a Rover Cycle Co. advert showing the 'Rover' safety

The Rover name was one that was associated with both cycle and motor production in Coventry.

The origins of the Rover Company go back to 1877 when James Starley’s nephew, John Kemp Starley (1856-1901) joined forces with William Sutton as cycle manufacturers at West Orchard.

In 1885, J K Starley introduced his first design for the ‘Rover’ safety bicycle, and after modifying the basis of this design over the coming years, this was to become the standard form of most bicycles from the 1890s onwards. It was in 1896 when Starley changed the company name to the Rover Cycle Company, moving to larger premises at Garfield Road.

Rover motorcycles were first marketed in 1903, using 2.5hp engines designed by Edmund Lewis. Car production began the following year seeing motorcycle output taking a back-seat. The first cars were 8hp two-seaters, joined two years later by a 6hp model. Post-War cars saw the continuation of four-cylinder models including the 12/14, introduced in 1912 and lasting well until 1925. In the mid 1920s Rover concentrated on medium sized cars like the 14/45 in 1924, followed by the 16/50. The 1930s saw the extension of the Rover range to include ‘Speed’ vehicles of 10, 12, 14, 16, and 20hp.

Motorcycle manufacture remained in Coventry until 1927, while car production continued at Helen Street until 1945 when all production moved to Solihull.
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