The Rootes Group

The Individual Companies

Rootes Symbol]

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Humber Ltd., Coventry

Long before the first motor car ran on the road, Humber cycles were world-famous. The original company took its name from Mr Thomas Humber who, in 1867, laid the foundation of the existing business. In 1887 the undertaking became a limited liability company.

The first Humber car was made in 1898 - a 3 1/2 h.p. model known as the Phaeton. During WW1 the resources of the company were given over to armaments manufacture (including aero engines) and afterwards it resumed the manufacture of a range of high-class cars.

In 1926 a link was established with commercial vehicle manufacture through the purchase of the organisation at Luton which then became known as Commer Cars Ltd. Throughout WW2 Humber Ltd. were responsible for many products apart from aero engines. It gained a new reputation making staff cars and armoured cars for the British and Imperial forces.

In December 1954 the War Dept. presented to the Group the historic staff car used by Field Marshall Montgomery throughout the North African and Italian campaigns, as testimony to 'the good service rendered by Humber vehicles' during the war. The car, 'Old Faithful', has become a symbol of the motor industry's war effort.

In 1952 a Humber Super Snipe was driven overland from London to Cape Town in 13 days 9 hours 6 minutes - a time which has still not been bettered, and Humber cars have gained an unparalleled reputation for quality all the world over. The styling of the latest Humbers was recognised by the fashion-conscious Italians themselves in 1957 and 1958, when Humber cars received top awards in the annual Rome Concours d'Elegance competition.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Hillman Motor Car Company Ltd., Coventry

Founded in 1907 by pioneer motorist Mr William Hillman, the Hillman Motor Car Company has a long and unique record of producing quality cars with a popular appeal.

In 1931 William Rootes introduced a new light car at the Motor Show of that year. Called the Hillman Minx, it represented a new conception of light car design.

The designers had created a useful, yet functional body around four seated adults and then placed under it a chassis adequate to the body's dimensions yet capable of transporting it at speeds of up to a mile a minute and at a petrol consumption of between 36 m.p.g and 40 m.p.g.

The result was a car which was the sensation of the 1931 show and which laid the foundations of a remarkable tradition.

Since that year, there have always been Hillman Minx on the roads of the world. The car has held the motoring spotlight for longer than any other British light car, and no other British model has carried the name so long. The Hillman Minx, and its smaller estate car sister, the Hillman Husky, continues to be a best seller both at home and abroad and it is now being exported to more than 160 countries.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Sunbeam-Talbot Ltd., Coventry

The Sunbeam-Talbot Company is an amalgamation of the technical skill and manufacturing experience of two famous British sports and racing car concerns.

From 1909 to 1926 Sunbeam cars won races and broke speed records with remarkable regularity. In 1926 it was a Sunbeam which first exceeded 150 m.p.h. and a year later it was again a Sunbeam which raised the world's record to the phenomenal figure of 203.44 m.p.h.

The Clement-Talbot Company was established in London in 1902 and a Talbot car, in 1913, became the first vehicle to cover more than 100 miles an hour. By 1914 the Company had won more than 100 first awards.

The two distinguished names were merges under the Rootes banner in the mid-30's and the post-war years saw Sunbeams pioneering the return by manufactureres to competitive work in the rally field.

A steady run of successes soon won Sunbeam Talbot cars - the 'Talbot was later dropped to avoid confusion with the French model - a new reputation in competition motoring. Since the war major Sunbeam victories included:

First place, acceleration and braking tests: International Alpine Trial (1948, 1949, 1950)
Second place: Monte Carlo Rally (1952)
3 Coupe des Alpes and manufacturer's team prize: Alpine Trial (1952)
4 Coupe des Alpes: Alpine Trial (1953)
Manufacturer's team prize: Great American Mountain Rally (1953, 1954)
First prize and Coupe des Dames: Monte Carlo Rally (1955)

In the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally Sunbeams made history by taking the manufacturer's team prize for the third time, so winning the Charles Faroux Challenge Trophy outright - the first time this has been done in the history of the arduous rally.

The name of Sheila Van Damm will always be associated with Sunbeam, for she won more than 50 trophies driving cars of the famous marque. Miss Van Damm won the title of Champion European Women's Driver in 1954 and 1955. She retired in January but returned to the wheel in the Spring of 1956 when a brand new Sunbeam made its competetion debut.

The new Sunbeam Rapier won its class in the Mille Miglia road race and since then has gained an outstanding reputation as a rally car: winning the 1958 R.A.C. International rally outright, gaining a Coupe des Alpes in the Alpine rally that year and gaining the unique distinction of being highest placed British car in the Monte Carlo Rallies of 1958, 1959 and 1960.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Singer Motors, Ltd., Birmingham

Quality and craftsmanship were the ideals that inspired George Singer from the time he first began manufacturing bicycles in Coventry in 1876. His customers then included one queen, two princesses, two grand duchesses, two duchesses, a marchioness, thirteen countesses and thirty-one other peeresses of varying rank.

Singer motor cycles won a similar reputation and the first Singer car, produced in 1904, firmly established the Company as successful motor manufacturers.

During 1911 the cars achieved a series of record-breaking successes at Brooklands and elsewhere and it was during this period that a young man named William Edward Rootes joined the Company to work as a penny-an-hour apprentice and began racing Singer motor cycles in his spare time.

