Car fan recalls ‘smell of leather’ as he’s reunited with Dundee Rover

Robin Yule has never forgotten the smell of the new leather from the blue Rover P5B Coupé which was sitting in the driveway in 1972.

Downfield primary pupil Robin was only 11 and collecting money from customers on his paper round in the scheme when he first set eyes on the vehicle.

Fast-forward 50 years to 2022 and the Rover P5B Coupé is now regarded as one of Dundee’s finest exports and a very much desired luxury car of its era.

The Dundee Rover was selected to celebrate the Queen’s 70-year reign at Windsor’s Long Walk over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend in June.

Robin wrote to Classic Car Weekly afterwards about his experience of getting to sit in the Dundee Rover in 1972 after reading a feature about the vehicle.

Martin Robins from Wiltshire bought the P5B Coupé in 2009 and managed to track down Robin to bring the story of the Dundee Rover full circle.

What were Robin’s memories of the car?

An example of British style and flair, the Rover P5B was a luxury car of the era.

The Queen owned a couple which were powered by Buick-supplied aluminum Rover V8 engines.

Martin’s Rover P5B Coupe was originally purchased in September 1972 for £2,000 from Rossleigh’s showrooms in Nethergate by David Fairweather who ran a newspaper distribution company in Dundee.

The Dundee Rover is regarded as one of the city’s finest exports.

Robin, 62, said: “I was reading the Classic Car Weekly and to my surprise there was a feature on a Rover which I instantly recognized from my days as a paperboy!

“So let me take you back to how I first set eyes on this iconic vehicle.

“It was a Friday and I was collecting money from my customers in the West End of Dundee and many of them had cars which today are regarded as classics.

“They might be a rare sight these days but it was a different story back then and my jaw dropped when I walked up Mr. Fairweather’s driveway that day.

“Here was a gleaming Rover which had just been collected from the dealership and I couldn’t stop looking at it because I was a Rover lover even at that age!

“Mr Fairweather came to the door, paid me his paper money, and asked me if I liked his new car as I had often admired his previous Rover on my round.

“He also asked me if I would like to sit inside – which of course I did!” I still remember the smell of the new leather and all the wood trim.

“He kept that car for years and stayed at the same address, so I regularly used to see him driving around and on a few occasions had a conversation with him.

“I was so very pleased that the car is still around and being cherished.”

Robin Yule has never forgotten the smell of the leather interior from the Dundee Rover.

Robin was contacted by Martin afterwards who was able to tell him all about the life and times of the Dundee Rover and his own love affair with the car.

The story that Mr Fairweather only drove the car on a Friday and never left Dundee may be somewhat exaggerated but it contains a germ of truth.

It was Mr Fairweather’s pride and joy.

Martin informed Robin that Mr. Fairweather kept the car for 20 years before ownership passed to his son-in-law Sandy Yates following his death in 1992.

He gave the car as much attention as his father-in-law.

Martin then heard about the car through a third party and contacted Sandy to ask whether he would be prepared to sell it to him.

Martin Robins purchased the iconic vehicle in 2009.

Sandy already had a Porsche 356 Coupé from Stuttgart and the Rover P5B spent much of his time in his garage, although he did take part in a couple of Royal Scottish Automobile Club (RSAC) runs with fellow classic car enthusiasts.

Since Sandy used the Dundee car fairly infrequently, he agreed to the sale.

Robin admits the P5B Coupé would be his dream car and although he’s never had the privilege of driving one he used to own a Rover 75 back in the day.

One of life’s greatest pleasures

The final word goes to Martin whose ownership of this car for the past 13 years has made his retirement “the most wonderful of all times”.

“When we took the Dundee Rover to Windsor for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations we had repeated requests from the public,” said Martin.

“They all asked: ‘Can we sit inside and smell the leather?’

“Robin’s striking memory after all this time was also the smell of the leather!”

The Dundee Rover has made Martin’s retirement the happiest years of his life.

He added: “When we acquired the Dundee Rover in 2009 we were very conscious that the vehicle had been cherished both by the previous owner and the original mechanic Brian Clark who had serviced the car throughout its life.

“Mr Fairweather devoted great care to the vehicle from 1972-1992 and over the last 13 years we have come to know and deeply respect Mr and Mrs Yates and Mr Clark.

“We have endeavored to maintain the vehicle in the standard they set.”

Martin described speaking to Robin as “a simply wonderful experience”.

“The pleasure Mr Yule enjoyed when he sat in the car back in 1972 is ours every time the car is driven – one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

The Dundee Rover is the quintessential classic car.

More like this:

The north-east motoring pioneers who ventured into car making and almost took the industry Back to the Future

Rover P5B: New booklet is a love letter to classic car bought in Dundee in 1972

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