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1977-1980 models
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The 1977-1980 models

The first models introduced.

These first SD1’s were characterized by stainless steel bumpers with black plastic end  caps. Their headlamps were set back from the front panel, and the wrap-around front  lamp clusters incorporated both side lamps and indicators.   The rear panel carried two silver plinth badges, printed in black with identifying details  of the model. Wheels were steel discs with different trims according to model. The 3500s  initially had stainless steel trims with black-painted sections; the 2600s had grey plastic  trims of the same 'clover-Ieaf' design, also with black-painted sections; and the 2300s had  all-grey trims. Attractive multi-spoked alloys in a natural metal finish were extra-cost  options on an 2600 models, and came with low-profile tyres.   The run-flat tyres were also available on special steel wheels. Metallic paint finishes we  re advertised from the begin but in practice they seem not to have been available early  1978 or thereabouts. This was almost certain because of teething troubles with the new  paint plant Solihuil. In theory, the thermoplastic process of passing electric charge  through the bodyshelI and charging the with the opposite polarity should have caused the  pas adhere smoothly and uniformly, but in practice water became trapped under the  paint, leading to blemishes flaking. Early cars were available in an uninspiring range of  red, white, brown and yellow, and the addition rather lurid green in 1977 did nothing to  improve picture.   The rather drab selection of light and dark browns eh for the interior trim was typical of  the period, and the 'trims were rather cheap-looking injection-moulded items. All  upholstery was in cloth - there was no leather option at first - and 3500s and 2600s shared  the same pleated upholstery, while the base-model 2300 had heavily pleated seat covers.  An ingenious mod dashboard design (entry-Ievel 2300s simply had the counter unit  missing) simplified production by being readily adaptable for left-hand or right-hand  steering. However, its build quality was of ten atrocious, its black finish uninspired, and  the lack of lighting for the switchgear made night driving tiresome. Standard central  locking and optional electric windows may have been welcome on the early 3500s, and  the expensive Triplex Ten-Twenty windscreen (which combined the best features of zone- toughened and laminated glass for increased safety) may have looked good on the  specification. However, none of these we re enough to offset the SD1's other  shortcomings. This was not what Rover customers expected - and they made their views  clear by turning to riyal marques.   Rover recognized fairly quickly that something had to be done. However, improvements  and upgrades took their time to work through the system and not much changed before  the 1980 model-year which started in October 1979. The first specification upgrades to  the 3500 were made in October 1977, when the car was differentiated from the two new  six-cylinder models by taking on a pass enger door mirror, electric windows and a four-  speaker radio-cassette system as standard; all these items had earlier been optional and  now became options on the sixes. At the same time, the single supporting strap of the  rear parcels shelf was changed for two straps, and the chromed windscreen washer  nozzles we re replaced by domed plastic items.   Customer demand next forced Rover to make leather upholstery an option in April 1978,  although it was available only in a single colour (Nutmeg brown) and had a disappointingly  small take-up rate. For the 1979 season which began in October 1978, rear se at beIts  were standardized on the 3500, and then black paint was added to the options list in  February 1979.   At this time, Rover had been working on a higher specification for the SD1's eventual  launched onto the US market. The 1980 models which arrived in autumn 1979 would  preview many of the changes made to suit transatlantic demands, but they themselves we  re previewed in June 1979 by the new V8-S model. This new top-of-the-range Rover was  mechanically unchanged from the 3500, but came with several new features. Externally,  it was distinguished by black bumpers, coachlines on the body sides and a bright exhaust  tailpipe finisher. The unique rear badging was on black plinths, and the cars wore a  traditional Rover Viking ship badge on their bonn ets instead of the unloved skeletal one  seen on the first cars. The first 900 examples also had gold-finished alloy wheels, unless  equipped with Denovos, although natural-finish alloys were supplied for cars painted in  metallic silver. Many V8-S models came in Triton green metallic paint - another strangely  lurid choice which looked better on the Triumph sports cars with which it was shared and  was almost never ordered on any other SD1.   All V8-S mode1s had the sliding sunroof, a tinted anti-glare band across the top of the  windscreen, and a headlamp wash-wipe system. Inside, there were leather upholstery  (although cross-ribbed velvet was optional), four head restraints with  detachable cushions, and shag-pile carpets. The dashboard and console  carried bright high-lights, and air conditioning was standard. With this came  an additional cool air intake in the form of a slot in the car's front panel,  between bonnet and bumper.   With the 1980 models which went on sale in November 1979, subtle upgrades  accompanied the spread to other mode1s of many V8-S features. The  traditional Viking ship bonnet badge now replaced the ske1etal type  complete1y, and the rear plinth badges had larger lettering. Alloy wheels  became standard on 3500 models, and an alloy Denovo wheel was introduced  to suit these. The 2600s took on the 3500s' stainless steel trims, and the  2300s took on the 2600s' painted plastic ones; in each case, however, the  centre badge changed from the skeletal Viking ship to a less schematic  representation. Air conditioning and the headlamp wash-wipe system became optional (though both remained very rare), and the carpet inserts on the rear  parcels shelf both improved its appearance and stopped items sliding about  on its smooth injection-moulded plastic.
1977-1980 models
The 1977-1980 models

The first models introduced.

