1914 Rover 12hp Tourer Registration no. NO 1438 Chassis no. QE 3542 Engine no. QE 3542
What would eventually become the Rover company began by manufacturing one of the landmark designs in the history of human transportation: the 'Safety Bicycle'. The firm's first venture into powered transportation came in 1888 with an electrically powered tricycle but it would be another 16 years, by which time its founder J K Starley had died, before the Rover Cycle Company began experimenting with the internal combustion engine. Designer Edmund Lewis was recruited from Daimler and drew up Rover's first series-production automobile, an 8hp single-cylinder with aluminium backbone frame, an adventurous design that despite its shortcomings remained in production until 1912. Lewis followed up with a more conventional 6hp model, which earned itself the distinction of being Rover's first entered in any competition, in this case the Bexhill Speed Trials of 1902. Before his departure for Siddeley-Deasy, Lewis bequeathed another significant design, the 16/20hp, winner of the 1907 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race for Rover. After an undistinguished flirtation with the Knight sleeve-valve engine, Rover hired ex-Wolseley engineer Owen Clegg, who reorganised production and put the company back on track with a conventional poppet-valve engined car, the 12hp. Powered by a 2.3-litre four featuring pumped lubrication, for the first time on a Rover, the 'Clegg Twelve' was the sole model in the range by 1912 and would remain in production into the 1920s.
The immediately preceding owner purchased this Rover Twelve in October 1992 from a Mr J G Lumsden of Inverness, its owner since December 1982, who stated that the car had been registered 'ZA 7826' (a Dublin number) when the VCC dating certificate was issued. Purchased by the current vendor at Bonhams' Hendon sale in April 2011 (Lot 340) 'NO 1438' is described as in generally 'very fair' condition; the body having been repainted some years ago while the chassis is said to be sound. Bills on file testify to past engine work while the electrics have been rewired and the upholstery refurbished recently by The Leather Conservation Centre, Northampton University at a cost of £4,200.
Finished in maroon/black with brown leather interior, this charming Edwardian Rover is offered with VCC Dating Certificate, sundry invoices, current road fund licence and Swansea V5C registration document. The provision of a starter motor, new ammeter, flashing indicators and brake lights (discreetly concealed) and a Zenith carburettor, the latter a Rover-approved conversion, are the only notified deviations from factory specification.