James Shaw III

Jim Shaw and the Rover SD1

The last Solihull Rover

Rover P10 becomes SD1

In 1967 the Rover Company merged with Leyland Motors Limited, at that time a manufacturer of trucks and buses. Two years later the group merged with British Motor Holdings, the parent company of the British Motor Corporation (BMC), (owners of the Austin and Morris names), body-maker Pressed Steel and premium car maker Jaguar. It was thought at the time that it made sense to bring the lower-volume car makers together as Jaguar Rover Triumph Ltd. (JRT), the Specialist Division of what had now become British Leyland.

Despite these mergers and re-organisations Rover largely survived as an entity and its proposed P10 model was adopted as the basis of what was intended to be the first of a line of Specialist Division cars, hence the new project title SD1.

From the few surviving records that I have future braking policy is under discussion in October 1967 as part of P10. Various split-braking schemes are being considered but, as was often the case, my father is making the case for full-power braking. This will later be taken up for use in the ill-fated P8, (cancelled in March 1971). A diary entry for 14 January 1972 notes a meeting with Girling about SD1, indicating the change of project title and potential brake system supplier. At that time he was Brake Project Engineer, responsible for the engineering of vehicle braking systems. The diary also records producing a paper on Full Power Braking on 17 April 1972, perhaps hoping that something could be recovered from the P8 programme.

SD1 was subjected to more development work than any previous Rover car. It was intended to be 'best in class' European, if not World class car. (The 3500 version was declared European Car of the Year for 1977). It also had the widest geographical spread of component suppliers of any previous Rover.

Alpine Trials

The first trial that I have a record for was an Alpine trial, based on the notorious Stelvio Pass, between Switzerland and Italy. From 25 August through 6 September 1974 my father was part of the team that took heavily-camouflaged SD1 prototype TLB 258M out to face the challenge. Unfortunately the all-black vehicle proved to be perhaps too well camouflaged and received slight damage from a passing tourist's car. An ad hoc simulation of a yellow radiator grill was created by application of insulation tape to the front of the car to make it more conspicuous. On the return trip to the UK he called in at Alfred Teves GmbH of Frankfurt on 5 August 1974, an indication that the supply base was becoming extended.

aerial view of camouflaged car on mountain hair-pin bend
SD1 TLB 258M in full camouflage on the Stelvio pass
frontal collision between two cars, many onlookers
TLB 258M meets up with German tourists
black camouflaged car with yellow tape simulating a grille
TLB 258M with improvised high-visibility grille

Drayton Road

In July 1976 my father's role formally changed from engineering to development, becoming Project Engineer Medium Cars, leading a team dealing with braking, fuel injection and diesel engine integration. A major change saw engineering staff move out of the main Lode Lane site to Broad Oaks House, Solihull and Drayton Road, Shirley in 1978 as a precursor to setting up a new JRT engineering centre. My father was based at Drayton Road for two years, moving to Canley in 1981.

North American Specification (NAS)

red car parked against snow bankblack camouflaged car with yellow tape simulating a grille
NAS SD1 at Timmins, Ontario, Canada, 1979

By 1979 development of the North American Specification (NAS) SD1 was well under way and he organised and led a Cold Climate trial from 15 January 1979 through 10 February 1979 based on Timmins, Ontario, Canada to validate the 3500 V-8 engine using a Lucas fuel injection system.

close-up of engine with parts missing
Engine fitted with Lucas fuel injection. Heat-protected instrumentation harness to rear and right

Fully Automatic Starting Device (FASD)

four cars parked in line on snow-covered roadblack camouflaged car with yellow tape simulating a grille
FASD trial cars on the road at Tynset, Norway

Work to develop automatic chokes in conjunction with Zenith took four SD1s, (2600/3500 engines, automatic/manual gearboxes), variants out to Tynset, Norway for a 'Scandinavian Cold Climate Test'. This was the FASD (Fully Automatic Starting Device). My father was out there for the period 24 February 1979 through 3 March 1979. The vehicles used were RVC 62R, OAC 510P, VVP 939T & THP 91R and were driven to Felixstowe and ferried to Gothenberg, Sweden to be driven 420 miles to Tynset. It was expected that the ambient temperature would be about -30 ºC.

