Founded in 1877 in a partnership between John
Kemp Starley and William Sutton, the Coventry
based bicycle company would be at the forefront
of modern bicycle design. Car manufacture would
commence in 1904 with a range of single and twin
cylinder sleeve-valve engines, one of their cars
even taking out the 1907 Tourist Trophy race.
The company would supply motorcycles to both
the British and the Russian Armies during World
War 1, along with Maudslay trucks and Sunbeam
cars to government orders.
Models released after
the war were much better sellers than the pre-war
sleeve-valve models, and from the 1920’s
the company expanded manufacturing a wide range
of cars, although it was not until the 1930’s
until the company managed to turn a healthy profit,
under the management of Spencer Wilks. The Rover’s
became renowned for their quality, and by the
World War 2 the company had garnered an enviable
reputation among the upper middle class. The
1948 P3 was the first all new iteration to follow
the war, it sharing its new inlet-over-exhaust
engine with the other newcomer, the Land Rover.
The P4 would follow in 1949, featuring a beautiful
new saloon body and paving the way for a long
line of high class and beautifully made iterations,
including the P5 of 1959. Such were the profits
being made from the venerable Land Rover that
the company was able to experiment with such
things as gas turbine power, one even competing
at Le-Mans. The 1963 P6 2000 set the benchmark
for executive style transportation, featuring
all-round disc brakes
and independent suspension.
Rover would become part of the troubled British
Leyland conglomerate in the 1970’s, the
halcyon days now reserved for the history books.