The Rover Company Limited was a British car manufacturing company founded by John Kemp Starley and William Sutton in 1878 that operated from its base in Solihull in Warwickshire. Its brand name Rover was used between 1904-2005.It was launched as a bicycle maker in 1878, before manufacturing cars in 1904 using their Viking Longship badge. The first Rover was a tricycle manufactured by Starley & Sutton Co. of Coventry, England, in 1883.
In 1885 J.K. Starley produced 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. In 1889, the company became J.K. Starley & Co. Ltd., and in the late 1890s, the Rover Cycle Company Ltd.
The company developed and produced the Rover Imperial motorcycle in November 1902. This first Rover motorcycle had innovative features such as a spray carburetor, 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. Between 1903 and 1924 Rover had produced more than 10,000 motorcycles. But due to the poor sales of their motorcycles caused Rover to end motorcycle production and concentrate solely on the production of motor cars.
In 1888, Starley made an electric car, but it never was put into production. A 12hp car was introduced in 1912 and this car was so successful that all other cars were dropped. In 1931 they announced 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.
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. By 1949, engineers Frank Bell and Spen King 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.
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. 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.
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. In 1970 they developed a 100-inch station wagon called Range Rover. Rover became part of the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC) in 1967, which already owned Triumph.