- CAR #Rover-P4-95 / #Rover-P4 / #Rover / #1963 / #1963-Rover-P4-95 /
Name Richard Bryant
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’