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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engine, Gearbox > Austin/BMC/Rover Engines > Rover V8 overview and history

Rover V8 overview and history

The Rover V8 engine is a compact, aluminium block V8 internal combustion engine produced by Rover in the United Kingdom.

The engine's design was sourced from the United States. In the late 1950s, General Motors' Oldsmobile division developed a cast-aluminium V8 with the very small (for the US market of the time) capacity of 3.5 litres (215 cubic inches), a size that was normally the province of a straight-6. It appeared in production in 1961 fitted to compact models from Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac, but proved to be underpowered for the increasing size of the American car of the period. It was soon dropped for more conventional, larger-displacement iron blocked units.

As the aluminium block made this engine one of the lightest stock V8s built there was some attempts to use it in racing, including at Indianapolis. The Australian firm Revco converted this engine for Formula One by reducing it to 3 litres and fitting a single overhead camshaft per bank rather than the shared pushrod arrangement. Revco-powered Brabham won the F1 championship twice, in 1966 and 1967. For the 1968 season the Repco engine was fitted with new 4-valve double overhead camshaft heads. This made the engine roughly as powerful as the Cosworth DFV but proved to be too much for the stock block that broke in many occasions.

Rover was in need of a new, more powerful engine in the mid 1960s, and became aware of this small, lightweight V8. It's reported that one of Rover executives, William Martin-Hurst, first saw this engine in a marine conversion by Mercury Marine. After some negotiation they acquired rights and tools to it and have produced it ever since, it’s first appearances being in Rover saloons in the late 1960s.

As well as appearing in Rover cars, the engine was widely sold by Rover to small car builders, and has appeared in all kinds of vehicles. Rover V8s feature in some models from Morgan, TVR, Triumph, Land Rover and MG, among many others. They're also the standard British engine in hot rods, much like the Chevrolet 350 small-block is to American builders.

The last mass-produced application of the Rover V8 was the Land Rover Discovery, which was discontinued in 2005. It is still used by some hand-built sports cars built by some independent manufacturers.


The basic 3.5 L (3532 cc) engine was used in many vehicles.


1973-1976 MGB GT V8


Land Rover used a 4.0 L (3946 cc) version of the Rover V8 through the 1990s. Their 4.0 was revised in 1995 with a new intake and exhaust system, extra block ribbing, revised pistons, and larger cross-bolted main-bearings. The 1995 4.0 produced 190 hp (142 kW) and 236 ft-lb (320 Nm).

RPi 4.0 Rover Gems fuel injected V8

Production of the 4.0 ended in 2001. The final version of the engine, used in the Land Rover Discovery, produced 188 hp (140 kW) at 4750 RPM and 250 ft-lb (339 Nm) at 2600 RPM.


1992-1996 MG RV8


In 1996, Land Rover enlarged the Rover V8 to it’s largest-ever displacement: 4.6 L (4552 cc or 281 in³). The bore remained the same size as the previous 4.0, but the engine was stroked by 10.9 mm. Output was 225 hp (168 kW) and 280 ft-lb (380 Nm).

Production of the 4.6 ended at Solihull, UK, in 2002. The final version, used in the Range Rover, produced 222 hp (166 kW) at 4750 RPM and 300 ft-lb (407 Nm) at 2600 RPM.

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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engine, Gearbox > Austin/BMC/Rover Engines > Rover V8 overview and history

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