The Wild Rover is one of those great drinking songs that originated in Ireland. It tells the story of a sailor who, returning to his home town, is refused "food and board" (politely) until he demonstrates his wealth. This week I had the pleasure of going to Ireland to meet a couple of gentlemen who owned a Rover 3500 SD1. This particular car was originally built by Dave Price Racing in 1979/80. It was campaigned in the Trimoco British Saloon Car Championship 1980, 1981 and 1982. In 1981 that operation was taken over by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and the cars were resprayed in Sanyo colours, retaining Daily Express sponsorship.
As with any racing car, history is somewhat difficult to trace. We know that in 1980 there were two DPR cars driven by Jeff Allam and Rex Greenslade. Indeed Allam won the Grand Prix support race at Brands Hatch that year, the cars were Triplex sponsored with ESSO support showing on the front of the cars. That ESSO support is quite interesting because it carried on into 1981 and appears in the original location on both cars. In 1981 there were two cars prepared by Martin Thomas for the Patrick Motorsport outfit. These were driven by Brian Muir, Rex Greenslade and at the season finale a third car was pedalled by Rad dougall (this one sold recently at Bonhams). But, returning to the DPR cars, in 1982 the red background ESSO marking only appears on one car, that of Jeff Allam, whereas the Peter Lovett version has the Sanyo blue paint with ESSO written on top.
In 1982 Peter Lovett won the British Saloon Car Championship in his TWR Rover in Sanyo colours. Jeff Allam won the class. But the story doesn't stop there. The car in question has Marlboro markings and dayglo paint, indicating that it went on to further campaigns after 1982. In fact there is strong evidence to suggest this car went to France as the mount for Rene Metge in 1983. The French championship, at that time was a cross between Group 1 and Group A so there was a lot of crossover.
The sharp sighted among you will have spotted the words "a couple of gentlemen who owned a Rover 3500 SD1". I used these words because I am now the proud owner of a significant piece of British touring car history.
This is the car showing evidence of its various paint schemes:
As can be seen there is a lot of work to do,not to mention additional research. There is evidence to suggest that this car is the Lovett car from 1981/82 and whilst Sanyo colours would reflect its most successful period, I think the Daily Express colours from early to mid 1981 would be a better fit. The build will be recorded and I'll put the info up here as we go.
Anyone interested in the Rover story from Group 1 to Group A might want to trawl through this thread on 10/10s.