The last small car to be designed, developed and engineered by Rover Group celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, marked by the publication of a fascinating new book telling the story of the car’s development from the people who were there at the time.
The ‘R3’ 200 landed in showrooms on October 19th 1995, and this new publication features unique first-person stories from those who were involved in its gestation and development.
Compiled by Rover 200/400 Owners Club Chairman John Batchelor, himself an engineer on the R3 programme, the book contains amazing stories from inside Rover Group at the time, told by people such as the R3’s designer and latterly Jaguar-Land Rover Design Director David Saddington, Project Director Mike Burnett, Chief Engineer Alan Matthews, Chassis Engineer Mushtaq Kazi, and PR Chief Denis Chick among many others.
As well as their priceless stories, the book contains a number of design images and project documents that have never been seen before, telling the story of what was – at the time – Rover Group’s most important new car launch after the demise of its relationship with Honda.
“By the early 1990s the Rover Group sales were on the up,” said John Batchelor. “Their relationship with Honda had produced the success of the Rover 200, the flagship Rover 800 and the company was now in the hands of British Aerospace.
“Unfortunately, the world’s economy was not strong, with the world’s markets for both cars and planes, commercial and military, falling.
“It is in these times that the SK3 project started, stalled and was reborn as the R3 Rover 200. It has been called ‘The last all-British, volume car’ but that’s not entirely true…
“It is a story worth telling and now has been told by many of those involved at the time. They have revisited distant areas of their memories, their lofts and drawers to recover lost parts of a fascinating story. Versions have been told before, but they are based on facts released at the time and are therefore only partially complete.”
The story covers the genesis of the car, Honda’s involvement, the switch to being a Rover-only project, the design and engineering, marketing and launch of, in Quentin Willson’s words of the time, “This little Burster!”
The book is available for £10.00 including P&P directly from the club at www.rover200.org.uk/shop