Home » Rare, Running, But Not Quite Ready: 1966 Rover P6 2000 vs 1975 Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Rare, Running, But Not Quite Ready: 1966 Rover P6 2000 vs 1975 Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Sbsd 8 10 2023
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Welcome to another Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re going to look at two cars you almost never see for sale, at least in reasonable condition for reasonable prices. They both have four round headlights, they’re both blue, and they’re both just a little fettling away from motoring perfection. But before we dive into those, let’s see the final tally of yesterday’s snooze-cruisers:

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Well, crank up the Roxy Music, because the Avalon is the clear winner here. But I don’t think you could go too far wrong with either choice.

Today, I have found two cars that I am absolutely in love with. If I had the money and space, I’d be contacting both of these sellers, I think. On the one hand, we have a stylish and seldom-seen British businessman’s saloon, and on the other, a sweet Italian coupe in some other color than red. How can you go wrong? Presented with both keys and both titles, I’d have a hell of a time choosing. But luckily, I don’t have to. You do.

1966 Rover P6 2000 SC – $4,950

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.0 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Colfax, CA

Odometer reading: 87,000 miles

Runs/drives? Runs great, but needs brake work

It’s weird for most Americans to see the name “Rover” without “Land” or “Range” in front of it. Rover’s off-road vehicles are legendary, and the only products that survive today, but for a long time Rover’s saloon cars were comfortable, good-performing, and technologically advanced. The P6 (or 2000, or sometimes both) featured four-wheel disc brakes, an overhead cam engine, and a DeDion tube rear suspension – all in 1963. Rover competed with Jaguar in the years before the two companies came under the same corporate umbrella, and the P6 was every inch the executive car that Jaguar’s Mark II was, only more efficient and less expensive.

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The “SC” in this car’s name refers to its single SU carburetor. 1966 saw the introduction of the P6 2000 TC, with the more-commonly-seen twin SUs and a corresponding bump in power. A couple years later, the P6 would receive an even bigger boost from Rover’s Buick-derived 3.5 liter V8, creating the P6 3500, but for some reason Rover saw fit to equip US-market 3500s with a trio of really hideous tacked-on hood scoops. As someone who doesn’t really care much about horsepower, I’d much rather have the 2000 and its smooth bonnet.

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This P6 runs like a top, according to the seller, and includes all the service records dating back to 1966. The Wedgwood Blue paint is original, as is all the leather, and while the driver’s seat has some wear and cracks, the rest of the interior looks beautiful, including one of my favorite P6 features: that magnificent curved wood dash. It does need some brake work before it can be driven, but the seller isn’t clear on how pressing the need is: Can you limp it home? Shouid it be towed instead? The brakes are discs all around, and the rears are inboard, Jaguar-style, so refurbishing them will be a little more involved than slapping brake pads on your cousin’s Elantra.

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But personally, I would gladly put in the effort to get the brakes back up to snuff. This is a rare car anyway, and to find one in such good original condition for less than five grand is remarkable. Show up to next month’s All-British Field Meet here in Portland in this pale blue lady, and you’ll draw a crowd for sure.

1975 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT – $4,750

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD

Location: El Verano, CA

Odometer reading: 12,900 miles (probably rolled over)

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Runs/drives? Yep, but starts hard

Alfa Romeo’s Alfetta GT had a tough act to follow. The 105/115 series coupes, available in a wide assortment of flavors, were all drop-dead gorgeous, and by all accounts wonderful to drive, though I have never had the pleasure myself. The Giugiaro-designed Alfetta GT, based on the Alfetta sedan introduced in 1972, isn’t quite the looker that the 105/115 was (though I wouldn’t kick one out of the garage), but I have driven one of these, and I can confirm that it’s an absolute delight.

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This Alfetta was recently awakened from a 23 year slumber, and has had a lot of work put into it. The fuel system, brakes (coincidentally also four-wheel discs inboard of a DeDion tube), clutch hydraulics, ignition, and more have all been gone through, and the seller says it runs and drives well. It does start hard, which seems to be a nagging problem with the Spica fuel injection system. US-market Alfettas were all fuel-injected for emissions reasons, and I’ve heard it’s a finicky system to set up and adjust.

