There have been as many variations in the distributor fitted to the Rover V8 as there have been changes to the engine.
Nevertheless, all factory-fitted distributors are Lucas items and all, with certain limitations, are interchangeable.
Early versions of the engine - Rover P5, P6 and early Range Rover - were fitted with contact breaker distributors, either single or twin points.
With the introduction of the Rover SD1 saloon, in 1976, came a new electronic ignition distributor, the Lucas 'OPUS' 35DE8. This was a completely self-contained unit, with the exception of a ballast resistor pack mounted away from the distributor.
In 1982, the 35DE8 was replaced by the Lucas 35DM8, an improved design with the ignition module located away from the main distributor (and therefore away from engine heat).
In 1985, an updated version of the DM8 - the DLM8 - was fitted to the Rover SD1. This distributor is similar to the DM8 but has an ignition module attached to the side of the distributor casing.
Other V8 vehicles, such as TR8 and Range Rover, have been fitted with versions of the same distributors, typically featuring different advance characteristics to suit their particular application. As stated above, most distributors are interchangeable, but early (pre-1976) and late (1976 on) units have a different oil pump drive gear:
Early are known as 'rigid shaft', with a tooth on the end of the distributor shaft which engages in a slot in the oil pump shaft.
Late unites are known as 'flexible shaft', and feature a flexibly mounted skew gear on the end of the distributor shaft, which has a slot that engages with a tooth on the oil pump shaft (see also Timing Cover and Oil Pump).
Most new distributors are sold on an outright basis. Reconditioned units are exchange.
In addition to original Lucas distributors, we stock Lumenition electronic ignition kits, which are suitable for pints type or 35DE8 electronic distributors only. We also stock complete replacement distributors by Mallory. Mallory distributors are available in early or late type configurations, and feature adjustable ignition advance facility.
Identifying your distributor is fairly straightforward, as there is a code - such as DLM8 - stamped on the unit itself. However, you may need to remove the distributor from the engine in order to see the number.