The history of ROVER

The history of the company by years

1864 - 2005


Prehistory - until the foundation of Rover Cycle Ltd.

While the horse-drawn track is being introduced in London, James Starley and Josiah Turner found the Coventry Sewing Machine Company in Coventry. At that time, Coventry was a centre of small weaving and watchmaking. As the company name implies, they manufacture sewing machines.
Like many other automobile companies - it is worth remembering Opel - Starley and Turner also started with sewing machines. What is certain is that good technical understanding and qualified mechanical knowledge and skills are needed to build sewing machines.
However, James Starley has these capabilities: He receives numerous patents on components and parts of Sewing machines, which are still in the most modern machines today.

There is little to report until 1869. But this year not only the Suez canal will be completed: Starley and Turner are turning to bicycle production. Basically, these are runners that are aptly called "boneshakers".

Because the sewing machine production has gone down considerably anyway, the company is renamed Coventry Machinists Company.

An important year in the Rover - context: James Starley and William Hillman - he will later build cars himself - leave the Coventry Machinists Company. Together with Starley's nephew John Kemp Starley (*1855) they found the company Ariel Cycles. Business is based on a development by James Starley and William Hillman: The Ariel - Ordinary. It bears the name of the "tricky spirit" known from Shakespeare's works.
The wheel, although an all-steel construction, is lighter than its predecessors. It is also the first bicycle with a central steering head as it is still known today. Thanks to adjustable cranks and other modern mechanical innovations, the Ariel high wheel can reach speeds of up to 24 km/hr. Very brave, gentlemen. Especially when you consider that a man with a red flag has to walk in front of motorised vehicles that can drive faster than three miles an hour.

The Ariel - bicycle harvests first merits: James Starley receives numerous patents on his work.
Besides Rover, many other car companies - Hillman, Sunbeam, Humber, Singer, Opel, Peugeot and others - owe their existence to bicycle production.
By the way, in this memorable year Thomas Adams in New York is trying to transform an elastic mass into car tires. His attempts are unsuccessful. Probably frustrated, he puts a piece of the material in his mouth that remains. What to say: Within a very short time "Adams New York Gum" can be bought for a penny in drugstores. Chewing gum is invented - what would we do without it?

The Ariel bicycle is no longer being built by the company itself. The license is given to Haynes and Jefferies. John Kemp Starley will also go there with production as plant manager.

Something is happening again in bicycle construction: The spoke wheel with tangentially arranged spokes is introduced. Compared to the spokes, which were so far arranged radially, the cross-linking results in a much more laterally stable wheel, which is also less easily distorted and thus enables safer driving. This is a decisive step forward, especially in the field of ordinaries.

This year is also considered important for bicycle construction: the freewheel and the back-pedal brake are included in production. This is considered the starting point of modern production.
The first six-day race takes place in Birmingham.

James Starley develops the first easy-to-use tricycle, the Coventry Lever or Salvo. It has a very light frame, spoke wheels and an advanced chain drive as well as a differential and a headlight for night driving.
Meanwhile, John Kemp Starley marries Abigail Statham, the daughter of a posametry manufacturer in Coventry. Ten children emerge from the marriage.
William Hillman leaves Ariel Cycles and sets up his own bicycle factory, while Graham Bell (1847-1922) develops the first technically viable telephone and is the first captain of Webb to swim through the English Channel. In Germany Nikolaus Otto builds a four-stroke petrol engine.

John Kemp Starley retires from Haynes and Jefferies (who are building the Ariel high wheel under licence) and founds the company "J. K. Starley & Sutton Co." together with William Sutton, who owned a haberdashery store in Coventry. The company moves into a building complex in West Orchard, Coventry. This building is commonly known as Meteor Works. This is generally considered to be the foundation of the forerunner of the Rover Company.
The new company builds bicycles and tricycles. The two-wheelers are called "penny farthings" because of their design with large wheel in the front and small wheel in the back. The name derives from the names of the smallest and largest British coins of those days. Otherwise, those of us who are simply called "Hochrad" are known as "Ordinaries".
Meanwhile, James Starley is not lying on the lazy skin either: he receives another patent, this time on the differential. The idea came to him while riding the tricycle: when he and his son William stepped into the pedals with more power, the body slipped out of the track.

For a few years, you produce without making the headlines. The first wheel to bear the name "Rover" is a tricycle powered by hands and wheels. During the course of the year, all bicycles will be given the label "Rover".

John Kemp Starley takes over the company, William Sutton seems to have lost his courage. The company is now called "J. K. Starley & Co." and brings something completely revolutionary to the market: the "Rover Safety Bicycle". A bicycle that has the same height at the front and rear, is driven by cranks and chain at the rear wheel and actually looks like our bicycles today. At that time it was a sensation, initially a sensation, but then recognized for its many advantages.
The mere fact of not being able to fall so deeply in the case of cases must have convinced the sceptics. One year later, the wheel was launched on the market.

The Rover Safety Bicycle is well established in the market. More and more new variants are being built, including those with a cardan drive. The ordinaries are gradually disappearing, the advantages of the new wheel type are simply overwhelming. John Kemp Starley is also experimenting with electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the original recipe for Coca-Cola is being created in America.

John Kemp Starley has finished his electric tricycle. However, the handsome little one is lacking in strength and endurance.
But John Kemp Starley wouldn't be himself, he wouldn't have to worry about a car right now.
Meanwhile, veterinarian John Dunlop develops the tyre. But it will take years before it can be used.

The son of John Kemp Starley - his name is like his father's and therefore he is called "Jack" - joins his father's company.


The years leading up to the first ROVER automobile

The production of bicycles has reached such a size that the old company is liquidated and the directors found a new company: the "Rover Cycle Company" is named after its best-known product.
The share capital amounts to £150,000 plus £50,000 in bonds. John Kemp Starley - the senior - receives a settlement of £100,000.
This year, Rover is building over 11,000 bicycles, achieving a turnover of £160,000 and a profit of £21,945.
In the meantime, Harry Lawson, also from Coventry, starts building the Daimler motor car under license. He's trying to get Starley to work together without success. For Starley, however, it is the signal to focus even more intensively on the topic of "cars". As the time is ripe, the fact that Englands first motor magazine "The Autocar" was founded proves this.

