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Old 28th October 2015, 16:35   #1
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Default Rover Company - A brief history

In keeping with my interest in how car manufacturers & brands evolved over the ages, I'd like to present a very interesting yet brief history (partly because I'm yet to understand it fully) of a very little known yet famous automobile manufacturing group - Rover.

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Established as Starley & Sutton Co. of Coverntry in 1878 by John Kemp Starley & William Sutton, the company initially made only tricycles & bicycles for about 25 years although they did produce numerous concepts including an electric car in 1888 produced by J.K Starley. In 1904, 3 years after being bought over by an entreprenuer H.J Lawson, the company began to make cars trading under the name of Rover. Their initial cars models were identified by numbers with the first one being Rover 8 & subsequently 6, 9, 12, 16, 20 & so on (not in chronological order). The Rover Company also had a motorcycle division under which they built bikes running a 500 cc 3.5 hp engine mostly for military reasons.

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From here on the company met with varying degrees of success, the period from 1920's till the 1940's being particularly harsh due to war & unstable economy. They did survive mostly on supplying vehicles for the war, engine development and collaborating with Rolls-Royce on turbine engine reseach & production.

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The 1950's was an interesting time for Rover, this was when the Land Rover utility vehicle went on sale and was highly successful. Known only for sedans/saloons the company tasted success with Land Rover mostly for military reasons. They subsequently also developed the Range Rover in 1970 which aimed to be a more luxurious, practical car for the everyday buyer yet with the offroading abilities of Land Rover.

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Mergers : This is where it gets interesting & highly complex, in 1967 Rover merged with Leyland Motor Corporation (which owned Triumph automobiles). Within less than a year LMC merged with British Motor holdings to become British Leyland which in turn was partially nationalised 8 years later. The merged entity also got into a collaboration with Honda to manufacture Rover-badged models in 1970's.

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Austin Rover Group : Under BMC the group in 1981 was renamed Austin Rover Group as a form of restructuring into a leaner organization & consisted of Triumph, Morris, Austin and Rover among others. in 1984 Morris & Triumph were shut down and the main focus remained Austin & Rover.

Rover Group plc : in 1986 this already complicated equation became a bit more complex with the entity renamed to Rover Group consisting of Austin, Rover, Mini, & MG Auto. Just 2 years later the whole group was purchased by British Aerospace and the name was changed to Rover Group Holdings Limited.

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BMW : The RGHL was bought over by BMW in 1994 for 800 million pounds, renamed to BMW Holdings Limited. Honda which had 20% stake thus far, exited completely during this time.

As they stand now : Due to mounting losses and poor demand, the brand of Land Rover was sold to Ford by BMW in 2000, however BMW continued to retain Mini as a brand since. Ford which owned Jaguar since 1989 decided to merge Jaguar & Land Rover in JLR which was subsequently purchased by India's Tata Motors.

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Thus ends one of the longest, most complex stories of automobile manufacturers collaborations, mergers & acquisition which saw the entity of Rover Motors transform from one of the original innovators/manufacturers of cars to merely a sub-brand far removed from all traces of its past.

Last edited by dark.knight : 28th October 2015 at 16:39. Reason: Typos
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Old 28th October 2015, 18:27   #2
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Default re: Rover Company - A brief history

Two of Rover's cars ended up in India. Both were very unsuccessful.

The Rover SD1 came in as the Standard 2000. Unfortunately, Standard Motors chose not to bring in the engines from Rover, but decided to rework the ancient Standard Vanguard's 2 litre unit. The resulting car was a complete disaster. We could not wrap our head around a wheezy, underpowered car that only looked like it was going 100mph and gave 4-6kmpl mileage.

The Austin Montego (Austin marque at that time was owned by the Rover Group) was brought in by Sipani Automobiles. Both sedan and estate versions were available. An unknown brand heritage, high price tag (for the time) and sagging reputation of Sipani ensured poor sales. This car also inherited the reliability niggles of its British original.

The Montego
Rover Company - A brief history-rover_montego.jpg

The SD1
Rover Company - A brief history-rover_sd1.jpg

Other iconic Rover cars:

Rover Company - A brief history-rover_p5b_3.5litre.jpg

Range Rover (later spun off into a separate company)
Rover Company - A brief history-rover_rangerover.jpg

Austin/Rover Metro
Rover Company - A brief history-rover_metro.jpg

Rover 75 - the last Rover
Rover Company - A brief history-rover_75.jpg

All pictures courtesy Wikipedia, except the Range Rover, which is courtesy http://forums.roversnorth.com/

Last edited by KiloAlpha : 28th October 2015 at 18:46. Reason: Typo, URL issue in credit
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Old 30th October 2015, 12:45   #3
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Default Re: Rover Company - A brief history

Originally Posted by KiloAlpha View Post
Two of Rover's cars ended up in India. Both were very unsuccessful.
And both were very special cars, in particular the Montego. It was F-A-S-T for a diesel of that time and a very sorted vehicle overall. Sipani's name & dubious business tactics killed the car. Hurts to see the Montego like this:

Source Thread (10-12 Brand new Rover Montego 2.0 DLX for sale. Price 3.95 lakhs. Make : 1994)

The Standard 2000 is still a head-turner. Unfortunate that it got that lame engine & gearbox. If only they'd realised the importance of an engine as Hindustan Motors did - remember the creamy 1.8L Isuzu petrol?

Related Thread (The story of the Standard 2000. 1985-1988)
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Old 30th October 2015, 13:21   #4
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Default Re: Rover Company - A brief history

And here is one of the station wagon specimens that's lying abandoned in HP.

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Old 30th October 2015, 13:31   #5
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Default Re: Rover Company - A brief history

I have been doing a marathon of TG from season 1 on-wards ever since the fracas, and if you connect the segments, its more or less a documentary of the demise.
May: "Rover is over. And its your(JC) fault!"
The Queen's P5, Princess DI's Landy, the SD1 challenge run by the Hammond, the tribute to the rover V8's death. Some nice cars there.

PS: The 2000 cost 2L plus??
I used to see one in Gautam nagar in delhi, late 90's or some such. Wow! That would equate to spending about a 40-50L nowadays, wouldnt it?
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