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

HUMBER cars Coventry, England, UK 1868-1931/1976

1900 Humber-Logo

Humber (car)

Industry Automotive industry
Fate Merged
Successor Rootes Group
Founded 1868
Defunct 1931
Headquarters Coventry, England
Products Automobiles
Subsidiaries 1929–1931 Hillman Motor Car Company
Humber Marque
Owner PSA
Country United Kingdom
Discontinued 1976
Markets Automotive
Previous owners 1868–1931 Humber
1931–1967 Rootes Group
1967–1979 Chrysler

Humber is a dormant British automobile marque which can date its beginnings to Thomas Humber‘s bicycle company founded in 1868. Following their involvement in Humber through Hillman in 1928 the Rootes brothers acquired a controlling interest and joined the Humber board in 1932 making Humber part of their Rootes Group. The range focused on luxury models, such as the Humber Super Snipe.



Humber Ltd. (Bentley) B. R. 2 Vickers F.B.26A Vampire II. and other planes

Rotary aero engine BR2. Humber Limited
design: W. O. Bentley for Humber
Sopwith F.1 Camel and 7F.1 Snipe; Nieuport B.N.1; Vickers F.B.26A Vampire II. and others

At Humber & Co’s third general meeting in 1897 the managing director said they had received many letters asking if they would produce a motorised vehicle, and they had in fact been working on this project for 2 years, but had delayed production until they found a suitably reliable engine. Having now found an engine they were gearing up for production.

The first Humber car was produced in 1898 under the guidance of Thomas Humber and was a three-wheeled tricar with the first conventional four-wheeled car appearing in 1901. See book Humber history to 1930] The company had factories in Beeston near Nottingham and Coventry. The Beeston factory produced a more expensive range known as Beeston-Humbers but the factory closed in 1908 after financial problems. Before the First World War a wide range of models were produced from the 600 cc Humberette to several six-cylinder 6-litre models. In 1913 Humber was the second largest manufacturer of cars in the United Kingdom. The Humber Motor Works in Coventry still survives—a rare thing as the majority of the city was destroyed in the November 1940 air raid.

In 1925 Humber moved into the production of commercial vehicles with the purchase of Commer. In 1928 Hillman was added but independence ended in 1931 when the Rootes Brothers bought a majority shareholding.

Prior to WWII and after, many large long wheel based Humber Limousines were built with English, Australian, American and even a few European coachbuilders’ special bodies. Thrupp and Maberly of London,later acquired by Rootes, built many of the coachbuilt bodies for the Pullman and Imperial limousines. Most of these surviving cars in Australia are fitted with Thrupp and Maberly aluminium bodies. the series V Imperial is bodied by Thrupp and Maberly and somewhat rare today.

Thrupp and Maberly built a special body for an eight cylinder Sunbeam in 1936 which was given to King Edward VIII. After his abdication the car was returned to the factory and significantly altered and then eventually sold as a Humber with a new six cylinder engine and altered grille and body.

During World War II, military ordered cars were produced for the armed services. several armoured cars These were produced under the Humber name, along with heavy-duty “staff” cars. The standard Humber cars, limousines,specially prepared war models and military 4×4 vehicles [ which were fitted with Rolls Royce engines], were almost literally bullet proof running gear and heavy duty suspension. gave excellent reliability and performance in difficult terrain in both Northern Africa and Europe.

General Montgomery,Commander of the British and Allied forces in Northern Africa during the Desert war of WWII, had two specially built Humber Super Snipe four door convertibles made with larger front wings or guards, mine proof floors,special appointments and long range fuel tanks. Two cars were built for him and used in the Africa campaign against General Rommel [ who used open tourer large, long range convertible Mercedes Benz’s. Montgomery’s Humbers are known as ‘Old Faithful’ and the ‘Victory Car’. Both cars still exist in full military regalia in museums in England and are a testament to the high engineering and manufacturing standards of Humber and Rootes Ltd. the victory car drove Montgomery and Churchill through the streets of London during the VE parades at the end of WWII.

These side valve, large Humber cars, trucks,4 x 4 vehicles and armoured cars were and still are remarkably robust, reliable and have amazing longevity if maintained and driven sensibly. In Australia many war surplus Humber cars and trucks spent over forty years on farms used by farmers and the Country fire authority in very reliable service in tough and harsh conditions.

In the postwar era, Humber’s mainstay products included the four-cylinder Hawk and six-cylinder Super Snipe. Being a choice of businessmen and officialdom alike [ ministerial,government cars before the Statesman and Fairlane ], Humbers gained a reputation for beautifully appointed interiors and build quality. The Hawk and the Super Snipe went through various designs, though all had a “transatlantic” influence. They offered disc brakes and automatic transmission at a time when these fitments were rare. Powersteering was also available in Australia. A top-flight model, the Imperial, had these as standard, along with metallic paintwork and other luxury touches such as extra courtesy lights and vinyl covered black roof and electricxally operated rear adjustable suspension. The last of the traditional large Humbers, the series VA Super Snipe[fitted with twin Stromberg CD 100 Carburettors, were sold in 1968, when Chrysler, who by then owned the Rootes group, pulled the plug on production. Several V8 models had been in pre-production at this time, but were never publicly sold. Several of these test examples survive today.

Rootes’ last car was the second generation of Humber Sceptre, a badge-engineered Rootes Arrow model. [ Audax range ]The marque was shelved in 1976 when all Hillmans became badged as Chryslers. The Hillman Hunter (another Arrow model) was subsequently badged as a Chrysler until production ceased in 1979 when Chrysler’s European division was sold to Peugeot and the marque renamed Talbot. The Talbot marque was abandoned at the end of 1986 on passenger cars, although it was continued on vans for six years afterwards.


Humber produced a number of aircraft and aero-engines in the years before the First World War. In 1909 the company signed a contract to build 40 copies of the Blériot XI monoplane, powered by their own three-cylinder engine, and four aircraft were exhibited at the Aero Show at Olympia in 1910.


1903 Humber ette 1903 Humber Humberette 5 HP Voiturette 1904-Humberette-D1184-1192 Humber Humberette 8HP

Humber Humberette 5 HP Voiturette 1903

1924 Humber 11,4 HP Saloon

Humber 11,4 HP Saloon 1924

1926 Humber 9-20 tourer

1926 Humber 9/20 tourer

1928 Humber 14-40 HP Tourer

Humber 14/40 HP Tourer 1928

Humber-Logo a

1929 Humber 14-40 HP 2-Seater

Humber 14/40 HP 2-Seater Sports 1929

1942 Humber Heavy Utility(owner Andrew Partridge)pic3

Humber Heavy Utility 1940

Humber Pullman

Humber Pullman

1965 Humber Sceptre Mark II

1965 Humber Sceptre Mark II

Main models

  • Humber 8 1902
  • Humber 12 1902
  • Humber 20 1903
  • Humberette Voiturette 1903-1911
  • Humber 8/10 1905
  • Humber 10/12 1905–07
  • Humber 30/40 1908–09
  • Humberette Cycle Car 1912-1915
  • Humber 11 1912
  • Humber 10 1919–21
  • Humber 15.9 1919–25
  • Humber 11.4 and 12/25 1921–25
  • Humber 8/18 1922–25
  • Humber 15/40 1924–28
  • Humber 9/20 and 9/28 1925–30
  • Humber 14/40 1926–29
  • Humber 20/55 and 20/65 1926–29
  • Humber 16/50 1928–32
  • Humber Snipe 1929–47