Starley imports some Peugeot motorcycles from France as a template for its own developments. In the first step, he himself will motorize a Rover bicycle.

John Kemp Starley dies in October at the age of 46. Harry Smith takes over the management, Frank Ward becomes director of administration and "Jack" Starley becomes deputy plant manager.
Construction of motor vehicles begins. First, a motor tricycle called the "Imperial Rover" is offered. The engine with a power of 2 1/4 hp does not come from Rover.

The motorcycle is offered at a price of 55 pounds. There are built 17,431 bicycles.

In December - just in time - the decision is made: Rover will develop a light motor vehicle. The chief engineer is Edmund W. Lewis, who immediately starts developing an 8 hp car.
Lewis is coming from Daimler (England), where they already earn very good money by building motor cars. Other well known manufacturers include Armstrong-Siddeley, Humber, Lea Francis, Singer, Standard and Riley.


ROVER - History until the end of World War I

Rover presents its first motor car, the Rover "Eight". The single-cylinder car with 8 hp of water-cooled 1,327 cc has a revolutionary chassis made of aluminum castings
The rear axle is bolted to the chassis without suspension, which limits comfort. Nevertheless, it is an advanced vehicle with central tubular frame and interesting engine braking system.
Edmund W. Lewis doesn't rest: he starts immediately with the development of a simpler 6 hp car. He takes part in a street race where he can beat stronger cars and draw the attention of the trade press to the new car.

The Rover "Six" is launched. It has a simple wooden and steel chassis with semi-elliptic springs. Its water cooled single cylinder gets 6 hp from 780 ccm. It will be built by 1912.
Meanwhile, Rover continues to achieve sporting success on the Isle of Man. Curtis becomes fifth, Lewis twelfth.

The company is renamed "Rover Company Limited". The motorcycle construction is temporarily stopped. Edmund W. Lewis, the tireless developer, brings two new cars to the British roads: a 10/12 hp ("The silent and steady") and a 16/20 hp ("The silent and speedy").
Both offer improved suspension and steering column gearshift. The engine of the 16/20 consists of four individually cast cylinders (out of the "Six") with a total of 3,119 cc; it is then drilled out to 3,251 cc.

Wyley becomes director of Rover. Bernard Wright develops the Rover "15".
In May two 16/20 hp take part in the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man. Ernest Curtis becomes overall winner, with a 12-minute lead after 8 hours and 23 minutes. He will receive a gold watch and a week's special holiday. There is nothing known about the placement of Edgar Folker.

The Rover "15" comes onto the road. It is built until 1911. The first Rover - a Rover Eight - is sold to New Zealand.

Wyley becomes chairman of the board. Edmund W. Lewis leaves Rover and goes to Armstrong-Siddeley.
From 1909 to 1912, Rover automobiles can also be purchased with Knight engines - following an American patent. Rover does not build these engines himself, but buys them from Daimler (England).

Owen Clegg is coming in as head developer. Unfortunately, it will only remain for two years, but its influence will continue to have an effect for another good decade. It constructs the famous 12 hp engine with four cylinders and 2.3 litre displacement. As the first Rover motor, it has an oil pump (all others have an oil-bath lubrication).
J. E. Greenwood develops a new motorcycle with belt drive and 499cc engine.

Production of motorcycles is resumed. The motorcycle with 3.5 hp becomes very popular. It is also available with sidecar.
Owen Clegg puts the "Twelve" on the market He sells well until 1914. Annual production includes 883 vehicles.
Clegg converts the entire automotive manufacturing process from manual production to serial production - the assembly of prefabricated components corresponds to what Ford has demonstrated.
Annual profit for the year is £7,100.

Owen Clegg leaves Rover and goes to Darraq in France. Rover now has his own foundry. The automobiles now all get the new coolers in the form of a rectangle with rounded corners, which are worked out on top shielded.
Similar to Ford, you can have Rover cars in all colors, provided they are pastel green. The typical colour tone will be retained on some models until 1939. All other colours are only available on special order.

In Great Britain, 26,000 cars are sold. Rovers share amounts to 1,500 shares. The largest share is held by Ford, which can sell 6,000 cars (Ford Model T) from English production.

1914 - 1918
Rover was able to sell 1,943 civilian automobiles in 1914 before the manufacture of civilian bicycles and cars ceased.
Rover again takes part in a Tourist-Trophy race, three cars finish as team winners.
During the years of the war, Rover built over 3,000 motorcycles for the British, Russian and other army armies, mainly for reporting purposes. Otherwise, licensed products are built, such as car bodies for staff and ambulances on Sunbeam 12/16 chassis (total of 1,781 units).
Sunbeam is thus free for the production of aircraft engines. In addition, there are 500 Maudslay trucks, turrets, grenades, gas cartridges and tank assemblies for Daimler built by Rover.


The critical years up to 1933

The economic situation after the war did not allow Rover to count on large numbers of expensive models. You look down. One begins with the resumption of pre-war "Eight" production. With new shares worth 400,000 pounds the new civilian production begins.
The Clegg Twelve is built with a new, demountable cylinder head. The output increases by about 50 percent, which means that the car is now logically called "Fourteen". Production of commercial vehicles and motorcycles is also being resumed.
John Young ("Jack") Sangster, an entrepreneur from Birmingham, whose family controls the Ariel factories, has designed an air-cooled 1-litre two-cylinder engine based on the 3.5 hp motorcycle engine. The cylinder heads protrude to the left and right of the bonnet. They glisten cherry-red on a longer ascent. Sangster offers the engine, Rover designs a new 8 hp car for it. Sangster becomes deputy plant manager at the new Tyseley complex, a former ammunition factory that Rover buys from the British government.
Due to the enormous inflation - prices have doubled since 1914 - US vehicles are becoming a major competitor.

The new Rover Eight is launched. It achieves 14 hp at 1,800 rpm and reaches 35 mph. The car remains in production until 1925. A total of 17,000 of these cars are manufactured.
With this car the Viking's head is introduced as a Rover emblem. He becomes the mascot on the car's front and always reminds the customer that "the roving spirit is in their mind".

