Since 1981....

We're Second to None!



Latest LAND-ROVER Restorations

Dalai Lama LAND-ROVER Project

Defender Project by WCBR

Best 88" LAND-ROVERs ever!

 Rover Motor Co History

North American Specials

V8 Prototype "Golden Rod"

Engines by WCBR

Parts Department

Technical Bulletins

Want to fit a Diesel?

MG Competition Dept

Service School for you!

Aston Martin / Historic Photos

British Leyland

WCBR Photos


2000TC in BAJA Mexico

Event Schedule

Railroad Adventures


Danville d'Elegance

Tamed Racing Driver



Vehicle Rentals


Updated: 1/2013


Visit our other sites....


this site is protected by Copyright 1981-2012 All Rights Reserved.


1964 Hi-Floatation for Shell Oil


Jim Joss in Canada


Jet-1 1950



80" at Quail Lodge.



Boating Nevada style!


It's Not a Christmas Party 2005.

Our Fire Crew 2006!






Golden Rod, The V8 Prototype Land Rover built by the Rover Motor Company of North America Limited (1966) .

 By Michael Green

Left: This Land Rover, no doubt contributed more to the future of Land Rovers than any single special built, then and now.

(Copyright 2004)





It has been nearly four decades (when written) since the first Land Rover V8 prototype was conceived, designed and constructed.  People had said that it couldn’t be done, but in the end the most surprising thing about the project was not that it happened, but where.  None of the work was carried out in the obvious location, Solihull’s Research and Development department.  Instead the project was designed, developed and tested in that well-known Land Rover stronghold, California.

                During the mid-1960’s, Land Rover owners across America sent hundreds of letters to the New York offices of the Rover Motor Company of North America.  The letters eventually reached the President of the company, JB McWilliams, and he noted that they all contained the same complaints: ‘Lack of road speed’; ‘Not enough horsepower’; ‘Towing capacity is great, but it takes forever to get anywhere’; ‘It slows down too much while climbing a grade.’  The letters arrived in their droves as American drivers, traditionally cosseted in huge vehicles with massive engines, found the Land Rover’s motor just too small.  Some letters included requests such as:  ‘Why can’t you sell us a Land Rover with the same horsepower as my big American Sedan?’

                As Land Rover sales increased throughout North America, it became ever more important to satisfy the demands of the buying public.  Eventually McWilliams and the UK Managing Director, William Martin-Hurst, went to General Motors in search of a suitable V8 engine.  They succeeded in purchasing the 215 cubic inch all-aluminum Buick V8 that GM had just taken out of production.

                During April 1966 the Land Rover V8 Project, the brainchild of Martin-Hurst and McWilliams, came to life.  They considered it crucial to install the newly acquired GM V8 into the Land Rover chassis, but without altering the general configuration – the appearance of the front had to remain the same.

                My Father, Richard F. Green, was then Rover’s Western Zone Product Development Engineer, and he flew to New York to attend a meeting at which ‘Project BOP’ was initiated.  The first requirement was to locate and engine, as Rover had not yet put the V8 into production.  On 2 May Green wrote to McWilliams: ‘I have just been offered two engines from an Oldsmobile F85, the 1963 model.  The going price on both of these is about $300.’  Green went on to say: ‘Do you have any ideas about which vehicle we should fit this engine to?  I am inclined to believe that the best thing would be to put it into the 109 hardtop that Roger (Taylor) and I took to Mexico.  We have become fairly conversant with this vehicle, it has covered 3000 miles and has a lot of extra equipment attached to it, especially the three fuel tanks.  These would be extremely valuable when road testing.  Obviously, when this project is underway the vehicle will have a potential of 85mph plus.  With performance such as this I think we would be better off with the 11–inch brakes on the 88.  I have a brake booster kit we could fit to the 109 – I have noticed that the new six-cylinder Station Wagons have brake boosters.’  Green concluded: ‘I think, if you are in agreement with these subjects and let me know, I will make arrangements for us to use Serial number 25414722, our Mexican vehicle.’

