P6 Estate

Scott Richmond is proudly showing his P6 Estate from 1970 in front of his shop in Melbourne, Australia. The Estate was built by FLM Panelcraft in the UK. Altogether they built about 150 of these estate cars.
This is what the car looked like when Scott bought it. At the moment it's in bits and pieces, but soon it will be back on the road again. Then with the original Series 1 bonnet and grille, and free from rust and dirt.

This is Scott's own story about his rare P6B Estate

I have been interested in Rovers for many years, starting with my very first car, a 1956 90. It cost $150, was registered and in very good condition. It's former owner was a well known rally driver, and he worked his magicon the mechanicals, as it went loike a rocket. Unfortunately my father took it to work that night to go over it, and wrote it off on the way. That must have set a trend, as at the time of writing, my wife and I are proud owners of 5 of them, a 1947 16, a 1956 60, 1 1974 P6B, a 1975 P6B and a 1970 P6B Estate. Also my job has a lot to do with them as well!
As you can tell, I like different Rovers, having also owned a 1970 P6B fitted with an original glass roof (if only I could have it back?), a 1926 Rover 9 Tourer in original condition, a 1955 90 fitted with a 3.5 litre engine and have just sold my P5 Rover fitted with a 5 litre Chev V8 so that my new wagon will fit in the driveway!
I remember looking through a copy of James taylor's "The Classic Rover" and seeing a P6 Estate, noting that they only made about 150 of them. Even though I liked and wanted one, I realized they were far too rare to come my way, or even to see one. Then 10 years ago (aprox) Colin Grey, a member of the U.K. P4 Drivers Guild and his wife were in Australia visiting our establishment, and reported with glee that they had no sooner disembarked from the plane than he was overtaken by a P6B Estate, something he had never seen in the U.K.!

The hunt was on!

From that moment, the hunt was on! For the last 10 years I have tracked down every lead, every bit of information. I came to the conclusion that the car was in Ringwood (a suburb of Melbourne) somewhere. Each time I went to Ringwood it took far longer than it should, as I drove around looking for the wagon. For the last few years there has not been a lot of information forthcoming about it, so I forgot about it.
Then my brother was driving around Ringwood with his wife looking for the house she used to live in. They got lost after taking a wrong turn and ended up in a street which had parked in it a P6B Estate! He left a card on the windscreen (which looked as is it had not been washed in several years), with a note asking if the car was for sale. The owner rang several days later and said he had owned the car for 20 years and would never consider selling the car as it had become a part of him. After arranging for him to bring the car to the National Rov in April, I was disappointed, but glad that I would finally get to see the Estate. Then a week later he rang again to say that the car had deteriorated and deserved better, and since he had bought a new diesel Discovery, he was prepared to sell the car if I promised to look after it and give it a good home.
The next weekend I was up at 4 am, as the previous owner was an early riser, and sprinted down to Pearcedale where he had moved to a couple of years before. After all this time, there it was, sad but basically sound. Because I was coming he'd given it a quick wash which made it look worse, the interior was alright but it had that much dust in it that the beige interior had a brown tint to it. The rear bumperbar was shaped like a banana from where his daughter had tied a rope around it and had tried to tow a friends car.

The price rose dramatically

We had agreed on a price over the phone, but since he had 4 other Rovers he wanted disposed of as well, and because I had no way to store them and did not want them, the price rose dramatically, making me go home to think about it. Needless to say I bought it anyway! Driving it on the way home for the first time was a revelation, a very tight motor car for one that has been driven on dirt roads it's whole life, except that the steering box had almost a quarter turn of freeplay. other than the fact that there is so much more room in the car it is very much a standard P6 to drive. A little louder perhaps, nut i'm sure the fact that the rear muffler is missing helps. They are rather odd looking cars, made by FLM Panelcraft U.K. using fully assembled cars and mostly standard panels. the roofline sweeps down toward the rear giving it a 'sat on' look and gives the impression of movement even at rest. This is an early version, the later cars had exposed tailgate hinges and a higher line to the rear and a less squat look. These cars used a Mk II Cortina tailgate, while the earlier version were based on the boot lid.
On the road it is very anonymous, looking a little like a Hillman Hunter wagon from behind, and a little like a Volvo wagon from aside, so in traffic you are hardly even looked as (except by other Rovers). As a wagon it is fairly small inside, due to the slooping roofline but as a P6B it is very usable, a standard will fit 2 extra spare wheels in the boot, if you're lucky, but in the wagon I picked up 8 Rover 16 wheels & tyres with a fair bit of spare room!
The first job to do was obviously, clean it! I won't mention much about the interior, except that I filled 3 vacuum cleaner bags full of rubbish and the carpet was rutted due to a leaky windscreen for the last 20 years. But under the mudguards surprised even me. The first day I used a garden hose on full blast and covered my front lawn with mud. The next day I used a jet attachment and covered my lawn again! It still was not clean so off with the wheels and out with a screwdriver to chip the last super tough bits of dirts off. I've taken so much dirt out of the car that it now sits one inch higher and I'm still not finished!
All I use now is an early bonnet, grille and badge, as the fool he had working on the car after a minor bingle put a late model grille and bonnet on the car as well as a 2000 front bumperbar with rear overriders. I did a fair bit of work on it to prepare it for the National Rov at Easter and it came up very well, and didn't it create some interest! All I need now is a bit more garage space and I'll be able to do it justice.

Several months later - 27/2/97

The more I do to the wagon, the worse it looks, and the more I treasure our climate in Australia because our cars are so unaffected by rust compared to the "Motherland". Because the wagon spent 2 years in England before finding it's way to these shores, rust has found it's way into quite a few places, and the fact that a replacement heater was fitted without a gasket has meant that a lot of water found it's way into the front of the car, especially on the left hand side. It must have been awful driving it around with so much water in the car, and all the carpet had rotted away or been washed out of the holes that had begun to appear.
I knew the car was full of rust when I bought it, but after finding someone capable and willing to take on the job, it was time to strip the car so that welders and cutters would not damage anything. Then I found rust! The motor and gearbox had to come out, as the gearbox was in need of major work, the seats and interior were next, followed by the mudguards and doors. The left-hand front floor was thin and holy, and the water had collected next to the sill from front to back and ate away the metal into the sill and out the bottom, the right hand side was not as bad. I found rust in places I had not seen before. Upon lifting up the rear seats, I found I was looking at the ground and could not work out why rust had found it's way there! We eventually worked out that the panel that fills the gap between the seat backs and the seat bottoms was bolted either side through the wheel well, and whoever had bolted it in the last time had left it loose so that water and mud was splashed up from the rear wheels past the bolt and into the superstructure under the seat where it rusted away the rest of the sill and floor around it.
I very rarely recommend people who work on cars, as invariably it always reflects on me, although I I have no hesitation in spreading the word about Graham Carter of Carter Automotive Restorations, as the car I got back from him is now totally sound and ready to reassemble. he rebuilt every section of floor and sill by hand, with very little to go on and each contour matches perfectly.
While the car is in pieces and the transmission is being rebuilt, I had the rear main oil seal replaced, as it was the rope kind, and since they are such a pain to replace I thought I may as well, or I'd put it all together and then it would leak! The heads will be next, then the camshaft and rockers (yes they were all noisy). The motor goes well and has plenty of power so there is no need to go further.
So that is that for now. I will not be painting it straight away as it is quite respectable and I do not have time to do it properly, and want to put it together and get some use out of it, after all, that's what it is for.

Scott Richmond

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