Rover P4 (1949 – 1964) Review

Rover P4 (1949 – 1964) At A Glance


+Solid, beautifully made, traditional interior well-finished in high-quality wood and leather, excellent dynamics making this a much better car to drive than you might think

-Upright styling looks a little staid, freewheel can take some getting used to

When Rover launched the P4-Series in 1949, it probably did so with the UK's most advanced mainstream production car. It was a very confident effort, banishing memories of the worthy pre-war P3-Series, and rolling out a car with confident Studebaker-inspired styling.

The company did a great job to produce such a progressive car seem to right for its conservative clienetele. The original P4 model shared its chassis and engines with the P3, but was upgraded througout its life. The most striking feature of the pre-1952 cars was the centrally-mounted headlight in the radiator grille – hence the car's ‘Cyclops’ nickname.

A great car, cruelly undervalued in the classic car market.

Ask Honest John

Why aren't modern cars fitted with freewheeling devices like that found on the Rover P4?

"Rover fitted a selectable free wheel device to its ‘Aunty’ models in the 1960s. I recollect my father using it for most of his driving. Why has something like it not been resurrected as fuel prices have risen? Did it have a major mechanical or safety flaw?"
I had one in a 1949 Rover 60 P3. It was activated by a Bowden cable. It was lethal descending hills with no engine braking and lousy brakes. Saab adopted it for a different reason; no torque reaction when lifting off on ice and snow means much less likelihood of a skid. VAG has introduced a freewheel to a new DSG, but freewheels will not now save fuel with manuals because a modern engine shuts off its fuel supply entirely on deceleration, or if you lift off while descending a hill. The engine is turned by the powertrain. An idling engine (which it would have to be while freewheeling) uses some fuel.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions