Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,385 pages of information and 233,851 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Rover Group

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Car manufacturers.

Chronology -

1986 The state-owned vehicle manufacturer BL was renamed Rover Group plc

A new chairman, Graham Day, took over. He split the group into 6 divisions - including Land Rover, Freight Rover and Leyland Trucks[1], and Austin Rover.[2] The eventual aim was to privatise the group.

Preparations were made to privatize the last of the company's fringe activities, the computing operation Istel of Redditch[3]

1986 the Rover SD1 was replaced by the Rover 800, developed with the Honda Legend. By this time Austin Rover had moved to a one-marque strategy and was renamed simply 'Rover Group'. The Austin range were now technically 'Rovers', though the word Rover never actually appeared on the badging — there was instead a badge similar to the Rover Viking shape, without wording. These 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.

1987 Management buy-out of Leyland Bus and Unipart[4]

1987 Leyland Trucks merged with DAF as Leyland DAF[5]

1987 The government provided £680 million to cover the costs of restructuring. The continuing business units were performing very differently - soaring trading losses at the Austin Rover car division but Land Rover was trading profitably.

1987 Austin Rover returned to profit, the first since 1983; Land Rover was also profitable[6]

1988 After divesting its commercial vehicle and bus manufacturing divisions the company, by then consisting of the car manufacturing arm Austin Rover and Land Rover, was privatised by the sale of the company to British Aerospace (BAe).

1994 Acquired by the German vehicle manufacturer BMW.

1994 The takeover by BMW saw the development of the 'Rover 75'

2000 BMW sold parts of the Rover Group which were then known as MG Rover Group

2000 BMW retained the rights to the Rover name (and the associated portfolio of brands such as 'Mini', Triumph and Austin-Healey) after it sold the business, only licensing it to the Phoenix consortium while it was in control of 'Rover'. The BMW management knew that 'Rover' needed a new product lineup to be competitive with Opel/Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Ford and the other leading mainstream volume manufacturers. The '75' was the first part of this lineup. The MINI was the second. To replace both the 200 and the 400 with a more direct successor to the 1980s 200 was the 'Rover 55' (R30 project) intended to combat the Opel 'Astra', Ford 'Focus' and Volkswagen 'Golf' in the competitive and lucrative European small family car segment. This high volume semi-premium vehicle was cancelled in 2000, just as the Rover group was sold. The BMW 1-Series is considered by some to be the result of this project. BMW has the rights to the R30 project's engineering and design.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, September 26, 1986
  2. The Times, July 08, 1986
  3. The Times, August 05, 1986
  4. The Times, May 16, 1987
  5. The Times, May 16, 1987
  6. The Times, March 11, 1988