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From sewing machines to bicycles to motorcycles and eventually to quality motor cars, the Rover marque has an interesting background. The first modern ‘safety bicycle’, with two equal-sized wheels and chain drive, was invented by JK Starley in 1885. It bore the insignia ‘Rover’, as he foresaw that personal transport would enable individuals to freely ‘rove’ around the country.


His company became the Rover Cycle Company Limited in 1896 and eventually dropped the word Cycle.

In 1902 the company produced a motorcycle and a year later began to develop automobiles, the first one introduced in 1904 – with the world’s first backbone chassis.

During First World War, the company concentrated on war production. By 1920 they had purchased a former munitions factory and produced an 8HP vehicle. The Viking mascot was introduced, as ‘the roving spirit is in their blood'.

During the Second World War Rover worked on Frank Whittle’s Jet engine - and developed the modern straight-through design - then handed this over to Rolls Royce to concentrate on producing tank engines.

After the war the legendary Land-Rover was introduced in 1948 and subsequently the P4 75 that was very modern for its day. The P4 ‘Auntie’, with various upgrades, stayed in production until 1964.

In 1950 Rover built the world’s first gas-turbine powered car based on this vehicle.

The impressive P5 3-litre was launched in 1958 and soon became known as the poor man’s Rolls-Royce. In fact they were used extensively by the British Cabinet and even the Queen and Queen Mother owned them.

In 1963 the revolutionary P6 was introduced, with ahead-of-its-time engineering and looks - voted World Car of the Year in 1964.

In the mid 1960's Rover bought the rights to an obsolete Buick V8 engine and refined this extensively into the magnificent Rover V8 - voted Engine of the Century by the Association of Automotive Engineers. This engine went into the P5 and P6 - and powered the world’s first SUV: the Range Rover that was launched in 1970.

The stylish Rover SD1 was launched (and voted Car of the Year) in 1976.