Rover's Vikingship


SD1 2300/2600 6 cilinders
Rover's Vikingship

ROVER 2300 AND 2600.

With the announcement of the two new six cylinder models, the overall design strategy of the new Rover range is revealed. The new 2300 and 2600 Rovers differ little in their fundamental layout and equipment from the successful 3500 eight cylinder model, and hence offer many of the major features which led to awards such as the Car of the Year, Style Auto award, the Don Safety Trophy and the AA Gold Medal. Maximum use of common components, from bodyshell to transmission and S, suspension ensure that each version is every inch a 'proper' Rover, and offers the same high standards of engineering and value for money in its respective price bracket.

Brand new power units

Described in more detail in a separate section of this pack, the two completely new overhead camshaft, straight-six engines continue the new Rover theme of economical high performance from the simplest and most reliable possible design. The 2300 and 2600 engines, themselves sensibly rationalised so that only the crankshafts and pistons vary with the two capacities, feature die cast aluminium cross-flow cylinder heads with inclined valves operated by a Dolomite Sprint-type cam and rocker, arrangement. A toothed timing belt is used to drive the overhead camshaft on each unit, and the oil pump is driven directly from the crankshaft nose. The distributor is driven by a skew gear on the camshaft and is side-mounted on the cylinder head for easy service access. Twin SU carburettors feed the engine via a water heated aluminium inlet manifold which has long 'ram induction' tracts. A twin-outlet, free flow exhaust manifold in cast iron is cleverly designed to eliminate the usual manifold gasket. Painstaking attention to durability is shown in such features as induction hardened crankshaft journals and single-hole oilway drillings between the journals.

The cylinder block design has 'text book' correctness, with cooling water jackets all around the bores and an extremely rigid ribbed crankcase extending well below the crankshaft axis.

Fuel-wasting friction has been eliminated as far as possible, with a four bearing crankshaft and threering pistons. And in common with the rest of the new Rover design, servicing requirements on these new engines have been carefully thought out,- with simple assembly techniques and features such as diagnostic plugs fitted as standard.

1980s shape

Both the 2300 and 2600 have the striking, aerodynamic five door shape which has so successfully established the Rover image for the 1980s. The beauty and strength of their coachwork is protected by the latest and best paint processes (thermoplastic gloss and electrophoretic priming) applied in the superb new Solihull plant. And to look after the vital hidden structures, the body sills are zinc-coated and pressure ventilated, and full underbody sealing is carried out in the factory. Stainless steel, safety profile bumpers, a moulded ABS front spoiler and air intake, and aluminised exhaust piping add to the high corrosion resistance of these longlife, low depreciation cars.

A safe body

The remarkable safety factors built into the Rover bodyshell have now been conclusively proven, not only by research testing beyond the requirements of legislation, but by a number of grateful 3500 owners, who have survived severe accidents without ill effect. Computer-developed energy absorption structures at front and rear, anti-burst door locks and waist level compression struts within the doors complement the enormous strength of the passenger compartment. The fuel tank is tucked under the floor, ahead of the rear axle, as far away from trouble as possible, and the bonnet is safely front-hinged.

Continuing the safety pioneering lead of the 3500, the 2300 and 2600 models both have the Triplex 10-20 high security laminated windscreen (recognised, like the 3500 itself, by the judges of the Don Safety Trophy and the AA Gold Medal awards). Not only does this windscreen give the best possible occupant protection in impact conditions, but it also contributes, via its ' Solbit' bonded fixing, to the roof strength and torsional stiffness.

Luxuriously appointed interiors

The clean, integrated design of the 2300 and 2600 interiors incorporates a wealth of amenity and comfort features. Reclining front seats with head restraints, and folding rear seat with an ingenious folding armrest are found in both models. The 2300 has sewn pleated velour seat facings, while the 2600 has box-pleated velour, as on the 3500. The headlining in both cases is in brushed nylon, mounted to a form-moulded glassfibre pad. Recessed into this pad are the swivelling, padded sunvisors, with passenger's vanity mirror and driver's ticket sleeve. Cut pile carpet covers the passenger floor area, with a superior grade carpet in the 2600; the 2300 has durable rubber trim in the luggage compartment, whereas the 2600 has carpet throughout the boot and in the underfloor well.

