The Rover P5

I was recently introduced to the Rover P5 at a car event, and while it was always a car I was aware of, I had never really examined it in any great detail.

P5 sedan and coupe

The Rover P5 was the higher end car offered by Rover at the time, competing with the likes of the larger Jaguars.   As far as I know, it was the P5 that first had the moniker ‘Gentlemans Club on wheels’ and came at a time when Rover was at its very best – the era of the P5, P6 and Range Rover.     Sadly, Rover is no more – it never really found a place in the BMC then BL Juggernaut and then later on kept trying to re-live its glory days never able to move ahead with the times.

Rover Interior

The standard model was the Sedan – in 3 liter form.   The Sedan was introduced in 1958 with an updated version of Rover’s existing F head six cylinder engine, enlarged to three liters.   This was not a powerful unit, but it was extremely smooth.    It had a unique (and somewhat old fashioned) head design for the time, with an overhead intake valve and a side exhaust valve, but the design had been refined over the years and worked fairly well.

Had Rover stopped there, the P5 would probably be little remembered as a nice executive car, but two things would change that – the introduction of the rakish 4 dour coupe body style (below) in 1962 and the Rover v8 engine in 1967. The picture above shows a coupe and a sedan and the differences in their roof line.

Rover p5

Rover had been seeking a replacement engine and were able to secure the rights of a lightweight v8 from Buick, which they improved and was ultimately used in many displacements up until the 90s.   In the P5, it was introduced in its original 3.5 liter capacity and the car was renamed the P5B.   the V8 propelled the car up to 110mph and gave it much livelier acceleration.   Today, the P5B coupe is the model most desired by enthusiasts, although there are also many fans for the original 3 liter version.

Further information on the P5 can be found at:

This is yet another car on my long list of cars I would like to own one day.

2016 CARNivale

This year CARNivale was moved from the City (Sydney CBD) to Parramatta Park, due to the light rail construction.    CARNivale is a car show, held every Australia day since 1986, previously held on Macquarie street and around Hyde Park.  It has always been quite limited in terms of the number of cars allowed to be displayed (around 500 this year), which given the size of Parramatta park I am rather perplexed about.

The advantage of Parramatta park is that all the cars can be together instead of spread over multiple streets.  I still prefer the City though.   For some reason all the cars were jammed onto one fairly small paddock with not much room to move around between them.

The pick of the day was probably some of the old commercial vehicles.   There was still a good selection of cars on display (about 500 apparently).

The BMW Museum, Munich

I was recently in Munich and was able to spend some time at the BMW Museum.    It is a nice museum and well worth a look, and you can see most of it in about an hour and a half.

They have some nice exhibits, covering the history of their motorbikes, the first car which was actually an Austin 7 under licence, and then a nice selection of their most famous models including some of their rare pre-war cars.

Some of the highlights for me included:

  • The 3 Series display showing the lineage of the 3 series from the 1600 to the current model.
  • The M room, showing the M1, original M3, original M5 and the M635csi compared to a current M3, plus all the engines
  • A room that highlights some of their design cues they still use, including a 3.0CSi, an early race car, and some prototypes.
  • The different 507 convertible variants.
  • The streamlined room, showing an early 320 with a streamlined body

Of the big manufacturer museums in Germany, I’ve now been to the Mercedes Museum (both the old one and the new one), the Porsche Museum (the old one) and now the BMW Museum.

The new Mercedes Museum is probably the pick of the  bunch, but this BMW museum is very well done, just on a smaller scale.   I’ve heard the new Porsche museum is better, but the one I saw was an overpriced gift shop with a handful of Porsche’s parked in it.

Citroen Light 15 Road Tested By Stuart Griffith B.E.

October 18, 1953

The Citroen is as stable as it appears possible to make a car under our present design technique. Un-doubtedly the out-standing characteristic of the car is the way it holds on to the road surface, particularly on corners and bends.  Although the Citroen was designed tn France about 19 years ago, it has persisted essentially in its original form, with the development of features from time to time to keep it up-to-date.

The latest alteration, the tradition of considerable boot space under a “blister” on the tail, will be welcomed by all. The riding comfort of this front-wheel-drive car is exceptionally good. It shows to great advantage on really rough and stony roads.

