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William Richard Morris, later Lord Nuffield, (1877 – 1963) , was running his own bicycle repair business. In 1909, he created Morris Garage (MG) for repairing bicycles, cars as well as he was dealing in the sale sale of cars – Wolseley, Humber, Singer and Standard cars.
In 1912, he decided to enter in to manufacturing cars and founded Morris Motors. Morris Motors manufactured cars by sourcing components, engines, gearboxes from other manufactures.

A 1913, Morris Oxford car –

The car was named as Oxford after his hometown and came to be known as “Bullnose” in view of the design of the radiator grill.
In 1927, Morris Motors acquired Wolseley Motor Company.
In order to meet the competition from Austin 7 model of Austin Motors, Morris Motor company introduced the Morris Minor in 1928.
Few more small car designed follow from Morris Motors, Morris 8 being one them.

A 1936 Morris 8

By 1935 , Morris Garage (MG) has transformed itself in to a separate car company, mainly involved in making re-bodies Morris cars as well converting Morris cars to sports versions. MG Company was integrated in to Morris Motors in 1935.

In 1952, a major merger between Austin Motors and Morris Motors created the British Motor Corporation (BMC).

Sir Alec Issigonis , a well known Automotive Engineer, was recruited back in to BMC and given the task of creating a small car. This project led to the creation of Morris Mini Minor in 1959.
The Morris Minor had many path breaking design innovations, some of which  were –
  • Front wheel drive
  • Transverse mounted engine
  • Radiator on left to use engine driven cooling fan, where the fan was pushing air on to the radiator
  • A boot lid which opens downwards to increase space
  • Sliding windows so that the inside of doors can be used as storage space
  • Rubber cone suspension instead of springs

The Mini became one of the most famous marques , next only to Model T.

The Oxford range of cars continued to evolve and were produced in India by Hindustan Motors.

A 1948 Morris Oxford MO aka Hindustan Fourteen in India –

A 1950 Morris Oxford II aka Hindustan Landmaster in India –

A 1956 Morris Oxford III aka Hindustan Ambassador in India –

The Morris Motors went through a series of mergers and take overs – In 1966 merger of Jaguar and BMC created the British Motor Holdings(BMH). In 1968 Leyland Motors and BMH merged to form British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). In 1975, BLMC was renamed as British Leyland (BL). In 1986 , BL was renamed as Rover group.
In 1989 , the Rover group was purchased by British Aerospace and later, in 1994, sold off to BMW. In 2000, owing to financial difficulties, BMW sold the Rover brand to a consortium who named the company as MG Rover.
In 2007, Nanjing Automotive group purchased the MG brand.

The Morris Motor Logos –

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Herbert Austin (1866 – 1941) , was chief engineer at Wolseley Tool & Motor Company where we successfully developed smaller car. Unable to convince the management for manufacture of small cars, he left Wolseley.
In 1905, he created Austin Motor Company to design and manufacture cars.
A 1907 Austin 30hp car –

Austin Motor Company was manufacturing luxury as well as sports cars.

In 1922, Austin introduced the most famous car of all – Austin 7 , also known as the “Baby Austin“. This car was made with a 700 cc engine to beat the RAC tax which was based on engine capacity.
The Austin 7 was manufactured across the world , under license – by BMW as Dixi, in Japan as Datsun, in France as Rosengart and in the US as American Bantam.
In 1952 , Austin Motor Company and its major rival Morris Motor Company were merged to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Austin and Morris continued as separate brands
Renowned automobile engineer , Sir Alec Issigonis was recruited in to BMC to design a small car for BMC in response to the fuel shortages sparked off by Suez canal crisis. In 1959, BMC introduced the most famous car , the Mini – first as Morris Mini and later as Austin Mini.
In 1961, Sir Alec Issigonis and John Cooper of Cooper Car Company converted the Mini to a performance car and was born the Mini Cooper.
A 1963 Austin Mini Cooper

By 1966 , British Motor Corporation changed as British Motor Holdings (BMH) and in 1969 merged with Leyland Motors to form British Leyland Motor Corporation.
By 1969, the Austin Maxi was introduced –

In 1981, in a financial restructuring , the Austin and Rover brands were merged  to form the Austin Rover group (ARG) and later as Rover group when British Leyland was renamed as Rover.

A 1984  Austin Rover Montego

This car was sold in India as Rover Montego by Sipani Motors

The Austin/Rover/Morris/Mini brands went through a series of mergers and changed many hands , some of which were British Aerospace, BMW, Ford, MG , Nanjing Automobiles.
Currently the Austin/Rover brands are with Tata Motors and Mini brand with BMW.

The Austin logos –

Sir Frederick Henry Royce (1863 – 1933) was a self made electrical engineer and was involved in making electrical fittings and electric cranes through his own company Royce Ltd. In 1902 , he bought a second hand Decauville car and was not satisfied with its performance and quality. He went about building his own car based on the Decauville car and created a 2-cylinder Royce 10 car in 1904  –
Charles Stewart Rolls (1877 – 1910) was form a rich family. In 1903 , he founded the C S Rolls and Co to import and sell Peugeot cars from France and Minerva cars from Belgium.
Charles Rolls was introduced to Henry Royce and they created Rolls- Royce Ltd in 1906 with an agreement that C S Rolls and Co will sell the entire production of Rolls-Royce Ltd. By 1907 , C S Rolls and Co was integrated in to Rolls-Royce Ltd.
The first and the most famous car from Rolls-Royce was Silver Ghost , launched in 1907 and continued in production till 1925.
The Silver Ghost did a non-stop 14371 miles gaining the name – “The best car in the world“.
Henry Royce was a perfectionist and the Rolls-Royce cars were known for their smoothness , reliability and quality. The company followed its founder’s dictum of – “Take the best that exists and make it better”.
1927 , the Silver Ghost gave way to the next generation of famous Rolls-Royce , the Phantom
In 1931 , Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley Motors.
During the war , Rolls-Royce was forced to manufacture aero engines and were excelling in aircraft engines, creating successive airspeed records.
In 1971 , financial trouble led to nationalization of Rolls-Royce Ltd. In 1973, it was again de-nationalised , forming Rolls-Royce Motors for Automobiles and Rolls-Royce plc for aircraft engines.
In 1980 , the company was taken over by Vickers, an engineering company.
Rolls-Royce continued to manufacture classic cars which were used by the British Royalty and movie stars.
Some of the Rolls-Royce cars –
A 1979 Silver Shadow
In 1998 Vickers sold off the Rolls-Royce Motors to BMW and Volkswagen in a complex deal. As per the deal, Volkswagen got the Rolls-Royce factory and the patented radiator grill design and BMW got the Rolls-Royce name and logo. This led Volkswagen not being able to use the Rolls-Royce name. After sustained negotiations , in 2003, the entire Rolls-Royce rights were transferred to BMW and now BMW owns Rolls-Royce.
Some of the Rolls-Royce cars , post BMW ownership –
2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost
2013 Rolls-Royce Wraith
The Rolls-Royce logo and hood ornament – the spirit of ecstasy.


In 1877, John Kemp Starley (1854 – 1901) and William Sutton (1830 – 1888) created the Starley & Sutton Company to manufacture Bicycles. They were concentrating on making the bicycles safer to ride as compared to the “Penny-farthing” bicycles of those days. In 1883 , they introduced tricycles and were selling those tricycles under the Rover brand name.

In 1885 they introduced the revolutionary Rover safety bicycle and can be considered as the father of the modern bicycle. A 1889 Rover safety bicycle –
In 1889, after the demise of his business partner , the company was renamed as J. K. Starley & Company.  In 1896 , with the bicycle business at its peak, the company was renamed as Rover Cycle Company. Starley also experimented with electric cars unsuccessfully and did not pursue further.
After the sudden death of John Starley in 1901 , Harry Lawson (of Daimler) took over the reins and steered the company towards motorisation – Motorcycles in 1903  and later cars in 1904. An 1903 Rover Motorcycle
Rover continued in Motorcycle business till 1925 after which production creased.
In 1904, Rover introduced their first motorcar. A 1905 Rover car
Rover became the well know British marque , across the world and continued to make famous car. In 1905, the company was renamed as Rover Company. Some of the famous cars of Rover are –
A 1910 . Rover Six
A 1929 , Rover Light Six
A 1940’s Rover P3
A 1950, Rover P4 “Cyclops” – third light in the grill –
A 1960 , Rover P5
In the 1950s , Rover experimented with gas turbine engines and introduced the Rover Jet1, unsuccessfully.
In 1948, inspired by the U S Army’s Willy’s Jeep, Maurice Wilks built  the Land Rover literally from the parts of a discarded Willy’s Jeep. Owing to steel shortage after the war and abundant availability of aluminium from aircraft construction, the body was made of light weight aluminum. The paint was military green as this was available in abundance after the war. One of the earliest Land Rovers built based on a Willy’s Jeep , a 1948 Land Rover

 

Land Rovers continued to make vehicle with ladder frame till recently, when they shifted to monocoque construction.
Owning to financial difficulties,  post the 1960s, the Rover company changed many hands.
In 1967 , Rover Company was taken over by Leyland Motor Corporation and integrated as Rover – Triumph division. In 1968, Leyland Motor Corporation merged with British Motor Holdings to become British Leyland Motor Company(BLMC)In 1975, BLMC was nationalised  to form British Leyland (BL). In 1978, Land Rover was made as a separate brand. In 1981, in an internal reorganisation, Austin Motors and Rover Company were merged to form the Austin – Rover group.
A 1984 Austin Montego. This car was made and sold in India as Rover Montego by Sipani Motors.
In 1986, the parent company , British Leyalnd was renamed as Rover Group. The Rover group was taken over by British Aerospace in 1989 and later sold off to BMW in 1994. In 2000, in view of financial difficulties, BMW sold off the Rover brand to a consortium who named the company as MG Rover, the MG brand coming from the Morris Garages and Morris Motor Company.
A 2004 MG Rover –
Further , in 2007 , Nanjing Automotive Group of China purchased the MG brand and SAIC of China purchased the product rights of Rover car but not the Rover brand. The Land Rover brand was purchased by Ford and integrated in to their Premium Automotive Group (PAG), along with Jaguar. In 2008, Tata Motors of India purchased Jaguar – Land Rover from Ford. Currently the Land Rover brand is with Tata Motors. In China, SAIC makes Rover cars but cannot use the Rover brand name and hence these cars are being sold under Roe We brand.
The Rover Logos
The original Rover logo is of a Viking ship.

Land Rover Logo –

Austin Rover Logo –

MG Rover Logo –

Roe We Logo (China) –

 

DECAUVILLE – Locomotives to cars

Paul Decauville (1846 – 1922) of France was a pioneer in the development of light railway of narrow gauge section. One of the innovation was the portable sections of light narrow gauge tracks fastened to sleepers which can be laid quickly. These portable tracks became famous in mine railways and later in trench railway during the war time.
In 1875, the company – Societe Decauville, expanded in to manufacture of Rail cars and Locomotives. By 1897 , they decided to expand in to the manufacture of motor cars and the company Societe des Voittures Automobile Decauville was formed. The first car’s design was bought from designers Joseph Guedon and Gustave Cornilleau and the first Decauville Voiturelle was manufactured in the year 1897. The name Voiturelle was coined to differentiate from the Voiturette used by Leon Bollee.
The 1897 Decauville Voiturelle had a 2 cylinder De-Dion engine, transverse leaf spring in the front and independent suspension for the front wheels. It had no suspension for the rear wheels. These Voiturelles sold well and larger Decauville cars were made. A 1903 Decauville –

The Decauvile Logo –

As competition increased , Deacuville could not survive the onslaught of cheaper cars and the car manufacturing operation was closed down by 1910. The Railway & Locomotive operation continued.
Apart from Cars & Locomotives, Decauville is linked with two major Automotive brands – Rolls-Royce and BMW.
In 1903 , Henry Royce  bought a second hand Decauville and was not satisfied by its operation. He along with Charles Rolls decided to build a better car and thus born the famous marque – Rolls-Royce.
In Germany, the Decauvilles were manufactured under licence by a company called Wartburg. Wartburg later became Dixi, the forerunner of BMW.