Flying memos

 While Green’s memo was en route to New York, a telex arrived from McWilliams: ‘While we’re at it we should come up with some sort of free form gas tank, or anything else that does the trick for the 88,’ giving it the range that it would need.  ‘I would certainly like to show Solihull that this can be done.  I have told M-H that we will be responsible for arranging a heater on this unit and for the production version.’

                An inter-office memo sent on 5 May by R. Klaus reads: “Mr. McWilliams is not in the office today, but I read your memo to him over the phone.  He was surprised that you proposed putting aluminum V8 in a 109.  He wants this engine put in an 88, which would presumably be much harder.  Eleven-inch brakes and booster would be needed on the 88 to ensure adequate stopping.”  The following day, another telex arrived: “Have confirmed with JB MAC, vehicle for project must be 88 Station Wagon.  Colour immaterial, we have to change it anyway.  Arrange to get one to SF if we have no stock.  Want to start next week.”  (A side note; The of the V8 to an 88” is no more difficult than fitting into a 109”. I think  Mr. McWilliams wanted the 88” Wagon for it’s look. MG)

                The phone calls and telexes flew back and forth all week, with various interested parties suggesting this and that, but on 12 May another inter office memo arrived.  The first document to use the new project name of ‘Golden Rod’, the memo was a detailed and lengthy recap of the modifications that the project vehicle would require, as agreed at the recently held New York project meeting:

1)       Clean installation of aluminum V8 with absolute modicum of alterations to the standard 88 vehicle.

2)       Eleven-inch boosted brakes.

3)       Colour: mustang yellow (the same a April yellow on the TC)

4)       Sports wheels – possibly the present wheels drilled out.  Wheels to be silver colour.

5)       Fuel tank capacity to be increased through some new approach to this problem, one which can be ‘sold’ to Solihull as a practical and non-expensive solution. 

6)       Bumper and back handles to be chromed.

7)       Hood to be polished aluminum.

8)       Leather racing strap to be fitted across hood.

9)       Heat shield roof to be regular white colour.

10)    Seats to be dyed black.

11)    Black carpeting on floor.

12)    Interior to be painted yellow body colour, except for the black-finished dashboard.

13)    Hurst gear selector to be mounted to provide driver with sporty, close-at-hand shift lever.

14)    Fatter tires, but only if they can be mounted on 15-inch rims.  They must also be of a type commonly available.

15)    Revise front grill, tentatively with plastic honeycomb and chrome surround, and add a larger Land Rover emblem.

16)    Install heater, preferably something better than the Kodiak, but if that means too much time and money then use the Kodiak.

17)    Install air conditioning, if this can be easily managed with some off-the-shelf inexpensive but creditable unit.

18)    Run exhaust pipes behind rocker panel, removing the latter if feasible and replacing with a type that is used on ‘hot’ Stingray (Chevy).

19)    Install sports steering wheel, if feasible, possibly of the soft rim type, such as used on racecars, the Excalibur and the Alfa.

20)    Letter the words ‘Golden Rod’ on both edges of the aluminum bonnet in rearward location that we fixed.

21)    Spare tyre to be mounted on rear door, with naturally coloured canvas tyre cover.

22)    Land Rover mudflaps to be modified as you suggested.

23)    Arrange adjustable driver’s seat with the necessary modifications to the bulkhead.

24)    We might consider putting wind deflectors on the back of this wagon.  Please check out their usefulness in keeping the rear clean, and if they do the job please mount them.

25)    Install shoulder harness on front seats.


‘You estimate two months on the above.  I would like to do it faster than that if at all possible, although not at the expense of doing it badly.  The main thing is to turn out a machine expeditiously so mouth-watering to the people in Solihull that they start building it soon thereafter.  When you see a completion time coming up, please let me know so that I can organize my schedule to come out.  JB McWilliams.’

        As with any engine conversion, the mechanics needed some method of attaching the new engine to the old gearbox.  In an attempt to get some sort of bell housing made, they notified Solihull.  But the Midlands factory always seemed to be slow in responding to requests, and in this case lived up to its reputation.

        Green’s telegram to McWilliams on 8 June read as follows: ‘Looks as though they cannot supply anything.  If you think our ingenuity is being questioned, suggest you tell them to forget about the bell housing.  We’ll make out own and this way it will probably be quicker anyway.’  The reply telegram said: ‘M-H offered bell housing for Golden Rod and we asked him to send it.  When it did not arrive, we queried status.  M-H anyway and AB Smith replied saying none available and besides he understood this was something we could cope with ourselves from experience (of) previous V8 installations.  Can we?  I would like to because I think our ingenuity is being put to the test.’

        By this time, the new 88 Station Wagon was already at Moeller Brothers’ Body Shop in San Lorenzo, California, where the bodywork customization and modifications were to be carried out.  Golden Rod Progress Report Number One, dated 9 June 1966, reads in part: ‘Engine: we have now had the opportunity to check the engine we purchased, and have made one or two minor modifications which have certainly improved its appearance.  Next week, Roger will start taking dimensions in order to manufacture a suitable flywheel.  I have just discovered that a local speed-shop has available a bell housing adapting this type of engine to a domestic 4x4 vehicle.  There is a good chance that we should be able to use this, since Solihull has failed to come up with this item.’

        ‘Extra Gas Tank: I decided that instead of utilizing a Series I tank … we should simplify the modification.  Therefore, we have modified an Austin-Healy tank and this is fitted under the floor … with the rear end of it modified to give ample clearance to the rear axle.  This will be connected to the original tank by means of a two-inch pipe.’

        ‘Body Work: the top has been removed complete – and by remanufacturing the top capping rails, we have managed to move the rear bulkhead backwards by two inches.  This has been accomplished by bending it on an angle about six inched from the floor.  The capping rails have been modified so that when they are regalvanised and fitted back onto the Land Rover, there will not be the slightest sign that they have been altered.  We now have a 109 adjustable seat.  The top is in the paint shop and is being rubbed down prior to being sprayed … and we are now in possession of all the brake parts necessary in order to carry out the brake conversion.’


Drafting the plans


Draftsman Richard Green got to work designing a bell housing for Golden Rod and with the help of Chalet Tool & Die (and $220.48) they soon had one.  By 29 June the original engine had been returned to stock, and the following day came Golden Rod Progress Report Number Two:

        ‘Engine: the bell housing adapter, which we manufactured from an aluminum sheet measuring 17 by 17 inches and one and a quarter inches thick, is now … being completed.  We hope that is will be finished Friday.  We have already had the flywheel modified so that the dimensions from the rear of the flywheel to the face of the clutch pressure plate are exactly the same as the Land Rover.

        ‘Last Monday, we had the new engine in position in the chassis frame without cutting or modifying any major chassis cross member, and we did not find it necessary to alter the steering box from its original position.  Needless to say, it has been necessary to make minor modifications to the firewall’

        ‘Extra gas tank: this is completed … brakes: we have now changed over completely to 11-inch diameter brakes … Wheels: I understand from David Bate that Kelsey Hayes were unable to supply a suitable wheel, therefore … we shall supply our own wheels, 9.40x14, with silver hammer finish.  These will be shod with 9.50x14 Goodrich Trial Masters … Bodywork: … top should be complete Friday.  Seat modifications finished.’

        As with any project, delays were unavoidable, and McWilliams’ deadline passed before the project was complete.  Golden Rod left Moeller Bros. and was sent to British Sports Car Services in Hayward, California.  Golden Rod Progress Report Number Three brought more news, including an apology:

        ‘First of all, I am indeed sorry that I was unable to have the Golden Rod project closed and ready for your inspection prior to your departure to the UK.  Really, we are back to the old business of this being something that we have to jam in between routine daily service matters.  9It is) a difficult operation, adapting a damped sending unit from a 3-litre Mark II to a Land Rover gas tank.’  Green continues: ‘We hope to start up and run on the dyno either this afternoon, or tomorrow morning.’

        As you can tell, this was no simple project – no groundbreaking, mixed-manufacturer engine conversion ever will be.  This one, moreover, had to be right the first time, so a little slippage in the timetable was excusable.  Denis Riley’s crew at British Sports Car Services swarmed all over the 88, one mechanic fitting 3.90:1 ring and pinions (no overdrives were available in those days), while another readied the engine for dyno testing.