Less desirable features are a three-speed gearbox, with a considerable difference between available speeds in top and second gears. The gearshift is on the fascia board, and the synchromesh is not quite up to quick changes.

TractionHill Climbing

This model climbs well in top gear, and on the Boddington Hill ascent speed in top fell from 50 to 38 m.p.h.  In second gear the car will climb anything, and climb it fast.  Speed in that gear was remarkably steady on the winding Lett River Hill, at 40-48-40-50 m.p.h. The high-speed which it was possible to hold around the bad corners on this hill was a major factor in this fast and consistent climb.  Up to Mount Panorama, through the Cutting, speeds in second were 49-40-33-44 m.p.h.

The ascent of the Victoria Pass was made in second gear to ascertain the car’s fast climbing ability and endurance in that gear. Speeds were very steady and satisfying at 45-40-40-36-50-45-50 m.p.h. The ascent of the western side of Mount Tomah was made easily in top gear at 55-30-35 m.p.h. The climb up to Kurrajong Heights from the west was made at a steady 50 m.p.h. in top gear.

The power:weight ratio of the Citroen is good at 50.5 b.h.p. per unladen ton, and it can support an overall gearing yielding 17.4 m.p.h. at 1.000 r.p.m. in top gear.

Cruising Speeds

The Citroen cruises very comfortably, and most safely, between 60 and 70 m.p.h. Owing to its roadholding and riding qualities, the nature and surface of the road have less effect on the cruising speed selected than have the wishes of the driver.  The average speed over the route was 45.8 m.p.h. This was comfortably achieved, in spite of strong westerly winds. The fastest section was Mt. Victoria Richmond at 50.1 m.p.h.  The car can be cruised at 25 m.p.h. without loss of response in top gear.


Times for acceleration from 20 to 40 m.p.h. are: Top 10.9 secs., second gear 6.8 secs.  There is sufficient pick-up for prompt overtaking from 25 m.p.h. in top gear, and from 15 m.p.h. in second gear.


I can only describe the car’s cornering ability as outstandingly good.  To get the best results the car is, of course, driven through the corners with some throttle to cause the traction of the front wheels to keep the rear wheels following without slide.  When so driven, it takes considerable strength to pull the car into a corner sufficiently tightly to slide the tail.  However, corners can be taken without throttle at least as fast as with most rear-drive cars.  Body roll is kept well under control, and tyre squeal is less than average.


The front (driven) wheels are independently suspended by torsion bars. The simple beam rear axle is suspended on trailing arms mounted on torsion bars.  Telescopic shock absorbers on each wheel are inwardly inclined to resist rolling stresses. Large section tyres of approximately 6.15 x 16 in. operate at the low pressure of 22 lb, and their supple softness absorbs a great deal of roughness in the road surface.   The suspension is really good, and is remarkable in dealing equally well with potholes, corrugations, or stony dirt roads.  Even low-speed running at 20 m.p.h. over corrugations caused no real tremble in the lightly loaded car.  On several occasions over shallow gutters the rear suspension bottomed. However, no pitch was in evidence, and rear-seat comfort is the equal of the front compartment.


The rack-and-pinion steering has the positive feel usual in such an arrangement, but it is somewhat heavy at low speeds.  It is quick, requiring only 2 1/2 turns from lock to lock, allowing bad bumps to be avoided at speed, and the accurate placement of the car on the road.  The turning circle, on account of the front drive and long wheelbase, is large at 43 feet. Consequently, maneuvering and parking are not as easy as with most cars of this size.


Lockheed hydraulic brakes are fitted, and their response is excellent, even with light pedal pressures.  The car can be brought to an emergency stop from 30 m.p.h. in 34 feet with the moderate pedal pressure of 100 lb There was no sign of brake fade down the long descent from Kurrajong Heights, without engine braking.  The handbrake stopped the car down Victoria Pass.


Bore and stroke of the four-cylinder engine are 78 x 100 mm, and with a moderate compression ratio of 6.25:1 thc specific power output is low at 29.4 b.h.p. per litre.  The overhead valves are operated by push-rods, and detachable wet cylinder liners are used.  The Solex downdraft carburettor is fed through an oil-bath air cleaner, but no external oil filter is fitted.  The diffcrential-plus-gear box unit is ahead of the engine. Gear ratios are: Top 4.3 and second gear 7.3 to 1  Integral construction of body and outrigger “chassis” units is employed, and results in a very stiff structure apparently free from rattles over long periods.