Rover is building 7,000 cars this year.
In Great Britain, the so-called "Horsepower Tax" is introduced. It is based on the calculation formula introduced by the RAC in 1906. One of the calculation principles is the cylinder bore. This is badly affected by the increased imports of US American cars: A Ford Model T (22.5 hp) now costs 23 pounds instead of the previous 6 pounds 6 shillings of "Road Fund Licence". This calculation formula remains in force until 1947.

This year Rover sells 6,500 aircooled Sangster-Eight. This corresponds to a market share of 9 percent. The company makes a profit of 146,754 pounds.
Sangster leaves Rover for Birmingham as Deputy Director-General of Ariel.
Rover offers his customers Viking figures as mascots. They cost 1 pound and can be mounted instead of the cooler cap. Mascots are all over fashionable.

Harry Smith is retiring. J. K. ("Jack") Starley jun. becomes Managing Director. Rover's goal of standing up to the Austin Seven puts Rover on the brink of bankruptcy. With a turnover of £1.5 million, the loss was £36,752.

Turnover is declining and losses are rising. Production of bicycles and motorcycles will cease at the end of the year. Since 1886, 426,530 bicycles and 10,400 motorcycles have been produced.
A new 8hp car with water-cooled 1074-cc four-cylinder engine will be introduced as 9/20 hp. It replaces the air-cooled Eight. The car will be a flop, although technically better than its predecessor. It is further developed into the 10/25, known as the "Family Ten", which is later developed into the "Ten Special".
On the occasion of the Olympic Motor Show the 14/45 will be presented. He is awarded the Dewar Trophy of the Royal Automobile Club.

"Jack" Starley hires the Norwegian Peter Poppe as chief designer. Poppe had previously founded the company Poppe and White - founded in 1899 - in Coventry together with Alfred White. Motors were built for Morris and others. In 1919 the company was sold to Dennis Brothers; Poppe had worked there until 1924. He brings the construction of a four-cylinder engine with him.
Poppe launches the 14/45 hp. On paper, the engine with overhead camshaft, inclined valves, hemispherical combustion chambers and centrally arranged spark plugs looks advanced and modern. In practice, he suffers from camshaft problems and oil loss. In addition, the 14/45 hp is too heavy and needs plenty of fuel.
In the same year the car is replaced by the 16/50 hp. Its engine is drilled to 2,413 cc. However, only a few cars are built. Nevertheless, they extend Rover's reputation as a manufacturer of high quality and reliable cars.

Peter Poppe develops Rover's first six-cylinder 2,023 cc engine. The engine no longer has an overhead camshaft, the valves are operated by means of pushrods.
In order to stabilize the not particularly torsionally stiff chassis, the front bumpers are now used in accordance with the Wilmot-Breeden system. They serve as a stabilizing transverse leaf spring with considerable weights to counteract vibrations at both ends.

Poppe's new six-cylinder engine will be built into the 2-litre models, later also into the Meteor 16 and the Light Six.
During the first half of the 1920s, Rover was always running into bankruptcy. But now, however, the final "end" seems to have come. Business management and executive staff are constantly changing. The problem obviously lies in the fact that Rover does not yet have the reputation of Riley, Lanchester or Wolseley. Rover loses about 4,000 pounds a week.

The less successful 9/20 hp is replaced by the Rover Ten (10/25). The engine is a drilled version of the 9/20 with 1,185 ccm. The "Ten" becomes successful and is built until 1937.
On the occasion of the London Motor Show, Rover presents the new Light Six. Thanks to Noble's excellent PR work, he is well received by the trade press.
The total number of automobiles sold fell to 3,766.
Wyley resigns at a shareholders' meeting ("Action Uprising"). Herman Jennings and W. D. Sudbury will act as directors. Neither of them knows anything about the management of an automobile factory. They call Frank Searle, former commander of a tank unit, as managing director. He too is more of a designer than a company manager. But he recognizes that the restructuring of the company cannot work without competent management.
Searle brings Spencer B Wilks and his brother Maurice to Rover. Both had been to Hillman's company. Spencer Wilks is a lawyer by nature, Maurice worked for Hillman as a planning engineer. Both are the biggest lot for rovers.

In January, J. K. Starley is released. He is on a business trip to Australia and will not return to England. His severance pay is £4,500.
Spencer Wilks is appointed Director General on the recommendation of Searle. He hires Major H. B. Thomas, who also worked for Hillman, as engine designer.
Searle separates Rover from Midland Light Carbodies and sets up Rover's own body shop. He takes on Peter Poppe, who leaves Rover in September.
Despite financial problems, Rover buys land and buildings on Helen Street, a total of 5.3 hectares, for £30,000 from English Electric.
The Viking's head becomes the figurehead of a Viking ship, which appears with sails on the cooling shields of the Rover cars. Later, the surrounding bow wave is added.
Rover reaches a market share of 4 percent.

Rover offers small and large cars, in the middle of the field is an emptiness. B. H. Thomas develops from the existing 10 hp four-cylinder engine a small six-cylinder engine with 1,410 cc, which will become very important for Rover in the years to come. The 10/25 hp gets a new chassis that is wider and lower than the previous one. The second important change is the light all-steel body of Pressed Steel. The price will be reduced from 250 to 189 pounds. But overall, the car's looks and performance are disappointing.
Noble, the longtime head of marketing, organizes the race with the famous "Train Bleu" in France. From St. Raphael on the French Riviera to Calais on the English Channel, Rover's "Light Six" wins by 20 minutes.
Rover's market share down to 3.5 percent.
Maurice Wilks, the younger brother of Spencer Wilks, becomes Chief Design Engineer.
Rover earns £30,000 profit, a dividend cannot be paid. Unofficial merger talks with Triumph take place several times without reaching a result.