        By 2 September Green had completed Golden Rod Progress Report Number Four: ‘This project, as far as finishing the vehicle is concerned, is rapidly coming to a close.  As mentioned in Report Three, we have had everything connected and the vehicle operating on a chassis dyno-meter, and have been up to speeds over 75 mph.  Everything is functioning well and power output is extremely smooth, even with a heavy load on the dyno.  We ran for some 45 minutes and there were no signs of overheating, in spite of the fact that the airfans were not in operation.’

        ‘After this initial test-run, we removed the engine and have detailed the engine compartment and painted it.  We then reinstalled the engine, refitted the radiator, floorboards etc., and the unit is now in the paint shop for final painting.  We hope to have this completed by Saturday 3 September.’

        Within days Golden Rod, back at Moeller Bros. for its paint job, was ready.  The first stop was British Sports Car Services, purely in order to show it off.  And from there Richard Green headed of home in the brand new, first ever V8 Land Rover.

        At the time I was only eight years old, but to this day my memory of that evening is fresh in my mind.  I was sitting in front of the TV finishing my dinner when I heard a strange sound coming from our driveway, an engine noise I’d never heard before.  The engine revved up and down, maybe three or four times – my fathers’ signal to me that he had brought home something new.  I had only seen Golden Rod once previously, at Moeller Bros. some time before, and it was amazingly exciting to see it fully finished and ready.  I rushed outside and climbed into the passenger’s seat, and before I know it we were racing off in a cloud of the blue tyre-smoke.  The noise was huge and unreal, as a large exhaust pipe exited under the driver’s door, and I’d never been in a Land Rover so fast and powerful in my life before.

        Twenty minutes later we were back home, and waiting on the driveway was Roger Taylor.  He was sitting in a new test car, a white six-cylinder 109 Station Wagon.  At the time all I did was talk, eat, sleep and dream Land Rovers, and I couldn’t believe that I was seeing two brand new ones in a single day.  In fact, the following year I was taught how to drive the 109 while at Lake Tahoe and my happiness was complete. 

        Shortly thereafter, JB McWilliams asked the western service and sales staff to test-drive Golden Rod.  I’ve found the original, fascinating, test drive reports – some of the out-takes from Hank Noppe’s report, dated 15 September 1966, are of particular interest: ‘I was greatly impressed by both the performance and the appearance of the vehicle.  I feel that the performance was adequate in every respect and will more that amply comply with the power aspects which are so pressing today.  The colour suited the vehicle very well and I suggest that it be made one of the Land Rover standard colours.  The interior was tastefully done and the instrument panel was far superior to what we have at present … Isn’t it a bit ridiculous that Dick and Roger were able to produce an adjustable driver’s seat and greatly increase the gasoline capacity, when the factory said it wasn’t possible?  Both these items were beautifully executed.  On the minus side, I would say that both the exhaust and air intake noise is excessive, but this is easily remedied.  All in all, I was very much impressed and this vehicle certainly carries my stamp of approval.  I think that both Dick Green and Roger Taylor should be highly commended for the excellent job that was done introducing this prototype.’  Noppe closes by saying that: ‘I stress the extreme importance of keeping the price competitive, since one of the big problems at the moment is the fact that we are not.  This leaves the two final questions, the most important ones of all – how much and how soon?  Yesterday is too late – and the price you have in mind is too high!’

        These are extremely clear-eyed comments, and it’s too bad that Solihull didn’t get up and do something a whole lot sooner.  I must, however, give credit where credit’s due.  The factory did come up with an adjustable driver’s seat in an 88 by 1967, though it wasn’t until 1979 that a V8 was introduced to the public.  Even then, however, they got it wrong, by putting it in a 109.  It was some years after that before a V8-powered SWB was introduced to the public, and not until Octobe1993 was a real ‘Golden Rod’ copy put on sale in North America – the 3.9-litre NAS 90, best known, of course, for being available in a bright yellow colour scheme.


