A Mostly British Obsession

SD1 Update, New Alternator

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

The problematic alternator on the SD1 finally burned out–but I found a rebuilt Range Rover alternator from the late 1980s on eBay for $80 and figured “what the heck.” It fits just fine, and while there is an extra connector on the back (I think for a tach on the RR) it seems to work fine. Sure beats $300 to have the original Motorola rebuilt. Of course, whenever you do a job like this, you run into the previous owner’s bodges…

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

In this case, the biggest problem is the (now) shiny new bolt you can see just above the coolant hose and below the fan belt. That holds the business end of the belt tension adjusting bracket, and the old one was completely stripped (the belt could not be tensioned and was on by force of habit, I think). As usual, a “simple half hour job” turns into a two hour slog. In the end I was victorious–thankfully there was enough room to painstakingly turn a tap.

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

The alternator puts out a steady 14.25 volts at the battery now, no matter what the load. Alas, the telltale on the dashboard still glows faintly. There is probably a loose ground (or other source of resistance) in that circuit–but I’m not anxious to spend hours checking electrical connections to try and figure out what the issue is. As long as it’s charging, I can live with the light.

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

The car has otherwise been pretty reliable. The demisting is pretty bad, mainly because the window vents in the doors are either disconnected or have collapsed–and the rear window defroster only has three live strands, which makes it less than handy.

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

I’ve put about 2,000 miles on the car since I bought it and it’s returning a consistent 21 MPG, not bad for a V8 sedan.

1980 Rover 3500 SD1

I’m not convinced I’ll own this car for a really long time, but it certainly is filling its mission of “interesting car for the winter.” I even got caught in a snow storm and made it home–not bad for a rear-wheel-drive car on summer tires.


  1. Rodney

    The demisting and defrosting wouldn’t be an issue here on the Gulf Coast. I’ll keep an eye on your blog for a “For Sale” notice!

  2. Don

    I had a Rover (briefly) that looked almost identical to yours! White with tan cloth interior. I never got it to run, so just resold it and moved on to other cars.

  3. Paul Barrow

    Drop me a line if you want to move the SD1 on – I am a brit car nut too.

  4. Anthony

    I had two of these from new here in the UK and loved them both. My first got struck by lightening which didn`t do it a lot of good. The later models were better.

  5. Chris Keen

    Looks like fun… good thing I have its weak-kneed Italian equivalent (Beta sedan) to distract me from making you an offer.


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