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V8 Prototype "Golden Rod"
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AMERICAN SPECIALS and PROTOTYPES
This Land Rover, no doubt
contributed more to the future of Land Rovers than any single special
built, then and now.
as it was first called, came to life in 1966, the brainchild of Bruce McWilliams, President of the Rover Motor Company of North America. The
object was to fit the newly acquired 3.5 litre alloy GM V8 into an
88" Land Rover for future sale in the USA. Richard Green, Product
Development Engineer & Service Manager, was to implement the project.
The main requirement was to fit the V8 without changing the outward
appearance of the vehicle. Body modifications were carried out at Moeller
Brothers in San Leandro, California and mechanical modifications were
undertaken by Denis Rileyís British Sports Car Service in Hayward, CA.
(Note: the factory had earlier said it was impossible to fit the V8 into a
then current production Land Rover chassis).
The following modification were carried out:
(* = a first in any Land Rover).
Fit locally bought GM
all alloy 3.5 litre V8 into 88" chassis without changing outward
Fit larger brakes
& brake booster for higher obtainable road speeds*.
Change overall gear
ratios to suit; 3.59:1 from Rover 3-Litre sedan was fitted* (OD not
capacity*; an Austin Healy tank was fitted in addition to the standard
Adjustable drivers seat*, rear bulkhead was modified to suit.
Black seats and trim*. Custom Dash* (dash hadnít been up-dated since
Negative earth system
with Alternator replacing Generator*.
scheme; Golden Rod Yellow*.
Chrome Bumpers and
Special Wheels &
as it was now called, would be tested continuously until its
cross-country trip from Dublin, CA., to NY, NY in September 1966, a trip
that would take 4-1/2 days! Performance was fantastic when compared to
then current Land Rovers (the NADA 6 had yet to come out, but test cars
arrived two days before Golden Rod was completed). Top speed was over 100
mph and it would out accelerate the then current Rover sedan, the 2000TC.
Upon its arrival at the factory it created quite a stir! Managing Director
William Martin-Hurst was one of the first to ride & drive it. One
night while leaving the factory, Richard out dragged a new XK-E through
Solihull in the rain. Soon "Golden Rod" would be shipped back to
the USA, and later sold off to a dealer. Its ashame Rover didnít save
this unique vehicle. For more on this vehicle, see LRO, LRW, and LRE magazines
for the complete story. Of interest, Land Rover Limited UK finally put the
V8 into production, though in a 109". It debuted in February 1979.
The first vehicle off the line was Yellow!
For complete Golden Rod story, click here.
Recently discovered Golden Rod Photos,