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Project Lucas, Intro

Here we go again. The SD1 sickness just gets into your blood and never leaves.

I really regret selling Effie, but at the time I had no other choice as I still had Tess and she wasn’t ready to sell, and we had just been kicked out of our rental so they could sell it, so had no parking for one SD1, let alone two. I managed to source a spot for Tess to stay until we settled on our house, but Effie had to be moved on.

Tess wasn’t quite the same, I never quite bonded with her the same and found that between the aftermarket cam and the manual box it didn’t quite drive how I wanted an SD1 to drive. I feel the autobox and lazy low down torquey engine suit the style better.

So here we are again. That desire for an SD1 didn’t leave me, so once the Tomcat was sold, I started my search. I looked at what was available online, of which nothing was suitable (HAD to be a Series 2, and there were none at a reasonable price), and then began reaching out, both through the local Rover club and some of my own existing contacts.

I started with Nigel, or NP70 as it used to be called. It’s been sitting outside, uncovered, untouched and unused since approx 2018. Allegedly it has a starting issue, which is why it was parked up. I contacted the owner and proposed buying the car and saving it, but unfortunately the owner wasn’t having a bar of it and more or less said he’d get around to fixing it at some point and that was that.

Of course, I checked with Effie’s owner if he might sell, but he is dedicated to getting her back on the road and knows full well that selling her would be a regrettable mistake.

Next was to try my luck with a comment I had seen on Facebook on an SD1 group. An NZ SD1 owner posted asking if it was worth exporting his Vanden Plas EFI back to the UK as he had tried to sell it in NZ with no luck, and the UK market for these cars is far hotter. This was back in December.

I sent the guy a message and just asked if he was still looking to sell the EFI. Sure enough, he was. A few more messages were passed back and forth, a price was discussed, and some photos and a video were sent to indicate the condition.

It looked nice enough in the photos and video, and did sound like it ran well.

Being the bore that I am, I keep a database of all the injected SD1s I come across in NZ. This is one of the ones on that list (one of 10 VDP EFIs), and I had known about it for a number of years, since it was originally from around my region. I have a few photos of the car from when it was for sale the past couple of times, and had even seen the car in person about 5 years ago, and recall it looked quite tidy.

Once we agreed on the deal, I once again booked in my preferred transporter (Brent at Classic Towing) and by some miracle, he managed to fit my collection in this weekend.

The next day, today, after a solid effort by Brent, the car was delivered

The engine took a few turns to get fired up from cold, but came to life easily enough and without any unusual noises or clouds of smoke. I warmed it up a bit while Brent undid the rest of the tie-downs, and then backed the car off the truck and into the drive.

First impressions are a bit of a mixed bag. The paint looks good, but only because it had a blow over at some point, which is really obvious as there are masking lines and overspray everywhere you look. There are a couple of spots of rust that I have found, including some big bubbles in the sunroof panel, and some small blisters at the top corner of the windscreen. Otherwise, without having been under it, it appears to be quite solid.

The interior looks in good condition, with no tears in the seats and it all seems to be complete. The obvious elephant in the room is the steering column being in bits, but that is due to a disclosed issue where the indicator stalk has failed, so the previous owner removed it for replacement (and had failed to source the replacement). Everything is really dirty though, so I will need to get the wetvac out and give it a going over.

All the doors are really sticky and the catches need a real good slam to catch. The car has only been off the road for about a year, but obviously sitting hasn’t been kind to it.

The engine looks like a standard, albeit slightly neglected, EFI engine. It starts and runs well enough, and although the temp was low on the gauge, it didn’t overheat sitting idle. There is a slight tapping from the engine, which I’m hoping is just an indication it needs an oil change.

The obvious modifications/issues I have noticed are that there is an aftermarket electric fan on the radiator, which appears to be running at full speed whenever the key is turned ON. There is also an aftermarket cooler mounted in front of the radiator, for either the transmission or power steering, I haven’t looked to see which yet. Someone has also messed with the ignition coil setup, as it has a Bosch GT40 coil and the electronic module for it is mounted to the AFM bracket on the strut top.

Speaking of bodges, the breather system can’t be working as intended. There should be an inlet filter on the LH valve cover, but instead, someone has blocked it off with a bit of hose and a bolt. I will need to look into refitting a filter to it. It might explain all the weeping oil around the engine.

I haven’t driven the car yet (as the steering wheel was barely held on and the adjustment clamp for the column was loose – oh, and no indicators), so I’m not sure what the suspension and brakes are up to, so that’s some excitement yet to be had.

It’s a good basis for a car, with some foibles. I’m glad I bought it when I did, as it really needs the Tastes Like Petrol treatment to recover it back to its glorious self.

There will be a ton more work to be done, so stay tuned.

Also, why Lucas I hear you ask? Well, the obvious link is the Lucas electrics, but the more obscure reason was the little jumping spider the car came with. They’re about the only spider I can happily live with.
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