These first SD1’s were characterized by stainless steel bumpers with  black plastic end caps. Their headlamps were set back from the front  panel, and the wrap-around front lamp clusters incorporated both side  lamps and indicators.   The rear panel carried two silver plinth badges, printed in black with  identifying details of the model. Wheels were steel discs with different  trims according to model. The 3500s initially had stainless steel trims  with black-painted sections; the 2600s had grey plastic trims of the  same 'clover-Ieaf' design, also with black-painted sections; and the  2300s had all-grey trims. Attractive multi-spoked alloys in a natural  metal finish were extra-cost options on an 2600 models, and came with  low-profile tyres.   The run-flat tyres were also available on special steel wheels. Metallic  paint finishes we re advertised from the begin but in practice they seem  not to have been available early 1978 or thereabouts. This was almost  certain because of teething troubles with the new paint plant Solihuil. In  theory, the thermoplastic process of passing electric charge through the  bodyshelI and charging the with the opposite polarity should have  caused the pas adhere smoothly and uniformly, but in practice water  became trapped under the paint, leading to blemishes flaking. Early  cars were available in an uninspiring range of red, white, brown and  yellow, and the addition rather lurid green in 1977 did nothing to improve  picture.   The rather drab selection of light and dark browns eh for the interior trim  was typical of the period, and the 'trims were rather cheap-looking  injection-moulded items. All upholstery was in cloth - there was no  leather option at first - and 3500s and 2600s shared the same pleated  upholstery, while the base-model 2300 had heavily pleated seat covers.  An ingenious mod dashboard design (entry-Ievel 2300s simply had the  counter unit missing) simplified production by being readily adaptable  for left-hand or right-hand steering. However, its build quality was of ten  atrocious, its black finish uninspired, and the lack of lighting for the  switchgear made night driving tiresome. Standard central locking and  optional electric windows may have been welcome on the early 3500s,  and the expensive Triplex Ten-Twenty windscreen (which combined the  best features of zone-toughened and laminated glass for increased  safety) may have looked good on the specification. However, none of  these we re enough to offset the SD1's other shortcomings. This was  not what Rover customers expected - and they made their views clear  by turning to riyal marques.   Rover recognized fairly quickly that something had to be done.  However, improvements and upgrades took their time to work through  the system and not much changed before the 1980 model-year which  started in October 1979. The first specification upgrades to the 3500  were made in October 1977, when the car was differentiated from the  two new six-cylinder models by taking on a pass enger door mirror,  electric windows and a four-speaker radio-cassette system as standard;  all these items had earlier been optional and now became options on  the sixes. At the same time, the single supporting strap of the rear  parcels shelf was changed for two straps, and the chromed windscreen  washer nozzles we re replaced by domed plastic items.   Customer demand next forced Rover to make leather upholstery an  option in April 1978, although it was available only in a single colour  (Nutmeg brown) and had a disappointingly small take-up rate. For the  1979 season which began in October 1978, rear se at beIts were  standardized on the 3500, and then black paint was added to the  options list in February 1979.   At this time, Rover had been working on a higher specification for the  SD1's eventual launched onto the US market. The 1980 models which  arrived in autumn 1979 would preview many of the changes made to  suit transatlantic demands, but they themselves we re previewed in  June 1979 by the new V8-S model. This new top-of-the-range Rover  was mechanically unchanged from the 3500, but came with several new  features. Externally, it was distinguished by black bumpers, coachlines  on the body sides and a bright exhaust tailpipe finisher. The unique rear  badging was on black plinths, and the cars wore a traditional Rover  Viking ship badge on their bonn ets instead of the unloved skeletal one  seen on the first cars. The first 900 examples also had gold-finished  alloy wheels, unless equipped with Denovos, although natural-finish  alloys were supplied for cars painted in metallic silver. Many V8-S  models came in Triton green metallic paint - another strangely lurid  choice which looked better on the Triumph sports cars with which it was  shared and was almost never ordered on any other SD1.   All V8-S mode1s had the sliding sunroof, a tinted anti-glare band across  the top of the windscreen, and a headlamp wash-wipe system. Inside,  there were leather upholstery (although cross-ribbed velvet was  optional), four head restraints with detachable cushions, and shag-pile  carpets. The dashboard and console carried bright high-lights, and air  conditioning was standard. With this came an additional cool air intake  in the form of a slot in the car's front panel, between bonnet and  bumper.    With the 1980 models which went on sale in November 1979,  subtle upgrades accompanied the spread to other mode1s of  many V8-S features. The traditional Viking ship bonnet badge  now replaced the ske1etal type complete1y, and the rear  plinth badges had larger lettering. Alloy wheels became  standard on 3500 models, and an alloy Denovo wheel was  introduced to suit these. The 2600s took on the 3500s'  stainless steel trims, and the 2300s took on the 2600s'  painted plastic ones; in each case, however, the centre  badge changed from the skeletal Viking ship to a less  schematic representation. Air conditioning and the headlamp  wash-wipe system became optional (though both remained  very rare), and the carpet inserts on the rear parcels shelf both  improved its appearance and stopped items sliding about on its smooth  injection-moulded plastic.  
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