To their credit while Rover must have realised the cost of producing a gas turbine powered motor car for the masses was prohibitive because of the cost of the exotic materials required and because of the high fuel consumption they continued experimenting with the technology until 1966.
Today’s featured 1961 T4 prototype was their final attempt at making a gas turbine vehicle for production to replace the Rover P4 models that had been in production since 1949.
For this application Rover engineers had their gas turbine producing 140hp enough to power the T4 from rest to 60 mph in 8 seconds, about the same as would be achieved 7 years later with the 155 hp aluminium Rover V8.
Designers Spencer King and Gordon Bashford carried a number of ideas over from the Rover T3 I looked at last week including all wheel disc brakes and de Dion rear suspension.
Even though the fuel consumption was improved from 13 mpg on the T3 to 20 mpg on the T4 the notion of a gas turbine powered car was eventually put to rest with the T4 and the nose was redesigned to accept a variety of petrol engines for the P6 series Rover 2000’s launched in 1963 and later Rover 3500’s launched in 1969.
Thanks for joining me on this “T4 Turbine” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another rallying Triumph. Don’t forget to come back now !
Today’s featured Rover T3 Coupé was Rovers third gas turbine powered car.
Spencer ‘Spen’ King and Gordon Bashford are credited with the design of the Coupé which first saw the light of day in 1956.
Among the designs novelties are all wheel drive, all wheel disc brakes and de Dion rear suspension which offers some of the advantages of independent sear suspension, but with additional complexity.
The T3 was powered by a variant of Rovers 1S gas turbine which produces 60hp that was used for fire pump, auxiliary power for aircraft like the Vulcan B2 nuclear bomb delivery system, hovercraft and as the main engine for light aircraft.
The motor, mounted behind the passenger cabin, has an operating speed of 46,000 rpm, unfortunately this gave a fuel consumption of 13 – 14 miles per gallon of paraffin.
Some features of the T3 including the all wheel disc brakes, and de Dion rear suspension found their way into the Rover P6 production model but unfortunately the gas turbine did not.
The Rover P4 range of vehicles was introduced in 1949 to replace the interim out dated P3 vehicles which had been rushed into production in 1948 as the Rover company sort to rebuild itself as a vehicle manufacturer having spent the years during World War 2 manufacturing aircraft.
Drawing inspiration from the 3rd generation Raymond Loewy designed Studebaker Champion launched in 1946, at the request of the Wilkes brothers who owned Rover, Gordon Bashford was responsible for what was known in the factory as the P4. The original P4’s came fitted with a central spot lamp mounted in the grill, but this feature was dropped early in production which eased the difficulties keeping the engine cool.
The P4 was continually being upgraded and from 1954 a distinct MkII version was available that was then restyled again into the form shown in these photo’s in 1957, a Mk 2.2 if you will.
Because of material shortages immediately after WW2 these vehicles incorporated a high percentage of aluminium content and were to be seen in competitions of the day including the 1955 Mille Miglia in which Lando Barsotti brought his #347 Rover 75 P4 home in 271st place. The 75 seen here was powered by a 2.2 litre /136 cui 6 cylinder motor featuring the same overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valve design as had been a feature of the earlier P3.
The final MK II P4’s were produced in 1959 with 9,974 Mk II’s produced over it’s five year production run.
I spotted this particular vehicle at the back of the Atwell – Wilson Motor Museum. I am not sure what they planned to do with it, good working examples of the type tend not to fetch more than £ 2000 so the cost of restoration would appear to be a little prohibitive.
Thanks for joining me on this Awaiting TLC edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !