Albion Motors

Albion Motors

Albion Motors
Industry Automotive industry
Fate acquired by Leyland Motors
Predecessor Albion Motor Car Company
Successor Leyland Motors (1951)
Leyland DAF (1987-1993)
American Axle & Manufacturing (1997)
Founded 1899
Founder Thomas Blackwood Murray, Norman Osborne Fulton,

John Francis Henderson.

Defunct marque defunct 1980
Headquarters Glasgow, Scotland
Number of locations
Scotstoun, Bathgate
Products Commercial vehiclecomponents

albionmotors-1Albion Motors radiator badge

1901-albion-a2-bs-83001901 Albion A2 BS 83001902-albionAlbion 1902

1904-albion-16hp-wagonetteAlbion 16HP Wagonette 19041911-workers-at-albion-motors-in-1911Workers at Albion Motors in 1911albion-970

ALBION 970 Front of an earlier model

1949-albion-venturerAlbion Venturer 1949

heavy-duty-albion-cx24-recovery-truckHeavy-duty Albion CX24 recovery truck

1963-albion-reiver-1963Albion Reiver 1963

albion-lorriesAlbion Commercial Vehicles at Biggar Vintage Rally, August 20081919-albion-08-jacatra


1922 Albion Harvey Model 20 15-seater bus (12 passengers in the rear, 2 passengers in front, plus driver) C20 ES 51501924-albion-sb1924 Albion SB1927-albion-flatbed1927 Albion Flatbed1928-albion

1929-albion-3-21929 Albion Shell-mex1934-albion-kl1271934 Albion KL1271935-40-albion-model-126-1 1935-40-albion-model-126-159451935-40 Albion model 126 159451935-40-albion-model-126-15947 1935-40-albion-model-126-15948Albion model 1261936-albion-az1-bus-567-rogerson-mobile-home1936 Albion AZ1 BUS 567 Rogerson Mobile Home1937-albion-ks127-tippers-bell-brothers-newburgh-a1937 Albion KS127 tippers Bell Brothers, Newburgh1937-albion-ks127-tippers-bell-brothers-newburgh1937 Albion KS127 tippers Bell Brothers, Newburgh1938-albion-wd-ev1 1938-albion-2 1938-albion-by1-6x6 1938-albion-cx27-16607

1938 Albion cx27 166071938-albion-cx27 1938-albion-ft3-flat-bed1938 Albion FT3 Flat Bed1938-albion-gg 1939-albion-cx27-172681939 Albion cx27 17268 1939-cx27-16608

1943-albion-%d1%81%d1%85-22s-6x6 1944-albion-wd-cx22s-hat-engine-9085cc-6-cylinder 1945-albion-ft-15n-6x6 1946-albion-az5-n-yvs 1947-albion-az5n-after-refurb-sx-6215-mobile-shop-baf1947 Albion AZ5N After Refurb SX 6215 Mobile shop BAF 1947-albion-az5n-sx-6215

1948-52-albion-clydesdale-ft102s-caltex 1948-52-albion-clydesdale-ft102s-kerkrade-nl 1948-52-albion-clydesdale-ft102s1948-52 Albion Clydesdale FT102S

Albion Automotive of Scotstoun, Glasgow is a former Scottish automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer. It is currently involved in the manufacture and supply of Automotive component systems.

From WW1 to the 1950s, Albion had rivalled Foden for the reliability and ruggedness of their trucks. Albion was incorporated into Leyland Motors in 1951, and merely became a badge for their smaller lines. The badge was dropped by British Leyland in 1980.

Today the company is a subsidiary of American Axle & Manufacturing, and manufactures axles, driveline systems, chassis systems, crankshafts and chassis components. It is Scotland’s best known name in the motor industry. Albions were renowned for their slogan “Sure as the Sunrise”.


Originally known as Albion Motor Car Company Ltd, the company was founded in 1899 by Thomas Blackwood Murray and Norman Osborne Fulton (both of whom had previously been involved in Arrol-Johnston) they were joined a couple of years later by John F Henderson who provided additional capital. The factory was originally on the first floor of a building in Finnieston Street, Glasgow and had only seven employees. In 1903 the company moved to new premises in Scotstoun.

The Albion Motor Car Company Ltd was renamed Albion Motors in 1930.

In 1951, Leyland Motors took over. After the British Leyland Motor Corporation was founded in 1968, production continued with the Albion Chieftain, Clydesdale & Reiver trucks and the Albion Viking bus models. Production of these was then moved to the Leyland plant at Bathgate in 1980. In 1969, the company took over the neighbouring Coventry Ordnance Works on South Street, which it continues to operate from.

Leyland dropped the Albion name when the company name was changed to Leyland (Glasgow) and later to Leyland-DAF from 1987 when it became a subsidiary of that Dutch concern.

A management buy-out in 1993 brought Albion Automotive as it was thenceforth known back into Scottish ownership. A new owner, the American Axle & Manufacturing Company (AAM) of Detroit, Michigan, took over Albion in 1998.

Passenger car manufacturing

In 1900 they built their first motor car, a rustic-looking dogcart made of varnished wood and powered by a flat-twin 8hp engine with gear-change by “Patent Combination Clutches” and solid tyres.

In 1903 Albion introduced a 3115 cc 16 hp vertical-twin, followed in 1906 by a 24 hp four. One of the specialities the company offered was solid-tired shooting-brakes. The last private Albions were powered by a 15 hp monobloc four of 2492 cc.

Passenger car production ceased in 1915 but in 1920 the company announced that estate cars were available again based on a small bus chassis, it is not known if any were actually made.

Car models

  • Albion 8 (1900–1904) 2080 cc twin-cylinder
  • Albion 12 (1900–1906) 2659 cc twin-cylinder
  • Albion 16 (1905–1913) 3141 cc twin-cylinder
  • Albion 24/30 (1906–1912) 3164 cc 4-cylinder
  • Albion 15 (1912–1915) 2492 cc 4-cylinder

Commercial vehicle production

Although the manufacture of motor cars was the main industry in the first ten years of its existence, it was decided in 1909 to concentrate on the production of commercial vehicles. During World War 1 they built for the War Office large quantities of 3 ton trucks powered by a 32 hp engine using chain drive to the rear wheels. After the war many of these were converted for use as charabancs.

Trucks and buses (single and double deckers) were manufactured in the Scotstoun works until 1980 (1972 for complete vehicles). The buses were exported to Asia, East Africa, Australia, India and South Africa. Almost all Albion buses were given names beginning with “V”, these models being the Victor, Valiant, Viking, Valkyrie, and Venturer.

1949-albion-1-3 1949-albion-clydesdale-ft102s 1949-albion-ft103n-clansman-6x4-tanker-htw-876-t 1950-albion-clansman-ft103n 1950-albion-clansman 1950-albion-ft103n-clansman-6x4-machinery-55-bd-02 1951-albion-ft37l-chieftan-flatbed-engine-4000cc-registration-ohu-948 1951-albion-ft103n-clansman-6x4-machinery-ds-6538-2 1951-albion 1952-albion-ft103 1953-albion-kd23 1953-albion-peters-ice-cream 1953-albion-wd-hd-23s 1954-albion-chieftain-ft37ht 1954-albion-chieftain 1954-albion-wd-hd-23n-fv-11102-6x6 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-3-1 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-4 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-16868 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-shell 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-3-16867 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c-3t 1957-61-albion-caledonian-24c5-17013 1960-61-albion-caledonian-24c-5-1 1960-61-albion-caledonian-24c-5-17014 1960-61-albion-caledonian-24c5-17015 1960-61-albion-caledonian-24c5-17016 1961-albion-claymore 1963-albion-reiver-1963 1965-albion-lowlander-lr7-new-to-western-smt-preserved-in-the-colours-of-second-owner-highland-omnibuses-ltd 1966-albion-chieftain-grh 1966-albion-reiver-re25a 1966-albion-super-reiver-6-wheeler-flatbed-registered-fea-926-d 1967-albion-reiver 1968-albion-wpx135f 1968-73-albion-2-john-biesty 1969-albion-p1010043-carmichael-fire-water-tender 1970-albion-leyland-clydsdale-tractor-engine-6070cc-registered-lsx-906-h 1971-albion-super-reiver 1972-albion-reiver-concrete-mixer-registration-ffd-332

Lorry models

  • CX22S Heavy artillery tractor.
  • WD66N (only 9 built).
  • WD.CX24 Tank transporter
  • Chieftain (1948)
  • Clansman
  • Claymore (1954-1966)
  • Clydesdale
  • Reiver

Albion also made the Claymore with the 4 speed gearbox,The Reiver was a six wheeler. The Chieftain had a 6 speed gearbox, 6th being an overdrive gear, with a worm and wheel rear axle.

Bus production

The earliest buses were built on the A10 truck chassis with two being delivered to West Bromwich in 1914. Newcastle upon Tyne also took double deckers around this time, but Albion did not produce a purpose-built double deck chassis until 1931.

In 1923 the first dedicated bus chassis was announced derived from the one used on the 25 cwt truck but with better springing. Bodies seating from 12 to 23 passengers were available. A lower frame chassis, the Model 26, with 30/60 hp engine and wheelbases from 135 inches (3,400 mm) to 192 inches (4,900 mm) joined the range in 1925. All the early vehicles had been normal control, with the engine in front of the driver but in 1927 the first forward control with the engine alongside the driver was announced as the Viking allowing 32 seats to be fitted. Diesel engines, initially from Gardner, were available from 1933. The first double deck design was the Venturer of 1932 with up to 51 seats. The CX version of the chassis was launched in 1937 and on these the engine and gearbox were mounted together rather than joined by a separate drive shaft. Albion’s own range of diesel engines was also made available.

add-albion albion-1 albion-2 albion-az2-az8 albion-cx27 albion-dw1-dw3 albion-model-b-119-with-holland-coachcraft-body albion-model-b119-with-holland-coachcraft-body-a albion-model-b119-with-holland-coachcraft-body-b albion-wd-cx33 albion-1 albion-2-2 albion-2 albion-3 albion-04-5b-5d albion-4-2 albion-4a322a albion-5-2 albion-5 albion-5resd9io0 albion-6-wm-forrest-paisley albion-6 albion-6x4-with-dropside-tipper-body albion-7 albion-8-sheffield albion-8 albion-8w albion-8x4 albion-9 albion-9a albion-9b albion-9d

After World War 2 the range was progressively modernised and underfloor engined models were introduced with two prototypes in 1951 and production models from 1955 with the Nimbus.

With the Leyland take over the range was cut back. The last Albion double decker was the 1961 Lowlander and that was marketed in England as a Leyland, and the last design of all was the Viking, re-using an old name.

Bus models
  • Model 24 (1923–1924) First purpose built Albion bus chassis
  • Viking 24 (1924–1932) Various wheelbases from 10 feet 9 inches (3.28 m) to 16 feet 3 inches (4.95 m) Front wheel brakes from 1927. Six cylinder engines available in Viking Sixes.
  • Valkyrie (1930–1938) Forward control. 5 litre engine, 6.1 litre from 1933, 7.8 litre optional from 1935. Mainly sold as coaches.
  • Valiant (1931–1936) Mainly sold to the coach market.
  • Victor (1930–1939) Normal or forward control. 20 or 24 seater.
  • Venturer (1932–1939) Albions first double decker. 51, later 55 seats. 3 axle version, the Valorous made in 1932, only one produced.
  • Valkyrie CX (1937–1950) Engine and gearbox in-unit.
  • Venturer CX (1937–1951) Double decker.
  • Victor FT (1947–1959) Lightweight single decker
  • Valiant CX (1948–1951) Mostly sold to coach operators.
  • Viking CX (1948–1952) Mainly sold to the export market.
  • KP71NW (1951) Underfloor engined chassis with horizontally-opposed eight cylinder engine; 2 built.
  • Nimbus (1955–1963) Underfloor engine.
  • Aberdonian (1957–1960) Underfloor engine.
  • Royal Scot (1959) 15.2 litre underfloor engined 6×4 dirt-road bus. 20 built for South African Railways.
  • Victor VT (1959–1966) Front engined, derived from Chieftain truck chassis.
  • Clydesdale (1959–1978) Export model built on truck chassis.
  • Talisman TA (1959) 9.8 litre front engined 6×4 dirt-road bus. 5 built for Rhodesian Railways.
  • Lowlander (1961–1966) Double decker. 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) wheelbase. LR7 had air rear suspension.
  • Viking VK (1963-1984?) Mainly exported. Leyland O.370 O:400, O:401 engines. VK 41,55 were front engined; VK43,45,49,57,67 models were rear engined, Australian market had optional AEC AV505 engines.
  • Valiant VL (1967–72) Similar to rear-engined Vikings but with tropical cooling unit as on VK45 and axles from Clydesdale.

Automotive components production

A complete change of profile went on in 1980. Since then, only automotive components, such as rear axles, have been produced.

albion-9e albion-9f albion-9g albion-30 albion-053 albion-055 albion-127-sibley-b%26w albion-246eukc albion-301 albion-698 albion-4550-bc21-c12d albion-ad2 albion-adam albion-albatros-trio-1 albion-albatros-trio-2-nl albion-albatros albion-am-463-560 albion-am-463-ambulance-raf albion-art10-04 albion-autodrome albion-az9 albion-bastonblitz-001 albion-cameronian-ca81 albion-car-plant albion-ch-clreca-16975 albion-chclreca16977 albion-chieftain-kal albion-chieftains albion-cx3-with-kp-engine-1 albion-denmark albion-edinburgh-parcels-transport albion-factory albion-frans-plat albion-ft23 albion-ijnbgtr78 albion-jiioklhytfr675 albion-kd23-in-south-africa albion-ks126 albion-ld1 albion-linesman albion-mbb899-peter-jennings albion-nimbus-jnp-590c albion-race-transporter albion-reg-grh albion-reg-swf-707 albion-s-6x4 albion-unknown albion-veewagen-nl albion-victor-vt19n albion albion-add albion-adds albion-badged-atlantean albion-lorad albionmotors-1 bill-miller-creamery-albion bond-gate brs66-002 ch1 coaltruck d-west eda138 fed-breweries flour-milling-024 flour-milling-027 flour-milling-134 flour-milling-220 hda3 houston-bros-1 jnm03 kirkpatricks-1 loadedandready m-hayton-11 m-thom-1 maitland-3 mcmurdo-21 montgomery-9 nag-328-4 nb-albion ncb-1 ncb-4 oag-960-h pa vs01818 wilkies yard

Firearms production

During World War II, Albion Motors manufactured


Enfield No 2 Mk I* revolvers to aid the war effort. By 1945, 24,000 Enfield No 2 Mk I* revolvers were produced by Albion (and subsequently, Coventry Gauge & Tool Co.)

This is everything I could find about ALBION, a fascinational and remarkable Scottish Truck and other Vehicle making Cooperation on the World Wide Web. Enjoy the pictures with me, and when you have pictures or info that can make this blog more interesting I will appreciate this. Thanks and enjoy.



Rover logo

Rover Company

The Rover Company Limited
Industry Automotive industry
Motorcycle industry (until 1925)
Bicycle industry (until 1925)
Fate Merged into Leyland Motors(1967)
Assets separated as Land Rover (1978)
Rover brand defunct (2005)
Successor SAIC MG Motor
TATA Land Rover
Founded 1878
Founder John Kemp Starley &
William Sutton
Defunct 2005
Headquarters England:
Coventry, West Midlands
Solihull, West Midlands
Gaydon, West Midlands
Longbridge, West Midlands
Key people
Spencer & Maurice Wilks
(Management & Engineering,
John Towers
Products Rover Automobiles
Motorcycles (until 1925)
Bicycles (until 1925)
Land Rover All terrain vehicles
Subsidiaries Alvis Cars (1965–67)

Rover is a former British car manufacturing company founded as Starley & Sutton Co. of Coventry in 1878. It is the direct ancestor of the present day Land Rover company, which is a subsidiary of Jaguar Land Rover, in turn owned by the Tata Group.

The company traded as Rover, manufacturing cars between 1904 and 1967, when it was sold to Leyland Motor Corporation, becoming the Rover marque. The Rover marque was used on cars produced by British Leyland (BL), who separated the assets of the original Rover Company as Land Rover in 1978 whilst the Rover trademark continued to be used on vehicles produced by its successor companies – the Austin Rover Group(1982–1986), the Rover Group (1986–2000), and then finally MG Rover (2000–2005). Following MG Rover’s collapse in 2005, the Rover marque became dormant, and was subsequently sold to Ford, by now the owners of Land Rover, a move which effectively reunited the Rover trademark with the original company.

After developing the template for the modern bicycle with its Rover Safety Bicycle of 1885, the company moved into the automotive industry. It started building motorcycles and Rover cars, using their established marque with the iconic Viking Longship, from 1904 onwards. Land Rover vehicles were added from 1948 onwards, with all production moving to the Solihull plant after World War II.

The Polish word now most commonly used for bicyclerower originates from Rover bicycles which had both wheels of the same size (previous models usually had one bigger, one smaller – see Penny-farthing, and were called in Polish bicykl, from English bicycle).


Before cars

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 previously worked with his uncle, James Starley (father of the cycle trade), who began by manufacturing sewing machines and switched to bicycles in 1869.

Advert for J K Starley Rover bicycle

 J. K. Starley & Co. Ltd ‘Rover’ bicycle advertisement

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-wheel designs. Cycling Magazine said the Rover had “set the pattern to the world”; the phrase was used in their advertising for many years. Starley’s Rover is usually described by historians as the first recognisably modern bicycle.

The words for “bicycle” in Polish (Rower) and Belarusian (Rovar, Ро́вар) are derived from the name of the company. The word ровер is also used in many parts of Western Ukraine.

In 1889, the company became J.K. Starley & Co. Ltd., and in the late 1890s, the Rover Cycle Company Ltd.

Rover motorcycles

Main article: Rover (motorcycles)

In 1899 John Starley imported some of the early Peugeot motorcycles from France in for experimental development. His first project was to fit an engine to one of his Rover bicycles. Starley died early in October 1901 aged 46 and the business was taken over by entrepreneur H. J. Lawson.

1912 Rover 1912 3-speed 1

 1912 Rover 3-speed

The company developed and produced the Rover Imperial motorcycle in November 1902. This was a 3.5 hp diamond-framed motorcycle with the engine in the centre and ‘springer’ front forks which was ahead of its time. This first Rover motorcycle had innovative features such as a spray carburettor, bottom-bracket engine and mechanically operated valves. With a strong frame with double front down tubes and a good quality finish, over a thousand Rover motorcycles were sold in 1904. The following year, however, Rover stopped motorcycle production to concentrate on their ‘safety bicycle’ but in 1910 designer John Greenwood was commissioned to develop a new 3.5 hp 500 cc engine with spring-loaded tappets, a Bosch magneto and an innovative inverted tooth drive chain. It had a Brown and Barlow carburettor and Druid spring forks. This new model was launched at the 1910 Olympia show and over 500 were sold.

In 1913 a ‘TT’ model was launched with a shorter wheelbase and sports handlebars. The ‘works team’ of Dudley Noble and Chris Newsome had some success and won the works team award.

1920 Rover 500cc

 1920 Rover 500 cc

Rover supplied 499 cc single cylinder motorcycles to the Russian Army during the First World War. The company began to focus on car production at the end of the war, but Rover still produced motorcycles with 248 cc and 348 cc Rover overhead valve engines and with J.A.P. engines, including a 676 cc V-twin. In 1924 Rover introduced a new lightweight 250cc motorcycle with unit construction of engine and gearbox. This had lights front and rear as well as a new design of internal expanding brakes.

Poor sales of their motorcycles caused Rover to end motorcycle production and concentrate solely on the production of motor cars. Between 1903 and 1924 Rover had produced more than 10,000 motorcycles.

Early Rover cars

1905 Rover E-698

 Rover, 1905.
1910 Rover Six

 The Rover Six in a 1910 advertisement—£155.
1904 Rover 8HP

 Rover 8HP Two-seater from 1904 inLondon to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2010
1926 Rover Tourer 1926

 Rover Tourer, 1926.
1936 Rover 10

 1936 Rover 10.

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

Three years after Starley’s death in 1901, and H. J. Lawson’s subsequent takeover, the Rover company began producing automobiles with the two-seater Rover Eight to the designs of Edmund Lewis, who came from Lawson’s Daimler. Lewis left the company to join Deasy in late 1905. He was eventually replaced by Owen Clegg, who joined from Wolseley in 1910 and set about reforming the product range. Short-lived experiments with sleeve valve engines were abandoned, and the 12hp model was introduced in 1912. This car was so successful that all other cars were dropped, and for a while, Rover pursued a “one model” policy. Clegg left to join the French company Darracq in 1912.

During the First World War, they made motorcycles, lorries to Maudslay designs, and, not having a suitable one of their own, cars to a Sunbeam design.

Restructure and re-organization

The business was not very successful during the 1920s and did not pay a dividend from 1923 until the mid-1930s. In December 1928 the chairman of Rover advised shareholders that the accumulation of the substantial losses of the 1923–1928 years together with the costs of that year’s reorganisation must be recognised by a reduction of 60 per cent in the value of capital of the company.

During 1928 Frank Searle was appointed managing director to supervise recovery. Searle was by training a locomotive engineer with motor industry experience at Daimler and, most recently, had been managing director of Imperial Airways. On his recommendation Spencer Wilks was brought in from Hillman as general manager and appointed to the board in 1929. That year, Searle split Midland Light Car Bodies from Rover in an effort to save money and instructed Robert Boyle and Maurice Wilks to design a new small car.

This was the Rover Scarab with a rear-mounted V-twin-cylinder air-cooled engine announced in 1931, a van version was shown at Olympia, but it did not go into production. During this time the Rover 10/25 was introduced, with bodies made by the Pressed Steel Company. This was the same body as used on the Hillman Minx. Prior to this time Rover had been a great supporter of the very light Weymann bodies that went suddenly out of fashion with the demand for shiny coachwork and more curved body shapes. Weymann bodies remained in the factory catalogue until 1933.

Frank Searle and Spencer Wilks set about reorganising the company and moving it upmarket to cater for people who wanted something “superior” to Fords and Austins. In 1930 Spencer Wilks was joined by his brother, Maurice, who had also been at Hillman as chief engineer. Spencer Wilks was to stay with the company until 1962, and his brother until 1963.

The company showed profits in the 1929 and 1930 years but with the economic downturn in 1931 Rover reported a loss of £77,529. 1932 produced a loss of £103,000 but a turn around following yet more reorganization resulted in a profit of £46,000 in 1933. The new assembly operations in Australia and New Zealand were closed.

Frank Searle left the board near the end of the calendar year 1931, his work done.

Building on successes such as beating the Blue Train for the first time in 1930 in the Blue Train Races, the Wilks Brothers established Rover as a company with several European royal, aristocratic, and governmental warrants, and upper-middle-class and star clients.

Second World War and gas turbines

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARover W2B-26 jet engine Welland

A Rover W.2B/26 on display at the Midland Air Museum This design was later to become the Rolls-Royce Derwent

In the late 1930s, in anticipation of the potential hostilities that would become the Second World War, the British government started a rearmament programme, and as part of this, “shadow factories” were built. These were paid for by the government but staffed and run by private companies. Two were run by Rover: one, at Acocks Green, Birmingham, started operation in 1937, and a second, larger one, at Solihull, started in 1940. Both were employed making aero engines and airframes. The original main works at Helen Street, Coventry, was severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and 1941 and never regained full production.

In early 1940, Rover was approached by Frank Whittle to do work for Whittle’s company, Power Jets. This led to a proposal from Power Jets in which Rover would put forward £50,000 of capital in exchange for shares in Power Jets. Rover contacted the Air Ministry (AM) regarding the proposal, which ultimately led to an arrangement between Rover and former Power Jets contractor British Thomson-Houston (BTH) to develop and produce Whittle’s jet engine. The Air Ministry had left Whittle and Power Jets out of these negotiations. Rover chief engineer Maurice Wilks led the team to develop the engine, improving the performance over the original Whittle design. The first test engines to the W.2B design were built in a former cotton mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire which Rover moved into in June 1941 (along with Waterloo Mill in Clitheroe). Testing commenced towards the end of October 1941.

A need for greater expertise within the project, along with difficult relations between Rover management and Frank Whittle (not least because Rover under AM approval had secretly designed a different engine layout, known within Rover as the B.26, which they thought was superior), led to Rover handing over their part in the jet engine project and the Barnoldswick factory to Rolls-Royce in exchange for the latter’s Meteor tank engine factory at Ascot Road, Nottingham, the result of a handshake deal between Rover’s Spencer Wilks and Rolls-Royce’s Ernest Hives made in a local inn in Clitheroe. The official hand-over date was 1 April 1943, though there was a considerable overlap, and several key Rover staff such as Adrian Lombard and John Herriot, the latter being at Rover on secondment from the Air Inspection Department (AID) of the AM, moved to Rolls-Royce. In exchange for the jet engine project and its facilities, Rover was given the contract and production equipment to make Meteor tank engines, which continued until 1964. Although Rolls-Royce under Stanley Hooker were soon to be able to start producing the Whittle-designed W.2B/23 engine (known within Rover as the B.23, later named by Rolls-Royce the Welland), they evaluated the 4 Lombard/Herriot re-designed Rover W.2B/B.26 engines under test at the time of the takeover, and selected the Rover design for their own jet engine development (it became the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine).

After the Second World War, the company abandoned Helen Street and bought the two shadow factories. Acocks Green carried on for a while, making Meteor engines for tanks such as the Centurion and Conqueror, and Solihull became the new centre for vehicles, with production resuming in 1947. This was the year Rover produced the Rover 12 Sports Tourer. 200 cars were built for the export market but all had RHD so many cars stayed in the UK. Solihull would become the home of the Land Rover.

Experimental cars


Rover Jet Car (Science Museum)

 Rover JET Gas Turbine Experimental Car

Despite the difficulties experienced with the jet engine project, Rover was interested in the development of the gas turbine engine to power vehicles. In 1945, Rover hired engineers Frank Bell and Spen King away from Rolls-Royce to assist Maurice Wilks in the development of automotive gas turbines. By 1949, the team developed a turbine that ran at 55,000 rpm, produced more than 100 horsepower (75 kW), and could run on petrol,paraffin, or diesel oil. Rover’s early turbine engines consumed fuel at a rate much greater than piston engines, equivalent to 6 miles per imperial gallon (5.0 mpg-US; 47 L/100 km). Although fuel consumption was later reduced by using a heat exchanger, it was never as low as that of contemporary piston engines.

In March 1950, Rover showed the JET1 prototype, the first car powered with a gas turbine engine, to the public. JET1, an open two-seat tourer, had the engine positioned behind the seats, air intake grilles on either side of the car, and exhaust outlets on the top of the tail. During tests, the car reached a top speed of 88 mph (142 km/h). After being shown in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1950, JET1 was further developed, and was subjected to speed trials on the Jabbeke highway in Belgium in June 1952, where it exceeded 150 miles per hour (240 km/h). JET1 is currently on display at the London Science Museum.

Four further prototypes were built, the P4-based front-engined T2 and rear-engined T2A saloons, the rear-engined four-wheel-drive T3 coupé, and the front-engined front-wheel drive T4 saloon.

Rover and the BRM Formula One team joined forces to produce the Rover-BRM, a gas turbine-powered sports prototype that entered the 1963 24 hours of Le Mans, driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther. It averaged 107.8 mph (173 km/h) and had a top speed of 142 mph (229 km/h).

Rover also ran several experimental diesel engine projects in relation to the Land Rover. The 2-litre, 52 horsepower (39 kW) diesel unit designed and built by Rover for its 4×4 had entered production in 1956 and was one of Britain’s first modern high-speed automotive diesel engines. Experimental projects were undertaken to improve the engine’s power delivery, running qualities, and fuel tolerances. British Army requirements led to the development of a multifuel version of the 2.25-litre variant of the engine in 1962, which could run on petrol, diesel, Jet-A, or kerosene. However, the engine’s power output when running on low-grade fuel was too low for the Army’s uses. Rover developed a highly advanced (for the time) turbodiesel version of its engine in the mid-1960s to power its experimental ‘129-inch’ heavy duty Land Rover designs. This 2.5-litre engine used a turbocharger built by Rover’s gas turbine division as well as an intercooler. This was one of the first times these features had been incorporated on such a small-capacity diesel unit, but they were not adopted.

After the Leyland Motor Corporation takeover, the Rover Gas Turbine was used in a number of Leyland trucks, including one shown at the 1968 Commercial Motor Show. Rover gas turbines also powered the first Advanced Passenger Train.

Golden years


The 1950s and ’60s were fruitful years for the company. The Land Rover became a runaway success (despite Rover’s reputation for making upmarket saloons, the utilitarian Land Rover was actually the company’s biggest seller throughout the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s), as well as the P5 and P6 saloons equipped with a 3.5L (215ci) aluminium V8 (the design and tooling of which was purchased from Buick) and pioneering research into gas turbine-fueled vehicles.

As the ’60s drew to a close Rover was working on a number of innovative projects. Having purchased the Alvis company in 1965 Rover was working on a V8-powered supercar to sell under the Alvis name. The prototype, called the P6BS, was completed and the finalised styling and engineering proposal, the P9, was drawn up. Rover was also working on the P8 project which aimed to replace the existing P5 large saloon with a modern design similar in concept to a scaled-up P6.

When Leyland Motors joined with British Motor Holdings and Rover and Jaguar became corporate partners these projects were cancelled to prevent internal competition with Jaguar products. The P8 in particular was cancelled in a very late stage of preparation- Rover had already ordered the dies and stamping equipment for making the car’s body panels at Pressed Steel when ordered to stop work.

Rover continued to develop its ‘100-inch Station Wagon’, which became the ground-breaking Range Rover, launched in 1970. This also used the ex-Buick V8 engine as well as the P6’s innovative safety-frame body structure design and features such as permanent four-wheel drive and all-round disc brakes. The Range Rover was initially designed as a utility vehicle which could offer the off-road capability of the Land Rover, but in a more refined and car-like package.

Mergers to LMC and BL

Main article: British Leyland
1967 Rover P6BS Prototype

This Rover prototype for a midengined sports car was shown to the press in 1967, but politics in the wake of the BLMC merger got in the way, and the model never entered production.

In 1967, Rover became part of the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), which already owned Triumph. The next year, LMC merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to become the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). This was the beginning of the end for the independent Rover Company, as the Solihull-based company’s heritage drowned beneath the infamous industrial relations and managerial problems that beset the British motor industry throughout the 1970s. At various times, it was part of the Specialist Division (hence the factory designation SD1 for the first—and in the event, only—model produced under this arrangement), Leyland Cars, Rover-Triumph, and the short-lived Jaguar Rover Triumph. The Land Rover products however had flourished during the turbulent BLMC years, with the Range Rover in particular generating sizeable revenues for the company as it moved further upmarket. After the Ryder Report in 1975, Land Rover was split from Rover in 1978 as a separate operating company within British Leyland, and all Rover car production at Solihull ended and was switched to the Austin-Morris plants in Longbridge and Cowley for the rest of the marque’s existence. The Range Rover subsequently went on to become BL’s flagship product, after Jaguar was de-merged and privatised in 1984.

British Leyland entered into a collaborative venture with the Honda Motor Corporation of Japan, which resulted in a whole generation of Rover-badged vehicles which shared engineering with contemporary Honda models, which would sustain the beleaguered company and its successors until the mid-1990s.

Sale to BAe, and divestment

In 1988 the business was sold by the British Government to British Aerospace (BAe), and shortly after shortened its name to just Rover Group. They subsequently sold the business in 1994 to BMW. Honda, which had owned a 20% share in partnership with BAe, exited the business when BAe sold its share to BMW.

BMW, after initially seeking to retain the whole, decided only to retain the Cowley operations for MINI production. Land Rover was sold by BMW to Ford. The Longbridge production facility, along with the Rover and Morris Garages marques, was taken on by former Rover executive John Towers in April 2000 for a derisory sum under the marque MG Rover. The Towers administration of MG was declared insolvent in April 2005 and the business was later refloated under the ownership of Nanjing Automobile, who moved production to China.

Current Status

Legally the Rover marque is the property of Land Rover under the terms of Ford’s purchase of the name in 2006. The company is now known as Jaguar Land Rover Limited, Land Rover having been sold by Ford to Tata Motors in 2008. As part of the deal with Tata the Rover marque had to remain as property of Land Rover.


Rover 16 Witham

 1938 Rover 16.

Launched under the independent Rover Company pre-merger (1904–67)

1904 Rover 8 at Coventry Motor Museum1904 Rover 8 chassis elevation1904 Rover 8 chassis plan1904 Rover 8 frame1904 Rover 8HP1907 Rover 8 Erddig, Wrexham, North Wales1910 Rover 8HP1920 Rover 8HP1921 Rover 8hp1925 Rover 8 DL 32331904–12 Rover 81905 Rover 6 hp a1905 Rover 6 hp open 2-seater single-cylinder 780 cc dashboard1905 Rover 6 hp open 2-seater single-cylinder 780 cc rear1905 Rover 6 hp open 2-seater single-cylinder 780 cc1906 Rover 61910 Rover Six1906–10 Rover 61905 Rover 10-12hp 4-cylinder car without engine bonnet1905 Rover 10-12hp 4-cylinder engine the four-cylinder engine of the 10-12 hp Rover car1906–07 Rover 10/12Rover 16 ADL 690                   1906–10 Rover 161907 Rover 20hp Tourer (ROV4)1906–10 Rover 201905 Rover 10-12hp 4-cylinder car without engine bonnet1909–12 Rover 12 2-cylinder1909 Rover 15 Tourer                     1908–11 Rover 151911 Rover 12hp 4-seater torpedo sleeve-valve 1910-1912

1911 Rover 12hp 4-seater torpedo sleeve-valve 1910-1912

1910–12 Rover 12 sleeve-valve

no info

1912–13 Rover 181914 Rover 12 Glegg tourer SV9486 (DVLA) first registered 24 January 1921

1914 Rover 12 Glegg tourer SV9486 (DVLA) first registered 24 January 19211914 Rover 12 glegg tourer (5870911466)

1914 Rover 12 glegg tourer (5870911466) 1912–23 Rover 12 Clegg1922 Rover 8 HP air cooled Drophead Tourer1922 Rover 8 Van (DVLA) first registered 17 October 1922, 1050 cc1922 rover ad1924 Rover 8 (DVLA) first registered 12 March 1924, 1056 cc1925 Rover 8 DL 32331919–25 Rover 8

1922–23 Rover 6/211926 Rover 9-20 2-seater Tourer

1933 Rover 10 Special 1925 Rover 9 roadster (3017369975) (cropped)

1925 Rover 9 open 2-seater with dickie seat

1925 Rover 4 seater tourer (5119287962)1924–27 Rover 9/20

1925 Rover 14-45 adv1925 Rover 14-45 bl cabriolet1925 Rover 14-45 Motor Car Autocar Advert1925 Rover 14-45 Tourer ad1925 Rover 14-451925 Rover 14-45hp werbung1925 Rover 14-45hp             1925–27 Rover 14/45

1927 Rover 16-501927 rover 16-50hp tourer


Rover Light 6 Blue TrainRover Light 6 TM6124Rover Light 6Rover Light SixRover logo
1929 Rover Lightsix-11929 Rover-Lightsix-2
1929–30 Rover Light Six
Rover Light 20
1929 Rover 10-25 Riviera Saloon by Weymann1929 rover 10-25 Weymann sunroof sln 1100ccOHV3spd Bayuk1929 Rover cars for 1929.1935 Rover Ten saloon 19351936 Rover 10Rover 10Rover 10-25
1938 Rover 10 Coupe JHX 3611938 Rover 10 Coupe
1927–47 Rover 10
1927–32 Rover 2-Litre
rover speed 20-4
1931–40 Rover Speed 20
1933 Rover speed 14 was introduced in 1933 with a 6 cylinder high compression engine with triple SU carbs. Capable of over 80 MPH . A 4 speed synchro gearbox
1931 Rover scarab seitlich 96dpi1931-32 rover scarab 11932 rover scarab adRover Scarab, few producedRover Scarab
1932–32 Rover Scarab
1934 Rover 12 Special1934 Rover 12 sports bonnet badge (5625081813)1934 Rover 12 sports saloon (15471572958)1934 Rover 12 sports saloon (DVLA) first registered 4 October 1934, 1400 cc1934 Rover 12-4 a1934 Rover 12-41935 Rover 12 Tourer (DVLA) first registgered 23 March 1935, 1308 cc rear1935 Rover 12 Tourer (DVLA) first registgered 23 March 1935, 1308 cc1935 Rover Twelve Saloon 19351936 Rover 12 6-light saloon (DVLA)1936 Rover 12-4 six-light saloon SYB 5 (DVLA)1937 Rover 121947 ROVER 12 P2 6-light saloon EDT 674 (DVLA) first registered 1496 cc backside1947 ROVER 12 P2 6-light saloon EDT 674 (DVLA) first registered 1496 cc1947 Rover 12hp Tourer (DVLA) 1495cc PSY 7161947 Rover 12hp tourer (DVLA) 1495cc1947 Rover P2-12 Tourer 1500cc1948 Rover 12 Sports TourerRover 12 Black & WhiteRover 12 openRover 12 PilotRover 12 Reavell SpecialRover 12 TourerRover 12
1939 Rover 12 Saloon (P2)1934–47 Rover 12
1933 Rover 14 hp Pilot sedan1933 Rover 14 Pilot1933 Rover speed 14 was introduced in 1933 with a 6 cylinder high compression engine with triple SU carbs. Capable of over 80 MPH . A 4 speed synchro gearbox1935 rover 14 4dr saloon Hyman ltd1935 Rover 14 Sports Saloon P1 with flush fitting sliding roof1935 Rover 14 Sports Saloon P11935 Rover P1 (DVLA) first registered 31 December 1935, 1479cc1935 Rover Speed 14 Streamline Coupe1936 Rover 141937-38 rover 14 FPG3971938 Rover 14 (P2) 6-Light Saloon1939 Rover 14 6-Light Saloon P21939 Rover 16 cabriolet (DVLA) first registered 2 June 1939, 2184 cc1946 Rover 14 HP Sport Saloon
1936-48 Rover 16 four-light sports saloon (5747354084)1937 rover 16 DJJ391Rover Speed 16, 1934-1935, 6-cyl. OHV - 2023cc - hp1937 Rover Sports Saloon (DVLA) 1600cc first registered 30 April 19371939 Rover 16 cabriolet (DVLA) first registered 2 June 1939, 2184 cc1939 Rover 16 Cabriolet (DVLA) first registered 2 June 19391947 Rover 16 6-light saloon Witham1947 Rover 16 2147cc1947 Rover 16 four-light sports saloon HUF396 (DVLA) first registered 12 June 1947, 2147 cc a1947 Rover 16 four-light sports saloon HUF396 (DVLA) first registered 12 June 1947, 2147 cc1947 Rover 16 instrument panel An original condition1947 Rover 16 sports saloon back seat1947 Rover 16 sports saloon instrument panel1947 Rover P2-16hp instrument panel An original conditionRover 16 ADL 690Rover 16 badgeRover 16 Sport SpecialRover 16 Sports SaloonOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArover 16-hp-021937–47 Rover 16
1948 Land Rover 801948-57 Land Rover Series I hardtop1948-57 Land Rover Series I1958 Land Rover Series II 881958 Land Rover swb Series 21961-1966 Forest Land Rover (on the left)1963 Land Rover Forward Control Recovery Wagon1963 Land Rover Series IIA pickup-type1948–78 Land Rover (I/II/III)—In 1978, BL established Land Rover Limited as a separate subsidiary; it took over Land Rover production.
1948 Rover P3
1948 Rover P3 convertible1949 rover cyclops 751949-52 Rover 75 (P4) Cyclops 1075 MkI head1950 Rover 75 (P4)1950 Rover 75 drophead coupé1951 Rover P4 1075 Mk II frontg1952 Rover 75 2-Door Saloon1952 Rover 75 Series P4 Saloon1952 Rover P4 (6369017051)1953 Rover - Pininfarina1953 Rover Car Co1953 Rover P4 Pininfarina Convertible (11031693646)1953-59 Rover P4 90 Saloon+ got a 2639cc 6 cyl. P4 75 4 cyl 1949-59. P4 60 4 cyl 1953-59. P4 80 4 cyl 1960-62. P4 100 6 cyl 1960-62. P4 95-110 6 cyl 1962-64jpg1954 rover 75 ad1954 Rover 90 4-Door Sedan1954 Rover 105 (P4). Using a tuned version of the 2639cc 6cylinder engine from the Ropver 90, the 105 had 108bhp1955 Rover 60 (DVLA)1955 rover 75 p4 brochure1955 Rover 901955 Rover P4 DM-45-59 pic61955 Rover P4 DM-45-59 pic71957 Rover 105S and 105R Saloons1958 Rover 60 saloon (DVLA)1959 rover 75 p41959 Rover 80 (P4). This is the second 4cylinder P4 replacing the sluggish P60 with a 2286cc straight 41959 Rover P4 6 cylinder1959 Rover P4 100 DVLA first registered 11 November 1959, 2625ccOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1960 rover 80 p4-801960 Rover 1100 100 (P4). Launched after the 3-litre P5, the Rover 100 benefitted from receiving a 104bhp 2625cc version of that engine. 16,251 were sold1960 Rover P4 Beijing-Paris Car 031961 Rover P4-100 6 Zylinder 105 PS1963 Rover 95 saloon (DVLA) first registered 8 April 1963, 2625 cc1964 Rover 95 P4 (10275771995)

Rover 110
Rover 110 (P4). The unmistable profile of the Rover P4 with ‘suicide’ (rear-hinged) rear doors.

