What would eventually become the Rover company began by manufacturing one of the landmark designs in the history of human transportation: John Kemp Starley's 'Safety Bicycle'. The firm's first venture into powered transportation came in 1888 with an electric 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.
Although a 1914 model, this restored Rover Twelve was not first registered until March 1921, this being shortly after the introduction of the Roads Act of 1920, which required local councils to register all vehicles at the time of licensing and to allocate a separate number to each. (Many vehicles, although in existence for several years in some cases, were only registered for the first time after the Act's passing).
Descriptions & pictures by wikipedia & bonhams & uniquecarsandparts & gracesguide & rover-freunde