By George Oliver. 220 pp. 8 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. (Cassell and Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, WC1. £3.50.)
The Rover is one of the famous makes, one which has had a lengthy history and has fully earned its title of “One of Britain’s Fine Cars”. It has developed through a diverse range of models, has done a little racing, including winning a TT, has had sufficient financial ups and downs to make study of it enthralling. The Rover Company deserves its story to be adequately recorded, but all that happened during the peak of one-make history writing was a very superficial study of “The Rover”, which, moreover, contained one error which was of such magnitude, amongst the divers minor errors all pens are liable to, that it proclaimed the author’s lack of rapport with his chosen subject.
This has now been happily eradicated, by the conscientious and knowledgeable George Oliver, who presents those seeking it with a full, informative and always fascinating account of Rover history from bicycling days to the advent of the Range Rover—and not overlooking a decent amount of space devoted to that altogether worthy British achievement, the Land Rover.
It can be said that sometimes the prose is chronologically jerky, but this is infinitely to be preferred to an over-dramatised, too brief, or inaccurate account. Oliver avoids any of these. One looked to see whether he had left out any saleswise insignificant but technically or historically interesting Rover items—such as the Knight sleeve-valve singles and twins, the possible origins of the air-cooled flat-twin Rover Eight, the obscure 1923 3 1/2-litre Six, the single-seater exercised by Poppe round Brooklands (although this is given only pictorial coverage) and the still-born Scarab. All are included, together with other hitherto obscure information.
Oliver, moreover, has not written his book as an eulogy of Rovers. Some models he warmly praises, even waxes extremely enthusiastic over. But criticism is made where justified and Rover’s often (in the past) precarious financial status revealed.
Perhaps the older Rovers get more space than later models, and the infrequent mention of Dudley Noble and Peter Wilks in this full-scale Rover history does not escape notice. Maybe not every fact has been set down—a few minor details of P4 history which have not made the book, will be found in Motor Sport’s article on these “auntie Rovers”. On the whole, however, this is a most useful history of a most notable make, well and conscientiously done, and enhanced by a separate chapter on Land Rover History and the customary Cassell tabulated Appendix of models, from 1904 to 1971.
The advent of Rovers in rallies, the great Le Mans sortie by the turbine Rover-BRM, the Leyland take-over and the arrival of the 3 1/2-litre V8 Rovers are included. Another one-make history has found a worthy author and publisher.—W. B.