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Rover Talago P6 Prototype

Rover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 Prototype
Rover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 PrototypeRover Talago P6 Prototype
Lot number 109
Hammer value £18,500
Description Rover Talago P6 Prototype
Registration 16 DYF
Year 1962
Colour Grey
Engine size 3,500 cc
Chassis No. P6/16

First registered in August 1962 this is believed to be the only surviving prototype of the Rover P6 that is known to exist apart from the Gas Turbine car in Gaydon which was adapted from a Talago. Rover hand-built 16 prototypes in all between February 1959 and August 1962 but the other 14 are believed to have been scrapped. This one is chassis number P6/16, the last prototype built, and is very close in appearance to the final production cars which were launched in October 1963 badged as the Rover 2000. In fact P6/16 was the first car which would accept all the final production body panels.

Initially left-hand drive it was used for high speed noise, vibration and harshness testing work on the Continent, clocking up some 150,000 miles. Pensioned off after two years, it was acquired by one of Rover’s engineering directors, Richard Fishwick, who was allowed to buy it for £50 on a part-ownership scheme whereby he could use it as personal transport but Rover retained ownership and control.

The car continued to play a role as a development mule for the next eight years, being converted to right-hand drive in 1964 and becoming a test vehicle for the new Buick V8 engine and manual gearbox and for the development of the sports suspension which was to feature in the Rover 3500EI. It was also used for tyre testing, for trialling wire wheels and further work on reducing cabin noise.

The car also gained its third development engine (which it still retains), an original Buick V8 from the batch of engines purchased to develop and evaluate what was to eventually become the famous Rover V8 engine. This engine in its own right is historically very important to the history of Rover and has been fully rebuilt with the correct Buick rocker covers. The V8 enabled Rover to use the car to fine tune the sports suspension package fitted and also to develop the manual gearbox for the sports version and eventually the Rover 3500S.

The gearbox currently fitted to the car is one of three that come with it, the performance option which has strengthened 1st and 2nd gears for repeated hard acceleration testing. The spare gearboxes are a standard unit and one with a very tall bottom two ratios which will enable the car to reach 70mph in first.

The car was purchased from Richard Fishwick in 2001 by the current vendor and was fully restored over an eight year period at a cost of some £65,000. Extensive research has taken place to ascertain the history of the car including hundreds of conversations with Rover directors and employees. Many conflicting stories emerged regarding the car’s precise history but it has been restored as close to the final development project as possible.

The colour is Prototype Grey which was matched using a Land Rover prototype housed in the Gaydon Museum and is a mix of Rover Burnt and Rover Birch Grey. Everything on the car has been restored or remanufactured to be an exact match to the removed rusty or worn parts, with exacting detail (even down to the number of spot welds and their precise location). The doors were the last brand new set in the world and were shipped over from America at a cost of £2,000 to avoid the inevitable distortion that re-skinning the old ones would have caused. The Talago also retains its original number plate, 16 DYF, reflecting the chassis number.

The car has only done around 50 miles since completion and has an MOT and road tax until March 2011. Needless to say, it remains in outstanding condition throughout and is currently the subject of a major four page feature in the July 2010 issue of 'Classic & Sportscar' magazine. This is a fascinating piece of British motoring history that would be the pride of any Rover collection.

Main photo courtesy of Tony Baker, C&SC

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