Rover – Wikicars

14 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Rover – Wikicars

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Rover was a British automobile manufacturer and later a marque based at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham. In recent years it was part of the MG Rover Group. However, in April 2005, production stopped when the company became insolvent. In July 2005 the Nanjing Automobile Group acquired the assets, with plans to resume production in China, and possibly also at Longbridge, in 2006.

On September 18, 2006 Ford bought the rights to the Rover name from BMW for approximately £6 million. [1] Ford had acquired an option of first refusal to buy the Rover brand as a result of its purchase of Land Rover from BMW in 2000.


The first Rover was a tricycle manufactured by Starley Sutton Co of Coventry, England in 1883. The company was founded by John Kemp Starley and William Sutton in 1878. Starley had formerly worked with his uncle James Starley (father of the cycle trade) who began in manufacturing sewing machines and switched to bicycles in 1869.

In the early 1880s the cycles available were the relatively dangerous penny-farthings and high-wheel tricycles.

J. K. Starley made history in 1885 by producing the Rover Safety Bicycle – a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it more stable than the previous high wheeled designs. Cycling Magazine said the Rover had ‘set the pattern to the world’ and the phrase was used in their advertising for many years. Starley’s Rover is usually described by historians as the first recognisably modern bicycle.

In 1888 Starley made an electric car, but it never was put into production.

In 1889 the company became J. K. Starley Co. Ltd and in the late 1890s, the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. Three years after Starley’s death in 1901, the Rover company began producing automobiles with the two-seater Rover Eight to the designs of Edmund Lewis who came from Daimler. During the First World War they made motorcycles, lorries to Maudsley designs and not having a suitable one of their own, cars to a Sunbeam design.

Bicycle and motorcycle production continued until the Great Depression forced the end of production in 1925. The business was not very successful during the 1920s and did not pay a dividend from 1923 until the mid 1930s. In 1929 when there was a change of management with Spencer Wilks coming in from Hillman as general manager. He set about reorganising the company and moving it up market to cater for people who wanted something superior to Fords and Austins.

He was joined by his brother Maurice. who had also been at Hillman, as chief engineer in 1930. Spencer Wilks stayed with the company until 1962 and his brother until 1963.

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