Same excuses

 Ever seen the press photos of Land Rover’s 1979 introductions?  The new 109 V8, the first production V8 Land Rover, was painted yellow (of course).  It seems rather funny, however, that when I questioned the factory about the engine’s installation in the new 109 V8 they still came out with the same old excuses as they had in the mid – 1960’s: ‘Why was the grill pushed out?’ I asked.  ‘We couldn’t get it in any other way,’ was the response.  ‘Why’s the engine so far forward?’  ‘Oh, otherwise it wouldn’t clear the steering box.’  In Land Rover’s defense, however, it is only fair to note that the factory and its marketing mandarins were looking for a somewhat different look with the Stage 1 project.


        Golden Rod Progress Report Number Five, 27 September 1966: ‘This is the final progress report on the above project.  The object of this memo is to recap the various modifications made to this vehicle in California.’


1)       The object was to carry out a clean installation of a V8 engine with absolute minimum or if possible no alteration to the standard 88-inch chassis.  This is in fact what was accomplished, for we found that is was unnecessary to relocate the steering box or modify the chassis in any manner.  In order to install this engine in the chassis and give adequate fan-to-radiator clearance, the engine and transmission have been moved slightly to the right.  This in fact means that the centre line of the crankshaft is no longer parallel with the chassis rails.  The front of the engine has been moved to the right by one and three-eighths of and inch, and in order to maintain the fan in the centre of the radiator the radiator itself has been moved by the same amount.  Naturally this affected the rear engine mounts to the same extent – they too have been modified to accommodate this change.  When doing this, we also found it necessary to modify the handbrake mounting. 

2)       We converted the vehicle to 11-inch brakes and have installed a standard Land Rover brake booster.  Unfortunately we have run into a minor problem here, one of brake judder.  This only occurs on light brake application, and so far we have been unable to detect anything wrong with the shoes or drums.

3)       Over a period of years, we have received numerous requests for an adjustable driving seat to be fitted to the 88.  We therefore removed the capping rails and cut the rear bulkhead to a depth of 14 inches on either side with Porta-power equipment.  We then reset the bulkhead two and a half inches to the rear, and were able to fit a standard 109 adjustable driving seat to the vehicle.  Naturally we modified the capping rails and reinstalled them.

4)       Particularly in the western United States, because of the distances involved it is absolutely essential for a larger – or if necessary two – fuel tanks to be fitted.  This was accomplished by purchasing a fuel tank normally fitted to an Austin-Healy.  This tank is connected to the standard tank by a two-inch diameter hose, and now has a capacity of 22.1 gallons.

5)       We have redesigned the instrumentation, the main object of this being the use of a key-type starter, added to which we made an attempt to give the instrument panel more eye appeal.

6)       Both front and rear differential assemblies have been striped and rebuilt using the 3.90:1 crown wheel and pinion form a P5.  With the current wheels and tyres fitted this produces 19.5 mph at 1000 rpm.

7)       In manufacturing the exhaust system we complied with Mr. McWilliams’s request, is as much as we ran it under the off-side (left) rocker panel.  Experience has proven that it is not practical and, because of the high noise level, this should be extended to the rear of the vehicle.

8)       We shortened the Land Rover mud flaps by two and a half inches and we think this gives a better appearance, but we would be the first to agree that they are not as effective … We also fitted a pair of wind deflectors to the rear of the Station Wagon, the idea behind this being to clear the window.

9)       The shift lever has been modified to suit what we think is the average American owner.

10)    The wheels currently fitted (9.40x14) are manufactured specifically for Land Rovers by Terra

Engineering Company.  These are mounted with Goodrich Silvertowns.  I am inclined to think they make the steering a little erratic … we have fitted a hydraulic damper assembly, which improved steering somewhat.

11)    The colour is a standard known as ‘Springtime Yellow.’ ‘Ford of Croques Yellow’ or ‘Golden Rod Yellow.’

12)    Front bumper has been chromed.  We dispensed with the rear lifting handles and modified a front bumper to suit, having plated that also.

13)    The whole of the interior trim of the vehicle is dyed black in order to enhance its appearance.  Naturally, when this was done we had to retrim the tunnel since we modified it in order to accommodate the V8

14)    Attached is a chart of performance figures taken in California.  At this time we were running with the manual choke fitted, (which) affected the carburetion and caused a flat spot.  The acceleration figures were all accomplished without exceeding 4000 rpm, and the other figures shown on this sheet are taken from various factory sources.’


