One of the internets more thought-provoking car websites has written about my second-favourite car (which unfortunately never launched). It’s always interesting to read opinions on the cars we love from writers who care about cars but are outside the ‘bubble’ of a particular marque or model. This article provides some new information about the Rover P8, the car intended as the successor to the Rover P5B, and opinion on the P8 and how it might have fared in the market if it had been launched.
I can certainly agree that the P8’s styling was challenging, particularly for a Rover, and would not have aged well through the late 1970’s. Yet I also think for the time it was a thoroughly modern, impressive-looking thing, and would have been a huge leap-forwards for Rover’s image. It was also very impressive technically, with high-pressure hydraulics and self-levelling rear suspension (the reason the rear of the prototype in the photo above is sitting low).
Rover in this period seemed to do what I would call ‘brooding’ styling very well, from the P6, P8, Range Rover to the SD1. They all share a somewhat ‘heavy’ and serious style, emphasised by their frowning headlamp / bonnet relationship, which somehow perfectly aligns with their premium positioning but at the same time just looks ‘right’. David Bache was never afraid to push boundaries – he was apparently a fan of gull-wing doors and even opera windows at one point, and there is a clear American influence in the P8’s ‘Coke-bottle’ styling.
Whether the P8 would have succeeded is completely open to debate, but personally I’m convinced it would have been a success. Just look at how the Ford Granada invaded Rovers market through the 1970’s. The Granada shared many P8 styling themes, and was launched in 1972 – 1 year later than the scheduled launch of the P8.
Read the article on DTW: