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47 years of the SD1
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Rover's Milestone Summary.
  • The first appearance of the "ROVER" name was upon a tricycle produced in 1884.
    The Rover Safety bicycle was launched in 1885. It was the first rear-wheel drive cycle and pioneered the future of cycle design – to this day.
  • In 1888 Starley started work on an electric car! The Autocar of 1903 hailed it as the "first motor machine made in Coventry.
  • The first 8hp Rover prototype was completed on July the 1st, 1904.
  • In 1907 a 20hp Rover, the company's first 4 cylinder design, won the Isle of Man TT race.
  • The first 4 wheel braked car was a 1923 3-litre Rover, of which only three were made.
  • The helmeted Viking logo was adopted in the 1920's; the first Rover to wear the Viking Head mascot was a 2.0 litre saloon of 1930.
  • One of these, a Light Six, raced against (and beat) the Blue Train through France in January 1930. Actually a bit of a stunt by Dudley Noble, who had to drive virtually non-stop from Calais to the Riviera. he was, however, safe in the knowledge that, due to it's frequent stops and detours, the train only averaged around 40 mph. However the Daily Express of the day feted Noble and his crew, who became celebrities.
  • During the second world war, Rover produced aircraft parts and, further, had a hand in the development of Sir Frank Whittle's jet engine. It was no surprise, therefore, that Rovers Jet1 gas turbine car saw the light of day. In 1952 this car set a land speed record for gas turbine engined cars at 152.9 mph.
  • The Rover P4 of the 1950's became the favourite mode of transport for Doctors, Bank managers and other professionals. The description of a long journey by a Sports Car Illustrated hack as being "like a trip down to Aunties" has stuck. To this day these cars are often refered to as a Rover "Auntie".
  • In March 1961 H.M. The Queen Mother took delivery of a Rover 3 Litre P5 in Dark Green with Silver Grey interior.
  • Graham Hill and Richie Ginther competed at Le Mans in the gas turbine Rover, finishing eighth. It competed again in 1965 with Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart and finished 10th.
  • The Rover 2000 P6 was launched in 1963. It was the first production car fitted with disc brakes, and won the Car of the Year award.
  • In 1977 the SD1 won the award and the TT race – both the second time for the Company.
  • The Rover 200 launched, in collaboration with Honda, in June 1984.
  • The Rover 800 launched, (project XX) as another collaborative car with Honda. Car of the Year contender in 1986.
  • 1.4 litre Rover Metro establishes 21 land speed records for 1100 to 1500 c.c class.
  • September 1990, and the Rover 220 Coupe Turbo sets records for 2.0 litre class, at 155.3 mph.
  • 1993 and the 600 series is introduced. A popular car with great contemporary design, rapidly dropped by BMW upon it's acquisition of Rover in the following year. Speculation would suggest that this was because of it's close similarity with the 3 Series BMW and hearty competition with same.
  • Second Rover 200 series launched in 1995, heralding a return to British design.
  • Rover 75 now the company's flagship, and well received by the press and public alike.
  • Many International Awards follow in the coming years.
    Rover 25 of October 1999 becomes the best selling car in the UK by April 2000.
  • Rover 45 is effectively the first new car of 21st Century.
  • Thursday July 10th 2003, and the 5,000,000th Rover (a 75 saloon) rolls of the production line during a visit by The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
  • 2004 and Rover celebrates 100 years of manufacture, with stable-mate MG celebrating 80 years of production.
With thanks to Ian Galbraith for material

With thanks to Mr Pickard for sending Rover material

End of Production
Friday 15th April 2005. This was a very sad day indeed for all Rover enthusiasts. The end of MG-Rover and production at the Longbridge factory, when it came, was both swift and mired in controversy. My own thoughts on the day were those of disbelief, then of frustration and finally of deep sadness. I thought the SIAC/MG-Rover merger was more or less a done deal. Unfortunately my optimism about the MG-Rover brand was not shared by the Chinese and the gates at Longbridge are now closed – probably for good.
Over the years I’ve driven most ‘modern’ Rover cars including the Metro, 200, 25, 45, 800 and 75. I think only the Rover 600 has escaped me. I can’t say that any of them were particularly bad cars. Indeed, quite the opposite. They were all a driving pleasure and contemporary road reports were usually very positive of the Rover (and later) MG-Rover Crown brand too. Despite what many people think, constant revisions and updates kept the dynamics and equipment levels of the cars comparable with the competition, although I concede that the looks and styling of some models aged very quickly. However, the 75 (to my mind, the Jewel in the MG-Rover Crown) was a fantastic car that should have been exported to the rest of the world in huge volumes right from the start.
Unfortunately, BMW had other ideas and Rover had neither the resources nor the marketing skills to achieve this task before the money ran out. I’ve read that SIAC now own the intellectual rights to the 75 – this car may yet be back in the showrooms.
Not to let the demise of Rover go down without a fight, a large convoy of British Classic cars was assembled to support the Rover factory workers gathered at ‘Q’ gate.
Lee Allen, (SD1 Club Camping coordinator) with his 2600 met up at the Heritage Centre at Gaydon on 17th April 2005 with other classic cars to drive up to the Longbridge factory in South West Birmingham where they were greeted by many of the Rover staff.
I quote ….“As the crowd parted, they were applauding and cheering, at first I thought this was fantastic, that was until I saw some of the Longbridge workers faces…..they were cheering and crying at the same time….A picture that will stay with me forever” Lee Allen.
The convoy had been well reported in the press, BBC news and Classic Car Weekly both covering the event.
I quote…..“In an unprecedented show of support for the ailing car company, an estimated 600 MGs and Rovers converged on Longbridge last week – and the enthusiastic owners were greeted by the applause of several hundred newly redundant Longbridge workers and their famillies. The classic car scene was heavily represented, an MG TA led the convoy, which started at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire and travelled up the M40 to Longbridge. Many classic MGs and Rovers came along, as well as a large number of other Longbridge cars, ranging from a humble Austin Seven through to a selection of MGBs, Austin-Healeys and several Rover P6s.” News editor Keith Adams, Classic Car Weekly, April 28th 2005.

On behalf of the Rover SD1 Club, we wish all the MG-Rover workforce all the best for the future, let’s hope that they can find work soon. Also to the suppliers to MG-Rover, they too face uncertainty.

Rover SD1 Club 2005

Thanks to Keith Adams and Lee Allen for
photo material.

Centenary Mugs

The Club is commemorating the 100th anniversary of ROVER car production with this range of mugs, available in a unlimited, although still specially commissioned range. Why not have one of each of the two styles available, one for the display shelf, and one to use every day? One style is in bone china, the other in earthenware.

Price is £4.50 each. This price includes UK mainland shipping. Overseas customers should please enquire for price.

Rover's Milestone Summary - top of page

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