Rover V8

The Rover V8 began life in America as the Buick 215, since then variants have been produced in England and Australia. Between 1960 and 1963 variants sold in high numbers as:

  • Oldsmobile Jetfire
  • Oldsmobile 215
  • Buick 215 (BOP215)

BOP stands for Buick Oldsmobile Pontiac

Rover V8 EngineIn an era when most engines were cast iron, this 3528cc V8 was relatively expensive to produce and there were still problems to solve will oil and coolant leaks caused by the type antifreeze popular at that time. Because of these issues, Buick began producing a cast iron version of the engine and ceased production.

Step in J. Bruce Williams from Rover. As head of American operations he was tasked with investigating the use of the V8 in British Cars. In the late 1960’s American cars were large and heavy compared to the more compact British saloons. Even large saloons such as the Rover P5B were small compared to their American counterparts. When released it was lighter than many 4 cylinder engines, yet with 200hp(SAE) it had more than twice the power. The deal to use the engine was signed in January 1965.

Since the last main-stream vehicle to use the Rover V8 rolled off the production line in 2005 (Land Rover Discovery) and the last performance versions to be produced in significant numbers were fitted to the now extinct TVR Chimaera. Production however continues with the Coscast V8.

Modifying the Rover V8 was as popular with hot rodders and kit car fans as it was with small car manufacturers such as MG, TVR, Morgan and Bowler. After-market suppliers still produce kits to extend the capacity of this engine to 5,208 cc or 317.8 cu in (stroker kit).

Capacities included:

  • 3.5 litre (3528cc or 215.3
  • 3.9litre (3,946cc or 240.8 cu in)
  • 4.2litre (4,275 cc or 260.9 cu in)
  • 4.3litre (4,280 cc or 261 cu in)
  • 4.4litre (4,416 cc or 269.5 cu in)
  • 4.6litre (4,552 cc or 277.8 cu in)
  • 5.0litre (4,997 cc or 304.9 cu in)

Rover V8 Dimensions

Many people come to sites like this one looking for dimensions. The Rover V8 had many guises and each one was fitted with different combinations of water pumps, inlet manifolds, oil pumps, starter motors, pulleys, exhausts etc. Therefore, taking a set of dimensions and having them match a those taken from a donor engine is unlikely.

Take any dimensional drawings with a very large pinch of salt, as some measurements may vary by up to 100mm depending on donor vehicle.

Just because dimensions may seem ‘OK’ doesn’t mean that an engine will drop in without issue. Selecting parts to make an engine short might not make it the narrowest.

See: Rover V8 Serpentine Timing Cover

To fit an engine into a vehicle for which is isn’t intended, there are two options:

  1. Physically lower one into the intended space.
  2. Carefully draw up the car and engine in 3D CAD

I took option b. See my blog:

These dimensions were found on the web:

Rover V8 Dimensions
Weight220Kg – 240Kg


But after comparison with what I had on the floor of my garage (SD1 V8 with P38 water pump and timing cover), I decided to clarify some of these measurements. They seemed a little ‘odd’.

Rover V8 height and length

Rover V8 width

Rover V8 CAD


The published weight of the Rover V8, varies incredibly. Even taking into account the huge range of capacities, carburetor and fuel injection set-ups. Many of these weights are simply fiction. When a weight is given, very often there is absolutely no mention whether it’s a bare block (possibly without inlet manifold) or if everything including cast iron manifolds, oil, water, wiring, manual flywheel and hoses are included.
I did however find this forum page where components were accurately weighed:

The weights are for a 4.0 late model Landrover Discovery engine:

Accessory Drive Belt – (1) 0.341kg
Air Cleaner Body 0.977kg
Air Cleaner Element 0.299kg
Air Cleaner Top 0.467kg
Air Flow Meter 0.226kg
Air Hose/Duct – (1) 0.325kg
Alternator 7.196kg
Engine Complete 177.000kg
Engine Management – E.C.U. 0.390kg
Starter Motor 4.060kg
Viscous Coupling 2.942kg
Engine Oil 5.676kg

The does NOT include the flywheel, which if you are using a manual flywheel is very heavy indeed. You’re looking at over 220 Kgs. Larger capacity blocks will weigh more largely due to counterbalanced crankshafts.

The weight of many vital components varies dramatically too. For instance the P5 starter motor is physically much bigger than a modern hi-torque unit and several times heavier. The same applies to P6 cast iron manifolds and P38 stainless steel manifolds.

I have a set of highly accurate shipping scales (220Kg maximum weight) and a John Earl Engineering ‘tuned’ SD1 V8 3.5lt

  • manual flywheel
  • single throttle body injection
  • P38 water pump and timing cover
  • Mallory Dual point distributor
  • No alternator
  • computer
  • oil
  • wiring
  • air box
  • air filter
  • oil filter

The scales measured ‘MAX’. To get under my scale’s 220Kg limit, I had to remove roughly (20Kgs) e.g. all belts, wiring , computer, filters, hoses and starter. Therefore I can state the above weights posted on the pistonheads forum are ‘probably’ as good as you’re going to get. I recon everything I have is around 240Kgs. When Rover themselves claimed 144kg, I can only assume they had a ‘stripped bare’ block and heads (no inlet, carbs, flywheel, distributor, pipes, hoses and rocker covers). Basically it was a PR stunt, to get their figure lower than those published for cast iron 4 cylinder engines of the day.

Identifying a Rover V8

Compression ratios vary from 8.12:1 to 10.1:1. There are single plenum, twin plenum, SU carburetor, distributor, disco distributor and electronic ignition models.

Models may be known as:

  • P5/P6
  • SD1
  • SD1 Vitesse
  • P38
  • Serpentine
  • Thor
  • etc

In order to be IVA compliant you’ll need a full engine and V5 identification, but for a ‘swap meet cheat sheet’ see my blog:

Rover V8 VIN Numbers

Unfortunately, this cheat sheet does not cover later Land Rover and Range Rover, Serpentine & Thor models.

Rover Cylinder Head Numbers

There were at least 5 different types of cylinder head fitted to the Rover V8. Unfortunately you cannot go purely on model of car or by the casting numbers.

  • Rover P5/P6 – 612571
    • SU Carburetors
    • standard valves
    • small ports
    • 14 bolts
  • SD1 (1976-1987) – ERC0216
    • SU Carburetors
    • standard valves
    • standard ports
    • 14 bolts
  • SD1 Vitesse / Land Rover and Range Rover (1987-1993) – ERC0216
    • fuel injection
    • ported heads
    • ‘wasted valves’
    • 14 bolts
  • Land Rover and Range Rover (1993) / TVR 400 & 450 – HRC2210
    • fuel injection
    • ported heads
    • ‘wasted valves’
    • smaller chambers for use with thicker composite head gaskets
    • 10 bolts
  • Range Rover 4.0 / 4.6 Tempest and Thor – HRC2479
    • fuel injection
    • big valves
    • larger ports
    • smaller chambers for use with thicker composite head gaskets
    • 10 bolts

Further info here:

Rover V8 Plenum ChamberRover V8 Timing Chain Cover

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