1930-1948 Humber Snipe

Humber Snipe
1932 Humber Snipe 80

Snipe saloon early 1932
Manufacturer Humber
after 1931 Rootes Group
Production 1930-1940
1945 – 1948
Body and chassis
Related Humber Pullman
Predecessor Humber 20/55hp

The Humber Snipe was a four-door luxury saloon introduced by the British-based Humber company for 1930 as a successor to the Humber 20/55 hp (which remained in the catalogue as 20/65) at the same time as the similar but slightly longer Humber Pullman. Launched in September 1929 under the banner headline “Such Cars As Even Humber Never Built Before” twelve months after the Rootes brothers’ influence took effect formalized with the Hillman merger in December 1928. Humber nominally joined the Rootes Group as part of a necessary restructure of Humber’s capital in July 1932.

1930–35 Snipe 80

1932 Humber Snipe 80 Landaulette by Thrupp & Maberley

Thrupp & Maberly landaulette 1932

The Snipe, or from late 1932, Snipe 80 featured a 3498-cc six-cylinder engine of 80 mm bore and 116 mm stroke with the overhead-inlet, side-exhaust valve gear that had been a feature of the company’s six-cylinder engines since the mid-1920s. A single Stromberg carburettor was fitted. The four speed transmission had a right hand change lever (right hand drive cars) until 1931 when it moved to the centre of the car facilitating the production of left hand drive examples. The shutters on the radiator grille were opened and closed thermostatically to control the flow of cooling air. For 1933 the engine was redesigned to have overhead valves producing an extra 5 bhp. Bendix mechanical brakes were fitted.

1934 Humber Snipe 80 sedan

Snipe 80 1934

The conservatively boxy 4 or 6 light saloon body with spare wheels mounted on the front wings incorporated rear-hinged doors for back passengers. A fabric saloon (until 1930), sports saloon, tourer and drophead coupé were also listed and bare chassis were also supplied to outside coachbuilders. In 1930 on the home market the chassis sold for £410, the tourer £495, coupé £565 and saloon £535. With a 120-inch wheelbase and a total length of 173 inches, the car was, by the standards of the British market, larger and more spacious than the average family car such as the more mainstream Hillman Minx of that time, the Hillman business having been acquired by Humber in 1928. With the success of the Snipe, Humber was seen to be succeeding, “where many had failed, in marketing large cars at competitive prices”.

There were several minor body updates for 1933 including windscreen wipers mounted below rather than above the screen, recessed direction indicators and two tone paint on the 4-light sports saloon. 1205 of the 1933 models were made.

In 1931 a fleet of Snipes was used by the Prince of Wales on his tour of the West Indies.

The body and chassis were shared with the smaller engined 16-50 (1930–32) and 16-60 (1933) models.


1936 saw the wheelbase grow by 4 inches (10 cm) to 124 inches (315 cm) while the overall length of the standard-bodied car increased by 2 inches (5 cm). The chassis was new with independent front suspension using a transverse spring. A vacuum servo was fitted to the braking system. Body styles available were 4-light and 6-light saloons, a sports saloon and a drophead coupé. The car now featured a side-valve 6-cylinder engine of 4086 cc with a stated output of 100 hp which was later used in the post war Super Snipe. A top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h) was claimed.

2652 were made.

The same chassis and body range was used for the smaller engined Humber 18.


Perhaps prompted by concern that the Snipe was outgrowing the wishes of the market place, the 1938 Snipe was the smallest-engined Snipe to date, with a wheelbase reduced to 114 inches, but the total length was still 175 inches, reflecting the more streamlined shape which the body, the same as on the Hillman 14, had now acquired. The six-cylinder side-valve engine of 3180 cc propelled the car to a claimed top speed of 79 mph (127 km/h), reflecting a power-output reduction to 75 hp.

1938 changes for the 1939 models saw a new cross braced chassis and hydraulic brakes. The Snipe and its sister model become more firmly differentiated from one another, since the Humber Pullman continued to be offered with the older, more powerful 4086-cc engine.

2706 were made.


Civilian availability ended in 1940 when the factory was largely given over to production of the ’Ironside’ Reconnaissance Car, though Humber saloons based on pre-war designs continued to be built for government use.


Before the end of 1945, Humber had announced its post-war model range. Four cars were listed, which closely resembled the Humbers offered just before the war. At the top of the range was the Humber Pullman. The other three models shared a body which, while smaller than that of the Pullman, nevertheless sustained the Humber tradition of offering a lot of car for the money. These were the four-cylinder Humber Hawk and the six-cylinder Humber Snipe and Humber Super Snipe.

The six-cylinder engine of the 1945 Snipe was a side-valve unit, of only 2731 cc. The engine block dated back to the Humber 18 of 1935. Maximum power output and speed were stated respectively as 65 hp and 72 mph (116 km/h). For customers who remembered the Snipe as a more powerful vehicle, the car could also be specified with the 4086-cc 100-hp engine which had been fitted in the 1930s and which was still the standard power unit in the 1945 Humber Pullman. Fitted with this engine, the car was branded as the Humber Super Snipe. When the Humber range was upgraded for 1948, the Snipe was withdrawn, leaving only the Hawk and the Super Snipe listed, alongside the larger Pullman.

1240 were made.

Humber Catalogue for 1930

“Such Cars As Even Humber Never Built Before”

Humber “Snipe” Touring Car £495
Humber “Snipe” Six-Light Weymann Saloon £535
Humber “Snipe” Saloon £535
Humber “Snipe” Four-Door Weymann Coupé £545
Humber “Snipe” Drop-Head Coupé £565
Humber “Pullman” Landaulette £775
Humber “Pullman” Limousine £775
Humber Cabriolet de Ville £1,095
(Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly)
  • Humber 16–60 1933–35
  • Humber 12 1933–37
  • Humber 16 1936–40
  • Humber Pullman 1930–54

1930-1967 Humber Pullman

Humber Pullman
Humber Imperial
Humber Pullman post war

Post war Humber Pullman
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Production 1930-1940
1945 – 1954
1964 – 1967
Body and chassis
Related Humber Snipe
Predecessor Humber 20/65hp

The Humber Pullman is a four-door limousine that was introduced by the British Humber company in 1930 as a successor to the Humber 20/65 hp and long-wheelbase version of the Humber Snipe.

In 1939 an ungraded version was launched badged as the Humber Imperial, but postwar the car reverted to the Pullman name. Between 1948 and 1954 the car was offered with a central partition (for chauffeured use) as the Pullman, but without a partition was badged as the Humber Imperial for owner-drivers.

The Pullman / Imperial was not offered for sale to the public during the Second World War; the factory’s limited output were used as staff cars. It returned to the market in 1945 and remained in production till 1954. At the present time only eight units of this vehicle are still extant.

