Rover 3.5 Litre P5B

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As a child, all I ever wanted was the P6 3500S and I barely remember the P5 - I didn't see many and I think as a very young boy I might have got them confused with Jaguars or maybe even a Rolls Royce.

I'd sometimes wondered why Rover marketed two V8 cars - the 3.5 Litre and the 3500/3500S.

I got my answer as soon as I took to the wheel - it's a class thing.

The P5 is first class - there are no cheap options - no snide version. No fabric seats.

A P6 3500S is top of her range - with the P5B 3.5 Litre there is no range - just a choice of body shapes.

Peoples' mouths crease when I describe the P6 as a modern car, perhaps the first British modern car.

Now I've driven a P5B, I stand by my words - the P6, as it approaches its 50th anniversary, is still a modern car in so many ways. The P5, er, isn't. It's as simple as that.

It's a lovely car to drive but it is not modern.

The twin-exhaust gives the automatic a truly amazing burble at the traffic lights as you hold the brake pedal down - it's like a bulldog straining at the leash. Being a V8, she will proceed from the lights if asked to, but there won't be any tyremarks, unlike a 3500S.

The P5 and the P6 couldn't be more different in character but it is easy to see they come from the same stock - same pedigree.

I'd recommend this car to anyone who wants a usable classic. They are solid, reliable and built like a Volvo.

You need to do your homework because like the P6, they hide their corrosion well. I got my mechanic to check this car and answer one simple question - "Is the item as described on EBay". After a thorough examination and a test drive, the answer came back, "Yes" so I handed over my money.

The youngest of the P5Bs is fast approaching its 40th birthday and unless a car has been restored, the interior is likely to be worn.

With my P5B, everything is there and it all works, but it needs a bit of TLC.

There is a heater underneath the rear seat, perhaps for keeping the mayoral bottom warm back in the day. This works, but the hoses look very frail and will be renewed before they perish and cause a flood!

The Rostyle wheels are smart enough but the old cross ply tyres are AWFUL!

They are legal but they are absolutely horrible - like driving on razor blades, especially in the wet. A set of modern budget 185/80/14 radials will suffice and don't forget to change the spare too.

The oil and transmission fluids were the right colours - pink for the transmission fluid and clean oil, suggesting this car has been well looked after.

In the absence of "Rover P5s for Dummies", the internet was a great help in making sure my mechanic and I knew what to look for, and this car ticked all the boxes.

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