by Peter H. Edwards
Tim Brownell in How to Restore your Collector Car
wrote, "'True 'Classics' are defined by
the Classic Car Club of America as follows: fine or
unusual. motor cars built between and including the
years 1925 and 1948, distinguished for their respective
fine design, high engineering standards and superior
Strictly speaking, classics are distinguished
by special styling or mechanical features not found
in run-of-the-mill cars".
Without getting into a discussion about the definition
of antique, veteran, classic, vintage, etc. it can be
said that according to the above description the 1948
Rover P3 is definitely a classic, finely engineered
Like most classics it is quite scarce. A Melbourne parts
dealer said that over the years they had 30-40 P4s to
wreck, but only three P3s. Total production of P3 Rovers
1948-9 was no more than 9,111 cars.
The 1948 Rover appeared
as a 4 cylinder '60' and a 6 cylinder '75' with a completely
new post-war engine of an inclined cylinder head
the inlet valves
being in the head, and the exhaust valves
located at the side.
This 'IoE' design required the manifolding to have inlet
pipes on opposite sides of the engine. The
inlet pipe has a thermostatically controlled water jacket.
During the war years many engineering advances had taken
place. The Rover engines were beautifully quiet and
more fuel efficient than their predecessors.
were liberally used in valve covers, timing covers, the
sump and gearbox assembly. The 4 cylinder version of
the engine was used in the Series 1 Land Rover, while
the 6 cylinder engine was the basis of those used in
the P4 75's from 1950-1954.
Another special feature of Rovers at that time was the
free wheel, described here in The Autocar (13/2/48): "At
the back of the gear box is an inbuilt controlled free
wheel which permits noiseless and easy gear changing without
touching the clutch pedal, merely by releasing the throttle
and moving the gear lever
Rover had also gone over
to independent front suspension
with anti-roll stabiliser,
and made extensive use of rubber bushing. Other features
included electric fuel pump, synchromesh
on 3rd and top
gears, heating/demisting and hydro-mechanical brakes.
The chassis design was new too, but the most intriguing
thing about the car, and what makes it 'fine and unusual'
is the retention of a pre-war body shape to cater for
the conservative tastes of the middle-class customers.
The sales brochures describe it as an "attractive and
dignified body design". As The Motor (18/2/48) said, "Many
motorists, both at home and abroad, continue to approve
the established styles". The body had 'suicide' doors,
sunroofs were provided, and either two or three side
windows ('4 or 6-light').
The door windows had rain-shedding glass louvres above
them. Add to this, external tuned twin horns, running
boards, and mudguard-mounted headlights and you have
the advantage of an antique style with a respectable
post-war performance. No need to own a car which drives
like a billycart in order to experience old-world features,
and I haven't even mentioned the interior, with its timbers
and wonderful range of dials. The Rover P3 has an interesting
history and a great look - a true classic.