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ROVER MOTOR COMPANY Limited. (1904-1967)

Leyland Motor Sales. (1967-1968)

 British Leyland Motor Corp. (1968-1975)

British Leyland. (1975-1978)

BL Ltd. (1978-1980 in USA)

JRT = Jaguar Rover Triumph Inc. (1980-198? in USA)

Jaguar Cars Inc. (198? in USA)

By Michael Green

    Have we got you wondering why we have listed all of these company names? Well here in the USA, beginning in the mid 1960's, this is how things went. 


Thank you for your interest in this chapter, as a young boy Land Rover's were everything to me! Here's my take on events regarding the Rover Motor Company and later British Leyland in North America. I'm Michael Green... Here's our story, with the help of a few family members and dear friends.

Photos's are from RFGreen Collection, JamesJoss Collection, BL, WCBR-Collection, all of which carry and protected by US Copyright.

My father, Richard Green, joined the Rover Motor Company of North America Limited (located at 373 Shaw Rd, South San Francisco, CA and the main office in the Chrysler Building in New York City) in February 1960. Prior to that he's been the Resident Engineer for DAVID BROWN - Aston Martin, based in San Leandro, California, in the DAVID BROWN Tractor office/parts depot. During this time I arrived... Funny family story; Dad took mum to the hospital in their XK140 Coupe` and picked us up in a 1957 Aston Martin MkII Notchback, his company car, 10-days later. Thus my first ride in a car was in an Aston! Best part is, I've driven that car, and I maintain it too. It lives not far from Livermore, CA where I'm writing this now (in May 2016). Late '59 DB had sold this tractor division to CASE, hence they took over the building in Meeker Ave, which left Richard two choices; A) move to King of Prussia, or B) find another job. He chose the latter. After a number of interviews, including DODGE, Richard and George Glover both landed a job with the Rover Motor Company in South San Francisco. The new job would entail much of what he did at Aston's, his new position being in Service. Harold Taylor, then Service Manager was transfer East, and Richard became Service Manager for the Western USA. Later, after Bruce McWilliams had taken over as President of the company, Richard was made Product Development Engineer (Roger Taylor then made Serv Mgr). Like all the other major auto manufacturers, new safety and emission laws dictated the need for such a position.

I was just shy of being 2-years old when dad joined Rover's, I was now up to my eyeballs in Rover cars and Land Rover's.  As a tot dad would bring home toy Land Rover's and sales brochures that I would proceed to cut up and paste all over my room with sticky tape, to my mother horror! One evening we had special guests for dinner, the Wilks Brothers! Spencer and Maurice Wilks to be exact. These were the men behind the Land Rover! I dragged them to my bedroom where they saw Land Rover's everywhere! It was a funny night for a little boy.

Since day-1 British cars and motorcycles have been part of my life. In 1967, at age-9, we were on vacation in North Shore Lake Tahoe, Nevad. Dad and I went out off roading on Mt Rose in the company 109" Station Wagon, #34300284A. I kept pestering dad that I could drive the Land Rover, to no avale. All of a sudden he stops,  gets out and walks around to the passenger side, opens the door and says to me; "Drive the thing then." So I did! And for the next hour and a half I was rushing about in low-range in a 109" Land Rover. (Fyi: Thsi same 109" was later bought from the company as out family car, in something like 1971 they sold it for a new Rover 3500S. In 2002 this same 109" #34300284A arrived at my shop West Coast British in Livermore, CA on a trailer! I bought it and restored it 100% in less than a year... in fact, Im going home in it in a moment). 

Bruce McWilliams took over the top spot at Rover Motor Company or North America Ltd in 1962...

In 1966 Richard was promoted to the new position of Product Development Engineer for The Rover Motor Company of North America Ltd. Richard dealt with many new projects, included the new 3-Litre Coupe', the 2000TC & Automatic, testing the P6B 3500S in both cold (Northern Canada), hot weather (Texas & AZ) and endurance runs, pending emission regulations, the up-rating and improvement of the standard Land Rover and the installation of the newly acquired V8 into a Land Rover, then known as Project BOP, later known as Golden Rod,  (below)