Wilks pushes the construction of small and medium-sized cars. He brings a new "Ten Special" based on the 10/25 hp. Instead of the Weymann superstructure, a full steel body is now used, instead of the three-speed gearbox there is now a four-speed gearbox. In addition, there is the freewheel, for many years Rover's technical trademark. The rear axle now has a differential instead of the worm gear transmission.
At the suggestion of Searle, Rover begins his experiments with a cheap rear engine car, the "Scarab". It will be built in five specimens.
In summer there are differences between Sudbury and Searle. In August Alex Craig takes over as Chairman of the Board of Management. During a trip to the New Zealand Rover factory in autumn of this year, Searle is dismissed. He retires to his country estate in Alton Hall, England.
The business year ended with a loss of 77,529 pounds, almost a fiasco.

Under pressure from the two big creditors - Lucas and Pressed Steel - Rover's house bank Lloyds demands more influence on the financial situation. Spencer Wilks is appointed to the Board of Directors, Howe Graham, an auditor, joins Rover as Chief Financial Officer.
According to Wilk's company strategy, Rover is to offer a range of smaller, low-cost cars and build a small number of exclusive, more expensive cars. Comfort and quality should always have top priority, and production costs should be kept as low as possible. A kind of modular system is thought of.
Graham sells the factory on Queen Victoria Road (The Meteor Works) and concentrates production on Helen Street (New Meteor Works). Engines and gearboxes will continue to be manufactured in Tyseley.
Despite all efforts, the business year ends with a loss of around 250,000 pounds.


The years of consolidation under Wilks

At the beginning of the year, E. Ransom Harrison will become Chairman of the Board. Spencer Wilks, who will be officially appointed Executive Director in January and Howe Graham, who will tightly control the finances, will achieve a small profit of £7,511 at the end of the business year.
A completely new range of cars developed by the Wilks brothers will be launched: the 10 hp, 12 hp and 14 hp as well as the Speed 14. The 10 hp weighs 930 kg and costs 238 pounds. The four-cylinder engine of the Rover Ten is replaced by a 1.6-litre six-cylinder engine. The freewheel remains Rovers trademark. The Speed Fourteen achieves around 130 km/h with its new 54 hp six-cylinder engine. Successful years begin for Rover.
In addition to the use of as many identical components as possible in all cars, Wilks relies on a recognizable family resemblance achieved by standardizing the bodywork.
In addition to these new cars, Rover also offers a number of older models that are still on stockpile.
On the occasion of the 1000-Mile RAC Rally in Hastings, Rover receives two awards for the bodywork of the Speed 14 Coupé. This leads to the use of the name "Hastings-Coupé".

The leading quintet Harrison, Spencer Wilks, Graham, Jennings and Frank Ward get accustomed to each other better and better - it will lead the fortunes of Rover for the next twenty years.
Models 10 hp, 12 hp and 14 hp get modified engines. They differ in bore, stroke is the same for all motors (105 mm). This palette is what one likes to call later on "P1".
The British taxation formula promotes long-stroke engines, as the bore is a component of the calculation formula.
Rover offers a wide range of accessories for all cars. Particularly popular are tailor-made suitcases. The passing light is also in high demand: it comes into action when the driver's headlamp is switched off and the other headlamp is tilted downwards - otherwise dimming is not yet possible at that time.
The discrete Rover driver loves the car antenna under the running board, for the spoke wheels there are extra large cover plates. Despite all the shortcomings, the DWS hydraulic jacking system is popular, although (or because?) it is expensive.

The debts from the years of the depression have been repaid. The finances are so good that Spencer Wilks receives a commission of £10,000 on his salary
Roland Seale, the design manager, brings Gordon Bashford back to Rover.

The government wants to set up "shadow factories" in order to be able to change production quickly in the event of a war. Rover will also be included in this programme. The government builds these factories and recruits staff, while the companies - like Rover - "only" have to take over the organization and management.
As Rovers factories do not have free space, the first shadow factory is built in Acocks Green, about 20 miles from the other Rover factories. These shadow factories are by no means secret. Rover can even welcome a German delegation that wants to learn about new production methods.
The cars are now sold under the slogan "One of Britain's Fine Cars".
Rover is again able to pay a dividend.

The shadow factory in Acocks Green starts production in July. Parts for the Bristol-Hercules star engines are manufactured in small numbers.
Robert Boyle leaves Rover and goes to Mottis Engineers in Coventry.

The existing model series is renewed and placed on a new chassis. The models 16 hp and 20 hp get new engines. This concludes the standardisation of the Wilks brothers. Today these cars are called "P2".
The chassis frames are available in two versions with three wheelbases. Gearbox, freewheel and axles are identical for all models. The different wheel bases only affect the different lengths of the bonnets. There are passenger compartments with four and six side windows. Models 14 to 20 are equipped with anti-roll bars.
Rover outperforms well-known competitors such as Humber, Wolseley, Lanchester and even pioneering companies such as Riley and Singer.
The target market is the upper middle class, which has not suffered from the years of depression.

In Solihull, another shadow factory is built, three times the size of Acock's Green. In cooperation with Rootes, Hercules aircraft engines are to be built here. In great anticipation, Rover acquires 80 hectares of arable land directly next to the new factory.
In July, Rover will be asked to set up space at the Helen Street and Tyseley plants for maintenance and repair work on Cheetah engines. In the event of an outbreak of war, Rover will also manufacture these engines.
Shortly after the beginning of the war, Rover was asked to participate in Frank Whittles jet engine project.

In the years 1933 to 1939 - the efforts of the Wilks' brothers are beginning to have a lasting effect - Rover is quite successful. The numbers reflect this impressively.

YearProduction UKProduction ROVERMarket share ROVERNet profit ROVER
1933220.7794.9602,2 %£ 7.511
1934256.8665.9652,3 %£ 94.439
1935311.5447.2532,3 %£ 152.910
1936353.8388.3352,35 %£ 165.282
1937389.63310.1832,6 %£ 200.921
1938342.39010.5163,1 %£ 168.938
1939350.58611.1033,2 %£ 205.957


The years of World War II

In January, the shadow factory in Solihull begins production of Hercules engine parts. The last civilian car will be built in May. The services are maintained throughout the war years. Starting in July, the production lines for automobiles have been converted to the production of parts for airframes (for the Albemarle aircraft).
On the night of November 14-15, the Helen Street plant is severely damaged in a bombing raid. Temporarily, the production of Albemarle cells and Cheetah parts has been abandoned until production is relocated to empty cotton spinning mills in Lancashire and confiscated factories in Yorkshire. The administration is also badly affected. It must be transferred to the remaining parts of the Chesford Grange Hotel in Kenilworth.
Rover will also be responsible for the production of wings for the aircraft "Lancaster" and "Bristol". At the Hickley plant, repair work on vehicles is being carried out on behalf of the army.

Rover, BTH and Power Jets Ltd. introduce the W2 Mk IV and W2. B versions of the aircraft jet turbines. A standard W2. B turbine reaches in a Gloster E28/39 - accidentally! - unbelievable 745 km/h.

In the meantime, Rover is producing in six shadow factories, twelve smaller plants and in an underground factory in Drakelow near Kidderminster. Other sources cite as the site of the underground factory Blakeshall Common near Kinver Edge.
In Lutterworth, aircraft magneto ignition systems are overhauled and repaired. In London's Seagrave Road, vehicle bodies and engine testing facilities are built for aircraft engines. Further plants in Lane and Waterloo/Clitheroe manufacture Gas turbine engines, later V12 meteor and V8 meteor tank engines with 27 liters cubic capacity.
In November, Rovers Gas Turbine B26 runs for the first time and is so secret that even Whittle doesn't know anything about its existence. It will be the basis for Rolls-Royce's Welland engine.

There is a major exchange with Rolls-Royce. Because of the fear that the jet engine project could suffer so much from tensions between Rover and Whittle, Rolls-Royce proposes to take over the entire development and production, since the relationship between RR and Whittle is unencumbered. Spencer Wilks is basically happy to get rid of all the "stuff".
In return, Rover takes over the construction of the RR tank engines at the RR plant in Nottingham, which will remain in the programme until 1964 - built in Acocks Green. Astonishing is, however, that in this exchange Spencer ("Spen") King, nephew of the Wilks and later on Rovers gas turbine grandson, comes from RR to Rover.

In addition to 3,780 of its own employees, Rover now employs about 21,000 government employees in the shadow factories.

The factory in Helen Street, Coventry, was sold to machine tool manufacturer Alfred Herbert Ltd before the end of the war. The Wilks' brothers worry about production after the end of the war. These considerations also include the development of gas turbines as automotive engines, certainly due to the constant drilling by Spen King. To this end, contact is sought with Leyland, at that time a pure commercial vehicle manufacturer, as no development funds are expected from the government.

Summarizing Overview Jet Engine - Projects during the II. World War II
From spring 1940 onwards, Rover is involved in the jet engine project. The matter is top secret, only the "supercharger" should be mentioned.
Frank Whittles company, Power Jets Ltd, resides in Lutterworth, about 16 miles from Coventry. It is the first company in the world to design jet engines. However, it is a pure experimental workshop with hardly any production capacity. Many individual parts are manufactured by BTH, which manufactures large stationary turbines for the industry in Rubgy. Other parts will be delivered by Joseph Lucas from Birmingham.
Gloster Aircraft, for which Rover produces airframes for the Albemarle aircraft, designs the first Gas turbine aircraft under the name of "Meteor".
At that time Rolls Royce was busy building 12-cylinder V engines for aircraft (Merlin) and was not interested in gas turbines.
In 1941 Rover, BTH and Power Jets Ltd. introduced the W2 Mk IV and W2. B versions of the aircraft turbines. In a Gloster E28/39 745 km/h are reached. The following year, there was a violent clash between Rover and Whittle. The latter accuses Rover of delay in production and the non-contractual modification of his engines. In return, Rover complains about Whittles obstructive behavior. The reason for this is probably the fact that Rover developed the W2. B to W2. B/26 engine with a continuous combustion chamber instead of a reversing one, which offers considerably more thrust with a simpler design. In addition, the problems with vibrations that led to turbine blade failure were fixed.
Whittle, who learned of these measures only afterwards, was first empowered. In November 1942 the situation became so aggravated, S. G. Hooker of Rolls Royce asks his business manager Lord Hives to intervene. It is feared that the dispute could significantly hinder the military use of gas turbine airplanes. Overall, Rover was not sure whether jet engines were "their thing".
One finds a workable compromise: as of January 1,1943 Rolls Royce takes over all activities related to the jet engines. Hooker becomes chief engineer at the former cotton spinning mill in Barnoldswick, which is intended to be the production site for W2. B engines, but will now become an RR engine development center. The forerunner of the later "Welland" engines will be handed over at a high level of development. In return, Rover receives a major order for the manufacture of tank engines to be taken over from Rolls Royce. It is mainly the "Meteor", a 12-cylinder engine. The name equivalence is purely coincidental.
The replacement naturally also affects the personnel. Many Rover people go to Rolls Royce - partly on loan - and in return, former RR employees come to Rover. Among them was Spencer ("Spen") King, nephew of the Wilks brothers, who later supported the development of Rovers automotive turbines.


The years before joining British Leyland

The war has wrecked Britain's finances. All materials are still subject to government supervision, allocations are only made in tort. Petrol is rationed, the allocation is just enough for about 320 km per month. And the allocation of steel depends on how high the export share is: the more exports, the more steel, is the motto.
In addition, vehicle production must be approved by the government. There is no need for large cars. After a long haul, Rover is approved to build 500 10 hp, 500 12 hp and 100 six-cylinder cars. Due to the lack of material, all vehicles of the reissued Rover Ten are black with brown padding. In December, the first two cars leave the factory.
Rover starts developing gas turbines for the drive of automobiles under strict secrecy. They are also working on a small car, type M. It is an aluminium construction to avoid the allocation problems with steel.