Before World War II

1932 Humber Snipe 80 Landaulette by Thrupp & Maberley a

Snipe 80 1934 with landaulette body
by Thrupp & Maberly

The 1930 car came with a 3498cc straight six cylinder overhead inlet side exhaust valve engine and a claimed power output of 80 hp (60 kW). The classic limousine style body featured rear- hinged doors and in some respects resembled the Humber Snipe 80 with which it shared its engine, but the Pullman was longer and wider. For this heavy car Humber claimed a top speed of 73 mph (117 km/h). As well as the limousine, Landaulette and Sedanca de Ville bodies were available. Humber, the manufacturer lost its independence in 1931 when the Rootes Group acquired a majority share holding in it. A coupé was added to the body range in 1935 for one year only.

A rebodied Pullman with two-piece V windscreen appeared in 1936, sharing the 132 in (3,353 mm)[2] wheelbase of its predecessor, but with the overall length of the car increased to 196 in (4,978 mm).[2] Engine size was now raised to 4086cc while claimed power was 100 hp (75 kW). The power increase was also evident from the claimed top speed which now edged up to 75 mph (121 km/h). The chassis gained independent front suspension, and hydraulic brakes were fitted in 1940. As well as the factory body options, some cars were supplied in chassis form to independent coachbuilders, especially Thrupp & Maberly.

In 1939 the Pullman was joined by the Humber Imperial or Snipe Imperial which shared the engine with the Pullman, but was built on the 4 in (102 mm) shorter Snipe chassis and correspondingly brisker, with an advertised top speed of 81 mph (130 km/h). The car nevertheless remained spacious, and was favoured for use by British government ministers during the 1940s. Four and Six-light saloons and drophead coupé bodies were available. Civilian availability ended in 1940 when the factory was given over to production of the ’Ironside’ Reconnaissance Car. However, production of the newly introduced “razor-edge” Pullman continued throughout the war for the government and the military.

After World War II

The Pullman re-appeared in 1945 with seven-seat limousine and landaulette bodies, to be replaced in 1948 by a reworked and lengthened version on a lengthened chassis and designated the Humber Pullman Mk II. From 1948 the car was available with or without a partition between the front and rear of the cabin. The version with a division retained the Pullman name, while for the mechanically identical owner-driver version the Humber Imperial name was now revived. The headlamps were no longer standalone but fitted into the wings.

The Mark III version introduced in 1951 was little changed from the Mark II, apart from being even longer and having an all-synchromesh gearbox. At 212 in (5,385 mm) the Mk III Humber Pullman was the same length as the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud which would emerge from Crewe in 1955. A total of 2200 Mk II and III Pullmans, and 1526 Imperials, were manufactured.

In 1953 more power was offered for the Mark IV Pullmans and Imperials, still with straight six cylinder engines, but now of 4139cc with overhead valves, and published power output of 113 hp (84 kW) or 116 hp (87 kW). Production ended in 1954.

Imperial revival

1966 Humber Imperial1966 One of the last Humber Imperials

Humber Imperial1964-67 Humber Imperial, the luxurious version of the Humber Super Snipe Series V

After 1954 the Pullman name was removed from the listings, but in 1964 the company revived the Humber Imperial name for a top-of-the-line Humber Super Snipe, distinguished by a slightly lower different-shaped coupé-like vinyl-clad roof. Automatic transmission was standard and there was a more luxuriously appointed interior. The range of large Humbers, including the Imperial, was withdrawn by Rootes in 1967.

1945-1967 Humber Hawk

Humber Hawk
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Production 1945–1967
Assembly United Kingdom
Port Melbourne, Australia
Predecessor Hillman 16 (1936-37) six-cylinder; Hillman 14 (1938-40) four-cylinder;

Humber 16 (1938-44) six-cylinder

Successor No Successor

The Humber Hawk is a four-cylinder automobile which was produced from 1945 to 1967 by the British-based Humber car company, part of the Rootes Group.

Humber Hawk Mk I & II

Humber Hawk MKI & II
1946 Humber Hawk Mark I
Production 1945–1949
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Engine 1944 cc Straight-4 side-valve
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 114 inches (2896 mm)
Length 178 inches (4521 mm)
Width 69 inches (1753 mm)

The Hawk was the first Humber car to be launched after World War II, but was not really a new vehicle, being heavily based on the designs of the pre-war six cylinder 1936-37 Hillman 16 & Hillman Hawk & the four cylinder Hillman 14 (1938-1940). It replaced the six-cylinder Humber 16 (1938-44) which itself was a rebadged version of the Hillman 16 (1936-37).

The engine dated back to the early 1930s, when it was first used in the Hillman 12 and was a 1944 cc, side-valve, four-cylinder unit and it drove a live rear axle through a four-speed gearbox with centrally located floor change.

The four-door body was mounted on a separate chassis and was of the six-light design (three windows on each side) with a sunshine roof as standard. Suspension was independent at the front using a transverse leaf spring, and at the rear the axle had half-elliptic springs.

The Mark II version of September 1947 was not even a facelift, the main difference being a column gear change with a control ring fitted to the gearbox making it impossible to crash the syncromesh gears. The engine was given a new water jacket, the petrol tank received a breather to prevent air-locks and provision was made for a car-radio and retracting aerial. There was no change to the car’s external appearance.

Top speed was around 65 mph (105 km/h).

1946 Humber Hawk I rear

Humber Hawk 1946 rear view

Humber Hawk Mark III to V

Humber Hawk Mark III-V
1954 Humber Hawk V 2267cc
Production 1948–1954
production 10,040 (III)
6,492 (IV)
14,300 (V)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Limousine (Mk V only)
Engine 1944 cc Straight-4 side-valve (Mk III)
2267 cc Straight-4 side-valve (Mk IV & V)
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 105.5 inches (2678 mm)
Length 174 inches (4420 mm)
Width 70 inches (1778 mm)
Height 64.75 in (1,645 mm)

The Mark III Hawk was a completely new car and was first shown at the London Motor Show in October 1948, but it still retained the earlier engine (side-valves, 1944 cc, 56 bhp at 3800 rpm) and transmission albeit with new rubber mountings. The new body was styled by the Loewy Studio and the separate headlights of the old model were gone, along with the separate front wings. The chassis was new, with coil-sprung independent front suspension replacing the previous transverse leaf spring. The body was now an integral component of the car’s structure. The rear axle was also a new design with hypoid gearing. The body could be finished in a wide range of colours, both as two-tone and metallic. The metallic finishes would be offered on all the Hawks until the model’s demise in late 1967/early 1968.

When compared with the prewar style body with vestigial running boards the car’s weight was less by 3 cwt or 336 lb (152 kg) and the new flush-sided body gave room for the front bench seat to be three inches (75 mm) wider. The rear seat was a full five inches (125 mm) wider. Overall the car was six inches (150 mm) shorter and one and a half inches (40 mm) lower. Despite the lower height the new hypoid back axle allowed more head room in the rear seat.

