The first 2300 and 2600 models launched by the end of 1977. The earliest six cylinder cars had the "S" suffix registrations, and had the same body shell, rear axle and transmission as the earlier 3500 SD1 but with differences in there running gear. Even the press noted that the cars were almost identical.
Philip Turner (Motor) wrote: "outwardly, the new Rover sixes differ so little from the 3500 that you may well have encountered one on the road without knowing it. The only disguise required was to change the 2300 or 2600 script at the rear for that of the 3500". And that is still today for a none "Rover man" difficult to see.
The 2600 had the same 6-cylinder engine as the 2300 but with a longer stroke of 84mm.
It had self-leveling rear suspension and was standard, the same as the 3500 used. The 2600 were supplied with the 5 speed manual gearbox. The six cylinder cars were not equipped with central door locking. A number of optional could be ordered for the 2600 including the automatic transmission, power steering, metallic paint, rear seatbelts, Denovo wheels etc.
The top speed of the 2600 was nearly as fast as the 3500, 120 mph to 125 mph. But the 6 cylinder was not as refined as the super-smooth V8. The 2.6 was however a bit more economical with average of 23mpg to 21mpg for the 3500. But the 6 cylinder was of course much cheaper as its bigger brother the V8.
Few changes were made to the six cylinder cars between their introduction and 1980. Leather upholstery was an option from half 1978, although just a few cars actually appeared with this option. Power steering was standard on the 2600 cars from October 1978 and black paint could be ordered as extra option early 1979. From 1980 the cars appeared with the new bonnet badge. Air-conditioning became an option, and the automatic gearbox was changed from a Borg Warner type 65 to type 66.
The six cylinder cars became very important these days for the BL group. In October 1977 about 150.000 executive cars were purchased in Britain, and the new six cylinders plugged the gap between the Princess 2200 and Rover 3500 models.
Body and Interior
The Rover 2600 is distinguished by the wheel trims featuring silver and black nave covers with chrome nuts, twin door mirrors and a rear 2600 badging. Both 2300 and 2600 have the same choice of colours and tinted glass as an option.
The luxurious box-pleated fabric seat facings featured on the 3500 were also available on the 2600 as is the carpet extending to the luggage compartment both above and beneath the false floor. Full colour keying of the interior trim is featured including:
- the fascia,
- steering wheel,
- rear parcel shelf and ashtray.
- The de-luxe armrests are trimmed in fabric and the fascia tray is provived with an anti-slip mat.
Interior and equipment is both more comprehensive and more technically refined as with the 2300. Internally adjsustable door mirrors are standard as they are also on the 3500. Intermittent wipe is offered instead of flick wipe, also twin glovebox lights and passenger map light. In addition the 2600 is equipped with the "Door Open" guard lights of the 3500 and the same powerful halogen headlamps.
The more comprehensive instrument module incorporates a tachometer, oil pressure gauge and bulb warning lamp, and also illuminated heater controls. In addition there is a more powerful 66 amp hour battery.