It’s somewhat surprising to find, looking at the figures Richard lists, that Golden Rod was capable of outrunning one of the decade’s sportier production cars, the Rover 2000TC, in every test except the 50-70mph roll-on.  Even more amazing when you consider that Golden Rod didn’t exceed 4000rpm, though it was capable of 5000+ rpm.


Coast to coast


                Just prior to Report Number Five, Richard Green set out on a cross country, four day test fun from Dublin, California to New York City.  From there Golden Rod and its proud builder sailed to Southampton and thence Solihull, where the new car caused a considerable stir.  In fact, one rainy night Golden Rod and Richard took on a then-new Jaguar XK-E through the streets of Solihull – the Jaguar lost.

                 During Richard’s cross-country run, he recorded his thoughts on a dictaphone.  These started with the comment ‘now departing from Dublin, sunny California, in a torrential rain storm,’ and continued:

                Sunday 18 September: ‘Time 8:34 am, vehicle mileage 522 miles, trip zeroed, tanks full … After 25 minutes driving, rear window of Station Wagon remains relatively clean … Noise level is fairly high, but I am traveling a little over 70mph on the freeway … 75mph now and the hand throttle set, we must do something about the noise level … I have just accelerated out onto Interstate 80, the other end of which is in Chicago … You can quite easily accelerate in the main wave of traffic, maintaining an easy 78mph in third gear … I have just discovered why there is so much wind noise in the car – my kids have left the inside vents open!

                ‘Now approaching the 3000-foot mark over the Sierras, cruising quite comfortably at 65mph …  have just passed the gas station, where had I been driving a standard Land Rover it would have been necessary to stop … Driving time two hours and ten minutes, miles covered as of now 127 … Driving in extremely heavy rain and as long as I keep the road speed at about 65 or 70 it would appear that the rear window in the Station Wagon will remain reasonably clear.  If I drop down to 50 because of traffic conditions, then it becomes obscured by rain and road dirt.’




As the journey progressed, it became clear how much the vehicle’s ability to maintain momentum up a hill had improved: ‘Just passed the first Land Rover, a sand-coloured 88 Station Wagon.  I think the owner was a little surprised, since we’re over 3000 feet up and I’m doing over 70mph, at which speed the standard wipers are quite useless in heavy rain … On a section now that normally brings a standard Land Rover down to below 45mph in third gear.  I’m cruising at 65mph and overtaking most of the other domestic cars running on this stretch … This is quite a climb … Normally, in the standard Land Rover you’d be at 40mph in third gear.  I’m running around 65mph with just a little in hand … Still heavy rain and wind … Just passed the 5000 feet marker at 65mph… passing the 6000 feet marker on rather a flat section of road, running 70mph.  This is probably the longest and hardest drive over the Sierras.  It’s the approach to Soda Springs … Just passing the summit, elevation 7427 feet.  Had to back off slightly because of a big truck … Riding at 70mph – still a fair amount of rain.  Both wipers hot and erratic courtesy of Joseph Lucas … Now a relatively easy drive into Reno.  Stop for lunch.


                ‘Mileage covered during three hours, including stop for gas, 222.  Covered 211 miles on 19.1 gallons.  11.2 to the gallon … I’m in Nevada at over 3000 feet elevation now, running across the desert at an indicated 75mph.  It’s quite possible at this stage to accelerate and feel something left in the performance … Just leaving Battle Mountain, Nevada, after covering 26 miles at a steady 80mph plus.  Refuel here, average fuel consumption 11.7 to the gallon … Just approaching Wells.  Still raining heavily.  There’s been a slight snowfall in the higher mountains.  The speed-o cable has just broken, reading 534.6 … We will have to run on calculated mileage now … Just departed Wendover.  Now crossing Bonneville Salt Flats … Still more rain and a terrific electrical storm … End of day.  Time: ten minutes to ten.  Mileage 774.’