Concealed, convenient and comfortable seat belts

With or without compulsory seat belt wearing, the. Rover's designers. recognised that the quality of a seat belt installation had a big influence on the willingness of people to use them. So the 2300 and 2600 have enclosed inertia reels and belt runs to keep everything clean and tidy, and lower anchorages sliding with the front seats for maximum comfort and safety at any position of the seats. An equally thoughtful, twin rear inertia reel seat belt arrangement is available as a factory-fitted option, with provision for a centre static lap belt also. Both of the new six cylinder Rovers feature a fully adjustable steering column, allowing 50 mm (2 in.) of axial and vertical movement for the steering wheel, so that drivers can choose their ideal position. The steering column has a collapsible section together with universal joints and impact-shearing top fixings. A large steering wheel pad completes the driver-protection design of the steering mechanism. Both models have a trimmed steering wheel rim. Power assisted steering is available as an optional extra on 2300 and 2600 models.

Ergonomic controls

Succeeding the Rover 2200 and Triumph 2000/2500 ranges, which have both led the field in control layout, the Rover 2300 and 2600 models continue the theme of logic and clarity. The twin column stalks, which control all the instantly needed functions, adjust with the steering wheel to keep them at the driver's fingertips. The 2300 has electric screen washers and two speed wipers with flick-wipe facility controlled by the left hand stalk; on the 2600 an intermittent wipe setting takes the place of the flick wipe. The right hand stalk controls horn, indicators and headlamp flash/dip, with the main lighting toggle switch logically mounted directly below the stalk.

Push-button controls for heated rear window, hazard warning flashers, rear fog guard lamps and optional front fog lamps are mounted in the facia top instrument binnacle; an additional rear window safety override button is also located here on the 2600 when the optional electric windows are specified. A push-button radio with twin speakers is standard equipment on both new models.

Controls for the comprehensive heating and ventilation system are centrally located on the facia console (and are illuminated at night on the 2600). Four face level vents provide sensibly directed ventilation, the powerful fan has three speeds and a recirculatory mode, and there are warm air ducts to the rear. passengers and through the front doors to demist the side windows. The tunnel console incorporates a cigar lighter, coin tray, choke control lever and on the 2600, where fitted, the optional electric window controls, along with the central handbrake lever and gear change.

Instrumentation and warning lights

The 2300 instrument binnacle houses a speedometer with front resetting trip odometer, fuel gauge, battery voltmeter and water temperature gauge. A n extra 'module' in the 2600 unit contains a tachometer; also an oil pressure gauge is an additional instrument on this model. A similar warning light, arrangement is used for both, having an ingenious smoked lens arrangement to hide the symbols when not illuminated. These warning lights indicate the following:
handbrake on or low fluid or circuit failure;
main beam;
direction indicators or hazard flashers;
low fuel -level;
seat belt unfastened;
heated rear screen on;
choke out;
rear fog guard lamps on;
ignition on no charge;
low oil pressure.

On the 2600 model there is also a lamp to warn of bulb failure in the side, tail or stop lamps. Both models have a rheostat drum on the offside of the binnacle to vary the instrument lighting level. The other end of the binnacle houses the handy fuse box, with ten operational fuses, and three spares; in-line fuses are used to protect the heated rear window and radio circuits.

Interior safety and amenity

Broad, stylishly sculptured facial padding on the 2300 and 2600 conceal scientifically designed, energy absorbing pressed steel armatures for the protection of front seat occupants. The famous Roverstyle 'shin' bins feature on both new models, providing generous lockable storage volume and further impact protection via their large padded areas. On the 2600, the lockers have automatic illumination and there is also a passenger's map reading lamp. The 2600 also features an anti-slip mat on the facia shelf. Full, four door, courtesy lighting is provided on both models, as is the fifth door linked boot light. Red, 'door open' warning reflectors are fitted to the trailing shut faces of the front doors on 2300 models, while the 2600 has door-switched warning lamps similarly located. A clock is fitted (to the passenger side of the central facia air vents) on both models, as are the internal-adjusting driver's door mirror, a dipping rear view mirror on a safety break-out mounting, grab handles over each passenger door and rear coat hooks.

Door armrests are incorporated in the 2300 door trims, with safety-style enclosed door release levers built into the upper faces; on the 2600, a similar arrangement has the additional luxury of velour covering to match the seat trim.

Trimcolour-keyed facia, steering wheel, centre console and rear parcel shelf are used for the 2600 model, whereas these items on 2300 models are all in dark brown Caviar with each seat trim colour. Buyers of both six cylinder models can specify tinted glass and metallic paint as optional extras to enhance the dramatic styling of their cars.

Versatile accommodation

Beneath the sweeping fastbacks of the 2300 and 2600 there is a choice of either a large boot with additional concealed space in the underfloor well, or an estate-style load area with the rear seat squab folded down.

A single, easy-to-use catch releases the squab. The ingenious folding rear parcel shelf, made from light but strong foam reservoir moulded glass fibre with full trimming, lifts out easily when maximum space is needed, and can be stowed neatly behind the front seats as a luggage 'barrier'. This shelf is automatically lifted by two detachable straps when the fifth door is opened. A separate key is provided for the fifth door and glove lockers, thus securing car contents when desired.