Rover 75 - Salmons TickfordRover 75 cyclopsRover 75 'cyclops'Rover 100Rover 110Rover p4 80Rover P4 95Rover P4 white1950 Rover 75 drophead coupé by Tickford1949–64 Rover P4 (60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110)

Launched under the Rover trademark as a British Leyland Motor Corporation (later BL plc) subsidiary (1967–88)

1976 Rover SD1 estate prototype1976-86 Rover sd1 club1977 rover 3500 sticker1977 Rover SD1 3500 in Austria1982 Rover 31982 Rover 2600 S1982 Rover SD1 3500 series1B rear1983 Rover 2000 (a post-facelift car)1983 Rover SD1 (4728562655)USA special1985 rover 3500 Vitesse sd11985 Rover SD1 Vitesse at the Nürburgring, 19851985 West Midlands Police Rover SD 1 Traffic Car c.19851976–86 Rover SD1 (2000/2300/2400/2600/3500/Vitesse)1983-85 Rover Quintet hatchback 021983-85 Rover Quintet hatchback1983–85 Rover Quintent—Australian market1985 Rover 213 Jesus Lane1988 Rover 213SE Automatic1988 Rower 213SE white hl1990 Rover 216 GSi Auto1993 Rover 200 Coupe (216)1997 Rover 214 Si mk3 with a 1396 cc, 76 KW, Euro 2 petrol engine1998 Rover 200 BRM1999 Rover 200 BRM (rear)Rover 25 1.4 5doorRover 25 faceliftRover 200 Series Mk2, rear 3⁄4 viewRover 214 5-doorRover 214 frRover 214 front1984–89 Rover 200-Series (SD3)1986 Rover 416i hatchback (23260521531)1985–89 Rover 416i—Australian market1986 Rover 820Si (pre-R17 facelift)1988 Rover 827 Sterling sedan1995 Rover 825SD saloon, rear view (post-R17 facelift)1997 Rover 800 arp1997 Rover Vitesse Coupé (post-R17 facelift) 800 021998 Rover 820 Sterling saloon (post-R17 facelift)                                    1986–98 Rover 800-series & Sterling

Launched by the Rover Group/MG Rover as a British Aerospace/BMW subsidiary (1988–2005)

1989–95 Rover 200/400-Series (R8)Rover 600 01Rover 620ti1996 Rover 618i rear1993–98 Rover 600-Series1995-98 Land Rover Range Rover (P38A) 4.0 SE wagon1995-98 Range Rover 4.6 HSE rear1994-01 Range Rover Mk.2 (P38A)

1995-05 Rover 200/25 (R3)

1995-05 Rover 400/45 (HH-R)2001-03 Land Rover Freelander SE 4-door (US)2007-08 Land Rover LR22007-10 Land Rover Freelander 2 HSE TD4 (Australia)2013 Land Rover Freelander 2 (LF MY13) TD4 wagon rear2013 Land Rover Freelander 2 (LF MY13) TD4 wagon2013 Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 S (II, 2. Facelift)Land Rover Freelander I facelift frontLand Rover Range Rover EvolutionRover_logo_new

1998-04 Land Rover Freelander1999-03 Rover 75 fr2000 Rover 75 2.0 CDT Classic (1999-03)2001 Rover 75 Connoisseur sedan 012001 Rover 75 Tourer rear2003 Rover 75 2.0 CDTi Connoisseur SE Auto HLNAV Tourer2004 Rover 75 Coupe Concept2004-05 Rover 75 facelift2004-05 Rover 75 Tourer facelift rear2004-05 Rover 75 Tourer facelift2005 Rover 75 1.8T Connoisseur facelift2005 Rover 75 Coupé2005 The last production Rover 75 model, a CDTi Connoisseur1998-05 Rover 75

See also

Austin Rover Group

Rover Group

MG Rover Group

Nanjing Automobile Group

Rover – How it all began.

By Kevin Phillips

The history of the Rover Company goes back to 1881 when the Coventry Sewing Machine Company was founded. From sewing machines, they graduated to manufacturing bicycles in 1869. The first Rover machine was a tricycle which appeared in 1884 and a year later the new safety bicycle appeared and the company then became known as JK Starley & Co Ltd.

John Starley’s safety bicycle was the prototype of the modern pedal cycle and was developed to overcome the balancing problems of the common penny-farthing cycle. Tricycles had been easier to control than the high and ungainly “ordinaries as the penny farthings had come to be known, but were not as maneuverable and were much more expensive.

John Starley’s safety bicycle featured a rear wheel that was driven by a chain and gearing which would reduce the effort required by the rider and would enable the front wheel diameter to be dramatically reduced.

Once his safety bicycle had proved a success, Starley began experimenting with an electrically driven battery-powered tricycle. The batteries were placed in a wicker basket above and behind the rear axle with the electric motor fitted underneath. Unfortunately, it was not a success as the performance and range was pitiful and once the batteries had gone flat, the dead weight of the machine would have taxed even the strongest of riders.

Starley’s safety bicycles caught on rapidly and the business went from strength to strength with rapidly rising sales which made John Starley a wealthy man.

In June 1896, Starley formed the Rover Cycle Co Ltd which operated from the New Meteor Works. In its first year of operation, the new company built 11000 cycles and returned a profit of 21,945 pounds. At about this time, an entrepreneur by the name of Harry Lawson had arrived in Coventry and taken over a disused cotton mill in order to manufacture his license-built Daintier motor car. Lawson was a man who was going places and, expanding by acquisition, tried to induce Starley to join forces with him. Starley would have no part of it, but it did get him thinking about engines and their possibilities.

Starley imported several Peugeot motorcycles from France in 1899 for observation and experimental work. This was a natural progression as by the end of the nineteenth century the motor car phenomenon was taking the world by storm and Britain already had motor cars being built by Daim]er, Wolseley, Lanchester and Riley.

Rover’s first project was to motorise a Rover pedal cycle, something that Triumph was already working on.

John Starley died tragically early in October 1901 aged 46, while still the undisputed leader of Coventry’s bicycle industry, his business now producing 15,000 machines a year.

Harry Smith took over as Managing Director and made the decision to go motorised in 1902. The first public appearance of the 2% HP Rover motorcycle was made on 24th November 1902.

By now Britain’s fledgling motorcar industry was starting to show signs of stability and Daimler was turning out good cars and making good money. On 16th December 1903 the Rover directors decided to start development of a light car. It would be designed by Edmund Lewis who had been acquired from Daimler who were the acknowledged motorcar experts. Rover’s decision had been made just in time as by now Daimler and Riley in Coventry had been joined by Annstrong-Siddeley, Humber, Lea-Francis, Singer and Standard.


Keith Adams Austin Rover / Rover Group / MG Rover Resource

German Rover Company & Rover Cars Community

Portuguese MG-Rover Club

Polish MG Rover Club

Spanish site of MG-ROVER

Czech MG-Rover Community

Catalogue of the Rover archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

TRIUMPH Motor Company Coventry England 1885-1984


Triumph Motor Company

Triumph Motor Company
Fate Taken over by Standard Motor Company later merged with and continuing as a division of Leyland Motors Ltd and its successors
Founded 1885
Defunct 1984
Headquarters Coventry, England
Key people
Siegfried Bettmann, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte (founders)
Parent Standard Motors Ltd, Leyland Motors Ltd, British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd, BL plc

The Triumph Motor Company was a British car and motor manufacturing company. The Triumph marque (trade-name) is owned currently by BMW. The marque had its origins in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann (1863–1951) of Nuremberg formed S. Bettmann & Co and started importing bicycles from Europe and selling them under his own trade name in London. The trade name became “Triumph” the following year, and in 1887 Bettmann was joined by a partner, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte, also from Germany. In 1889 the businessmen started producing their own bicycles in Coventry, England.