Mark IV

In the early spring of 1951 the Mark IV version arrived with a larger, 2267 cc engine incorporating, as before, an aluminium cylinder head and with a 58 instead of 56 bhp output. However at mid range speeds around 15 percent more power was generated. The Mark IV also used larger, 15-inch wheels. The steering was now more highly geared and was commended by commentators for its lightness when manoeuvering the car in a confined space despite 53% of the car’s 2996 (British) pounds (1358 kg) being carried by the front wheels.

1954 Humber Hawk V 2267cc a

Humber Hawk February 1954 rear view

A 2267 cc Mk IV car tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1951 had a top speed of 71.4 mph (114.9 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 30.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 24.2 miles per imperial gallon (11.7 l/100 km; 20.2 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £850, including taxes.

Mark V

The Mark V Hawk announced in September 1952 was given a larger clutch, larger rear shock absorbers, a strengthened body-frame and other minor mechanical changes. A new treatment was given to the car’s front. It was also available as a “luxury touring limousine”. A lowered bonnet line and wrap-around bumpers with over-riders distinguished this model from the Mk IV

Humber Hawk Mark VI and VIA

Humber Hawk Mark VI-VIA
1957 Humber Hawk Mk VI 2267cc
Production 1954–1957
production 18,836 (Mk VI)
9614 (MkVIA)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Engine 2267 cc Straight-4 overhead valve
Transmission 4-speed manual with optional overdrive
Wheelbase 105.5 in (2,680 mm)
Length 181 inches (4597 mm) (saloon)
Width 72 inches (1829 mm)
Height 65 in (1,651 mm)
Curb weight 27.75 cwt or 3,108 lb (1,410 kg)

The main change with the Mk VI, which was new in June 1954, was the fitting of an overhead-valve cylinder head to the engine. The rear of the body was slightly changed, which made the car longer. In 1955 an estate version with fold-down tailgate appeared.

The April 1956 Mk VIA was a fairly minor upgrade, with changes mainly to the interior. A de-luxe version was added to the range.

A replacement, slightly more powerful and with an entirely new body was announced in May 1957.

1954 Humber Hawk Mk VIA 2267cc

Mark VI registered 6 August 1954

Road test

The motoring correspondent of The Times claimed that any previous Hawk owner would be “astonished” by the Mark VI’s 20 per cent more powerful engine’s ability to effortlessly swing the car along at 70 mph. Cold starting was very good. The engine was not always so willing to start when cold. The tyres were inclined to squeal on not very sharp corners taken at any more than a modest speed.The brake lining area is now 40 per cent more than on the Mark V. The driver’s windscreen wiper is badly located.

A Mk VI estate car with overdrive tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 had a top speed of 79.7 mph (128.3 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 25.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 22.8 miles per imperial gallon (12.4 l/100 km; 19.0 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1405, including taxes.

Humber Hawk Series I to IVA

Humber Hawk Series I-IVA
Humber Hawk Series II
Production 1957–1967
production 15,539 (I)
6813 (IA)
7,230 (II)
6,109 (III)
1,746 (IV)
3,754 (IVA)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Estate car
Engine 2267 cc Straight-4 ohv
Transmission 4-speed manual all-synchromesh
Overdrive and automatic optional
Wheelbase 110 in (2,800 mm)
Length 185 in (4,700 mm)
Width 70 in (1,800 mm)
Height 61.5 in (1,560 mm)

The new Hawk announced in May 1957 had a completely new body with unitary construction which it would go on to share with the 1958 Humber Super Snipe. This was the biggest bodyshell for a saloon/estate car built in Great Britain at the time. The 2267 cc engine was carried over, though with modifications to the distributor mounting, and other details; and an automatic transmission, the Borg Warner D.G. model, was now available. The body was styled in Rootes’ own studios and featured more glass than previous models, with wrap-around front windscreen, which gave it a considerable resemblance to a base model 1955 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. The missing rear quarter-lights were returned in series IV. The estate version featured a horizontally split tailgate—the lower half opening downwards (to provide an extra length of luggage-platform if necessary) and the upper half upwards. The fuel-filler cap was concealed behind the offside rear reflector.

There were several revisions during the car’s life, each resulting in a new Series number.

The 1959 Series 1A had changed gear ratios and minor trim changes.

The Series II launched in October 1960 had disc front brakes, servo-assisted. The automatic option was no longer available on the home market.

The Series III of September 1962 had a larger fuel tank and bigger rear window. The export model automatic option was also dropped.

More significant changes came with the October 1964 Series IV. The roof was made flatter, the rear window smaller and an extra side window fitted behind the rear doors. Synchromesh was fitted to bottom gear. An anti-roll bar was fitted at the rear.

The final Series IVA of 1965 saw the automatic option re-introduced, this time being the Borg Warner Model 35.

Some “Series” cars are found with a floor-type gear change replacing the (good quality) standard column-mounted gearstick — these are later owner modifications resembling the original factory option, and the parts necessary for this were obtained from the Commer Karrier Walk-thru–type vans and light lorries which were also made by the Rootes Group at this time. All of the automatic transmission–optioned cars were fitted with the column-type selectors only.

A Series I car without overdrive was tested by the British The Motor magazine in 1957 had a top speed of 83.9 mph (135.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 22.5 miles per imperial gallon (12.6 l/100 km; 18.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1261, including taxes of £421.

In March 1967 Rootes announced that production of the Humber Hawk, along with that of the Super Snipe and Imperial had ceased. The announcement stated that the cars’ place in their range would be filled by Chrysler Valiants imported from Australia, although there is no evidence of the UK car market having been flooded by Valiants following the announcement.

After Hawk production ended, Rootes came to concentrate on sectors offering greater volume, no longer featuring as a UK provider of large family cars. It had, in particular, been unusual for UK manufactured cars of this size to feature a spacious station wagon / estate car version; and, following the demise of the Humber Hawk, the UK market for large estate cars quickly came to be dominated by the Volvo 145, introduced to the UK in March 1968, and its successors.

 Humber Hawk Series I

1938-1967 Humber Super Snipe

Humber Super Snipe
1959 Humber Super Snipe Series II 2965cc red(dish) car

Humber Super Snipe Series II
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Production 1938-1967
Assembly United Kingdom
Body and chassis
Related Humber Hawk
Humber Snipe
Humber Pullman
Humber Imperial

The Humber Super Snipe is a car which was produced from 1938 to 1967 by the British-based Humber car company, part of the Rootes Group.

Pre-war Super Snipe

Humber Super Snipe
1939 Humber Military 1939 4000cc allegedly
Production 1938-1940
1500 (approx) made
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Sports saloon
Drophead coupé
Engine 4086 cc Straight-6 side valve
Wheelbase 114 in (2,896 mm)
Length 175 in (4,445 mm)
Width 70 in (1,778 mm)
Predecessor Humber Snipe

The Super Snipe was introduced in October 1938, derived by combining the four-litre inline six-cylinder engine from the larger Humber Pullman with the chassis and body of the Humber Snipe, normally powered by a three-litre engine. The result was a car of enhanced performance and a top speed of 79 mph (127 km/h) —fast for its day. Its design was contributed to by American engine genius Delmar “Barney” Roos who left a successful career at Studebaker to join Rootes in 1936.