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You can tell this is a driver’s car; see the one gauge in its own pod directly in front of the driver? That’s the tachometer. The speedometer and other “lesser” gauges and warning lights are all in the larger pod in the center of the dash. Surprisingly, the dash itself appears crack-free, a minor miracle for California. It must have spent its Rip Van Winkle years indoors. The upholstery looks nice and clean as well. The seller does note some rust in the right front fender, but it wouldn’t be an Alfa Romeo without some rust somewhere.

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I love the fact that it’s blue. Red Italian cars, especially Alfas and Ferraris, are so common that seeing one in a different color is a breath of fresh air. And if I don’t mention the lack of amber turn signals in the rear, signifying that this is a US-spec car, Jason will probably dock my pay.

So that’s what we’ve got: two affordable, good-looking, fun-to-drive classics that are just about ready to go, but need a little tinkering. Personally, I know my answer – both – and just this once I’m going to include that as a poll option, just in case you’re as enamored with these as I am. (And if you want a “Neither” option, I’m sure there’s a nice Prius review somewhere you can read.) What’ll it be?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
11 months ago

Coming late to the party. Very interesting choices today. I don’t think they sold too many Alfettas over here, the car very much lives in the shadow of its GTV6 cousin, probably younger brother is more apt. I am a British car guy (in America) from way back, but don’t know a lot about the Rover. I suspect the Alfetta would be more fun to drive, and I have never owned a British car, so voting Alfa.

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago

I voted both, but it would be the easiest thing in the world to vote alfa if there could be only one. The rover is really sharp, but damn the alfa is pretty

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

I preder tge Italian job because lower miles and sporty, a cranky fuel problem is ez. Do like the Rover with a bark worse than its bite. However i have a persnickety feeling something is off. Taken well care of since 1966 with records that far back. But then one day decided i am done, gonna sell it not going to even bother with a piddly brake job that will cost money on the sale. Who does that?

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Maybe the owner died and their adult child is selling a car they’re not attached to.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 months ago

Chose both (We broke Mark for once!- I’m surprised) If it was a regular day, would have chosen the beautiful blue Alfetta

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 months ago

The Alfetta seems to be in better overall shape plus there is a trick to cold starting them:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9oH_i7kXJY

So my vote goes to the Alfa.

Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago

I’ve always considered that Rover awkward. If I’m going to get a fussy car, I’ll at least get the pretty one. Alfa for me.

R Rr
R Rr
11 months ago

I was just gonna vote for the Alfa since I used to have a silver 2.0 one, then I saw it was running against a british car, which made me scroll twice as fast and smash the vote for the Alfa.

British cars, the only things that can make old italian cars look like the pinnacle of reliability.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

Missed opportunity! You somehow got two vehicles that both have de dion rear suspensions to choose from. Could have titled it “Double de Dion Day” or something more clever.

Also you should check out the front suspension on these Rovers, it uses a bellcrank because they were originally designed for the turbine engine that never happened. Come to think of it, this Rover has probably one of the most unique front and rear suspensions of the time that doesn’t involve hydraulic fluids.

Rich Hobbs
Rich Hobbs
11 months ago

Re: Rover. Don’t forget Lucas, the Prince of Darkness. But then there’s Marelli…

Bomber
Bomber
11 months ago

I wanted to vote both then I remembered that Alfa is synonymous with masochism and voted Rover.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
11 months ago
Reply to  Bomber

I recommend reading up on Rovers. Especially Rover build quality

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Bomber

You’re not familiar with Rovers, are you?

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
11 months ago

I am really attracted to non-red Italian cars! If only one, the Alfetta gets my vote. If you have the garage space (they won’t like being stored outdoors), and like cars from this era, I say “Go for both!”

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
11 months ago

Both. Alfa is always a correct (if masochistic) choice. But the Rover is lovely, and it’s got some fascinating history in its safety engineering — welded monocoque with integral rollcage, and outer panels completely detachable/replaceable. (Rover also used this kind of desgin on the original Range Rover and Disco 1 and 2, but then put the whole assembly atop a heavy-duty frame, which is kind of bonkers). Of course, it’s a British car — which is a whole other flavor of masochism, so there’s that…

Having owned a Disco 1 with the Buick-derived Rover V8, I suspect the hood scoops were put on NAS V8 models as an attempt to get a bit more airflow over the engine bay. The Rover V8 can run a bit hot and needs a good cooling system kept in proper working order. For a carbureted one, keeping engine bay temperature down helps keep vapor lock at bay. North American summers in big cities even back then tended to get sticky and brutally hot with all that pavement and stop-and-go traffic. Nor was blasting down the highway for hours at 65-70 MPH particularly great for cooling unless you can stuff enough air both through the radiator and around the engine bay.

