On this day in auto history - December 12th

Sat 12th Dec 2020

It was on this day in 1966 that Leyland Motors Corporation (LMC) made the shock announcement that it was buying Rover Cars in a £25 million deal.

Renowned as a successful manufacturer of lorries and buses, Leyland had recently diversified into car manufacturing and saw Rover as an invaluable addition to its portfolio which also included the upmarket sports car brand Triumph which had been acquired five years earlier.

The deal was to have important ramifications as the acquisition of Rover gave Leyland’s chairman, Lord Stokes, the bargaining power to push ahead and form a merger with the group’s only serious British rival, British Motor Holdings (BMH).

Thus - with encouragement from the then Industry Secretary Tony Benn - the ill-fated British Leyland project was established two years later in an attempt to create a “British General Motors”.

After British Leyland eventually failed, Rover was eventually splintered off in 1982 as part of the Austin Rover group but, following spells under the ownership of British Aerospace and BMW, the marque has been phased out.