NEW ZEALAND MARKET

      Rover SD1 Logo earlyNew Zealand Motor Corporation Logo 1979  Rover Logo 3


Acknowledgement is given to the former New Zealand Motor Corporation, and the NZMC in-house magazine Torque for articles covering the New Zealand assembled Rover 3500 SD1. The introduction and New Zealand magazine articles have been provided courtesy of John Miller.

Introduction – John Miller

Rover SD1 Assembly in New Zealand

The task of trying to make sense of things 30 plus years on relies on the memories of remaining staff and the very limited assembly plant records remaining.

The detailed records no longer exist but from the official “slightly generalised” production list issued by Honda NZ Ltd when the Nelson assembly plant closed in 1998, along with my own and other surviving staff member’s memories it is possible to give a picture of at least the assembly side of this vehicle’s history in NZ.  I have not uncovered any sales information at this stage.

Between April 1979 and June 1981 the New Zealand Motor Corporation plant in Nelson was the site at which 504 Series 1 V8 automatics, 280 2.6Ltr 6 cylinder automatics, and 272 2.6Ltr 6 cylinder manuals were assembled from CKD kits.  Local content was minimal and by value around $1500 out of an almost $24000 (for the V8) retail price at launch.

The SD1 was intended to replace the Triumph 2000/2500 range on the NZ market and, for the V8 versions, there was hope that it would take some sales from the luxury end of the market following the end of Jaguar XJ6 assembly.  Although the assembly of Jaguars had been performed at Nelson on a contract basis for the importers, the cost of tooling up for Series 3 was prohibitive given the low sales volume and meant the end.  As a fully built up import the cost would be significantly greater than Series 2 and NZMC anticipated that the well specified locally assembled SD1 V8 would be an attractive option for former Jaguar buyers.

This “market anticipation” proved to be overly hopeful and many of the Rovers assembled in that first year, 1979, were not sold until much later.  In some cases this was not until 1981.  Of course by this time the price had been increased and many of the plain early cars upgraded at the dealerships with alloys, mouldings, larger bonnet badge, LH door mirror, in the general style of the V8S launched in UK.  This must have been to increase showroom appeal and justify an increased retail price.

The before sales story is not a happy one with initial storage “on the grass” at Nelson before delivery  to other facilities around NZ.  A photo taken by me in May 1980 shows this and the “protection” applied…whitewashed glass, UV block plastic on the seats, brown paper over the dash.  These measures were deemed sufficient at the time.

Time has not been kind to early SD1, with few survivors, and I have no doubt that the initial storage conditions accelerated the aging process.

Production Data

Series 1
Rover SD1 3500 V8 Auto   from April 1979 to December 1981    = 504 cars
Rover SD 1 2600 Auto        from August 1979 to December 1981 =280 cars
Rover SD1 2600 Man          from August 1979 to June 1981          = 272 cars

Series 2
Rover 2600 S Man               from August 1983 to April 1984         = 120 cars
Rover 3500 SE Auto             from September 1983 to May 1984  = 192 cars

Please note that NO Vanden Plas variants were assembled in New Zealand. Any in New Zealand were either imported as completely built up new cars by NZMC, or have arrived later as used imports.

New Zealand Motor Corporation
• Torque Magazine | April-May 1979

• The old and new at Nelson
Click on to the thumbnail image to view.

Torque May 1979 Rover SD1
New Zealand Motor Corporation
• Torque Magazine | July 1979

• Launch article covering the Rover 3500 SD1.
Click on to the thumbnail images to read the article.

DSC_0001 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 1979 1  DSC_0002 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 79 2  DSC_0003 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 1979 3  DSC_0004 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 1979 4  DSC_0005 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 1979 5  DSC_0006 NZMC Torque Magazine Rover SD1 July 79 6

New Zealand Automobile Association | Motor World Magazine | August 1979
• Rover 3500 SD1 Launch Article

With acknowledgement to the New Zealand Automobile Association.
Click on to the thumbnail images to read the article.

DSC_0007 1979 Rover SD1 New Zealand Motor World Magazine Aug-Sept 1979 PtA  DSC_0008 1979 Rover SD1 New Zealand Motor World Magazine Aug-Sept 1979 PtB

To view Sales Brochures for the New Zealand Market, click the link:
New Zealand Market Rover Sales Brochures


Archive photos
Photos supplied by John Miller, with acknowledgement to the various sources shown in the individual photo credits.
Click on to the thumbnail images to view larger on-screen photos.

Aerial View
Aerial view of the New Zealand Motor Corporation Nelson assembly plant, 13 January 1980.
Photo Credit: John Miller

Picture 1
Unsold vehicles in the front paddock of the Nelson assembly plant taken June 1980.
Note; protective coating on side glass, brown paper on dash and rear tray, UV block plastic on seats.
Photo Credit: John Miller

Picture 2
Bodyshop tour during the visit of Spen King to Nelson June 1979 at time of press launch.
Left to right beside car; Roger Harding (Nelson plant manager), Bill Cook (NZMC director), Spen King.
Photo Credit: Honda NZ Ltd archives

Picture 3
Spen King at high stand preparation area June 1979.
Photo Credit: Honda NZ Ltd archives

Picture 4
Spen King at high stand body drop June 1979.
Photo Credit: Honda NZ Ltd archives

Picture 5
Unit number 0005 at Chassis line pit. Colour is Sandglow, April 1979.
Left; Dave Vickerman, right; Harry Ford.
Photo Credit: Dave Vickerman

Picture 6
Unit 001 on road test Wairau Valley, Marlborough, April 1979.
Photo Credit: John Miller

Picture 7
Unit 003 on test prior to press launch at Havelock, Marlborough, May 1979.
Photo Credit: John Miller

Picture 8
Unit 014 on test prior to press launch at Westport, West Coast, May 1979.
Photo Credit: John Miller

Picture 9
Press launch road test checkpoint for driver swap. Harley Road, Upper Moutere, Nelson, June 1979.
Photo Credit: NZMC Torque

Picture 10
Aerial shot of press and driveaway cars at press launch June 1979, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson.
Photo Credit: NZMC Torque



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