A-Z Of Marques No 62: Rover

The marque: Venerable British car manufacturer that turns 100 this year.

The history: Rover, like many British car makers, started with bicycles, and made its first car in 1904, a single-cylinder 8bhp model. It supplied motorcycles and trucks to the Allies in the First World War, and focused exclusively on four-wheelers when peace resumed. After an ill-fated flirtation with a VW Beetle-style, rear-engined car named the Scarab, new management in 1933 saw Rover concentrate on the luxury market, from which it began to make decent profits. The Second World War saw the company collaborate with Sir Frank Whittle's jet project and turbine tests continued well into the 1950s. The first serious post-war model was the P4, the "Auntie" Rover, seen at the time as the epitome of middle-English respectability. The luxurious and powerful P5 followed in 1958 and became a favourite of the Queen's. The P6, or 2000, of 1963 was technically advanced and invented the small exectuive saloon long before BMW arrived on the scene. The SD1 of 1976 was also a novel design, but suffered from poor quality. From the 1980s, Rovers became more closely based on Honda designs until the short period of BMW ownership in the 1990s. Now independent again, Rover faces huge challenges as it celebrates its centenary at Longbridge, Birmingham.

Defining model: P6 3500s V8.

They say: Relax. It's a Rover.

We say: Why don't the Brits buy them?

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