Comprehensive exterior lighting

Two twin-unit tungsten headlamp units are fitted to the 2300, with similar halogen-bulbed lamps on the 2600. Front fog lamps are optional on both models; but rear fog guard lamps, incorporated in the rear lamp clusters, are standard across the range, as are reversing lamps and hazard warning lamps. Stylish ridges moulded into the rear lamp units reduce the. obscuration effect of dirt.

Brilliantly engineered chassis

The mechanical elements of the 2300 and 2600 have, like the body design, already received universal approval in 3500 guise. The theme of the design is maximum simplicity for reliability, durability and ease of service with intensive detail refinement to achieve top level performance in all areas.

Front suspension draws from long experience with the Triumph 2000/2500 models, with Macpherson struts, anti-roll bar and offset coil springs to minimise strut friction. At the rear, the patented torque tube beam axle, with trailing links, Watt linkage and swing-mounted cross member location for the torque tube nose offers remarkable handling and ride, yet uses simple, easily assembled and serviced components. For the 2300 model, the rear coil springs are variable rate, and telescopic dampers are located well outboard for maximum roll control. Constant rate coil springs with automatic self-levelling Boge damper/spring units, give the 2600 the same level riding and load carrying qualities as the 3500.


The new Leyland LT77 five speed gearbox, so well received on the 3500, is also standard on the 2600 and optional on the 2300. In standard form, the 2300 has a four-speed version of the same gearbox, which is built without the overdrive fifth gear. Designed in a modular fashion to enable it to be readily adapted to various engines, and to be offered in four or five speed form, the unit is known as the 77 mm gearbox (after the spacing of its shaft centres) and incorporates many novel features such as taper roller bearings, positive lubrication from its own integral oil pump and a sandwich plate sub-assembly design which makes for easy assembly and repair.

The optional automatic transmission on 2300 and 2600 models is the Borg-Warner 65 unit, as used for the 3500. The rear axle ratio for the six cylinder models is 3.45 to 1, except for the 2600 automatic, which has the same 3.08 to 1 axle ratio as the 3500.
The torque tube rear axle arrangement allows the use of a single length propshaft, which has plunging constant velocity joints at each end.


Rack and pinion steering is fitted to the 2300 and 2600 models. The rack is mounted on the front crossmember which carries the front suspension mountings, thus ensuring accurate steering geometry.

Also the rack is mounted ahead of the front wheel centres to give a 'fail safe' understeer effect in the event of lateral compliance movements of the suspension mountings under exceptional cornering forces. The high-geared power steering which has proved so popular on the 3500 is available as an optional extra on the 2300 and 2600.

Braking system

Effortless stopping power is provided on the 2300 and 2600 by a servoassisted, dual line braking system. Front disc brakes of 258 mm (10. 15 in.) diameter have a separate circuit to the rear. 229 mm (9 in.) diameter drums. A rear pressure limiting valve inhibits rear wheel locking, but is automatically isolated in the event of a front circuit failure to maintain maximum residual braking effort. A pressure differential warning actuator switch will turn on the facia brake warning light in the event of a circuit failure. The same lamp serves to indicate that the handbrake is on, (thus checking the warning lamp regularly), and also monitors the brake fluid level. In the normal condition, the warning light glows at moderate intensity when the handbrake is applied. Should a brake circuit lose pressure or the fluid level drop when the brakes are applied, the light will glow more brightly to warn of a malfunction.

Wheels and tyres

Tyres for the six cylinder Rovers are 175 HR-14 size radials mounted on 14 x 52J pressed steel disc wheels; on the 2600, the tyres are steel braced type.
Fixing is by five studs, with positive spigot location to ensure accurate running. Cast alloy road wheels with 6 in. rims and 195-70 x 14 tyres are an optional extra for the 2600 model. All the new Rover range can be fitted with the outstanding safety and convenience option of Dunlop Denovo run-flat tyres, specially developed to suit the characteristics of the Rover chassis.

Discreet model identification is provided by the wheel finishers. The 2600 model has a black and silver polycarbonate nave plate, retained by chromium plated wheel nuts. A similar style of nave plate, but in all-silver finish with black wheel nuts is used on the 2300. Hence both models are marked out by comparison with the 3500, which has full diameter bright stainless wheel finishers as standard.

Electric system

The 2600 model has a 66 amp-hour battery with a 50 amp. hour battery on the 2300. All Rover models have a common 55 amp, 23 A CR alternator to support their comprehensive electrical systems.


© RWP july. 2004