The bench seats are 43 and 48 inches wide, and are upholstered in coloured leather.  The floor is flat in back and front compartments, and is below the side rails of the body. Legroom is sufficient, and headroom is ample. The screen is hinged for ventilation, and window area is ample for good vision in all directions.  The instruments, in the walnut fascia, are before the driver and comprise speedometer, clock, ammeter, fuel gauge and oil warning light.  A manual over-ride for the control of ignition is useful on the open road.  The fascia also carries a glove box. A simple and very effective standard heater comprises a duct directing hot air from the radiator into the front compartment.  The boot has been increased to 11 1/2 cubic feet capacity by a “blister” lid which opens upwardly.

Great Adhesion

Summarising, I am of the opinion that the Citroen is a car which is particularly pleasant to drive. The faster it is driven the more it shows its qualities of exceptional road adhesion, and stability on corners.  It is a most comfortable car. Tile suspension system is above average, and the low inter-axial seating positions are excellent on a long trip.

The car showed commendable petrol economy even at fast touring speeds.  Being of rugged mono construction and having a strong suspension, the Citroen is as much at home on rough country roads as on city pavements.

The car tested was made available by Buckle Motors (Trading Co.) Pty. Ltd.. the distributors.

About this car

Price: Imported Saloon, £1,360 (incl. tax).
Size: Four-five seater, good boot. Wheelbase, 9ft 6in; track 4ft 6in; overall length, 14ft 7 in; unladen weight, 22cwt; clearance, 7 in; tyres, 165 x 400 mm broadbase; tankage, ll gals.
Engine and Chassis: Four-cylinder, overhead-valve engine of 1.9 liters capacity. Power output, 55.7 brake h.p. (R.A.C. rating is 15 hp) three-speed gearbox. Unitary body and “chassis.”
Fuel Consumption and Average Speed on Test: 29.4 miles per gallon at average speed of 45.8 m.p.h. over mountain route. Fuel range, 324 miles.
Maximum Speeds: Top 77 m.p.h., second gear 52 m.p.h.

Test Route

The mountainous route of 285 miles, Sydney-Mount Victoria-Bathurst-Bell-Kurajong-Richmond-Sydney.
It includes twice climbing to 3,800ft, exceedingly winding roads, strenuous test hills, a little flat country, and road surfaces of various types

First Published in the Sun-Harald (Sydney), October 18, 1953

Mercedes Saloon Price List – November 1966

I recently came across an old price list for Mercedes-Benz in Australia in the mid 60s.   They were very expensive cars back then, probably more so than they are today, and even a base  model was around double a holden, let alone the range topping (for the saloons) 300SE.

These prices are for the standard car, so most buyers would have selected at least some options, further increasing the price.    The price list covers the W110, W111 and W108 Saloon cars.  The Automatic transmission was an expensive option, close to 10% of the price of the car.

Mercedes Benz Passenger Car Price List
Saloon Range
25th November, 1966

ModelList PriceSales TaxRetail Price
200 Saloon$4485.23$864.77$5350.00
200 Auto Saloon$4941.48$954.52$5896,00
200D Saloon$4699.23$906.77$5606.00
200D Auto Saloon$5155.48$996.52$6152.00
230 Saloon$4780.98$923.02$5704.00
230 Auto Saloon$5237.23$1012.77$6250.00
230S Saloon$5319.00$1031.00$6350.00
230S Auto Saloon (C.A.R.)$6014.25$1167.75$7182.00
250S Saloon$5925.75$1150.25$7076.00
250S Auto Saloon$6657.00$1294.00$7951.00
250SE Saloon$6459.00$1255.00$7714.00
250SE Auto Saloon$7190.25$1398.75$8589.00
300SE Auto Saloon$8865.25$1727.75$10,593.00

New front indicator lenses for the DS part 2

The front indicator lenses on the DS were badly cracked and discoloured, so it seemed like a good idea to replace them.   They are available aftermarket and are quite easy to change over.