1923 Triumph 10-20

 1923 Triumph 10/20


Triumph Cycle Company

The company was renamed the Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. in 1897. In 1902, they began producing Triumph motorcycles at their works in Coventry on Much Park Street. At first, these used engines purchased from another company, but the business prospered and they soon started making their own engines. In 1907, they purchased the premises of a spinning mill on Priory Street to develop a new factory. Major orders for the 550 cc Model H were made by the British Army during the First World War; by 1918, Triumph had become Britain’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles.

1931 Triumph Super 9, 4 Door Tourer

 1931 Triumph Super 9, 4 Door Tourer

In 1921, Bettmann was persuaded by his general manager Claude Holbrook (1886–1979), who had joined the company in 1919, to acquire the assets and Clay Lane premises of the Dawson Car Company and start producing a car and 1.4-litre engine type named the Triumph 10/20 designed for them by Lea-Francis, to whom they paid a royalty for every car sold. Production of this car and its immediate successors was moderate, but this changed with the introduction in 1927 of the Triumph Super 7, which sold in large numbers until 1934.

Triumph Motor Company

1934 Triumph Gloria Six

 1934 Triumph Gloria Six

1936 Triumph Gloria Southern Cross 10.8 HP (four, 1,232 cc)

 1936 Triumph Gloria Southern Cross 10.8 HP (four, 1,232 cc)

1937 Triumph Dolomite Roadster

 1937 Triumph Dolomite Roadster

In 1930 the company’s name was changed to Triumph Motor Company. Holbrook realized he could not compete with the larger car companies for the mass market, so he decided to produce expensive cars, and introduced the models Southern Cross and Gloria. At first these used engines made by Triumph but designed by Coventry Climax, but in 1937 Triumph started to produce engines to their own designs by Donald Healey, who had become the company’s Experimental Manager in 1934.

The company encountered financial problems however, and in 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold, the latter to Jack Sangster of Ariel to become Triumph Engineering Co Ltd. Healey purchased an

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Corsa

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

and developed a new car model with an Alfa inspired straight-8 engine type named the

1934 Triumph Dolomite Straight Eight2 2000cc

Triumph Dolomite.

Three of these cars were made in 1934, one of which was used in competition and destroyed in an accident. The Dolomites manufactured from 1937 to 1940 were unrelated to these prototypes.

In July 1939 the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale. Thomas W. Ward Ltd. purchased the company and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects of the Second World War again stopped the production of cars; the Holbrook Lane works were completely destroyed by bombing in 1940.

Standard Triumph

1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster

 1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster

In November 1944 what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph trade name were bought by the Standard Motor Company and a subsidiary “Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited” was formed with production transferred to Standard’s factory at Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. Triumph’s new owners had been supplying engines to Jaguar and its predecessor company since 1938. After an argument between Standard-Triumph Managing Director, Sir John Black, and William Lyons, the creator and owner of Jaguar, Black’s objective in acquiring the rights to the name and the remnants of the bankrupt Triumph business was to build a car to compete with the soon to be launched post-war Jaguars.

The pre-war Triumph models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs was announced, starting with the

1948 Triumph 1800 Roadster

Triumph Roadster.

The Roadster had an aluminium body because steel was in short supply and surplus aluminium from aircraft production was plentiful. The same engine was used for the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the

1954 Triumph Renown

Triumph Renown,

which was notable for the styling chosen by Standard-Triumph’s managing director Sir John Black. A similar style was also used for the subsequent Triumph Mayflower light saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the “globe” badge that had been used on pre-war models. When Sir John was forced to retire from the company this range of cars was discontinued without being replaced directly, sheet aluminium having by now become a prohibitively expensive alternative to sheet steel for most auto-industry purposes.

1950 Triumph Mayflower

 1950 Triumph Mayflower

1955 Triumph TR2 1991cc November

 1955 Triumph TR2

In the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and in 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of the TR series of sports cars that would be produced until 1981. Curiously, the TR2 had a Standard badge on its front and the Triumph globe on its hubcaps.

Standard had been making a range of small saloons named the Standard Eight and Ten and had been working on a replacement for these. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was considered as a more marketable name than Standard and the new car was introduced in 1959 as the Triumph Herald. The last Standard car to be made in the UK was replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000 .

Leyland and beyond

1960 Triumph Herald 948cc Coupe

 1960 Triumph Herald 948cc Coupe

1955-57 Triumph TR3

 1955-57 Triumph TR3

1970 Triumph Vitesse Mk.2 Convertible

 1970 Triumph Vitesse Mk.2 Convertible

Standard-Triumph was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd. in December 1960; Donald Stokes became chairman of the Standard-Triumph division in 1963. Further mergers resulted in the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968.

Triumph set up an assembly facility in Speke, Liverpool in 1959 gradually increasing the size of the most modern factory of the company to the point that it could fully produce 100,000 cars per year. However, only a maximum of 30,000 cars was ever produced as the plant was never put to full production use, being used largely as an assembly plant. During the 1960s and ’70s Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced

Triumph Dolomite Sprint a Triumph Dolomite Sprint

Dolomite Sprint,

which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four-cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, especially the 2.5 PI (petrol injection) with its fuel injection problems. In Australia, the summer heat caused petrol in the electric fuel pump to vapourise, resulting in frequent malfunctions. Although the injection system had proven itself in international competition, it lacked altitude compensation to adjust the fuel mixture at altitudes greater than 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level. The Lucas system proved unpopular: Lucas did not want to develop it further, and Standard-Triumph dealers were reluctant unwilling to attend the associated factory and field-based training courses.

Triumph 2.5 PI Mk 2 Saloon

Triumph 2.5 PI Mk 2 Saloon

For most of its time under Leyland or BL ownership the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company which went by the names of Rover Triumph and later Jaguar Rover Triumph, except for a brief period during the mid-1970s when all BL’s car marques or brands were grouped together under the name of Leyland Cars.

1973 Triumph Spitfire

 1973 Triumph Spitfire

The only all-new Triumph model initiated as Rover Triumph was the TR7, which had the misfortune to be in production successively at three factories that were closed: Speke, the poorly run Leyland-era Standard-Triumph works in Liverpool, the original Standard works at Canley, Coventry and finally the Rover works in Solihull. Plans for an extended range based on the TR7, including a fastback variant codenamed “Lynx”, were ended when the Speke factory closed. The four-cylinder TR7 and its short-lived eight-cylindered derivative the TR8 were terminated when the road car section of the Solihull plant was closed (the plant continues to build Land Rovers.)

Demise of Triumph cars

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim, introduced in 1981 and essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade