TXC747F in Italy as part of an extended by well-known motoring Journalist Ted Eves
P6Bs formally entered production with the 425 Home Market cars, with the first car (42500001A) entering despatch on the 10th of July 1967 and was licensed TXC730F on the 28th. This was a little after the P5B, on which the first were built in the Spring. The Rover V8 itself also started in July 1967, with the first experimental blocks coming off the line in June 1967, which were marked EXP#A.
The whole batch of cars, being registered TXC730F to TXC749F were part of a series of pre-production vehicles, with cars assigned to the Engineering-, Service- and Publicity departments, but also to people strongly associated to the company. These cars served as assessment cars and were normally given to people in non-engineering jobs, who would look at the car as a regular customer and therefore reported problems like an ordinary customer would. The first four cars were allocated to Rover Engineering, and were out of despatch by late July, after which they were used for continental road tests.
The first of these, TXC730F, was put through its paces on a Solihull - Athens - Solihull run between the 11th to the 28th of September 1967. The objects of the test were to add at least 5000 miles over varying road surfaces and under different conditions. This was the third run for the car, the second for the engine and gearbox and the first for the tyres, brake pads, discs and master cylinder. Added to that, a different set of Ferodo brake pads was used.
TXC730F in Greece
The southbound journey to Athens was made directly over the better roads and was completed by the 16th at an average speed 52,7 mph but with only 2123 miles covered. They had little observations on this trip, except that the rear dampers knocked when cold on two occasions and straight line running in the first few hundred miles was criticized, but was likely due to wrongly set tire pressures as the problems vanished after setting the tires at 30 lb/in2.
Also observed was the so called ‘fluttering’ of the bonnet, and the bonnet to wing gap in the wing-mounted rear-view mirror. However, it was also stated that might have been due to ‘jostling of a herd of cows in an Austrian township. This same incident was responsible for the loss of the side lamp tell-tale.’
Recorded top speed was 115 mph and was disappointing. 5000 rpm have about 108 mph, and wind-assisted on a down hill stretch the car achieved 120 mph. To quote, ‘acceleration was not as sparkling as to be expected’, noting that the other occupant, Mr. Glenton from Rover North America, was not as easily discomforted as the year prior when on a drive in BXC620B, the first P5 to have a Buick engine installed.
During 1967, the cars were slowly built up to fill the series. All cars up to number 10 off the line went to Engineering, Quality Control, and the internal training department, but car number 6 off the line went to then newly appointed director of Leyland, Donald Stokes. Odd thing about this car is that it was finished in Racing Red, which was never available to the public. The car was soon prominently positioned in the entrance of Leyland HQ in London to showcase ‘their’ newest products to visitors. Some other cars, including TXC747F, were finished in Racing Red as well.
The remaining cars, up to car number 25 were built up during September, October and November of the same year and went to different people and departments. A good number of them went to Rover employees who were ‘given’ the car for use on their daily commutes if they reported back any faults or items which could be improvement. These people were not engineers, so they were likely to report as ordinary customers. Of course, Sir George Farmer got one for his now famous ROV1 registration substituting is TC for car number 13 of the line. This car was later re-registered AXC859F when he got a RHD 3500S Automatic. 5 cars went to Rover’s publicity department and featured prominently in brochures and road tests around the car’s launch in April.
Promotional material featuring both P5B and P6B
The launch of the P6B was deliberately pushed backwards to introduce the P5B first at Earls Court in October 1967, which enabled Rover to grab 2 spotlights for the re-engined models. Unlike the P5B, the P6B wouldn’t get a public launch at one of the major international auto shows, but had a major launch event in France, where members of the motoring press were invited to drive the cars and report about them.
Some notable cars from the first 100 made were AXC510F, used for testing with detox equipment for the North American market and YXC395F, which was allocated to Pirelli in Burton-on-Trent. Unfortunately, Pirelli stated that it has thrown out all their paperwork from back in the day after enquiring. Both Pirelli and Dunlop had close contacts with Solihull in their days, with on-site Engineers being constantly present at Solihull.