The Super Snipe was marketed to upper-middle-class managers, professional people and government officials. It was relatively low-priced for its large size and performance, and was similar to American cars in appearance and concept, and in providing value for money.

Within a year of introduction, World War II broke out in Europe but the car continued in production as a British military staff car, the Car, 4-seater, 4×2, while the same chassis was used for an armoured reconnaissance vehicle, the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car.

Military operators

Super Snipe Mark I to III

Humber Super Snipe Mark I-III
1951 Humber Super Snipe ex military

Humber Super Snipe 1951 ex military
Production 1945-1952
production 3909 (Mk I)
8,361 (Mk II)
8,703 (Mk III)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
drophead coupe
estate car
Engine 4086 cc Straight-6 side valve (I to III)
Wheelbase 114 in (2,896 mm) (I)
117 in (2,972 mm) (I to III)
Length 180 in (4,572 mm) (I)
187 in (4,750 mm) (II)
191 in (4,851 mm) (III)
Width 69 in (1,753 mm) (I)
74 in (1,880 mm) (II & III)

In 1946, post-war civilian production resumed and the Super Snipe evolved though several versions, each designated by a Mark number, each generally larger, more powerful, and more modern, until production ended in 1957 with the Mark IVB version.

Mk I

The Mark I was essentially a 6 cylinder version of the 1945 Humber Hawk, itself a facelifted pre-war car. A version of the 1930s Snipe remained available, with the 1936-introduced 2731 cc engine. However, the standard Super Snipe engine was the 4086cc side-valve engine that had appeared in the Humber Pullman nearly a decade earlier, in 1936, and which would continue to power post-war Super Snipes until 1952. Throughout the years 1936 – 1952 the maximum power output of the engine was always given by the manufacturer as 100 bhp at 3400 rpm.

1946 Humber Super Snipe Mk I

Humber Super Snipe Mark I (1946)


1949 Humber Super Snipe 4086cc

early Humber Super Snipe Mark II 1949

The Mark II announced in mid-September 1948 was mostly redesigned in chassis and body. Now a full six-seater with a bench-type front seat it was given a wider track and a variable ratio steering unit. The gear lever was now mounted on the steering column. Like Humber’s Pullman the headlights were fitted into the wings and running-boards were re-introduced. The transverse-spring independent suspension, first introduced on the Snipe and Pullman in 1935, continued but with 14 leaves instead of eight.

The smaller-engined Snipe was discontinued. Early Mark II Super Snipes can be distinguished by round lamps below the head lamps.The left one was a fog lamp,and the right one was a “pass” lamp with a low narrow beam for passing cars when using dipped headlights. These were dropped in 1949 in favour of rectangular side lamps which were continued in the Mark III.

The Times motoring correspondent tested the new car at the end of 1948. The spare tyre was difficult to extract and the indirect gears, he thought, were not as quiet as they might be. Overall the finish reflected the excellent taste that distinguishes Rootes Group products

125 drophead coupés were made by Tickford in 1949 and 1950.

1949 drophead coupé by Tickford
1949 Humber Super Snipe Tickford drophead coupé
1949 Humber Super Snipe Tickford drophead coupé rear
1949 Humber Super Snipe Tickford drophead coupé inside


1952 Humber Super Snipe Mark III 4086cc

Humber Super Snipe Mark III 1952

The Mk III followed in August 1950. Easily identifiable by spats over the rear wheels it had a Panhard rod added to the rear suspension which limited sideways movement of the rear wheels and so permitted the use of softer springs. The 1950 car can be readily distinguished from the previous model by the simpler dome-shaped bumpers and the rectangular stainless-steel foot-treads on the running-boards.

A Mk III tested by The Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 81.6 mph (131.3 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 19.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 17.7 miles per imperial gallon (16.0 L/100 km; 14.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1,471 including taxes.


Humber Super Snipe Mark IV
1955 Humber Super Snipe Mk IV sedan

1955 example
Production 1952-1958
production 17,993 (IV)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Engine 4138 cc Straight-6 ohv
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 116 in (2,946 mm)
Length 197 in (5,004 mm)
Width 71 in (1,803 mm)
Height 54 in (1,400 mm)

The all-new Mark IV Super Snipe announced mid-October 1952, Earls Court Motor Show time, used a Hawk Mk IV body shell lengthened by 6 in (152 mm) but with a 4138 cc 113 bhp (84 kW) overhead-valve engine also used in a Rootes Group Commer truck. Chassis and suspension components were uprated to take the greater weight and power of the Super Snipe, those parts ceasing to be interchangeable with those of the Hawk. From 1955, overdrive was available as an option, followed in 1956 by an automatic gearbox.

Shortly after the announcement a new silver-grey Humber Super Snipe driven by Mr Stirling Moss and Mr Leslie Johnson, the racing motorists, and two Rootes Group staff set off from Oslo and drove through 15 European countries coming into Italy from the East and finishing at Lisbon, Portugal. Accomplished in 3 days 17 hours and 59 minutes the run demonstrated the cars high speed reliability in far from ideal conditions.

In 1953 The Motor tested a Mk IV and found the larger engine had increased performance with the top speed now 91 mph (146 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 14.7 seconds. Fuel consumption had decreased to 15.5 miles per imperial gallon (18.2 L/100 km; 12.9 mpg-US). The test car cost slightly more at £1,481, including taxes.

1955 Humber Super Snipe Mk IV sedan rear

In 1957 “The Times” commented that the handsome vehicle, if somewhat dated, attracted favourable attention from passers-by and gave driver and passengers a satisfying sense of solidity and respectability. The two separate front seats were described as “enormous” and it was noted their backs might be let down horizontal for a passenger to sleep. The steering was found to be imprecise in its action as a whole and uncomfortably low geared for parking, power assistance would be an improvement. The car represented remarkably fine value for money.

New Super Snipe Series I to V

Humber Super Snipe Series I-V
1966 Humber Super Snipe 2965cc

series V registered July 1966
Production 1958-1967
production 6,072 (I)
7,175 (II)
7,257 (III)
6,495 (IV)
3,032 (V)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
Estate car
Engine 2651 cc Straight-6 ohv (I)
2965 cc ohv (II-V)
Transmission 3 speed manual
Overdrive and automatic optional
Wheelbase 110 in (2,794 mm)
Length 185 in (4,699 mm) (I & II) 188 in (4,775 mm) (III to V)
Width 69.5 in (1,765 mm)
Height 62 in (1,575 mm)

Series I

In October 1958, a new Super Snipe was introduced and first presented to the public at the opening of the Paris Salon de l’Automobile. Confusingly, the designation returned to the Super Snipe I, but this time the variants were identified by a series number. The new car was based on the unitized chassis and body of the four-cylinder Humber Hawk, but with a new 2.6 litre, 2,651 cc, six-cylinder overhead-valve engine based on an Armstrong Siddeley design with bore and stroke of 82.55 millimetres (3.250 in) and near-hemispherical combustion chambers producing 112 bhp at 5000 rpm.

