.
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