For the first time Rover builds left-hand drive vehicles. The first of these cars will go to Denmark and Belgium. Production increases only slowly from 6 to 20 cars per day. The total number of cars is 5,115.
The company headquarters are officially moved to Solihull in February. Sir Stafford Crips, the President of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, is called upon to inaugurate the trade fair in order to demonstrate to the government the seriousness of the export measures. The Labour government considers the entire automotive industry to be an unnecessary gimmick.
Frank Bell and Spencer King set up the "C"project department, which deals with gas turbines. At the same time, the Group is also working on diesel engines and hollow slide motors.
The Land Rover is an important new development in addition to the M1. This project is intended to expand the production and is mainly aimed at exporting in order to obtain higher steel allocations.
The built pre-war cars of the model year 1940 are internally called "P1" (=Post War Models 1). For a short time there are plans for a "P2", which will consist of a new front and a pre-war passenger compartment. However, in comparison with the great competition from American post-war cars - in America, the construction of civilian passenger cars continued, including in terms of body design - this model seemed to be "too ridiculous"for the company's management.
The confusion about the terms "P1" and "P2" still exists today.

The Land Rover receives the highest development priority. Therefore, work on the "P3" is progressing only slowly. The pre-war models and the Open Tourer are still being built, whose development is somewhat mysterious. Supposedly intended exclusively for export to the USA, the Tickford Cabriolet will be built with right-hand drive only and will probably only be sold in Great Britain. A total of 8,220 cars are produced, the daily output increases by up to 200 cars per day.
On 3 February, the first gas turbine will be put to the test. The turbine named T5 is never tested outside the test stand. The working conditions are adventurous: one sits behind sand, as from time to time a turbine is torn up.
The government has decreed that Rover must sell 75 percent of its production abroad in order to receive the requested steel allocations. Despite all efforts, this is hardly feasible with the aging vehicles produced.
The serial production of the Land-Rover was decided in September. The plans for the M1 disappear in the drawer.

The newly developed "P3" will be launched in February. It still looks like the pre-war models, but is technically modernized: It has a full steel body, the chassis is newly developed, it has hydraulic brakes and is available in two engine versions - P3-60 and P3-75 - with Rover incorporating performance data into the type designation for the first time. So the "60" is a 12 hp and the "75" a 16 hp. Both models are available with four or six side windows. The cars are sold with the slogan "One of Britain's Fine Cars - Now Made Finer". Parallel to this, the P4.
is created In April the Land-Rover will have its world premiere at the Amsterdam Motor Show. The first cars will be delivered in July. These first wagons are only equipped with a fuel-saving design, since they are purely functional vehicles.

The development of the P4 is finished. First the "75" is introduced. Today, it is hard to understand the turmoil in the car's design. It completely contradicts the conservative views that Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Riley continue to represent. It is also two steps ahead of the standard Vanguard, which is based on the American design of 1942. Many people find the P4 to be too American, completely un-British, and indeed.... The press has a different opinion, as it writes of "supreme charm".
The new P4 is the link between tradition and modernity at Rover. On the one hand, the pontoon body follows the trends in design set by the USA; on the other hand, chassis and bodywork remain independent components, i. e. they do not immediately become self-supporting bodywork. The passing light in the grill, which is no longer necessary, is also a reminiscence of tradition. Something like an automotive "company face" should be preserved, at least in the beginning. And this is also successful. The nickname "Cyclop" for this new car testifies to the fact that you deal with it.
Ironically, the P4 in particular will become the epitome of the typical rover used to measure all subsequent cars in the coming years.
One should not forget the automobile that provided Rover with the necessary financial blessing, so that the P4 was able to emerge at all: the Land Rover. It would be presumptuous, we wanted to tell its story here in epic breadth. This makes the special Land Rover clubs much better and more competent. But let's at least mention it; after all, it was designed by the same people who designed our cars.
In addition to 5,709 cars, Rover is already building 8,000 Land Rovers.
The T5 turbine is released from all other tasks by the T8 engine. Gordon Bashford is released from all other tasks to place a turbine vehicle on top of the engine. The T8 produces up to 230 hp, it consists of a compressor and a working turbine. It's going to be installed in Spencer King's Torquil boat.
The construction of the P3 will be discontinued after a total of 9,111 pieces.

Maurice Wilks is appointed to the board of directors. This is the first time that a technical director has been appointed to Rover's next board of directors.
Peter Wilks and George Mackie left Rover and founded - with the support of Rover - a company that wanted to build sporty two- and three-seater cars on the basis of the P4: the name "Marauder" still has a good sound today, even though the company is liquidated after 15 manufactured cars. The cars are simply too expensive, and the capital is obviously not sufficient for a longer dry spell.
With 16,085 copies produced and sold, the Land Rover, which was conceived as a backlash lover, will be a definite hit.
In March, the T8 turbine will be installed in the rear of a P4 - this is a abandoned convertible model. Internally, the three-seater open wagon is called XT1 or T1, but it is better known under its registration number JET 1. Incidentally, the car cannot be registered at first because the bureaucracy does not know where a kerosene powered vehicle can be classified. Since Rover declares that the car can also be operated with petrol, it is finally approved on this basis.
In the P4 series, Tickford presents two Cabriolet versions.
Gasoline rationing will be abolished in May. In September, the resale period for new cars will be increased to two years.

The motor vehicle purchase tax of 66.6 percent of the wholesale price ex works, which was previously only payable for luxury cars, is levied on all automobiles.

The P4 is equipped with a new grill without passing light. This also counteracts the effects of overheating.
To expand production of the Land Rover, Rover acquires a factory in Perry Byr.
In order to separate the pioneering work on gas turbines from normal activities, Rover (Gas Turbines) Ltd. was founded. The second version of the JET 1 - with a modified body and an advanced T8 engine - now produces around 230 hp. In Jabbekke / Belgium, on June 25 and 26 with Spencer King at the wheel, the car sets the first world speed record for turbine vehicles at 244.55 km/h for the flying mile.
Frank Bell, the great developer in the engine area, leaves Rover and joins Blackburn Aircraft as head developer in Yorkshire.

