An Owners Report. Scott Richmond Rover P5 1966 Mklll Modified. (since sold)

I have owned this car for nearly 8 years, during which time it has gone through many changes, as have I. When purchased the car was original, but sad. Now it is fitted with a Chevrolet 5 litre motor & gearbox. This is how it all came about.

I knew about this car for some time, John from Stephenson & Ollason owned it, and his wife drove it on a regular basis. When I bought it, I was told it had a worn big end bearing, and the noise was there right through the rev range. The plan was to drive the motor into the ground until it blew, then re-power the car with a V8 as 1 needed a tow car for the business.

The problem was that it never blew, the noise got louder and louder, but the car just kept going, and towing, and going, until one day the noise stopped, the fan belt broke! Upon opening up the engine 1 found almost a perfect bore, pistons and bearings, but the head was eaten by corrosion.

During this time, I got another car for the business and began wrecking the P5. After most bits were sold, a customer wanted to buy the car as it was still registered, so other bits were scrounged and the car put together and back on the road with a new head. Due to problems extracting money from him, I ended up keeping the car. Another customer wanted an engine and gear box, so I had a registered car with no motor

I found a running 307 Chev V8 and powerglide out of a HK Brougham and began slotting them in. I had bought a MKI earlier that had a Chev thrown in the engine bay, and had been fascinated how easily it had slotted in, but with the MK3 I wanted it done properly. From the outset my engineer was shown each modification before it was done. All the welding on the subframe had to be redone, the brace under the engine had been dropped down several inches to allow the engine to sit flat, otherwise V8's sit on an uphill incline which is not good for smoothness or the propshaft bearings. Otherwise the only other modification to the subframe was removal of the existing engine mounts and fitting of new mounts further down the subframe. The transmission mount bolts to a plate bolted to original bracket.

That was the easy part, the tailshaft had to have new bearings and balanced as a new front yoke had to be welded. Because the linkages to the new carby worked backwards compared to the old S.U., I removed the old throttle and pedal setup and replaced it with P5 3.5 cable linkage with a longer cable. The radiator had to have the outlet and inlets changed over to suit the new engine. The transmission lines flow through the oriqinal MKIII oil cooler (ideal for a tow car).

The next step was the gear selector, to modify the column change or fit the selector from a 3.5? Actually neither were suitable, as the Chev selector has the inhibitor fitted, but the Rover has it in the Borg Warner 35 transmission. This could have been overcome, but time forced me to buy a floor mounted, after - market T bar which performs well. The front end had been rebuilt with all new rubbers, ball joints and tie rods, as well as the weakest set of front torsion springs I could find, due to the fact that the new engine is almost half the weight of the original (at least it seems like half) but even with the suspension adjusted as low as possible it still sat too high at the front.

Did I say time forced some choices? The reason was a halfway club outing between the Sydney & Melbourne clubs in Wagga, very well organised by several local members and my accommodation was a caravan I was to tow behind the P5C (no longer a 3 litre). I made it, but only just! As soon as I finished working on the car I hooked up the van and was off on the cars maiden voyage and test drive to Wagga! (about 300 miles of holiday traffic).

Maiden voyage with minutes to spare!!!

I was very pleased with the cars performance, except that I had mucked up the ignition timing and the car pinged, overheated and would not pull up hills, this was soon put right and I was treated to 18 MPG towing a very heavy caravan (the cars best previous was 16 MPG unloaded!) The car performed well and got me home with only minor hiccups, everyone at the rally said it was a pity it did not look as good as it performed, as the paint was cracked through the sage green paint to the metal, so the car looked awful.
Engineering meant several trips to get a noise test, an engineering certificate which was no problem as my engineer had been in on it from day one, and a brake test. The brakes were modified by fitting a 2000 power booster and a 3.5 master cylinder and re building all lines, cylinders and callipers. The brake test meant many emergency brake stops in several minutes with gravity and inertia meters on board. The engineer who did the test was amazed by the performance of the brakes and could not praise them enough, especially when told they were basically standard specification 3.5 front to back. That done, down to Vic Roads or who ever they were that month for it's inspection, 15 minutes later I was out and legally modified.

At a club hoons day, about to break the diff!!

Since then the car has done many long miles, 2 trips to South Australia and 5 trips to N.S.W. and many of them towing trailers carrying more than it's own weight. After re-conditioning the engine and transmission, I bought another car with a warmed up fresh gas 5 litre engine and turbo 350 transmission and swapped them for the ones in my car. After being nagged by various people, I had it painted to be a little more presentable, then got serious. I put in new seats, carpet and widened 3.5 wheels. The shocks were replaced with gas units and the early version manual steering box I had fitted originally was replaced with a fresh MKIIC version which made the steering less weavy. Recently I had extractors fitted and the car put on gas as well as a new triple core radiator to suit a HZ 350.

Car has been sold since this article was written.

Scott Richmond.


Page Manager: S. Richmond
Page Last updated 12/01/2020