                ‘Monday 19 September, leaving Salt Lake City at 6:15am.  Rain stopped, bright morning … Last night when in Wendover, I changed from premium gas to regular gas.  It seems to make a difference to the running of the engine … (it’s) a little smoother and if anything the fuel consumption has improved … Today’s mileage: Salt Lake City to Evenston 85 miles, Evenston to Rawlings 225.’

                ‘This is easily the best part of the trip so far.  I’m running at 7200 feet above sea level at Laramis and I’m passing all the main traffic on the road … Making the big run now, this will be the highest elevation on the whole journey, Medicine Bow State Park, Wyoming: 8275 feet … Think we have just set a now record – the first Land Rover to pass a Greyhound bus going up a steep grade.  The whole column’s now being held up b a Volkswagen.’

                ‘Arrived North Platte at 6:40 Central Standard Time, mileage covered approximately 775.  Driving time including all stops: 12 hours and 35 minutes … Cheyenne to North Platte, the road deteriorated rapidly and became a narrow two lane highway with heavy traffic.’

                ‘Tuesday 20 September, time 5:25am.  Now leaving North Platte, Nebraska … Just covered North Platte to Omaha – 225 miles in two and a half hours, running around 75mph … Just about 50 miles outside Chicago.  End of day … Arrived Lansing, Illinois 9:30pm: Mileage covered today 817, driving time 15 hours.’

                ‘Average speed dropped somewhat today due to bad weather conditions experienced the last three hours on the way to Chicago.  The overall average speed since leaving California has been 52 and a half miles per hour’

                ‘Wednesday 21 September.  Just leaving Lansing, Illinois: time 5:30am.  Once again a wet day, it’s raining heavily … Arriving in New York at 11:30pm EST.  The total mileage covered from Lansing to NY was 863 miles, with a driving time of 18 hours.  The average (speed) increased during the early part of the run and fell off badly towards the end, due to terrible driving conditions over the last five hours.  Had the worst rain I’ve seen for a long time … extremely heavy.  It just proves a point, that the standard windshield wipers on the Rover are completely useless for anything over 60 mph in gusty winds and heavy rain.’

                During the few days since leaving California, we’ve covered 3193 miles at an average speed of 55mph, with an average fuel consumption of 11.3mpg … The seats should certainly be of better quality, because it is impossible to ride much further that in the standard Land Rover.  I find it difficult to stay in the seat for more than four hours at a stretch … The increased performance has made it a much safer vehicle to drive.  You have no compunction or hesitance about overtaking people, even on the steepest grades, and it cruises quite comfortably under modern day traffic conditions.’

                What a ride!  In four days of cruising, Golden Rod had traveled all the way from west to east.  The final billing date for development costs was 3 October and, though it’s a bit of a steal at today’s R&D prices, in 1966 the tag was pretty steep: $5520.92 (not including the cost of the now 88).  After the parts returned to the warehouse are deducted from the cost, it works out as a total of $4655.83.  It was a lot of money in those days, but no one would disagree that it was money well spent.  Even though it seemed futile at the time, with Solihull failing to respond to the prompting of the Americans, Golden Rod had shown the world what the GM V8 would do for a Land Rover. Within a few years, the engine was powering the then new Range Rover, and versions of it are still use today.

Since Solihull had yet to produce a SWB with a V8, and we were well aware that the 109” V8 would never see America, Richard & I set out to build Golden Rod-II in 1982. In doing so we took care of the problems that the original vehicle had.  Our donor vehicle was a 1970 IIA, and the engine was a pre-production TR8 version of the Rover V8 that I had obtained from JRT (the engine was used in the service school in Brisbane, CA.).  But that’s another story all together. This Land Rover now resides in North Carolina.  As for the original Golden Rod? It’s been nearly 40 years since that day in Dublin and we haven’t a clue as to where it is.  It would be nice to find it and restore it… but we fear that it’s rotting in someone’s yard in the middle of nowhere.

The Rover V8 is a legend in its own lifetime – and it’s all thanks to a little yellow Series IIA from California.  It’s 40th Birthday will soon be upon us… Happy Birthday Golden Rod – wherever you may be.

Click below for recently discovered photos.