David Bache is the first professional car designer to join Rover.
Rover is one of the first British car manufacturers to establish a research and development department. Gordon Bashford takes over the management.
The P4 "60" is introduced. The model designations within the P4 series always refer to the horsepower output of the motors (at least approaching). On the occasion of the London Motor Show, Pininfarina shows a P4-based convertible.
In addition to the Land Rover, which will be built with over 20,000 units, the development of a P4-based "road rover" begins. The vehicle known as the "Greenhouse" is not going into production.
Rover’ s wish to build a vehicle under the P4 that is in large numbers to be built fails also because of the money, but mainly because of the - for Rover’ s conditions - explosive growth of the Land Rover business. All available funds flow there. Therefore, instead of a smaller car for which a new factory is to be built, it is decided to develop a luxury car above the P4, which can be built in small quantities.
The turbine business is moving into commercial orbits: The "Neptune"engine (1S/60) is being offered for stationary generator systems, for the engine in aircraft and related functions.
The income tax rate drops to 50 percent. The resale deadlines for new cars will be abolished.

Factory buildings in Percy Road will be purchased for the further increase in land rover production. Gear and chassis production is outsourced. A total of 200,000 Land Rovers have been completed by autumn.
Rover conducts unofficial merger talks with triumph, but without success.
A gas turbine engine, which has many parts in common with the "Neptune", but is fitted with a heat exchanger, is offered as a drive for "vehicles and boats".

The P4 is now available with Overdrive. The freewheel is removed.
A V6 engine is planned and developed for the car above the P4, but it does not deliver enough power. This is how a three-litre version of the IOE engine is developed.
The gas turbine department develops with the T3 an appealing coupé with fiberglass body and less engineering.

Spencer Wilks appoints his brother Maurice as Executive Co-Director.
The P4 will now be introduced to the market with an automatic transmission developed by Rover ("Roverdrive").
Considerations begin for a successor of the P4: First steps towards P6.
On the occasion of the Earls Court car show, the T3 Coupé will be presented to the public.

Spencer Wilks takes over as Chairman of the Supervisory Board from Howe Graham.
Discussions are being held with David Brown Corporation regarding a takeover of tractor production. The talks fail even though - or because - Brown develops its own off-road vehicle.

The press presentation of the P5 on 22 September must take place without test cars, as a strike at Pressed Steel prevents the construction of car bodies. In addition to the production line of the Land-Rover, some P5s will be assembled by hand to meet the public presentation at the Earls Court Motor Show in October. The car reinforces Rover's reputation as a manufacturer of high quality vehicles.
As part of the P6 development, Rover acquires a Citroen DS for comparison purposes. The specification for the P6 is a light saloon with a 1.8 to 2-litre machine and four seats. Reliability and comfort should correspond to the P4.

Every week 800 Land-Rovers are created.
. As the government does not approve any plant expansions in Solihull, parts of the production must be outsourced to Birmingham.
Once again, the merger talks are held with Triumph, again with no tangible result.

On 24 October, the P6 is officially released for production.
9,670 P4 and 7,460 P5 are produced. For the P5, an optional servo steering is now available.

With the exception of a production line for the P5, all former shadow factories are now under the Land Rover sign.
Spencer King Modifies a P6 Prototype Car to the Turbine Saloon T4.

Spencer Wilks retires from the board of directors. His brother Maurice takes the place. William Martin-Hurst becomes Managing Director. A. B. Smith becomes Managing Director.
The P4 is being reworked. The P5 will be released in September as Mark II version as Saloon and Coupé.
The T4 gas turbine car is introduced to the public in New York. It has front wheel drive and - due to the exhaust gas flow through the cardan tunnel - a modified rear axle.
During the course of the year, Rover will participate in various rally events with several P5 Mark IA cars. The Lü ttich-Sofia-Lüü ttich rally finishes with a 1st and 3rd place in the touring car class of over 2,000 cc, in the overall classification you reach 6th place. Four cars successfully participate in the East Africa Safari Rally.

Maurice Wilks dies on the night of September 8-9.
The P6 2000 is introduced. It is comparatively inexpensive in terms of safety features and comfort. His appearance is also reminiscent of the public murmur already known from P4. The trade press praises the car over the green clover, because with a new engine with overhead camshaft, disk brakes all around, standard belt tyres and a comfortable, technically sophisticated chassis, it turns the Rover world upside down once again. The car was awarded the AA (Automobile Association) Gold Medal in 1966 for safety integrated into its design and construction. In front of Mercedes 600 and Hillman Imp, he was voted "Car of the Year" - the first car ever.
In Le Mans, Rover-BRM starts with a gas turbine car based on a 1962 BRM Formula 1 car. Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill finish the 24-hour race with a total speed of over 170 km/h. You win the first Club de L' Ouest award for gas turbine car.
With the P5 Mark II, Rover continues to participate successfully in various rally events.

Peter Wilks is appointed Technical Director.
In May the production of the P4 is stopped.
More than 40,000 Land Rovers are sold this year.
Negotiations for the acquisition of General Motors' V8 engine have been completed.
The rally car P5 Mark IIB continues to be successful.

Rover and Alvis are merging. In addition to military vehicles and aircraft engines, Alvis produces high-priced sports cars. There are many good reasons for the merger: Alvis urgently needs a replacement for its technically overhauled sports cars. Rover has the necessary experience - and the financial means to do so. Rover needs precision machines and the necessary personnel to manufacture the parts for the V8 engine - Alvis has both. The Alvis military vehicles can also be well connected to the further land rover development.
The P6 is developing into the most important image carrier and fully exploits production possibilities. At the Monte Carlo Rally, Roger Clark and Jim Porter achieved class victory in the Group 1 touring cars and 6th place in the overall classification.
The P5 appears as Mark III version.
The idea of the "Road Rover" is taken up again. One sees in the combination of luxury and off-road features chances for a new vehicle type.
The Rover-BRM is the last Le Mans event. As one of 15 cars that finish the race - from 51 started - he is the only British one. Nevertheless, the further development of the gas turbine as a motor vehicle engine is being transferred to smaller companies. Rover does not see a chance, especially because of the high fuel consumption and the still insufficient problems of the exhaust system.
Following BMC's acquisition of the Pressed Steel plant in Cowley near Oxford, Rover sees problems for himself: the P6 basic bodies are also manufactured in this plant. The Scottish plant Linwood of Pressed Steel is to be taken over by Rootes. The car bodies for the P5 will be built there, and will competitors continue to deliver? Or is it too insecure?

