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    GUY HOLMES’ ROVER SD1 ‘TWIN PLENUM’ VITESSE

    / #Rover-SD1 / #Rover / #Rover-Vitesse / #Rover-V8

    Just check out Guy’s beautiful Rover-SD1 luxobarge here, a car that’s clearly been kept in tip-top condition by one discerning owner. This awesome old skool British icon may look pretty stock on the outside, but that's the whole point. In reality it's sporting plenty of tucked-away modifications, enough to make it quite the sleeper on the streets.
    With a comprehensively re-worked version of Rover’s 3.9-litre V8 now sitting pretty under the long bonnet, there’s also plenty of breathing mods, as well as far beefier braking and suspension systems. In short, it's a real hairy-chested driving machine.

    “I’ve owned and loved it since 2001. Not many can resist the sound of a Rover V8 rumbling down the street!” He's not wrong, eh?

    TOP MODS: 3.9-litre V8 engine (with flowed heads, Crane 216 cams and #Rimmer-Bros stainless-steel exhaust system), Jaguar XJS front brakes, Goodridge brake hoses, high-capacity radiator with Revotech electric fan, Spax adjustable suspension, polybushed, #MOMO steering wheel
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    Put it all down to our new #V8 engine.

    / #Rover-P5B-3.5-Saloon / #Rover-P5B / #Rover-P5 / #Rover

    It gives more power of course, but power which flows out with astonishing smoothness. And yet this engine is 200 lb. lighter than our previous unit: the unrivalled benefit of all-aluminium construction.

    Because it is lighter we were able to improve the weight distribution. This gives you even better, safer road-holding and cornering power.

    We’ve improved the lighting with built-in fog lamps. And we’ve redesigned the interior to give you even more comfort and convenience.

    The rest of the luxury is well-known.

    From the very first we’ve believed in the benefits of hand craftsmanship. The new Rover 3.5 litre is no exception.

    For more information why not see one of our dealers? They have to be good to match the car.

    Or write to us: Sales Division, The Rover Company Limited, Solihull, Warwickshire.

    Prices (inc. purchase tax UK 1967): Automatic Saloon £1,999.3.4; Automatic Coupe £2,097.10.0.
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    Mission accomplished #1968 / #Rally #Rover-2000TC / by Mark Dixon / #Rover-2000 / #Rover / #Rally-Rover-2000TC / #1968-Rover-2000TC / #Rover-P6

    Selling a car at auction can be a slightly scary experience. The thrill of watching bidders compete for something of yours is tempered by the anxiety that they may not value it nearly as highly as you do. And when the vehicle in question is a competition car – notoriously difficult to put a price on – then nerves really are set on edge. The Rover, of course, was not actually mine to sell. As described in, I built it as an endurance rally car in the early 1990s, had modest success and then sold it to a chap called Jan Pearce in 1999. Jan passed away two years ago, and I volunteered to help his widow, Jenny, dispose of the car at Silverstone Auctions’ sale at Race Retro.

    The Rover has done very few miles in recent years, so it was with slight trepidation that I set off to drive it up to Warwickshire from Jenny’s home in Bucks. The only practical route was via the M40 motorway – what could possibly go wrong? But I stuck to an easy 65mph and the Rover obliged by performing faultlessly. The engine held a constant 60psi oil pressure and the temperature needle stayed reassuringly just below the midpoint on the gauge.

    The Rover had been slated as Lot 1 in the auction, which wasn’t ideal; buyers often need a little time to warm up. But auctioneer Jonathan Humbert did a sterling job of chivvying them along, and the result was a satisfying £6000 hammer price. The buyer turned out to be a Scottish farmer who had flown down from Aberdeen specially to bid on the car. He used to rally a Rover P6 V8 in the 1970s and was looking to relive his youth – ‘and I have my own three-mile farm track “special stage” to practise on,’ he told me after the sale. It’s good to hear that the Rover will see a third generation of drivers take it rallying.

    All this sale action reminded me that it’s probably time to dispose of my 2001 Honda Insight. Much as I love it, I’ve hardly used it since I inherited my late father’s Volvo XC70. The Honda has 230,000 miles on the clock and a ding in the driver’s door – but it had a new battery at 189,000, runs like a Swiss watch and is as reliable as a Japanese one. I reckon it’s worth around two grand – so, ladies and gentlemen, what am I bid for this undoubted future classic?

    Clockwise from above Mark’s old Rover rally car makes £6000 at auction; Honda’s Back To The Future-style technology exposed during battery change; meeting a trio of VW XL1s three years ago.
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    CAR #Rover-P4-95 / #Rover-P4 / #Rover / #1963 / #1963-Rover-P4-95 /

    Name Richard Bryant
    Age 63
    Occupation retired solicitor
    Location St Leonards-on-Sea
    First classic Bond Minicar
    Dream classic Wolseley 1500
    Daily driver Land Rover Freelander 2
    Best trip any drive around the Yorkshire Dales

    VIKING MAN HAS QUITE A FLEET

    I became interested in cars as a young boy growing up in Nottingham. My dad’s company Morris Minor was good, but the Rover belonging to my great aunt and uncle was infinitely superior. A black 1955 P4 60, it enabled Aunty Helen and Uncle Percy to give my mother, grandmother, brother and I some memorable rides around the Derbyshire countryside.

    In May 1963 , Helen and Percy visited the showroom of Nottingham Rover dealer Trumans, where they bought a new P4 95. They were attracted by the duotone Marine Grey and Light Navy paintwork and the individual front seats. Because they were both quite short, they found that the bench seat of the 60 meant that both driver and passenger had to sit close to the dashboard. The more powerful six-cylinder engine and disc brakes of the 95 were a bonus.

    We had moved to Birmingham the previous year and saw less of Percy and Helen, but there were various mutual visits so we were soon introduced to the new car and duly impressed by it. Sadly, Percy died in 1966 but Helen continued to use the Rover, keeping it in the garage at her house in Nottingham, which they had owned since 1927.

    Meanwhile, in 1968, my mother purchased her own car: a 1965 Mini Minor Traveller. Then, in late ’69, in readiness for my 16th birthday early the following year, I bought my first car: a ’63 Bond Minicar. I managed to pass my three-wheeler driving test a couple of months after my birthday and repeated the feat in a four-wheeler in 1971. I was getting increasingly involved in car maintenance and was allowed to carry out some work on the Rover and then drive it occasionally.

    In 1972 a tradition began that continued until 1987, whereby each year I took Helen and my grandmother on holiday in the 95.

    On one of the early trips, staying at the same hotel in the Lake District, was another P4 owner. He asked me what I would do when the 95 wore out, to which I replied that I was not going to let that happen, a promise that, so far, I have kept.

    In the early days, I’d trot into Trumans’ parts department and buy any bits I needed in the familiar yellow and red boxes. From about 1973, though, some spares became difficult to obtain.

    I wrote to a car magazine about forming a club for P4s, as a result of which I learnt of the existence of the Rover Sports Register, the club that had been formed in 1953 for all models of Rover. I joined and encouraged others to do so, and so found out a lot more about the marque. This led to my acquiring a couple of cars of my own: a 3-Litre and then a 1946 16 Sports Saloon.

    Today I’m secretary of the Register. In 1980 a job move took me to the Sussex coast, where I met my future wife Anne. We were married in 1982 and Helen let us use the 95 for our honeymoon in the Lake District. She then gave us the car two years later, when, at the age of 87, she stopped driving.

    Anne still has the Vauxhall Viva that she bought new in 1978 and we also have my mother’s old Mini Traveller, for which I swapped my Mini automatic when I moved. We added a ’70 Morris Minor in 1989 and in 1991 got our Rover 9/20, followed by a 1932 Morris Minor van in ’1993 and an ’1988 Range Rover Vogue four years later.

    From 1987 we had a succession of modern Rovers, partly for business but also to take the strain of visiting elderly relatives in the Midlands and the north. Of those, two remain: the 1996 Sterling and the 2012 Land Rover Freelander 2.

    We do seem to have held on to most of the cars that we’ve owned over the years. Keeping a fleet of 11 vehicles going involves considerable commitment and expense, but the hobby provides a lot of enjoyment, not to mention transport.

    Clockwise, from main: in the Lake District during the ’70s; Rover 9/20; the 16 ready for wedding duty; 1932 Minor van; Viva has been owned since ’1978 and Morris since 1989; posing with a family heirloom.

    ‘He asked me what I would do when the P4 wore out, to which I replied that I would not be letting that happen’
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    Price watch #Rover-P6 / #Rover / #1971

    “We’ve seen prices rise about a third in the past two years,” says Nick Dunning of the Rover P6 Club (www.p6club.com). “Even a nice 2000 auto will be £3000. It’s a seismic change, but there are very few quality, low-mileage cars on the market. You won’t find a decent V8 for less than £4000 and values can be as high as £12,000 for V8 show-winners. A nice V8 is around £6000.”

    The earliest cars still have a lot of appeal, especially in this anniversary year. Those built between 1963 and 1966 have a design purity lost with later models and use Dunlop rather than Girling brakes. “An early one is £4k against £3500 for a post-’66 model.” Of the V8s, the SI and SII both have their fans.

    “Some like the ’70s feel of later ones, and the 3500S commands a premium,” reckons Dunning, “probably 15% over an automatic. They’re very quick, even today. Do be careful, though. There’s a lot of tat out there and quite a few ringers where IDs have been changed to get free tax. The moving of the Historic Vehicle cut-off date is likely to have a small impact on 1973 models.”

    The least desirable P6 at the moment seems to be the 2200 automatic. “They’re as thirsty as a V8, but don’t have the performance,” according to Dunning. The rare, FLM Panelcraft-converted estates can fetch similar money to the best saloons: “A really nice one is £11-12,000, but project cars are rarely viable. The conversion hacked them about a bit.” Many, including Dunning, feel that the climbing P6 values are well overdue: “They’re still cheaper than the P5. It has taken a long time for prices to start rising.”

    ‘Be careful: there’s a lot of tat out there, and quite a few ringers where IDs have been changed to qualify for free road tax’

    Four-cylinder prices tend to lag behind those of the powerful V8s, particularly manuals.

    AUCTION RESULTS
    1971 #Rover-P6-2000TC £300 Mather, Worcester, April 2013
    1974 #Rover-P6-2200SC auto £1355 ACA, King’s Lynn, April 2013
    1974 #Rover-P6-3500 £1650 DVCA, Somerset, December 2012
    1969 Rover 3500 £1540 Brightwells, Leominster, Nov 2012

    CLASSIFIEDS
    1972 3500S £3750, resprayed, tan vinyl roof, original wheels 07741275425(P)
    1977 3500S £5450, clean car that drives well, power steering 07879498715(T)
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    ROVER 10HP / #Rover-P2 / #Rover-10-P2 / #Rover-10 / #Rover-10HP /
    Year of manufacture #1948
    Recorded mileage 74,095
    Asking price £14,995
    Vendor Spinning Wheel, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire; tel: 01246 451772;

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £275
    Max power 48bhp
    Max torque n/a
    0-50mph 21.4 secs
    Top speed 65mph
    Mpg 30


    This late #Rover - P2 – only 2640 were made post-WW2 – has been considerably renovated over the years rather than fully restored. The bodywork is nice and tidy, properly coachpainted and flatted by the previous owner rather than sprayed, following fitment of new front wings in 2014. The overall appearance is superb and conveys an air of quality and durability, in keeping with the original ethos of the Rover make.

    The chromework is good, with only a small dent in the offside headlight and on the rim of the foglight. The hubcaps are only lightly dinged. Its Excelsior crossplies were new – on the front, at least – in 2012. With the car up on ramps, we could see that the chassis is very solid, there are no big leaks and there’s a decent exhaust. It was recently Waxoyled underneath, too. Windscreen washers have been added at some point, and it has add-on flashing indicators, but the original trafficators still work. Inside, it’s fabulous, with beautifully patinated factory leather, plus optional heater and a full slide-out toolkit still under the dashboard. The headlining and door trims look fresh, while the carpets are newish, too. There’s a bill for a replacement fuel/oil-level gauge in 2010.