This engine was matched to a three-speed manual transmission with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive on second and top gears, or Borg Warner DG automatic transmission. Power steering was available as an option. Also offered was a touring limousine model with glass partition.

The new car was smaller on the outside, but larger on the inside, with improved performance and the appearance of a reduced size 1955 Chevrolet 4-door sedan.

Series II

After twelve months a Series II was announced with its engine enlarged to 3 litres, 2,965 cc, by increasing the bore to 87.2 mm (3.4 in). A new Zenith carburettor is now fitted and the engine’s output is now 129 bhp at 4800 rpm. A new eight-bladed fan improved engine cooling. Girling 11.5 in (292 mm) disc brakes were introduced on the front wheels with 11 in (279 mm) drums on the rear axle. A stiffer anti-roll bar was fitted to the front suspension.

A Series II with overdrive and power steering was tested by The Motor in 1960 and had a top speed of 94.7 mph (152.4 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 16.5 seconds. A fuel consumption of 24.6 miles per imperial gallon (11.5 L/100 km; 20.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1,601 including taxes. The basic car cost £1453.

Series III

The styling of the Series III which Rootes Group announced in October 1960 is distinguishable by its four headlights and revised full-width grille. This Snipe was the first British car to fit two pairs of headlamps. The suspension of the car has been considerably modified along with the car’s floor structure which has improved the car’s high speed stability. The front of the car was redesigned to give a lower bonnet line. The nose of the car had also been lengthened by 3.25 inches (83 mm) to accommodate an additional pulley mounted on the front of the crankshaft so that air conditioning could be included as an option, principally for the North American market. Separate ducts are now provided for heating and cooling air to the passenger compartment. The engine received improved bearings and a changed lubrication system and it has been given better cooling with a quieter fan. Seats were redesigned to give more leg space for backseat passengers.

When tested by The Times complaints focussed on a perceived need for more logical grouping of instruments, a horn ring obstructing the driver’s view of the instruments and and an over-bright white choke warning light. To some extent the power steering lacked “feel”. In direct top gear a speed of 95 mph was obtained, less if overdrive had been engaged.

Series IV

For the October 1962 Motor Show there were minor improvements. The rear window was changed to give the roof line an improved appearance. Engine output was now rated at 132.5 bhp (99 kW) bhp and the rear axle had been given a higher gear ratio. Manual gearbox cars received a new type of diaphragm clutch made by Borg and Beck and the petrol tank was enlarged from 12.5 to 16 gallons capacity. It can be distinguished by its revised rear-window treatment (doesn’t wrap around quite as much as earlier models), Snipe bird badge on grille, opening quarter-light windows in the rear doors, and other trim differences.

Series V

In October 1964 the final Series V version of the Saloon saw an upper body restyle, (also applied to the Hawk Saloon) with a flat roofline and rear window, six-light side windows and a larger, taller windscreen. The Estate body in both marques remained unchanged. Twin Zenith Stromberg 175CD carburettors were fitted along with a Harry Weslake tuned cylinder head, increasing the power to 137.5 bhp (102.5 kW), and synchromesh was fitted to all ratios in the gearbox—on the previous versions it had only been on the upper two. Major modifications were made to front and rear suspensions and they required less maintenance. Sound insulation was further improved.

Hydrosteer power steering was available as an optional extra, as was an automatic transmission (Borg Warner Type 35 on Series VA), and metallic paint finishes.The motoring correspondent of the Motoring and Driving Register (July 1967) had this to say of the car: “The Humber Super Snipe is an assured car for travelling comfortably from town to town and even on the new fast motorways. Yet its powerful engine allows it to handle the challenges of smaller lanes where the speeds rise and fall with each change of direction and each corner negotiated”.

Humber Imperial

Intended to match BMC’s Rolls-Royce engined Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R the Imperial shared the basic specification and performance of the Super Snipe and then had a vinyl roof, fully reclinable front seats, automatic transmission and hydrosteer power steering as standard, though a manual 3-speed transmission could be ordered. It also featured electrically adjustable rear shock absorber settings, a separately controlled rear passenger heater and optional West-of-England cloth-trimmed seats as well as many smaller amenities including individual reading lamps.

Humber Imperial

Humber Imperial 1964-67

The Rootes Group ceased production of the Series VA version in July 1967, by which time the group was under the control of the American Chrysler Corporation. The last of the big Humbers were assembled by Chrysler in Melbourne, Australia. Plans to introduce a V8 engine, and for the Chrysler 180/2L to be marketed as a Humber in the UK did not eventuate.

1963-1976 Humber Sceptre

Humber Sceptre
1964 Humber Sceptre

1964 Humber Sceptre MK I
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Chrysler (UK) Ltd
Also called Sunbeam Sceptre
Production 1963 to 1976
Assembly United Kingdom
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door estate car
Layout FR layout

The Humber Sceptre is an automobile which was produced in the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1976 by the Rootes Group and its successor Chrysler (UK) Ltd.

MK I (1963 to 1965)

Humber Sceptre MK I

Humber Sceptre MK I

The Humber Sceptre MK I, introduced in 1963, was a luxury car based on the Hillman Super Minx. It featured a unique roof, glass and upper/rear bodywork not shared with the Super Minx or the related Singer Vogue. The Sceptre was originally intended as a four-door replacement for the Sunbeam Rapier, but was launched as a Humber, while the Rapier continued in production with little modification until 1967. This resulted in the Sceptre being more sporty in character than traditional Humbers. The Sceptre was positioned at the top of the mid-range Rootes Group cars, above the Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue. It featured similar twin headlight styling to the Vogue and a more powerful 80 bhp version of the 1600 Minx engine. The high level of equipment included disc front brakes, overdrive, screen washers, reversing lamp, rev counter and a full range of instruments. Automatic transmission was made available later. A MK IA was introduced in 1964.[2] Whilst the Super Minx and Vogue received revised six light styling in 1964, the Sceptre body continued unchanged until 1965 when it was replaced by the MK II. Production of the MK I and IA models totaled 17,011 units.

MK II (1965 to 1967)

1966 Humber Sceptre MkII 1724cc

Humber Sceptre MK II

The Sceptre MK II, introduced in 1965, featured revised front end styling and a twin carburettor version of the 1725cc engine. It was produced until 1967. Production of the MK II totaled 11,983 units.

MK III (1967 to 1976)

1975 Humber Sceptre MKIII Saloon

Humber Sceptre MK III Saloon

1975 Humber Sceptre MK III Estate 1725cc

Humber Sceptre MK III Estate

The Sceptre MK III, introduced in 1967, was a derivative of the Rootes Arrow design and was the best-appointed version of this model offered by Rootes. It continued Humber’s tradition of building luxury cars and featured wood-veneer fascia, complete instrumentation, adjustable steering column, vinyl roof and extra brightwork on the wheel arches and rear panel. The MK III had a more powerful version of the 1725 engine with twin carburettors giving 87bhp. The manual-gearbox model featured either the D-type or the later J-type Laycock De Normanville overdrive, with the J-type fitted from chassis numbers L3 onwards starting in July 1972. As with all models in the Arrow range, an automatic gearbox was an option. A closer ratio G-type gearbox was fitted to later Sceptres, using the J-type overdrive. An estate car variant of the Sceptre was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1974. It featured a built-in roof rack and a carpeted loading floor protected by metal strips and illuminated by an additional interior light. Washer and wiper were provided for the rear window, a rare feature on UK-market estate cars of the time.