Leyland makes Rover a takeover bid. The conversations are very personal between Lord Black of Leyland and George Farmer of Rover as well as between the old friends Sir Henry Spurrier (Leyland) and Spencer Wilks. It is agreed that Triumph should stand for cars up to two liters and sports cars, Rover and Alvis will stand for bigger cars. The merger of Leyland-Triumph and Rover was decided at the end of the year.
The 500,000th Land Rover rolls off the production line in April.


The years under British Leyland

The Leyland-Triumph and Rover merger will be sealed in March.
Sir Donald Stokes and John Barber approve the preliminary plans for a Rover P8, which is to take off the P5 and for which a 4.4-litre V8 is also planned.
The P6 is launched as the 2000 TC with two carburetors. The development of the five-cylinder and six-cylinder engines for the P6 - the P7 project - will be discontinued in view of the V8.
In the autumn, the V8 enters the P5.
Rover's gas turbine division is renamed Leyland Gas Turbines. The focus is now on the construction of engines for trucks.
The projects P6 BS and Range Rover will be presented.
There are problems between Rover and Triumph. The two 2000 limousines compete with each other. Triumph has its own V8 in development, which seems obsolete due to the Rover-V8. But General Motors does not want to see its former engine in British sports cars on the domestic market. That's why the Triumph-V8 is built.

The carousel turns faster: with the approval of the government, the Leyland Group and BMH (British Motor Holdings) merge to form BLMC (British Leyland Motor Corporation). Almost all British car manufacturers are now under one roof. It will take five months for people to be able to work together in a reasonable way, at least on the upper floors. In addition to Triumph and Jaguar, Rover can be found in the special models section.
Spencer King leaves the Rover troop and joins Standard Triumph as chief engineer.
The P6 comes with the V8 engine, called TT5 (Three Thousand Five). It is only available with automatic transmission because Rover does not have a manual transmission that can cope with the torque.
The 1:1 models of the P8 are ready. Production planning begins, machine tools are procured. When the project was discontinued, more than 5 million pounds were lost.
The P6 BS is introduced in New York. The prototype is tested exclusively by the trade journal "Motor". One is enthusiastic about the measures. But the car would be too much of a rival to the Jaguar E, as it is faster and around 500 pounds cheaper. Although the Rover engineers fiercely defended themselves, the project is stopped.
Leyland gas turbine trucks will be presented. The engine 2 S / 150R is used. A new turbine is developed under the designation 2 S / 350 / R.

David Bache develops a beautiful, exotic looking sports coupé from the discontinued project P6 BS under the project name P9. When the Jaguar boss, Sir William Lyons, heard about this project, it was stopped immediately. At this time, Rover does not have a strong advocate in the group.
The upcoming Range Rover will be tested under the camouflage name "VELAR" on Britain's roads.

The modified version of the P6 - often referred to as Mark II, although never called so by Rover - is launched. The grill doesn't find any big friends, the bonnet looks clumsier than before. The 3500 S replaces the TT5 and now has a manual transmission. The power steering is available as standard.
The Range Rover will be launched in June.
As the last independent Rover project, the P10 ends the story. It should become the solution of P6, but then merges into RT1 or later into SD1.
The Group's financial situation is still poor.

The P6 is now also being assembled in New Zealand. This is due to the Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand and Australia. In this way, substantial import taxes can be saved. The prerequisite is that some components originate from these countries. For sea transport, the P6 are prepared as so-called CKD versions (CKD=Completely Knocked Down). This goes as far as separating the roofs of the basic bodies in order to pack them more tightly. They are re-welded in New Zealand.
Many changes in the Group, the opening and closing of departments, are causing great unrest in the Group. No one knows in the morning when he comes to work whether he still belongs to yesterday's department. Productivity is dropping enormously, quality and performance, even in the upper floors, are reaching zero.
The remaining 4.4-litre V8 from the P8 and P10 project enters the Leyland P76 in Australia. It is never built in England.
British Railways is testing the new gas turbines in new designs. However, the gas turbine has no chance against the electric locomotives in terms of costs.
The Land Rover achieves an annual record output of 56,663 units and has already been sold to all countries in the world, with the exception of Albania and North Korea.

The financial position of the Group is precarious. All you have to do is plug holes, the work ethic has reached its zero point.

The P6 models 2000 and 2000 TC are replaced by the models 2200 SC and 2200 TC.
The P5 is set.
BLMC is experiencing a financial catastrophe due to the opening of the British market to the EC countries.

Instead of the unrealized large Rover, the SD1 takes shape.
But first of all BMLC goes bankrupt. Sir Stokes must ask the British Government for help. After the rise of the oil price (due to the Yom Kippur war), lower stock prices and substantial inflation, there are dramatic difficulties, especially in the Austin/Morris area. More than 200,000 jobs are at stake. The government must intervene - the result is the nationalization of the corporation. A group of accountants led by Lord Ryder will work out proposals for reorganisation. The troop known as "Ryder's Raider" does a quick job. Rover can't do anything more to influence his own future.

The Ryder Report recommends that the government regularly pay more financial aid to British Leyland, but at the same time tightly control business. This is how British Leyland Ltd was created, in which the government has a 95 % shareholding as the main shareholder. All car manufacturers in the group, with the exception of Jaguar, will be merged to form one company: Leyland Cars.
In this group, former Rover employees are given major tasks: Spen King becomes head of design and development, David Bache will become head of styling, Charles Griffin, hitherto head of development, will take over the advance planning.
Pre-production of the SD 1 begins. The development and production preparations have so far devoured 95 million pounds.

The SD 1 is introduced. It is Rover's first five door hatchback. It is launched with the well-known V8 engine. At first, it is perceived as a simple technique - compared to the P6 it is perceived as a step backwards.
The P6 will be built for the last time in winter. In total it was built 324,069 times. A great success for Rover.
In June, the one millionth Land Rover goes off the production line. Every week, 1,300 cars are built, 80 percent of which are exported.


The difficult years after British Leyland

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The years of cooperation with Honda

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The years under BMW

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The last years under Phoenix

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