Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The Rover 3500
took the gong for European Car of the Year in 1977, but it was undeniably an up-market vehicle. Obviously Rover wanted to cash in on the growing success so, in 1977, two cheaper versions were developed, using the same bodyshell but smaller, in-line, six-cylinder engines of 2.3 and 2.6 litres instead of the famous Buick-derived V8 of the 3500.
The 2300 was the cheapest and most basic of the trio, lacking such features as the five-speed gearbox, tachometer, and self-levelling suspension
found in the 2600 and 3500 as standard equipment. Nevertheless, the 2300 retained most of the character of the larger engined cars which won the range plenty of respect.
was beyond reproach, helped by features such as a sophisticated de Dion rear suspension
and one of the most impressive power assisted steering
systems then available. By European standards the Rover was a big car, however it took very little time for the driver to feel as though it has shrunk around them, and it could soon be driven with the enthusiasm and confidence engendered by a smaller more sporty hatchbacks then popular.
To many people it seemed strange that Rover should have bothered to produce two smaller engined versions of the 3500 - and many thought the 2600 alone would have served to capture sufficient customers down-market from the 3500. In truth the 2300, while certainly not really slow or laboured, did lack the flexibility of the 2600, and road testers of the time often commented that the class of the car was somewhat compromised by having a relatively underpowered version and lack of a five-speed gearbox.
The engine used in the 2300 was a then new six-cylinder unit of comparatively simple design. The cross-flow cylinder head
was in aluminium, housing a single overhead cam driven by a toothed belt and operating the slanted valves
by rocker arms. It produced 123 bhp at 5000 rpm and 134 lb ft of torque at 4000 rpm. This output was sufficient to give a maximum speed of 114 mph, and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 11.5 seconds - not world shattering, and best described as "adequate".
Fuel consumption was a little better than the V8 version provided you were not tempted to ring the neck out of the 2300, and any reasonable driver would have averaged around 25 mpg. It is significant that the longer stroke form of the engine in the 2600 would return not only slightly better fuel consumption figures but a faster top speed (by 5 mph), and faster acceleration (by half a second up to 60 mph) - which really put to question why you would bother with the 2300. If anyone can anwer that one, there is the reader reviews section below - we would love to hear from you.
One of the particularly impressive things about the car, as with the others in the range, was the obviously great thought that had gone into the design. This was manifested in a host of diverse points such as having the fuse box mounted behind an easily detachable panel on the side of the instrument cluster, rather than inside the engine compartment, to the system of forced ventilation through the sills. In this arrangement air was fed from the bonnet intake through the sills to exit underneath the rear wheel arches which themselves were made as smooth and round as possible to prevent road dirt accumulating.
Features like this, along with the high level of anti-corrosion treatment were intended to all but eliminate rust. Today we question the reasons why the 2600 would not suffice as a downmarket model to the 3500 - particularly given it was less economical and obviously slower - but then again it did mean that it was more affordable - and there were plenty of inherited engineering advances in the car to make it worthwhile. Shame then that the build quality was very hit-and-miss.
Rover 2300 Quick Specifications
Front-mounted, water cooled, in-line, six-cylinder. 81 mm (3. 19in) bore x 76mm (2.99 in) stroke 2350 cc (143.4cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 123 bhp at 5000 rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 1341b ft at 4000rpm; cast-iron cylinder block and aluminium head. Compression ratio 9.25:1. 4 main bearings. 2 valves
per cylinder operated via rockers and vee slanted thimble tappets
by one belt driven overhead camshaft. Twin SU HS6 side-draught carburettors
Single dry plate clutch and manual four-speed gearbox. Ratios 1st 3.321, 2nd 2.087,3rd 1.396, 4th 1.00, rev 3.428. Hypoid bevel final drive, ratio 3.4150:1. Three-speed automatic transmission
optional. Ratios, low 2.390, intermediate 1.450, top 1.00, reverse 2.090:1.
Front-independent by MacPherson struts, lower trailing links and anti-roll bar
, rear-rigid axle (torque tube), transverse Watts linkage, coil springs and telescopic dampers.
Rack and pinion. Turns from lock to lock 4.150. Power assistance optional.
Discs front drums rear. Dual hydraulic circuit. Servo assisted.
5.5in x 14in. Tyres 175HR x 14. Dunlop Denovo tyres
5 door, 4 seats. Integral.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 111 in: track-front 59in rear-59 in: length 165iQ; width 69. 60 in; height 53 in: ground clearance 5.4 in; weight 27871b; turning circle (between walls) 34.2 tt: fuel tank capacity 14.5gal.
Maximum speed 114 mph: acceleration 0:-60 mph 11.5 seconds; acceleration 30:-50 mph in fourth gear 10.4 seconds; fuel consumption approximately 25 mpg.