My Rover History, By Brian Nordlund
February, 2001 (revised, 2015)
1968 Rover TC 2000
In 1975, I was fortunate enough to have some money saved and to have an opportunity to buy a 1968 Rover TC2000 from my cousin. I was also fortunate to have parents who would let a 12 year-old seventh-grader buy a car. Since I was a few years from being able to drive, I was satisfied to spend my time sitting in the car, working on it, and riding along when my older brother or parents drove.
Once I had a driver's lincense, the Rover was my primary transportation. Because of several years of ownership, I was very familiar with it mechanically and able to keep it in good repair. Since the car was a little unusual, and the only one in town, it caught peoples attention. To a point, my identity was linked to the Rover, and friends would always come to me with reports of other Rovers they might have seen in their travels.
I drove the car through High School and a few years of College, when I decided to spend some time and money fixing a few things up. In 1985 I decided to rebuild the engine, modifying it to work better with the lousy gasoline of the day. I was able to borrow a car, so I wouldn't be rushed to get the Rover back on the road. I was able to take my time and round up all the new parts for the engine that I could and take my time with the work. I sent the head off to Paeco Industries in Birmingham Alabama. They custom made the following parts: a higher-performance camshaft, bronze valve guides, new valve seats, and double valve springs (much like the original equipment). The following picture shows the head and the springs:
Most of the remaining engine parts were purchased new from Rovers West in Tucson, Arizona. I spent most of the 10-month project rebuilding the engine. The following images show the progress during the final assembly of the engine:
Once the engine was ready, I left it on the engine stand while I planned to replace the brake lines on the car. The objective was to replace the flexible brake lines with stainless-braided lines. However,the fittings on the original-equipment lines were not compatible with the new american-made lines. Because of this, I decided to replace all the rigid brake lines and fittings with american made all the way to the master cylinder, where I had made up a transition between the British and American fittings.
The reason I no longer have my original Rover:
To replace the rigid brake lines, I needed to drill-out the rivets on metal clips holding the lines to the car. Toward the end of the process, I was drilling out the rivets holding the line that runs down the drive-line tunnel. As I was drilling out the rivets, I had become frustrated at my lack of mobility under the car, so I dragged myself out from under the car to put a small board under each tire, raising it so I could move around a little easier. Once I got back under the car with my trouble light, I met my fate with the very next rivet.
As some owners of the TC 2000 may know, the fuel tank sits up high, in front of the trunk compartment. The fuel line, made of a rigid plastic material, meanders under the car to the engine compartment. Unknown to me, the rigid plastic fuel line happened to be immediately behind the next rivet I was to drill. Once the drill bit broke trough, it shattered the fuel line in two. Since the tank sits up high, and since there was several gallons of gasoline still in the tank, the floor and myself received a gasoline shower. My initial reaction was to try to cover the fuel line with my thumb. That might have worked, except the cold gas caused the light bulb in my trouble light to shatter. The hot filament in the bulb caused to fuel to ignite, causing me to forget about trying to cover the end of the fuel line and making me very thankful I had the working space to get myself out from under the car quickly.
The first thing I did was to empty a small fire extinguisher on the fire, which had no effect at all. After getting my Mom's attention, so she could call the fire department, I decided to try to get the car out of the garage. Did I forget to say that my Mom's garage had an upstairs, with a family renting the apartment? Well they were brought up to speed with what was going on so they ran out of the apartment. When I raised the garage door, I saw that the renters car was parked right outside. After he moved his car, I was ready to pull the car out of the garage, to try and minimize the damage to the garage.
Before I started pulling the car by the rear bumper, I looked under it to see how close the fire was to the fuel tank, and to me. The fuel was burning mostly under the empty engine compartment, and had started to melt the aluminum hood. As I began pulling the car out of the garage backwards, the fire was burning to the point that I could hear and feel the wind being sucked under the car to feed the fire. The flames were rising from a hole in the middle of the melting hood like a round column, mushrooming out on the ceiling of the garage. As I pulled the car out of the garage, the fiberglass garage door melted overhead and then fell to the floor. Once the car was clear of the door, I saw the flames rise up to the roofline of the two-story garage. The following picture shows the damage to the outside of the garage. If you look closely, you can see where the metal gutter began to melt:
The fire department was able to make sure the building didn't continue to burn, and tended to my slight burns. After visiting the hospital for further treatment, I returned to survey the damage to my Rover. The heat of the fire had melted the aluminum bellhousing so it was almost flush with the front of the transmission housing. The windshield shattered and the grill melted from the heat. Overall, I could tell that most of the electrical wiring was ruined and the chassis was distorted from the heat. I knew the car was a total loss.
If you look closely at the above picture, you can see the drips of aluminum from the melted grill and other damage. The only thing left of value was the rebuilt engine, still sitting undamaged on the engine stand in the garage. Because of the drama of the fire, the local newspaper carried a small story:
As many people might realize, they mixed-up the value of the car and the damage to the building. However, I thought it was a worthy legacy for the car that had been such a big part of my life.
The Engine Lives On
As you might guess, I held onto the engine for a few years. After I finished college and started my working life I happened to find a 1969 Rover TC 2000 which I have had ever since. The rebuilt engine is installed in the new car and is working very well.
In recent years, I have been sprucing up the engine compartment. Here are some intake horns I machined on my CNC router.
Here is the polished cam cover, with a new tappet spec label, machined in anodized aluminium.
The new car, at the Portland British Field Meet a few years ago.