Shortly afterwards the Company made history when it produced the famous Singer 10 - one of the forerunners of the light car. In 1914 the little car captured all the one to nine hours Brooklands records for the under 1,100 cc class.

Exactly twenty-one years later Singers became the first British manufacturer to fit independent front suspension and to produce a car with a clutchless gear change. The company also introduced the world's first streamlined car, the Singer Airstream. At the same time Singer's success in the world's toughest competitive events gave a name to one of the firm's most famous ranges - the Singer 9 and 1 1/2 litre Le Mans models.

On December 29, 1955, Singer shareholders decided to accept an offer to become part of the Rootes Group with the assurance that the Singer name and reputation would be kept alive. At 9.00 a.m. the next day, Rootes and Singer executives went into conference and within three hours handed their designers a brief for a new model - an 80 m.p.h. car which was to set new standards of luxury and quality at its price.

Just nine months later the new model - the Singer Gazelle, was announced to the world - the plan had been fulfilled and another bright new name had been added to the long list of Singer successes.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Commer Cars Ltd., Luton & Dunstable

Commer Cars Ltd. was originally founded in 1905 for the manufacture of commercial vehicles and, by the time WW2 ended they had 40 years' unrivalled experience in this field.

It was one of the first British motor firms to neter the export market and has built many 'out of the ordinary' vehicles. It is on record that among its designs was a commercial vehicle with straked wheels for Patagonia, another with power-loading gear for New Zealand and a third with steel tyres for hauling drums in Siberia.

In 1926 this Company became actively lnked with Humber Ltd. After WW2 Commers laid down a programme for a completely new range from 8cwt vans to 12 ton petrol or diesel-engined commercial vehicles and introduced its 1500 range in 1960. It has now one of the widest ranges of any commercial vehicle manufacturer.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Karrier Motors Ltd., Luton & Dunstable

Karrier Motors Ltd. was established in 1907 and after 1918 began to specialise in vehicles for municipal purposes. Karrier is a large supplier of municipal vehicles such as refuse carriers, gully emptiers and ambulances, which are big foreign currency earners.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Thrupp & Maberly Ltd., London

More than half a century before Stephenson's Rocket made its successful trial trip in 1829, the house of Thrupp, coach and carriage builders, was established in London. It quickly made a name for craftsmanship in an age when handbuilt chassis, landaus, phaetons, gigs and coaches were things of beauty and grace.

That reputation still remains with the modern firm of Thrupp & Maberly Ltd., the oldest concern in the Rootes Group. Craftsmanship is still the keynote of every activity in the Thrupp factory, now mainly engaged in applying the distinctive trim and finish to the Group's convertibles and luxury saloons.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

British Light Steel Pressings Ltd., London

This company is a comparative newcomer to the motor industry, for it was founded in 1930 and for years made a wide variety of pressings for almost every trade but the motor industry.

Then, in 1937, B.L.S.P. was taken into the Rootes group and moved into its present premises at Warple Way, Acton. There it immediately began making body shells for Sunbeams - a name with which it has always been associated.

The Company, which houses some of the largest presses in Britain, produces a wide range of car and commercial components for the Rootes Group - including suspension units, petrol tanks and many small pressings - as well as body shells.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Tilling-Stevens Ltd., Maidstone (Kent)

Originally founded in Maidstone in 1897, Tilling-Stevens Ltd. had a long and successful career as independent commercial vehicle manufacturers, and just before the war tok over Vulcan Motors.

In 1950 the firm joined Rootes group and its works were reorganised for a new role specialising in engine production. Now Tilling-Stevens manufacture the revolutionary Rootes two-stroke three-cylinder diesel engine which has attracted world-wide attention, and also re-conditioning all types of Group petrol engines and Ministry of Supply engines.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Tempair Ltd., Maidstone (Kent)

This company, of which the Rootes Group acquired a controlling interest in 1956, manufactures air-conditioning equipment over a very wide range. Since its take-over by Rootes, the company has gone from success to success and its production has increased many times over the last few years. Tempair now has agents throughout the world and its range of units are sold in a wide variety of countries.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

Rootes (Scotland) Ltd

This company is the youngest member of the Rootes Group and is devoted to the manufacture at Linwood, near Paisley, of a new Hillman small car - the first car to be produced in Scotland since 1932.

The company has announced that the new Hillman will be a 'baby' car, smaller than the present Minx. A completely new factory is being built to produce it and a separate die-casting plant - one of the most modern of its kind in the world - is part of the scheme. The whole project, together with the extensions being made to the neighbouring Pressed Steel factory, which will make the bodies, will cost a total of 23 1/2 million. About 7,000 people will be employed at the factories.

The Hon. John Siddeley, one of Britain's leading Consultant Designers, has been commissioned by the Rootes Group to advise on the interior decor of the new plant.

The car is being designed to suit export markets and initial production will be about 150,000 units a year. Production is expected to begin in early 1963, and approximately half is scheduled to be sold overseas.

[Humber] [Hillman] [Sunbeam-Talbot] [Singer] [Commer] [Karrier] [Thrupp & Maberly] [British Light Steel Pressings] [Tilling-Stevens] [Tempair] [Rootes (Scotland)]

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