Now universally known by its development code, SD1 (Specialist Division 1), the Rover saloon launched in June 1976 was actually called simply the Rover 3500. Stylist David Bache’s elegant hatchback profile owed much to his admiration of Pininfarina’s designs, in particular their Ferrari Daytona, and the SD1 was named European Car of the Year in 1977. Despite initial quality problems the futuristic, rapid and capacious SD1 soon became a police favourite and remained so into the late 1980s.The significantly faster 190bhp Vitesse, which entered production in October 1982, cemented this.
With oil money coming into Aberdeen it wasn’t unusual to see Ferraris being put through their paces on the new Stonehaven bypass when it opened in 1984. Grampian Police needed a high-speed patrol car to deal with this problem and they ordered a special Vitesse for the job: C356 YST. Most police SD1s were automatics but the Grampian force commissioned a police specification manual, stripped of the luxuries usually fitted to civilian Vitesses such as electric-windows, electric-sunroof, central-locking and air-conditioning; partly to minimise cost and weight but also to simplify the car and thus improve reliability.
This very original Police car has been in storage for some years but has now been sympathetically re-commissioned by Ant Anstead of Evanta Motors working with SD1 specialists Robsport International in Hertfordshire for Series 2 of Channel 4’s ‘For the Love of Cars’. The body was stripped down and new metal welded in where needed before being resprayed. This included the engine bay as the engine and gearbox were attended to out of the car. The suspension was rebuilt with new bushes while the brakes and fuel system were also renewed. All the unique police features, radio (which cannot be used for legal reasons so is not wired up), stop signs, sirens and blue lights were restored and work. The Grampian Police livery has also been reinstated and the interior trim was in remarkably good condition so was refitted once thoroughly cleaned.
This historically significant and very original car would make a fascinating museum exhibit or period TV and film vehicle. It offers a unique opportunity and is sure to attract a great deal of interest from collectors and police vehicle enthusiasts alike. This car comes with a current V5 document.