Hot Wheels designer Mark Jones’ love of vintage European race and rally cars (and some obscure ones at that) continues to translate into some fantastic new castings like the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and 155, Ford Escort Mk2, Mercedes CLK-GTR and C-Class DTM, Lancia Stratos Group 5 and the upcoming De Tomaso Pantera.
Now Mark has kindly permitted me to exclusively share the first photos of the next in line – a car that I’m pretty sure no-one saw coming – the ’70 Rover P6 Gp2!
The Rover P6 was a successful executive saloon/sedan from its debut in 1963 through to the end of production in 1977. I’ll always have a soft spot for it as the car that George Smiley (played by Alec ‘Obi-Wan’ Guinness) drove in my favourite TV show of all time, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Appearing initially with a 2-litre engine, it later received the ex-GM, all-aluminium V8 that served Rover and other British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) brands for so long. Like so many models of the time, the P6 would have done even better had it not been for the constant industrial disputes that interrupted production in the British motor industry through the 60s and 70s. The car was sold in small numbers in the US until 1971.
The P6 was well known as a rally car (there’s a classic Corgi Toys 1:43 from back in the day) but the short-lived race version now modelled by Hot Wheels is a rarer beast. It was initially conceived for rallycross use in 1968, with the V8 enlarged from 3.5 litres to 4.3. The Rover was then converted to Group 2 touring-car spec and recorded a handful of promising results before the plug was pulled on all BLMC competition programs in August 1970. Only two cars were built, one red like this first Hot Wheels release, and one blue; there’s currently a recreation of the latter for sale on the Car & Classic website, pictured below.
For Mark, the P6 is something of a passion project.
“I remember that as students at Art Center, we were asked by the legendary instructor Strother MacMinn to put together a binder of design inspiration – something I still do,” he explains. “One of the images that I included in mine was the Rover P6 Group 2 racer.
“I remember seeing images of the P6 and thinking how cool it looked with the fender flares,” he continues. “It looked aggressive yet still tailored. Like a crazy Opel Commodore with flares and a shovel nose that I saw in Auto Motor und Sport magazine, it still sticks in my mind. At the time, although our Trans Am cars in the US had liberally modified bodies, they did not have add-on flares like the P6.”
Looking at the photos of this FEP sample, it’s clear that Mark has captured those outrageous flares in the new model, which will debut in Boulevard later in 2022. The flares combine with the wide hood scoop and large air dam to transform the P6 from clean-cut executive express to a snarling track beast.
We look forward to seeing this one on the pegs and remain in thankful disbelief that a model like this could be greenlit at all! Thanks again to Mark and Jimmy at Hot Wheels for letting me preview it here.