Rover P6 V8 shooting-brake to feature in Affordable Classics auction

This P6 estate conversion by FLM Panelcraft is an even rarer example of the sought-after 3500 V8 edition, and it's going on sale with no reserve at Bicester Heritage

An ‘Affordable Classics’ auction is a great opportunity for the less financially endowed classic car collector to pick up a genuinely rare vehicle without parting with huge sums of money. Brightwell’s auction at Bicester Heritage on 21 March affords one such opportunity with a limited run shooting-brake conversion of the V8 Rover P6.

Rover’s P6 redefined the brand. The stodgy, uptight and conservative nature of previous models was chucked forcefully out of the nearest ninth storey window and usurped by a car designed from the outset to accommodate a gas turbine engine. Said motor never materialised, but the intent was clear regardless.

Its steel monocoque design with aluminium panels bolted on top, disc brakes all-round and race-derived de Dion rear axle were bold new territory for a car aimed at traditional saloon-buying middle management executives.

The quintessential iteration of the P6 was still to come however, as the 3500 V8 came to market in 1968, five years after the P6’s debut. 114mph from the Buick-derived eight-pot motor was an ideal match for the P6 chassis, which had already been built with such aspirations in mind.

One year later, Battersea-based coachbuilders FLM Panelcraft went to work on a shooting-brake conversion, launching the ‘Estoura’. The conversion was theoretically available to any P6, though it appears most models turned into estates were the more potent 3500.

FLM Panelcraft had started out life without the ‘FLM’ tag in 1947, initially modifying pre-war Bentleys and Rolls-Royce cars. By the time the 1970s had rolled around, they had moved into four-door conversions of the Range Rover, shipping many of these to the Middle East. They were in the shooting-brake business too, modifying an Aston Martin DB6 to estate form at the request of Formula 1 driver Innes Ireland.

Total build numbers for their Rover P6 conversion vary depending on who you ask, what time of day it is and which way the wind is blowing, but roughly speaking only around 150-200 examples were given the shooting-brake treatment. Similarly, survival rate estimates range wildly from a little under half this figure to a number low enough to count on one hand.

This particular example would have been one of the later conversions, using a 1974 model year 3500 as its base. One downside to the youngest versions of the 3500 is the less durable automatic transmission, the Type 65 units fitted from late 1973 onwards being rather less reliable than the Type 35 which had gone before.

But why get caught up in the details? The conversion to shooting-brake certainly looks the part, the sweeping roofline only interrupted by some minor bubbling. The sloping angle of the rear renders the estate concept somewhat redundant however, offering little more space than the original saloon.

The riveted-on rear pod looks in surprisingly decent condition, relatively unaffected by the rot which compromised other examples of the ‘Estoura’ conversions, which led to many of these pods being ‘hot-swapped’ onto better surviving shooting-brake examples.

A standard saloon version of the V8-powered Rover P6 is sought-after enough, but adding the rarity of a shooting-brake conversion into the mix makes this 3500 edition even more collectible. The styling may not be to everyone’s tastes, but that’s unlikely to deter a flurry of bidding on March 21.

For more about the Brightwells sale and the James Hull collection, click here. If you're thinking of heading to Bicester for bidding, make sure you're fully prepared by giving our Rover P6 buying guide a read beforehand.

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