Rover's Vikingship  The Body restoration of a
Rover SD1 
Rover's Vikingship

P roject Rover SD1.

Let me first introduce myself.
My name is Ruud Peeters and I live in the nice little town located in the south of the Netherlands.

Why a Rover SD1

First of all let me explain why I chose this car for a restoration. It was about 1988 and I am studying on what was then called the "HTS autotechniek in Apeldoorn", in the Netherlands. Back then it was normal for every student to have an old car that needed some attention to keep it running. I was no exception. No, it was not an SD1 but a Renault 12. I had loads of fun with that car, and more importantly I learned how to work on a car. Normally when you are a student groups of friend form. In the group that I was in there was a girl that drove an SD1. It was a white 2600 MK1. It was from that day onwards that I wanted to own this car.

My first car that I restored

However this was not the first car that I restored. That honor fell to a Matra M530SX as shown on the picture. It was a nice project to do but after I finished the car I found it very impractical. For that reason it was always standing in the garage and in the 2 years that I had it as a finished car it drove about 5000 km.
It was wearing more from standing then from driving.

It was then that I promised myself that the next car would be an SD1. More precise a 3500 mk1. I think I am one of only a few people that like the MK1 more than the MK2.
But I also learned one very important thing. Before I will do another restoration I first want a place to do it in. And that place has to be in or directly next to my house. It just takes too much energy to drive back and forth to a rented place. And there is always the pressure of wanting to finish the car because the place costs money to rent.

Many years later

So now it is many years later I own my own house, and I am building a garage on it. Why...?

Well, I had been looking for an SD1 for a long and I had almost given up hope of finding an example for a reasonable price and in restorable condition. Then one day I saw this car that was for sale at It was an SD1 1977 MK1 3500 automatic, and the price was about half of what these cars normally sell for. So I went out to have a look. When I arrived I soon found out why the price was so low. The car fell victim to these cars worse enemy..Rust! It had a few repairs over the course of its life, But this was no longer enough to keep this car on the road. It needed some serious repairs. But I was still good enough for me to be able to restore it. I was able to make a deal and I was now the proud owner of an SD1 now standing in my brand new garage.

The first part of the restoration

The first part of the restoration is stripping the car to it's bare bodyshell.

But first let me start this part of the repair with a cliché, but the funny thing about clichés is that they are very often true. Restoration of a car is all about hobby. As soon as you set a time limit on the project the fun will be gone. You will put yourself under a lot of stress and you will start doing a sloppy job. Even the stripping of the car should be done carefully. How you do it doesn't matter but make sure that every part that you take of can be found and put back without having to look for it. Believe me. I learned this from experience.
Anyway, as you can see above the garage is now finished and I am already well underway with the restoration.
I have taken every bit of the car of except for the rear axle. If you leave this axle under it is very easy to move it around like a wheelbarrow. I don't know if anybody did this before, but this is a trick that works well for me. An empty bodyshell doesn't way that much and if you can't lift it alone find somebody to help you.

One other thing

One other thing: It is always amazing to see how much more place a car needs when it is in parts then when it is built together as a car. I am lucky to have an attic to store all parts that are waiting for their turn to be restored.
Anyway it was time to look at the amount of damage the rust had done to this car. The pictures tell a tale of its own.
The main problem area's are:

  • Both left and right wheel arches.
    It doesn't look all that bad but if you take a closer look you will notice some sheet metal welded on top of the original metal. If you look on the other side you can see the effect of such a repair

  • The rust from the wheel arches had also expanded to the firewall and floorboard.
  • The sills of the car have been replaced but this was not done with great care. As you can see holes started to appear at the places where the new sill was joined with the original body.
  • Somebody ruined the roof of the car and putting in an after market sunroof as you can see in the picture of the car as I bought it.
  • The nose of the car had sustained some damage from a small accident and was not very nicely repaired. The right front is actually a few millimeters shorter than it used to be.
  • The bottoms of the doors were gone.
  • The rear wheel arches also needed some closer investigation
  • The rear of the bonnet.
  • The bottom of the trunk had some big holes in it

  • Generally there were lots of small holes in the body that needed further investigation. And of course while you are doing the job these small holes turn out to be bigger than originally foreseen.

a Lot of work to do

All in all there is a lot of work on the body to do.
But if you read on you will find out that I have been able to do a few things.
As you can see I did my best to repair the front wheel arches. It was a while ago that I did this, so I the beginning I had to get the skill of welding a body back into shape again.
If anybody should want to learn about this also, I can only say Practice!
And most of all think of it as a hobby. Don't rush things.

I have replaced the roof panel.
This is how far I got until now.

Still a long way to go but don't worry, eventually the job will get finished.

Ruud Peeters

My first SD1

the firewall and floorboard.

the sills of the car


© RWP july. 2005