    The motor is tidy, with a new carburettor fitted in 2003, plus it’s had plugs, leads and a fuel filter not long ago. Its coolant is full and blue, and it starts readily, the loudest mechanical noise being from the fanbelt. The Rover drives really well, and even the 1400 ‘four’ winds it down the road without getting in the way of itself or anyone else. The gearchange has that typically mechanical feel of the model and the brakes are firm. Temperature is steady at 70ºC, oil pressure 40psi, with a functioning level. The freewheel works, too. Just lovely – the 1948 tax disc is a nice touch – and the fine history file includes the original green logbook.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Deep, quality hand-applied paint
    INTERIOR Original hide; recent headlining
    MECHANICALS New carb and lots of other bits

    VALUE ★★★★★★★✩✩✩

    For + Excellent condition; drives well
    Against - You need to keep the engine on the boil on hills

    SHOULD I BUY IT?

    It’s a wonderfully usable old thing, with proper paint and a gorgeous cabin. Lots of pluses here and we can’t think of any minuses except that the 16hp ‘six’ has more torque.
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    Dan Furr
    SECOND COMING ROVER SD1 / #Rover-SD1 / #Rover / #Rover-SD1-V8


    Who doesn’t love a V8 SD1? We certainly do, especially when it’s led as chequered a life as this fantastic example. Austin Rover enthusiast, Michael Kitt, has brushed aside his MG Metro 6R4 in order to allow his championship-winning ex-works Rover SD1 to reacquaint itself with rallying... Words: Dan Furr. Photos: Chris Frosin.

    For a sizeable number of rally fans, the Group B extravaganza of the 1980s represents a golden era for one of the planet’s most exciting forms of motorsport. The 6R4 stands out as one of the more memorable machines that competed in the short-lived series, but Austin Rover’s reputation for producing impressive rally cars had been established prior to the creation of the mighty MG thanks to the Group 2 SD1 that the works team of star driver, Ken Wood, and his navigator, Peter Brown, piloted to victory in the 1984 Scottish Rally Championship.


    58-year-old petrolhead, Michael Kitt, is lucky enough to own a genuine ‘International’ 6R4 (that’s the 410bhp model used for Group B rallying, not to be confused with the reduced power ‘Clubman’ edition produced for homologation purposes) and the very same SD1 that Wood and Brown used to bag silverware in Scotland. What’s more, he’s also in possession of Austin Rover itself, the title to its motorsport division and the original technical drawings for every incarnation of the mental Metro!

    “The Austin Rover deal came about after a spot of bother that I experienced after buying my 6R4,” he explains. “I acquired the vehicle close to two decades ago following a motorcycle accident that stopped me from racing on two wheels. I was thrilled to be in charge of my very own Group B Metro, particularly as the MG in question was dressed in classic Computervision livery, but lawyers representing the tech company wrote to me with an instruction to remove their branding from my new car,” he frowns.


    The firm’s demands had come about as a consequence of a name change that had been introduced in accordance with a restructure of the business. Obviously, Michael was less than happy about being asked to lose his car’s iconic decoration – and the potential beating that his 6R4’s financial value may have suffered as a direct result of obeying unexpected orders – but frustration soon turned to relief when one of the company’s directors contacted him to confirm that he could leave Computervision’s graphics in place irrespective of correspondence from legal big-wigs that had suggested to the contrary. Phew!

    Fast-forward a few years, and Michael found himself pulling up a pew in a boardroom at MG’s Longbridge headquarters while his 6R4 waited patiently outside. “I’d been asked to take the car to the factory for a photo shoot,” he recalls. “MG’s new owners wanted to bolster their apparently limited collection of archive material relating to the marque’s impressive motorsport history. Conscious of what I’d experienced with regard to the car’s use of Computervision graphics, I took the opportunity to ask for assurances that the continued display of Austin Rover branding on my Metro would remain unchallenged. To my relief, I was given written confirmation that gave me exclusive rights to use the company’s name and logos for as long as I owned the car. A few years later, I ended up buying Austin Rover outright following the collapse of MG Rover Group!” he smiles.

    Yup, Mr Kitt is now the proud owner of an automotive brand that he has adored for decades! “To say that I’m pleased would be an understatement,” he beams, safe in the knowledge that both of his retro racers can keep their classic cosmetic conditions without concern.