I have many of Richard's notes, which cover everything from the 1904 Rover car they restored in 1960, to variations of Land Rover fire trucks built in the early 1960s (some still in use until 2000 in Hawaii), plus that of 2000-Auto/P6B tests, the Golden Rod, Richard & Roger Taylor's Baja trip with the "Mexican 109" Hardtop & 2000TC, plus normal service issues. Since joining Rover's in 1960 Richard established a Service School for Rover in North America, thus enabling them to train dealer personal (hands-on) in Rover cars & Land Rover's. It should be noted that the service school ran throughout his 30-years with the company. In addition to these school's (west & east coast), he also established on site training at the dealerships and repair facilities in the further reaches of the country such as Alaska, Hawaii (which was at a Shell Station on the Big Island prior to a dealer being establish there by Woody Woods), or stand-alone shops like British Sports Car Service in Hayward, CA, a shop in Boulder, Colorado or Durant Tractor in New Mexico. Product support was paramount in North America. In addition, Richard made several visits to a mine in Mexico where they were using 109" diesel's underground. The North American arm of the company was very service oriented, to say the least. In other parts of the world via Solihull, men like Jim Joss, who joined Rover in 1958, took care of all of Canada, then later the Far East, including Afghanistan, where there we many Land Rover's in the oil fields and construction projects.

In October 2013 I read this: Quoted from the 'standard work on P6's ;  " Good though the 2000TC was, the Rover Company's North American dealer network was wholly inadequate to provide the sort of service back-up needed to maintain customer faith in a car which had been so comprehensively ballyhooed." That is a very UNFAIR quote and total nonsense! Richard Green and his guys supported the cars & dealers 100%, had Service School Classes in both Brisbane & New Jersey, as well as on site training at the dealers themselves. Richard and/or staff would regularly visit their dealers and keep it all moving. The 2000TC was more than well supported in North America. The writer or his source should be doing some homework.

Above: Richard having lunch in Baja Mexico 1966.

Below: The Rover 2000TC on road test in Baja 1966.

It must be said, that the Rover Motor Company was a family company, bar none. We all knew each other and made some great friends over the years, sadly many are gone now. Many a Rover man had dinner at our home, or swam in the pool and enjoyed a summer barbeque next to a cattle ranch in Dublin, California, be it Managing Director, company President, engineers or a newly arrived apprentice, no one was left to sit in a hotel room for the weekend. And it continued this way throughout Richard's 30-years.  It also worked the same way when Richard was away on business, be it in the UK, seeing a dealer in Nevada -where Richard went deer hunting with Dick Wright in Elko, Nevada; a family bbq in Ely, Nevada; or learning to fly a twin engine plane while visiting customers in Hawaii with Woody of Mauna Kea Motors. On a lesser note, when I joined what would be Range Rover of North America, that sense of family wasn't there. The only one there who had the same thought as I was Graham Gardner (who I'd known since I was a boy) and who worked for the UK and not RRNA directly. More later...

Some of my adventure's as a boy...

In Sept 1966... The Golden Rod was finished and dad drove it home to Dublin... As dad pulled into the driveway I was in the other door like a shot! We went to for a ride with blue smoke streaming from the rear tyres! We rushed about Dublin for 15/20 minutes then back home. Upon our return home Roger Taylor, now Service Manager, was there with a new white 1966 NADA (North American Dollar Area) 109" Station Wagon. I was going stark raving mad, two new LRs in one afternoon! And more work lay ahead for dad and Roger, testing both of these vehicles. That weekend the two families loaded up in the two LR's and we headed north up the coast of California for some testing. After lunch we swapped Rover's and headed home. Days later they tested at Fremont Raceway (drag strip) with three cars; the Golden Rod, the new 6-cylinder 109" and a 2000TC. While there the Golden Rod outran the 2000TC down the 1/4-mile strip!

The following year, 1967, those who worked for the Rover Motor Company or Triumph-Standard found a name change and company shake-up. The Triumph office, then on Bush St in San Francisco, was to close up and moved to 422 Valley Dr in Brisbane where Rover was now located. I vaguely remember the exact date (will confirm dates asap), but I remember the day dad came home in a Triumph... I was riding my bicycle in the field across the road when I heard an engine revving from the garage, as I approached I saw a new British Racing Green Triumph TR250 in the garage... I dove inside and we were off! 

For some time it would be Rover's, Land Rover's and Triumph's as company cars. When the TR6 arrived in '69 Leyland had a sales contest, Dad brought the forms/sales test home for me and I completed it with a 100%. I still have the tie tack for getting 100%! So now I was up to my eyes in sports cars, my fav being the TR250 and TR6.