The Sceptre was discontinued in September 1976, along with the Humber and Hillman marque names. From that time, all models in the Chrysler UK range were branded as Chryslers. Production of the MK III totaled 43,951 units.

Use of the Sceptre name by Peugeot

The name “Sceptre” reappeared in 1990 for some SRi versions of the Peugeot 205, 405 and 605. Peugeot had bought Chrysler’s European operations (which also included French carmaker Simca) in 1978 and rebranded the whole European Chrysler range under the reborn Talbot marque.

Hillman Super Minx

Hillman Super Minx
Hillman Minx Series III However, this is believed to be a Hillman Super Minx (pre-facelift)

Hillman Super Minx Mk I
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Also called Humber 90 (New Zealand, South Africa)
Production 1961–66 (saloon)
1962–64 (convertible)
1962–67 (estate)
Assembly United Kingdom
Port Melbourne, Australia
Petone, New Zealand
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door estate

ConvertibleRelatedSinger Vogue
Humber Vogue (Australia)
Humber Sceptre
Hillman MinxPowertrainEngine1,592 cc I4
1,725 cc I4
(1965–1967)DimensionsWheelbase101 in (2,565 mm)Length165 in (4,191 mm))Width62.8 in (1,595 mm)Height58 in (1,473 mm)Curb weight2,239 lb (1,016 kg) (saloon)
2,368 lb (1,074 kg) (estate)ChronologySuccessorRootes Arrow

The Hillman Super Minx was a motor car from the British Rootes Group. It was a slightly larger version of the Hillman Minx, from the period when the long-running Minx nameplate was applied to the “Audax” series of designs. (The Minx underwent many changes throughout its history, and the Super Minx name was not used during production of non-Audax Minx designs.)

Announced in October 1961, the Super Minx gave Rootes, and particularly its Hillman marque, an expanded presence in the upper reaches of the family car market. It has been suggested that the Super Minx design was originally intended to replace, and not merely to supplement, the standard Minx, but was found to be too big for that purpose. An estate car joined the range in May 1962, and a two-door convertible in June 1962. The convertible never sold in significant numbers: the last one was made in June 1964, ahead of the introduction, in September 1964, of the Super Minx Mark III.

1964 Hillman Super Minx cabriolet

A cabriolet version was offered until 1964.

The car was powered by the Rootes 1,592 cc unit, which had first appeared late in 1953 with a 1,390 cc capacity. The original Super Minx had the cast-iron cylinder head version of the engine, though on later cars the cylinder head was replaced with an aluminium one.

Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with anti-roll bar and at the rear had leaf springs and a live axle. Un-assisted 9 in (229 mm) Lockheed drum brakes were fitted. The steering used a recirculating ball system and was as usual at the time not power assisted. Standard seating, trimmed in Vynide, used a bench type at the front with individual seats as an option. A heater was fitted but a radio remained optional. The car could be ordered in single colour or two tone paint. The four-speed manual transmission featured synchromesh on the top three ratios from the start  and had a floor lever: “Smiths Easidrive” automatic transmission was option.

A car was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1962 and had a top speed of 80.0 mph (128.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.6 seconds. A “touring” fuel consumption of 27.9 miles per imperial gallon (10.1 L/100 km; 23.2 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £854 including taxes, which was then slightly less than the recently upgraded Austin Cambridge A60.

The first Super Minxes featured the 1,592 cc engine as used in the Hillman Minx, providing in this application a claimed 62 bhp (46 kW; 63 PS) of power.

Mark II

A year after the car was launched a Mark II version was presented, in October 1962, with greasing points eliminated, larger front disc brakes and a revised axle ratio. For buyers of the automatic transmission cars, 1962 was the year that the Smiths Easidrive option was replaced by the Borg-Warner 35 transmission.

Mark III

In 1964, with the launch of the Super Minx Mark III the Super Minx was facelifted, and the wrap-around rear window gave way to a new “six-light” design with extra side windows aft of the rear side doors.

Mark IV

1966 Hillman Super Minx estate 1725cc

The Super Minx was also available as an estate car.

Engine capacity was increased to 1,725 cc for the Super Minx Mark IV launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965. (The larger engine outlived the Super Minx, to be used in later models too.)

Related models

1964 Singer Vogue after face lift with six light arrangement

Singer Vogue after the 1964 facelift which saw the wrap around rear window replaced with a more modern “six-light” arrangement

1965 Singer Vogue Estate License plate

The Singer Vogue version was also available as an estate car.

1967 Humber Sceptre (Audax era)

Unlike the Hillman and Singer versions, the Super Minx based Humber Sceptre (shown here in its final form) retained the panoramic wrap-around rear window till the model was replaced, in the Humber’s case in 1967, by a Hillman Hunter based successor

Like many other Rootes products including the Minx, the Super Minx was one of a badge-engineered series of models, sold under various marques.

The Singer marque was represented by the Singer Vogue which had first been announced in July 1961, four months earlier than the Hillman Super Minx. The range was joined in 1963 by a Humber: the Humber Sceptre.The Singer Vogue and Humber Sceptre names would be retained by the successor Rootes Arrow model range. The Humber Sceptre was developed as a four-door replacement for the Sunbeam Rapier, but morphed into a Humber shortly before launch, while the two-door Rapier based in the ‘Audax’ Minx continued unreplaced until 1967. The Sceptre nevertheless was able to be successfully promoted as a more sporty car than the larger traditional Humbers. Unlike the Hillman and Singer versions, the Super Minx based Humber Sceptre retained the same roof, with large panoramic windscreen and striking shallow wrap-around rear window with fins, until the model was replaced, in the Humber’s case in 1967, by a Hillman Hunter based successor.

The cars differed in subtle ways, with the Singer being positioned slightly above the Hillman and gaining such extras as quad headlights, and the Humber topping the range, commensurate with Humber’s traditional role as a producer of upmarket and luxury models. The styling of the Sceptre (as well as the Vogue) somewhat recalled previous, larger Humbers. The Sceptre marks 1 and 1A had a slightly different grille arrangement and front trim to the Vogue as well as a taller panoramic windscreen, sloping rear roofline and larger rear fins. . It had been intended that the Sceptre be a sports saloon until shortly before its launch as a Humber, hence its sprightly performance compared with other Humber models.

Nearly five years after its launch, a Singer Vogue Series IV saloon tested by the Britain’s Autocar magazine in August 1966, now with an advertised power output of 85 bhp (63 kW; 86 PS), had a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 25 seconds. An overall fuel consumption of 22.0 miles per imperial gallon (12.8 L/100 km; 18.3 mpg-US) was achieved. The test car was priced by Rootes in the UK at £911 including taxes, at a time when the Austin 1800 was retailing for £888 and the Ford Corsair GT was offered at £925. The performance was felt to be lively, and the gear change, supported on the test car with an optional overdrive, ‘crisp’ with well chosen ratios. Comfort and fittings were also commended, but the fuel consumption and the tendency of the heavy brakes to fade when used hard disappointed the testers: this would presumably not have been an issue had the road test been of a Humber Sceptre which had its stopping power from a servo-assisted 10-inch (250 mm) front disc/rear drum arrangement.