Fuel Injection Spill Pot

The use of fuel injection on the NAS SD1 led to work to solve the problem of fuel starvation that can happen as fuel slops about in the petrol tank during cornering, braking and acceleration. Cars fitted with carburettors inherently have a small reserve within the carburettors bowl and to some extent don't suffer this problem. The fuel injected car needs to keep its fuel pump primed in order to maintain pressure in the fuel manifold. As excess fuel is fed back to the fuel tank my father's suggestion was to use that fuel to fill a 'spill pot' from which the pump was fed. This is a good example of the 'out of sight' work that falls to the vehicle development engineer. Various different venturi arrangements were trialled.

“The NAS SD1 fuel system has been fully validated and proved to function under all adverse conditions. We have tested the Volvo and Audi for fuel handling under the same conditions as SD1 and they were found to be inferior. In fact, the Audi 100 needed 50% fuel fill before it could pass all tests without fuel starvation. Test standard 30% fill, SD1 passes down to 2% fill.” [Extract from JRT Ltd. Memo J.H. Rowson, Vehicle Development, Dayton Road, dated 15 February 1980]

The following vehicles are known to have been involved in the NAS Fuel System Programme:

KYT 869P, RHP 170R, SHP 551R, BAC 844T, DKV 509T, UM  37, DVC 749T, EDU 382T, CVC 845T, LAC 379V, DVC  748T, VM 107, VM 108, JKV 555V, DVC 750T, VM 111, JKV 556V, LWK 948V, LWK 946V, VM 143, VM 144, VM 145, KRW 846V (27 in total)

My father was forever drawing sketches, often to explain ideas to other people. Here is one showing the spill pot arrangements.

rough sketch
Sketch showing alternate spill pot filter orientations

The history of the system is described here:

The NAS PI Fuel System

The initial design of this fuel system was based on using the UK/EUR tank - with modifications. A 12.5 mm dia. x 75 mm deep pot, (ex Triumph), was introduced feeding a 45 mm dia. x 60 mm long nylon drum filter on the end of an initially vertical offtake pipe, bending through 90 degrees, to emerge through the rear tank wall to feed the 3-bobbin rubber mounted pump and filter mounted high enough to clear full bump travel of the axle. The bundy supply and spill return pipes were carried in twin plastic clips (integral nail) fixed to the existing petrol pipe clipping holes in the left longitudunal.

The spill return entered the front of the tank, ran along its floor and jumped to the spill pot wall. At low fuel levels the spill pot was fed from the main tank via a 5 mm dia. hole. During HCV [Hot Climate Vehicle] testing in the USA in 1976 fuel vapourisation problems were dealt with by feeding the spill return into the front of the tank instead of into the spill pot. This, of course, was not a viable solution - below spill pot wall height the 5 mm hole with 75 mm or less head has no chance of supporting the gross fuel flow of around 170 l/h. Hot room tests in July 77 produced failures to restart after 40 ºC soak. An experimental, pump and filter underfloor installation with the pump on the cross member successfully rectified this defect by reducing the pump inlet lift by 275 mm to about 50 mm.

This revision to the fuel system layout gave the opportunity to incorporate the results of some other experimental work. It had been found that the barrel filter on its side would fill almost to its full diameter when in contact with the fuel (submerging the offtake pipe) whereas cut-off occurred at the pipe end level with the filter axis vertical. It had also been found advantageous to give early trapping of the spilled pot contents under braking and lateral acceleration by feeding the pot through a rear lateral cross pipe at least as long as the spill pot diameter. Jaguar were using a venturi pump capable of raising the spill pot fuel level above that of the general tank when the latter was below the spill pot wall height, and this and all of the above were incoporated with the exception of the filter - mounted on the left wheel valance, underbonnet.

In this configuration SD1 now became capable of undergoing the lateral and longitudinal accelerations of DP PTS 0030 (test fill 30% usable capacity) without fuel starvation down to within one litre of what can be used in the static condition, i.e. down to 2% of usable fuel. In comparison the Volvo  264 GLE fails at 23% andthe Audi 5E at 52%!

At this stage attention focused on quieting the system. This does not mean that the changes had made the system noisy but that almost all the earlier cars have been operating in the hands of people more concerned with other PI aspect and usually with cars of deteriorated and poor refinement.

In November 77 an IS 2701 DS reported on a quietened installation on AP2 (RHP 170R). This deleted: 1) the tank to pump hose - on the grounds of its being "alive" and unlikely to be clear of the floor, 2) the 20" pump outlet hose (on the same grounds), 3) the "hard" plastic clipping of spill and supply pipes in favour of rubber sleeved P-clips along the body longitudnal, 4) the entire 3 bobbin pump mount in favour of the Jaguar 2-part bracket, lined with foam rubber and the rubber mounted directly to the cross member.

These points were estimated to give a 6 dB improvement. The implementation of these recommendations:- 1) was soon displaced in favour of a return to a tank to pump hose with a foam sheath protected by an undershield (now alleged by NVH to overclamp the fuel line to the floor and lose 6 dB), 2) the bundy supply pipe input-end angle variability frequently puts the short coupling hose from the pump delivery in contact with the pump shield, 3) the spill and return pipes are too tightly clamped in the rubber mountings and the clips are often loose and distorted.

Hot Room Tests

The NAS SD1, by necessity, was fitted with an air conditioning system. As part of that development JKV 555V was driven by my father to Bosch, Stuttgart for hot room trials during the period 17 March 1980 to 30 April 1980. The logistics were interesting. Lead-free fuel, as required by the twin catalytic converter fitted NAS SD1, was not yet generally available. Accordingly DKV 510T was filled with 24 gallons and provided with a spare 4 gallons plus a pipe to transfer fuel. DKV 510T was to accompany JKV  555V from Drayton Road to Harwich where, 'away from public spaces' fuel would be transferred. JKV 555V. The test car than crossed to Hamburg, arriving 18 March 1980. My father was then to make the return trip with CVC 846T, designated as a reliability/Lucas car.

JKV 555V is recorded as having Chassis No. RRWVF3AA064993. A service request was raised on 22 February 1980 to prepare the vehicle:

“Would you please prepare JKV 555V (V8 NAS Air Con. Auto) for hot room tests to be carried out at Bosch, Stuttgart. Please ensure that the fuel system is up to date with respect to filter, fuel pump encapsulation, heat shields etc. Air conditioning is in working order, latest radiator with side sealing strips, latest catalyst heat shield fitted together with J. Shaw's Lambda Sensor Shields. Engine noise rectified (alternator or water pump) front end damage & wing mirror repaired, interior door lock passenger side non standard. Dana Speed Control is not operational. On completion to be inspected by K. Stansbury. Completion required by 10 March 80”

men standing alongside care
Turbo diesel ORW 565W at the Rhône Glacier, August 1981. Jim Shaw on the right.

Rover 2200 and Rover 2400 SD Turbo Trials

In 1981 from 10 August through 2 September he took part in an Alpine trial using diesel-engined SD1s ORW  565W and PHP 104W, 'O'-series engined SD1s LWK 922V and OAC 726W. They were accompanied by a comparison fleet composed of vehicles from Alfa-Romeo, Audi, Ford, Peugeot and Renault plus what would now be a 'cousin', 2000 HLS Princess FOE 27V, also with an 'O'-series engine.

cars parked side-by-side
Diesel comparison fleet at Timmins, Ontario, Canada, 1981

There was a comparative cold climate trial of diesel-engined cars in Timmins, Ontario, Canada that he took part in from 13 January through 12 February 1981. In the later years of his career his responsibility for vehicle development had extended across the range of the Group car programme, not just the Rover brand.

suited men at table
Jim Shaw, Rex Marvin and Spen King, talking cars!

The SD1 would be the last car that my father saw through from design to production. He retired on 29 April 1983, having given 33 years of service to the Rover Company Ltd. and its sucessors.