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Special K

1 year ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


17 July 2023

For anyone who has owned or worked on a Rover K-series engine, there’ll be few shy and retiring opinions. This little all-aluminium, low-pressure, sand-cast, through-bolted unit first saw light of day in 1988 under the bonnet of the Rover 200 model and later the 100, (née Metro) and eventually the 25, with larger-capacity versions used in the Rover 400, the 45, the MG ZR and ZS, and the Rover 75, along with sales to Caterham, Lotus, GTM, FSO and Reliant.

Although the first use was a 1.4-litre (1397cc) twin-cam, 16-valve unit with hydraulic tappets, the majority of its initial applications were of small capacity 1.1-litre (1120cc), single-cam, eight-valve carburettor units, plus 1.4-litre in SOHC 8-valve form.

By the end of its Rover life in 2005, the five-bearing K-series had been stretched to 1800cc delivering up to 189bhp and 128lb ft with variable valve control, which constantly varied the inlet-cam timing. There was a V6 derivative and after 2005 when Rover collapsed, the K-series was separately developed by the two Chinese companies which ‘inherited’ various rights: Nanjing which built the N-series derivative with the help of Lotus; and SAIC/MG, which with the help of Ricardo did a more substantial reverse-engineered development of the 1.8-litre variant, which became known as the SAIC Kavachi unit and was in production to 2015. The V6 derivative was still being used in the British Touring Car Championship in 2008.

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