I had started what I assumed would be a quick job a while ago, but the new lenses used spade connectors instead of bullet connectors and I did not have time to make up some adapters.   I’m sure it would have only cost a couple of cents more to make them actually fit, so I am perplexed as to why they are made this way.


Overall the job was easy but I am not particularly impressed by the quality of these units.   They don’t quite fit right and the plastic is very easy to crack when screwing in.    The car does look better, but I am not holding my breath when it comes to longevity.


Cost Savings of new RMS Logbook Trial

I’ve now moved two cars onto the new 60 day logbook trial with the RMS, and the cost savings are well worth it!     The cost of full registration is just a bit above $1,000 if you assume a green slip of over $500 and the Rego of a little under $500.    The cost of the new rego is around $150 including greenslip, so a saving of more than $850.

Adding to that, as the car is now on historic plates, the insurance goes down as well.   so the savings per car work out to be in the order of $1,000 depending on the value (insurance) or weight (rego).  Over time, the insurance rates may go up if people are using this scheme a lot, but it is unlikely to go up to where it was, and will probably settle somewhere in the middle.

The only slight annoyance is the historic rego plates are tiny and look a bit silly on a big car especially as you need to make up special plates to mount them as they are not wide enough for mounting holes…    Not sure why they couldn’t be the same size as the white slimline plates.

So far the Traction Avant and the 250SE are on the new system, and ultimately the Jag and the DS will go over once their rego is due.

Insanity reigns at the Shannons Melbourne Auction

The world has officially gone mad, with prices for Kombi vans (aka the VW Bus) reaching the stratosphere.   This to me is a clear bubble market and anyone who has a split window Kombi should sell it now while you can.    You’ll probably be able to buy it back for a third of the money in 5 years.

Offered for auction was an 11 window bus, which reached a hammer price of $158,000 after furious bidding.

Coming back to reality, somebody got a nice deal on a black Mercedes 220a Roundie for $7,500 and under the estimate of around $10-12k.    There was also little interest in a S1 Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas.   This car wasn’t perfect, but it should ahve been worth more than the $3,250 it reached.

A few other interesting cars came through, including a 1981 280CE for $6,500, a very nice W108 280SEL for $17,000, and a nice 6.3 for $50,500.

I don’t know a lot about them, but there was a very nice pre-war Rolls Royce that hit a little over $100,000.

All in all, this auction was pretty standard.   A few good bargains to be had, and fad cars reaching incredible prices.

2015 Rolls Royce Owners Club Concours

I have always admired Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles, and was impressed with the display at the British Car Show, so decided to go down and see the Rolls Royce Owners Club concours.   The event was held at Linnwood House, which is a historic house located in Sydney’s western suburbs.   The House has some very nice grounds that are perfect for holding a car show.

The show was worth the trip and despite early rain had a good showing of cars.   As well as RROC, the Rover Club and the Daimler club had displays on, and was able to learn a bit more about Rover P5s.   I’m told the Mk2 P5 Coupe is the one to have.

For the Rollers, there was a nice selection of cars including a very impressive range of pre-war cars.  Far larger than any of the clubs I am a member of.   As you would expect the Silver Shadow and Silver Spirit were the most popular cars on display, but there was a good mixture of cars.   My two favorites were the early Bentley Corniche coupe and the Bentley S3 Flying Spur.   The display was worth a visit and I will go again if the times work.


Door mirrors for the Traction Avant

Driving a car from the 50s often means impatient drives roaring around you when you set off from traffic lights, especially uphill.    Sydney drivers are particularly bad for this.

Traction Avants, as with most 50s cars are only fitted with a small interior rear-view mirror and no outside mirror.   This makes parking and lane changing a challenge.

I had seen many tractions fitted with door mounted mirrors so I bought a set from Der Franzose and fitted them today.   The mirrors mount on the leading edge of the suicide doors, with a small braket that allows the mirror to screw on.


As can be seen from the photo, there is a plastic insert to protect the paint and I had to cut the door rubber to ensure it fit.     The mirrors have two adjustment points, one at the base of the stalk and one for the mirror glass.   Despite these I have not been able to adjust the mirrors to my liking.   I can use them if I lean over, so they are better than no mirrors, but I am a bit disappointed by the overall quality and the adjustment range.