The car that whisked new prime minister Margaret Thatcher to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen is set to make up to £45,000 at auction.
When introduced in 1958, the Rover P5 was the company’s undoubtedly flagship — and a return to the upper echelons of the executive car market for its maker. Being big, sturdy and incredibly well-made, the Ebony Black saloon became the favoured transport of British prime ministers and royalty.
Manufactured on the 24th March 1973, this particular Rover played an important role in UK political history, transporting newly-elected Margaret Thatcher, from Conservative Headquarters to Buckingham Palace on 4th May, 1979, where she accepted the Queen’s invitation to form a new administration.
After retiring from its place on the political stage, the Rover moved into private ownership in 1980 with a recorded mileage at the time of circa 76,000m with approximately 17,000 miles recorded since then. It remains in exceptional condition throughout to this very day.
The structure of the car was designed as a single unit with all inner panels such as the floor, front and rear bulkhead and door post stressed. The project was Rover’s first attempt at a monocoque design, and as British car design engineer, Gordon Bashford, stated “There was no computer aided design in those days, of course, so all the stress engineering had to be done by mathematical dexterity and testing, particularly pave testing.”
More recently, the paintwork has been given a refresh, while both the engine and gearbox have been rebuilt. In order to preserve the vintage feel of the interior and to maintain the Rover’s heritage, the interior has been kept in entirely original condition. The P5 was a product of free thinking, and among the advanced concepts used in the design were independent rear suspension and four-wheel Lockheed disc brakes. During this period, Gordon Bashford became responsible for Rover’s forward planning, and devised some amazing alternative P5 concepts – including front wheel drive, rear engines, de Dion-axled cars, rear mounted transmissions, four-wheel drive; and a car with the gearbox mounted under the seat. The car also had a box-section front subframe, which carried the suspension, steering, engine and gearbox. This was attached to the rest of the vehicle by six rubber bushes, and although it was complex, Gordon Bashford thought there were benefits in terms of servicing (it could be dropped from the car for easy access) and refinement, he later revised his opinion.
In terms of powering the Rover, it has a 3.50 litre V8 engine. Now, it is being offered by Silverstone Auctions on the 27th of August with an estimate of £35,000 to £45,000. With a large history file and unquestionable provenance, the venerable Rover P5 is an attractive saloon it is own right.
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