The Humber was also, at launch, fitted with a high tune version of the 1,592 cc and, from September 1965, 1,725 cc oversquare engine producing 80 hp (60 kW) and 85 hp (63 kW) respectively. Early models with the 1,592 cc engine had twin single Zenith downdraught carburettors – later 1,592/1,725 cc engines used a Solex twin choke downdraught carburettor for simplicity. The twin Zenith carburettors had been hard to keep balanced. Other modifications included a water-jacketed inlet manifold, timing adjustments and stronger valve springs to eliminate valve bounce at high engine speeds. The later H120’s 107 hp (80 kW) engine is a straight swap for both of these units and looks almost identical – it provides a useful boost in power to an already swift automobile. The unique Sceptre interior featured full instrumentation, including a tachometer marked up to 6,000 rpm, and a four-speed floor-mounted transmission with self-cancelling overdrive (with column-mounted control and indicator) on third and fourth gear for a total of six separate ratios in standard form. The lockout could be removed on first and second gears, and this was often done by Rootes in cars used for competitions such as rallying. In addition, the Sceptre was from the beginning provided with servo-assisted braking control and, unusually in 1963, 10-inch front disc-brakes. The Marks 1 and 1A were not available with an automatic option – although this was rectified with the Mark II cars, using a three-speed unit with automatic kick-down. This was a cheaper option than was usual at the time due to the deletion of the Laycock De Normanville overdrive fitted to the Manual cars.

There was a Singer variant of the smaller Minx as well (the Singer Gazelle) but no equivalent Humber version of the Minx, (except for the Humber 80 version of the Minx released in New Zealand, as is Humber 90 to the Super Minx) which would have been uncharacteristically small for the Humber marque; conversely there was a sporty Sunbeam version of the Minx (the Sunbeam Rapier) but no Sunbeam version of the Super Minx.

In addition to assembling the Super Minx, Rootes Australia produced variants of the Singer Vogue from 1963 to 1966 as the Humber Vogue and Humber Vogue Sports.

At least six Humber Sceptre development mules were built with the same engine as the Sunbeam Tiger – a 289 cui Ford V8 unit – Sadly this was not proceeded with as it would have made for a very capable sporting saloon which would have had few rivals in its class. At least one of these original cars survives.


The Super Minx saloon and its Singer relatives were replaced by the Rootes Arrow range when the Hillman Hunter and Singer Vogue were launched at the London Motor Show in October 1966. However, the Hunter was initially offered only as a saloon and accordingly the Super Minx estate car remained in production until April 1967.

Humber catalogue for 1930

“Such Cars As Even Humber Never Built Before”

9/28 Touring Car £240
9/28 Fabric Saloon £280
9/28 Saloon £295
16/50 Imperial Touring Car £410
16/50 Humber Touring Car £425
16/50 Imperial Saloon £435
16/50 Humber Saloon £465
16/50 Six-Light Weymann Saloon £465
16/50 Four-Door Weymann Coupé £475
16/50 Drop-Head Coupé £495
20/65 DualPurpose Car £475
20/65 Saloon £525
20/65 Limousine £725
20/65 Landaulette £725
Humber “Snipe” Touring Car £495
Humber “Snipe” Six-Light Weymann Saloon £535
Humber “Snipe” Saloon £535
Humber “Snipe” Four-Door Weymann Coupé £545
Humber “Snipe” Drop-Head Coupé £565
Humber “Pullman” Landaulette £775
Humber “Pullman” Limousine £775
Humber Cabriolet de Ville £1,095
(Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly)

Surviving cars

There is a thriving club, and many of these upmarket cars survive today.

The world’s largest collection of Humber cars can be viewed at the Marshalls Post-Vintage Humber Car Museum in Hull. It includes 21 Humber cars dating from 1932 to 1970 on permanent display, plus 24 unrestored cars.

When Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother visited Western Australia in the 1950s, a Humber was shipped over for her. It was left in a paddock, and was rediscovered and verified in 2002. It has since been restored and is currently privately owned.

See also

1900 Humber-Logo 1903 Humber 2,75 pk 1903 Humber advertentie 1903 Humber ette 1903 Humber Humberette 5 HP Voiturette 1903 Humber Humberette 8HP 1904 Humber Forecar rear 1904 Humber Forecar 1904 Humber Olympia Tandem 350cc 1904-Humberette-D1184-1192 1905 Humber-auto logo 1906 humber adler 1910 Humber 12 Doctor's Landaulette 1914 Humber 500 cc 3-Speed 1920 Humber 15.9HP 1924 Humber 11,4 HP Saloon 1924-28 Humber Winder Special Engine 1056cc 1925 Humber 2¾-pk (350 cc) 234HP 1925 Humber, 14-40, Saloon 1926 Humber 9-20 tourer 1927 Humber 14-40 All Weater Tourer 5-seat Tourer 1928 Humber 14-40 HP Tourer 1929 Humber 14-40 HP 2-Seater 1929 Humber 20-65 Engine 3075cc 1929 Humber Maroon 1930 humber 16 50 1930 Humber 16 1930 Humber 16-50Hp 1930 humber pullmann 1930 humber reklama 1931 humber 12 hp sport tourer 1931 humber advert 1931 humber Pullman 1931 humber pullman-bw 1931 humber range 1931 humber Snipe Sports Saloon 1932 humber pullman 1932 Humber Snipe 80 Landaulette by Thrupp & Maberley a 1932 Humber Snipe 80 Landaulette by Thrupp & Maberley 1932 Humber Snipe 80 1932 humber snipe saloon 1933 humber 12 saloon 1933 humber pullman 1933 humber snipe 80 1933 Humber16-60 1933 1934 humber 00 1934 humber 01e 1934 humber 09a 1934 humber 11a 1934 humber 13a 1934 humber 21a 1934 humber 23a 1934 humber 29a 1934 humber 31a 1934 Humber Snipe 80 sedan 1934 humber snipe 1934 humber ten-hoeve 1935 Humber 16-60 Engine 3498cc S6 SV 1935 humber 16-60 six light saloon 1935 humber Pullman saloon 1935 humber snipe 80 sports saloon 1935 humber snipe sports 1935 humber twelve saloon 1935 humber vogue pillaress saloon 1936 humber 12 saloon 1936 humber 12 vogue luggage 1936 humber pullman 1936 humber snipe sports saloon tyl 1937 Humber Snipe 1938 humber pullman thrupp+maberly 1938 humber snipe imperial drophead coupe 1938 humber snipe imperial saloon 1938-40 Humber Snipe Production 2706 Engine 3183 cc S6 SV 1939 humber le-velo 1939 Humber Military 1939 4000cc allegedly 1939 humber snipe 20 hp 1939 humber snipe mk2 utility 1939 humber super snipe ad