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Junkyard Crawl - Ram-Air Rover

Steve finds a fussy Rover 3500 Saloon buried in the corner of a yard. Thankfully, it has a V8.

Photography by Steve Magnante

Don't know about you, but we think of old British cars as prissy little things that are slow and rusty. The only one that stands out is the V-8-powered Rover 3500 saloon. No, it doesn't serve drinks on the fly, the term saloon is Brit-speak for a four-door sedan. Produced between 1968 and 1976, these little critters were imported here in fairly large numbers. The big surprise is under the hood, where motivation comes from the former Buick/Olds all-aluminum 215 V-8. Weighing less than 300 pounds, the alloy 215 was designed for the '61-'63 Buick Special, Olds F-85 and Pontiac Tempest senior compact cars. When GM realized the aluminum engine cost too much to make and most customers were indifferent to its technological significance, they shuffled the tooling and manufacturing rights overseas to British Leyland, which stuffed them in these Rover 3500s-and Range Rover SUVs-right up until 2004. We spotted this derelict example in a New England junkyard and had to take a peek.

Groovy FactoidsAustralian racing great Jack Brabham drove his Olds 215-powered Repco-Brabham race car to victory at the French, British, Dutch, and German Grand Prix races making him the '66 Grand Prix World Champion.

In 1962, the 215 aluminum V-8 was standard equipment in the Olds F-85 but cost V-6 Buick Special customers $166.78 for the extra two cylinders. Pontiac Tempest buyers shelled out a whopping $261.36 to step from slant-four to 215 V-8 power.

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