    Built as the 1970s drew to a close, Michael’s Group 2 SD1 is thought to be the first competition car constructed at Cowley under the Austin Rover Group Motorsport banner. Rigorous testing and continual fine-tuning of the humungous hatchback followed its construction until it was announced that the heavily modified monster was ready for participation in a planned Peking to Paris rally. Sadly, the event was called off, but the car was ready for action, resulting in its use by works driver, Tony Pond, in the Century Oils and Pace Petroleum rally programmes of the early 1980s.


    “The car was overhauled during the summer of 1983 before Ken Wood was invited to test drive it in advance of his taking part in the Scottish Rally Championship,” continues Michael. “In later years, he admitted to me that he didn’t hold out much hope of being wowed by whatever four-wheeler Austin Rover were planning to present to him, but he was all ears following the demise of the V8-powered Triumph TR7 that he’d been campaigning up until that point,” he adds.


    Surprised at the raw power delivered by the SD1’s forged 4.6-litre V8, its handling abilities at speed (helped in no small part by a Bilstein suspension system comprising adjustable front uprights and dual twin-rear dampers) and a striking exterior decked out in Golden Wonder logos, Ken wasted no time in securing a deal that provided him with the car and a collection of spares that amounted to “three of everything.” Furthermore, he was offered the use of Austin Rover personnel and service centres whenever the Rover needed a spruce-up after a heavy dose of off-road rallying. A few months later, he was the winner of the 1984 Scottish Rally Championship.

    Media reports highlighting Wood and Brown’s success in Scotland were a big deal for Austin Rover, helping to boost sales of the SD1 in dealer showrooms across the UK. Of course, the works rally version would soon be cast aside due to the arrival of the utterly bonkers 6R4, but not before Ken’s car received a facelift that saw its appearance reflect that of the newly arrived flagship ‘Vitesse’ production model.

    “Eventually, Ken was given a 6R4 that he used to win the 1985 Sprint Tyres Trossachs Rally. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his SD1 fell into the hands of privateers. It was only when I was involved in the process of restoring Tony Pond’s Computervision-liveried example many years later that I was alerted to the whereabouts of the original Cowley car,” Michael tells us.


    Sure enough, the Golden Wonder SD1 had been squirreled away at the Oldham residence of former Austin Rover mechanic, Mike Wood. Once responsible for servicing many of the classic Minis that Paddy Hopkirk raced to great effect, Mike had reached old age and had decided to hang up his driving gloves. More importantly, he was open to the idea of parting with the once-famous SD1 that was collecting dust in his garage. Needless to say, Michael wasted no time in ferrying the classic rally machine across the Irish Sea to his own home on the Isle of Man.


    “There had been a significant amount of metal cut out of the car’s chassis in an attempt to reduce its overall length,” he sighs. Indeed, one of his new toy’s previous owners had literally chopped its rear floor to pieces in an experiment to see if the car could be made to handle as well as a modified Mk2 Escort! Michael was appalled at the quality of the job, and he vowed to return his rallied Rover to its original shape as soon as his name appeared on its logbook.

    A donor SD1 was sourced accordingly, and one of Mr Kitt’s talented spanner-wielding associates transferred the ‘missing’ metal from the parts car into the rally machine. A full strip and restoration of the latter’s shell followed thereafter, with replacement doors joining the car’s aluminium bonnet, lightweight tailgate, polycarbonate windows and factory roll cage. Meanwhile, replica sponsor graphics were produced with the help of Peter Brown. “Peter had masses of photos of the car that were taken during time that he’d spent with it in his role as a works team navigator. His stockpile of pictures was instrumental in ensuring that the various advertiser logos were sized and positioned in line with their appearance in period,” stresses Michael.

    Sadly, photographs of his SD1’s interior from the same era have been notable by their absence, leaving him to wonder if his car’s dashboard is an original factory part. Either way, its nearby custom switch panels, Motordrive racing seats, six-point safety harnesses, MOMO three-spoke steering wheel and aluminium door cards scream ‘functional race car office’!


