Rover (car)

From Academic Kids


Rover (the MG Rover Group) is a manufacturer of automobiles in the United Kingdom, based at the famous Longbridge plant in Birmingham. However, since April 7, 2005, no cars have been made because the company has been insolvent.



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

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 wheeler designs. Cycling magazine said the Rover had 'set the pattern to the world' and the phrase was used in their advertising for many years. Starley's Rover is usually described by historians as the first recognisably modern bicycle. In 1888 Starley made an electric car, but it never was put into production.

In 1889 the company became J. K. Starley & Co. Ltd and in the late 1890s, the Rover Cycle Company Ltd.. Three years after Starley's death in 1901, the Rover company began producing automobiles with the two-seater Rover Eight. Bicycle and motorcycle production continued until the Great Depression forced the end of production in 1925. After automobile production resumed in 1947, following the Second World War, the company began producing the Land Rover.

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Golden years

The 1950's and 60's were fruitful years for the company, with the Land Rover becoming a runaway success, as well as the P5 and P6 saloons equipped with a small aluminum V-8 engine, the design and tooling of which was purchased from Buick, and pioneering research into gas turbine fuelled vehicles. In 1967, Rover became part of the Leyland Motor Company, which merged with the British Motor Corporation to become British Leyland. This was the beginning of the end for the traditional Rover, 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. The Rover SD1 of 1976 was an excellent car, but was beset with so many build quality and reliability issues that it never delivered its great promise. A savage programme of cutbacks in the late 1970s led to the end of car production at the Solihull factory which was turned over for Land Rover production only. All future Rover cars would be made in the former Austin and Morris plants in Longbridge and Cowley, respectively.

Rover and Honda

In the 1980s, the slimmed down BL used the Rover badge on a range of cars co-developed with Honda. The first Honda-sourced model, released in 1984 was the Rover 200, which, like the Triumph Acclaim that it replaced, was based on the Honda Ballade. (Similarly, in Australia, the Honda Quint and Integra were badged as the Rover Quintet and 416i.) In 1986, the SD1 was replaced by the Rover 800, based on the Honda Legend. By this time Austin Rover had moved to a one-marque strategy and renamed itself simply "Rover Group". The Austin Maestro and Montego, now badged as Rovers (though the word 'Rover' never actually appeared on the badging, just a version of the Viking badge), were replaced by the Rover 400 and Rover 600, based on Honda's Concerto and Accord. This was to prove to be the turn-around point for the company, steadily rebuilding its image to the point where once again Rovers were seen as upmarket alternatives to Fords and Vauxhalls. The 1994 takeover by BMW saw the development of the Rover 75, before the infamous de-merger in 2000.

The End?

The company continued as the MG Rover Group and in 2005 held talks with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which would have seen the Chinese corporation acquire 70 per cent of the MG Rover Group in return for a 1 billion investment. The talks stalled over doubts about Rover's financial position and, on April 7, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, announced – after a conversation with MG Rover chairman, John Towers – that the company was to be put into Administration. This was later denied by the MG Rover Group, although the company admitted that it had engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm, to advise on its current financial situation. The following day, PriceWaterhouseCoopers were formally appointed Administrators and on April 15, 2005 they announced the company's insolvency when SAIC made it clear it would not purchase the company out of administration. SAIC claimed it had already acquired Intellectual Property Rights in some Rover product for 67 million in the autumn of 2004, including the Rover 25, the Rover 75, Rover Powertrain and the Rover K-series engine, but the Administrators advised that there was still interest in saving some other parts of the company, including MG, and Friday, May 13, 2005 was set as the deadline for bids from potential investors. On Friday, May 20, the Administrators announced that, after considering numerous proposals, they had entered talks with two unnamed "overseas companies" with a view to restarting one or more of the Longbridge production lines. However, just the following week they informed creditors that they by then expected the company to proceed instead to a creditors' voluntary liquidation, setting the date for a preliminary Creditors' Meeting to be held in Birmingham on Friday, June 10, 2005. At that meeting, creditors learned that so little of value was left in the company that there would probably be negligible or even no repayment of its outstanding debt and that, although three bidders were then still negotiating to acquire the company intact as a going concern, the Administrators had instructed their agents to prepare for the piecemeal sale of the very few remaining assets in the event that satisfactory negitiations for the sale of the entire business were were not concluded.

Rover models

See also

nl:Rover (auto) sv:Rover


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