The Disco was fuel-injected so vapor lock wasn’t an issue. But under-hood heat could still take a toll on plastics and ignition components. Expansion and contraction would prematurely kill aftermarket distributor caps and coils. Something, somewhere, would crack. Genuine Marelli and Lucas parts that met specs did fine, though. It seems they knew about the heat buildup and specced accordingly.

Sklooner
Sklooner
11 months ago

Both of these are on my drool list, buddy had a Rover like that and one night we noticed the dash lights dying out one by one, found out the dash harness was on fire, we pulled over and ripped out the near molten wire by hand and drove it away. Sadly an automatic with the v8 and more rust than a David Tracy project

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
11 months ago

When I was away at school in the mid seventies, a female classmate tooled around in a dark-colored Rover very similar to this. She was unassuming, indeliberately cool, and she kinda drove like someone who was fifty years beyond her then-age of 19.

She may have driven like an old lady, but she resembled Jaqueline Smith (chronological reference). So with all this, I researched the car a little bit, and gave it several once-overs during my evening tours as part-time security patrol (kinda like a collegiate Barney Fife), decided that I really liked it.

My ride at the time was a ’72 ‘cuda 340, so this was quite a departure for me. And I solemnly swear I was not swayed (much) by the image of a Charlie’s Angel pushing British iron at 5 MPH below limit.

John Crouch
John Crouch
11 months ago

I have driven both (the Rover in TC form), each great in their own right. I voted both, when the Alfa doesn’t start-drive the 2000. What a garage full these would be.

Rich Hobbs
Rich Hobbs
11 months ago

You had me at Guigaro! My fave designer. The Alfa has much less rust showing. Interior looks good to go with a good cleaning! Brakes are done! Shiny, all one color! Parts a lot easier to source and it’s smog exempt..just made it being a 75. Oh man…I want! !

Cyko9
Cyko9
11 months ago

These are both fine purchases, but I don’t appreciate the Rover enough, so I left it available in the daydream so a real enthusiast could scoop it up.

SuperNova
SuperNova
11 months ago

I’m more on the Rover side of things. A bit of upholstery and preserve it as it is otherwise. Do all the brakes and it will need a few things but you’ve got a simple classic that you could drive anywhere. You could restore that Alfa bumper to bumper and it will still cut out on you on the side of the highway.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
11 months ago

The Alfa is very pretty, so I voted for it, but the more I think about the Rover, the more I want it just so I can play that song with the lyric: “…in the backseat of your Rover…” all the time.

So go ahead and give me both. The Alfa will be for driving, and the “holding [someone] closer”.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
11 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

*The Alfa will be for driving, and the Rover will be for “holding [someone] closer”

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

Alfa because it’s a wedge of Italian madness. What a looker but the demons are lurking. It’s a stick so it should be able to bump start, right?

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

I want to be hurt by that Alfa so bad. Picture me, under the hot Tuscan sun, shirtless and covered in oil. The car overheat on my way to the osteria, for my three hour lunch. A nun on a bicycle yelling “Averbbe dovuto comprare una fiat”. I yell back “Asettero fino alla morte per essere all’inferno!”. I show up to lunch just in time at 2 p.m. on the back of a tow truck.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
11 months ago

I thought you were gonna say the nun gave you a lift on her bike.
Alfa here also.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

I haven’t paid my monthly indulgence since they added ads in the 7.99 tier. So she was already a little crossed with me.

Limoncello
Limoncello
11 months ago

I’ll take the Alfa … if I’m allowed to get rid of that hideous plastic bumper.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Both of these are so fine and I want the pair. In the Rover, I’d have a time machine that lets me indulge my inner detective inspector fantasies. And the Alfa! The Alfetta was the Italian dream ride of my teen years. I worked in a garage and there was a dark green Alfetta that came in every week for fuel. That car got great service. So, yeah, I had an Alfettish.

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