    Looking through this sensational SD1’s rear windows, we’re struck by the sight of a 12-gallon alloy fuel cell that occupies most of what was once intended to be a spacious luggage area. In fact, we find ourselves staring at high-flow fuelling apparatus that is joined by a neighbouring dry sump engine lubrication system that makes use of a trio of Facet oil pumps and braided fluid transfer hoses equipped with AN10 fittings. Fuel and oil is sent the length of the car towards the eight-cylinder lump at its nose; the 4.6- litre unit has been completely rebuilt and incorporates Omega forged pistons, forged rods, Stage 4 ported and polished big valve cylinder heads and a quartet of Weber 45 DCOE carburettors that contribute to an estimated power output of 345bhp.


    Michael was supplied with two Getrag dog-engagement gearboxes and a matching number of modified Atlas rear axles when he bought his SD1. He is pleased to report that he hasn’t had to call upon these valuable spare parts during or after putting the pedal to the metal at any of the historic rally events that he’s attended with his pride and joy, although he does admit that its side-exit exhaust system was producing a puff of smoke every time he tackled a sharp left hand bend. “Extensive investigation revealed that one of the cylinder heads had been machined too aggressively during its restoration. Consequently, oil was being allowed to seep into a valve chamber whenever I hit a left turn. Remedial work cured the issue, but not after every one of the engine’s new gaskets and seals was checked or replaced in pursuance of the problem!” he chuckles.

    Appearances at Rallyday, Goodwood, Birmingham NEC’s Classic Motor Show, numerous events in Wales and a promotional stint with Playboy model and professional rally driver, Inessa Tushkanova, sat behind its steering wheel have seen Michael’s restored Rover gain a huge number of new admirers in recent months. Forthcoming outings that include the North West Rally Stages in February also promise to boost the profile of this retro ride. That’s no bad thing, especially now that its owner has confessed that he plans to rest his 6R4 for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the time has finally come for the Group 2 SD1 to step out of the mighty Metro’s shadow?!

    TECH DATA Specification

    ENGINE: John Eales 4.6-litre #V8 , #Omega forged pistons, forged con rods, Stage 4 ported and polished cylinder head, big valves, dry sump oil system, three #Facet oil pumps, #Weber fuel pressure regulator, braided fuel lines with AN10 fittings, custom 12-gallon fuel tank, enlarged alloy radiator with twin slimline electric fans, four #Weber-45-DCOE carburettors, foam air filters, factory inlet manifold, 3.5in side-exit stainless steel exhaust system (with optional 112 dB silencer).

    PERFORMANCE: 345bhp (estimated)

    TRANSMISSION: Rear-wheel drive, all-steel five-speed #Getrag dog box, 4.89 #Atlas rear axle.

    SUSPENSION: #Bilstein adjustable front struts, Bilstein twin rear dampers, adjustable top mounts, polybushes throughout, quick steering rack.

    BRAKES: Factory calipers, #AP-Racing grooved discs, performance pads.

    WHEELS: 18in Speedline multi-spokes painted silver with polished lips, Kumho Ecsta 220/640/18 competition tyres.


    EXTERIOR: Restored and seam-welded shell chassis, full respray in factory white paint, replacement doors, aluminium bonnet and tailgate, polycarbonate windows, Austin Rover ‘Golden Wonder’ racing livery, rally mud flaps, kill switches.

    INTERIOR: Motordrive racing seats with embroidered Austin Rover logo, TRS six-point safety harnesses, #MOMO three-spoke steering wheel, aluminium door cards, custom switch panel, kill switches, navigator foot rest, factory roll cage.

    THANKS: The lads in my workshop for looking after the car, and a big thanks to Ian Clark (a man who navigates brilliantly) for helping me to piece the ol’ girl together.


    It’s fair to say this SD1 has had an eventful life – it was even ‘shortened’ by a previous owner!


    No images of the original ‘works’ interior remain, so it’s uncertain whether this arrangement is contemporary, or retro fitted by a subsequent owner.

    “His stockpile of pictures was instrumental in ensuring that the various logos were sized and positioned in line with their appearance in period”

    4.6 litres of trusty V8 delivers an estimated 345bhp.

    If cars could talk, this Rover would have a fair few tales to tell!
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