RIP. That’s right, the mighty Rover has been slain – for now. At first the company was called the Starley and Sutton Company, and they made tricycles along with ‘ordinary’ bike (the bicycles with the giant front wheel and tinsy weensy back wheel) until 1888, when Starley made an electrified horseless carriage using all electric parts. He never put it into production; however it became a launching point to further developments.

Rover logo

A few years before Starley had made history with his Rover Safety Bicycle, the design is still used on 99.9% of all bikes today. The company was renamed the Rover Cycle Company after Starley passed away in 1901, and in the following two years Rover began to manufacture automobiles and motorcycles. Progress was swift, and by the Second World War Rover was a class car for the rich. During the buildup to the Second World War the British Government of the time authorized a buildup, choosing to use domestic companies for this, and Rover became one of them. Shadow production facilities were set up and paid for by the government but manned by civilians, and Rover had two factories set up. Their functions were to mass produce aircraft fighter engines and frames, and by early 1940 they developed the gas turbine engine prototype designs, and in 1941 a working prototype was built and tested. Rolls Royce took over the production of the engines in exchange for Rover getting a lucrative tank engine contract.

Post war boom times abounded and Rover was able to manufacture many experimental cars in the 50s, including the first gas turbine car ever made. In addition to this the 50s and 60s saw much improvements in designs at Rover, and their little Land Rover boomed as well, it became so successful that it was considered indispensible and was one of the main sources of income for Rover. In 1`967 Rover was acquired by Leyland Motors, which was them merged into the BMH Auto Corporation, and thus became British Leyland. Leyland soon floundered in economic downtimes, and it ended in Rover being partially held up by Honda during the 80’s. After this in 1994 Rover was taken over by BMW and then split into three parts, the MINI was maintained by BMW, Land Rover was sold off to Ford, and MG Rover was liquidated.

Rover car

Following this the MG Rover Group ceased production in 2005, and the assets were sold to the Chinese auto group Nanjing Automobile. They then relocated many assets to mainland China and planned on producing Rovers again. However Ford bought the Rover name from BMW with accordance to a contract, and the plans that had been in motion collapsed. Not to be put off, the Nanjing Automobile group renamed everything to Roewe, and Roewe is currently ramping up production for a late 2007, early 2008 release.

However, Rover itself is for the most part gone. Ford has no plans to begin production of Rover and have effectively shut it down as a brand for good.

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