Lot 70 (Imperial War Museum Duxford, 18th March 2020)
Registration No: N/A
Chassis No: SRG1
A division of Patrick Motors Ltd (the highly successful, Birmingham-based dealership chain), the Patrick Motorsport Group (a.k.a. PMG) sponsored Richard Longman’s Mini 1275GT whilst it amassed enough class wins to claim the 1978 and 1979 RAC British Saloon Car Championships. Learning that the various manufacturers involved had agreed to increase the maximum permissible engine size for Group 1 entrants contesting the 1980 season from 3.0 to 3.5 litres, PMG decided to switch their attention to a potentially front running car which could not only fight for class wins but also outright race victories. To this end they approached S.R.G. Competitions of Biggleswade who were simultaneously campaigning a Ford Capri 3.0 and developing a Rover SD1 3500 racer (the latter with limited Shell backing). PMG were not alone in identifying the bigger-engined SD1’s promise with British Leyland themselves commissioning David Price Racing (a.k.a DPR) to create their own contender.
One of the drivers whose performances as a privateer had inspired the 3.0 litre engine size limit in the first place (thus, effectively ‘outlawing’ Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro etc), S.R.G.’s Martin Thomas had a wealth of high-performance V8 knowhow. Joining the fray midway through the 1980 British Saloon Car Championship, the Patrick Motorsport Group Rover SD1 3500 retained a degree of Shell sponsorship and was driven by Brian ‘Yogi’ Muir and Martin Thomas. Beset with minor teething problems, it initially failed to match the pace of the DPR cars which won at Brands Hatch and Donnington. However, things had improved significantly by the season’s end and the PMG machine ran strongly at the Tourist Trophy with Dave Brodie joining Brian Muir behind the wheel.
New sponsorship deals with Duckhams, ICI Petrol and Motor magazine enabled PMG to field a Rover SD1 3500 apiece for Brian Muir and Rex Greenslade throughout 1981 with Martin Thomas undertaking testing duties. Further benefiting from British Leyland Motorsport’s full technical assistance (at least until Tom Walkinshaw took over responsibility for running the Works SD1s from DPR), the S.R.G.-prepared cars became ever more competitive. 1982 saw ex-Formula 2 driver Rad Dougall replace Rex Greenslade in the driver line-up and a string of increasingly strong results. Piloted by Brian Muir and Win Percy, the sale car qualified third for that year’s Tourist Trophy with a time of 1:40.840 and looked set to finish second against formidable Team Motul Jaguar XJ-S Group A opposition until a pit crew member inadvertently failed to drain its final fuel churn properly.
Like their DPR and TWR rivals, the S.R.G. cars were stripped to the class minimum weight. The suspension was rose jointed with minimal adjustment permitted for camber changes and the front disc brakes upgraded with ‘police specification’ four-pot callipers. Closer ratios were fitted to the five-speed manual gearbox and the all-alloy V8 engine enlarged to 3495cc. Riding on 15 x 7J wheels, the racers also employed a Salisbury limited slip differential. Some forty years after their introduction, the other two PMG Rover SD1s have won the blue riband events at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting on several occasions.
Recently restored by Martin Thomas of S.R.G. fame and issued with a FIA Historic Technical Passport on 17th October 2019, this particular example had several competitive outings in period - aside from its memorable 1982 TT appearance - but primarily served as a spare car. Reportedly, a favourite of the late Brian ‘Yogi’ Muir who preferred its handling balance to the team’s other racers, the Rover was retained by Mr Thomas at the end of the 1982 season and has spent the majority of its life under a dust cover. Now fitted with a JE Developments 3.5 litre fuel-injected V8 and FIA compliant roll cage, the SD1 was also treated to new brake and suspension components all round during its refurbishment. The spartan cabin plays host to an up to date race seat and belts and the whole machine is understood to be ‘on the button’. A rare opportunity to acquire a car that is not only a race winner in the right hands but one which is offered for sale by its original preparer. As well as the FIA HTP papers, it comes with a vast booklet detailing period set-ups plus a host of new spares and two extra sets of wheels.