Article written by Les Lawrence as part of his research into 107 inch Station Wagons
The first recorded prototype was 107/sw/1 which was registered as PUE 206 in August 1954. As far as I am aware there is not any confirmed photographic record of this vehicle, although I have seen a picture of an unidentified prototype in LRW magazine some time ago.
This vehicle would appear to be built on a standard 107 truck chassis, judging by the position of the rear spring hangers. It is unique in having one piece doors back and front with car type door handles as seen on the 80” Tickfords. Other variations from production models include; traficators on the B posts, the rear door follows the curve of the arch, the over hang after the rear wheels is cut at a 30 angle instead of running straight, roof bracing similar to that on an 80” prototype hard top and all of the side windows were slide opening.
Pictures exist of the next recorded prototype, LRSW 107-3, which was registered in November 1954 as RAC 5. It is not possible to tell if this vehicle was on the truck chassis, but overall the vehicle’s styling is more in keeping with that of the production models with 2 piece doors and tropical roof. The Tickford style door handles remain along with the sliding rear window, but the window in the rear passenger door is fixed. This prototype also sported features not to be seen in production until the Series 2’s arrived – namely modesty skirts below the doorline, a valence between the grill panel & bumper and folding side steps. Pictures also show it under test some where in Europe along with the ill fated Road Rover car. This vehicle remained in Rover’s ownership until December 1956.
LRSW 107-4 is the last recorded prototype. Registered as SNX 547 in June 1955 I believe this to be the final pre-production car. Externally it resembles the 1956 production models with the exception of a fixed window in the rear passenger doors and roof vents on the sloped part of the tropical roof above the driver. ( Probably the roof was modified from the short wheelbase SW already in production). One photograph clearly shows the chassis number painted on the LHS top of the frame near the bumper. Strangely Rover seem to have used pictures of this vehicle for many press releases and it still feature in many books and magazines today.
The question that arises is – did early production units have fixed side windows. Some historians suggest this is the case, but I have never seen any evidence to support it. 870600007 is the earliest vehicle in the register and its owner confirms that it has opening windows in the rear side doors.
107-4 remained with Rover until February 1961, during this time it was used as a factory run about, back up for the press vehicle TWD and perhaps assisted in the development of the S2 station wagon.
SNX 547 surfaced in 1997 and James Taylor wrote an article in the August edition of LRO that year. Externally there is no indication that this was the prototype. The fixed windows in the doors were replaced with the standard type, a production tropical roof was fitted and the “four wheel drive station wagon” plate was fitted to the grill – this was not evident in the Rover company’s photographs. My guess is that it was “productionised” before it was sold on.
During its life it had gained some drain pipes running down the side of the bulkhead from the top rail. Taylor thought that this might have been a factory experiment, although I have my doubts.