My first venture as a real mechanic, apprentice would be a better word, was during the next few summer school and Christmas vacations when I'd go down to Dennis Riley's British Sports Car Service in Hayward. From 8-5 I was doing everything. I had a great teacher at home, but this was real world, with hoist's, the pit, a big variation of cars, such as: Rover's, British sports car's, Volvo's, Fiat's, Mustang's, etc. I was taught all sorts of things, but where I really learned was in the alignment pit with Jack Morran.  I spent most of my time with Jack in the "pit" where we overhaul the suspension on many makes and models, then aligned it all, dynamically balanced wheels and so forth. I learned so much in fact that when I enrolled in the new "Auto front-end & alignment" class at Livermore high school I knew more than the just out of college teacher! And he called me on it on day-1. I walked down and set up the new rack, drove his 4-speed '66 Mustang V8 up on the rack, then proceeded to set up and measure the alignment, which I might add, was wrong! I then stayed late to finish adjusting/shimming it all to the correct numbers.  Some 30-years later one of my childhood friends was working as a substitute auto-shop teacher. Rob was working for me part-time as well, and one day said; "You know that alignment class I've been subbing at? Well, I met the teacher today when he returned, we got talking and he told me a story of this kid during his first day ever as a teacher... he said he's told that story on the first day of class for the last 30 years! I was sitting there grinning at him, teacher said; Something funny? So I said; Yeah, I work for that guy!"  Days later Mr Newbury showed up at my shop, and in the same Mustang!

The first road car I drove legally (with a learners permit) was a maroon 1973 MGB GT, then an 88" Deluxe Hardtop LR. In May I took my drivers license test in a manual Triumph Stag, lucky boy! It was at this time that the Land Rover would stop being imported into America... it was a sad day in deed. During this period I was driving many a company car, plus mums 3500S. Sometimes I'd take a company car to high school (in 1974-76), afterwards I take it to the port in Benecia, I was always shuffling cars or running up miles on them. One day in the middle of history class the teacher all of a sudden asks me; "Mr Green, Why is it you have a V12 E-Jag in the lot today and I drive a 122 Volvo?"  My reply was, "Poor taste in cars?"  Laughter from all and I was asked to leave. Well, he asked for it! Mostly it was MGBs, Marinas, and Triumphs though.  

That said, here's a funny story...  At the time we had a new white '74 MGB that dad brought home, I was buzzing around in it, while he was driving a silver '74 V12 E-type. One evening mum, dad and my sister Kerry went out in our '69 3500S (mums car), so my friend John and I went out in the MGB, but is was new and very tight, so we dropped it of and grabbed the E-type. Out with some local buddies to Livermore to go eat and see what was going on there for the evening. On our way home, which was to be via Pleasanton, these bozos ditched us and made way for the freeway while we were on Stanley Blvd. We soon turned around and got to the freeway... it was a lovely summer evening, west bound in a V12 with Band on The Run on the 8-track and the A/C blowing away... I pinned the throttle on the firewall and headed west on I-580. As we accelerated out in the fast lane we passed Steve & Rob in the El-Camino (which was doing about 100), then Mike on his Suzuki 250 twin. Now we're looking for Mike's Dodge Charger in the dark as we sped along flat-out, nearing 150 mph! Up ahead I see Dodge tail lamps traveling at a high rate of speed, about 120 mph, as we neared I flashed the lights at him... OOOPS! When I flashed the lights the words "HIGHWAY PATROL" lit up in the trunk lid! It was a Dodge alright, just the wrong one! As I lifted the pedal and changed lanes my speed carried us past him, the officer pointed for me to stop and I did. The resulting ticket was for 80+ in a 55 mph zone (which later cost me $25.00  I had 3 other tickets that month on my Honda SL100. The Judge tossed them out as "speed-traps", and asked me not to do it again!). The down side was having to tell dad in the morning! On a funnier note: In 2011 I took the Merle Brennen E-type race car from Laguna Seca Historic races to Quail Lodge (Race Car Parade) on the highway with nine other racing Jaguars following, we had a CHP motorcycle escort there and back. As I pulled on the lawn at Quail and shut off there was two elderly ladies were standing in front of the Jag, one says to me; "I bet that's the first you've ever chased a CHP with a Jaguar!" I started laughing, and said "You have no idea."  Then I told her the story from 1974 (as I pointed to a silver V12 roadster parked nearby). Laughs from everyone... She had no idea of what she had said.

Back to our story...

Soon the 2000TC would have a new stable mate, the P6B 3500S in America. Richard did many miles of pre-production testing of these in both the heat and arctic cold, the first one here was disguised as a 2000TC. About this time mum and dad had bought the blue 109 from the company for $1500.00 and mum had gone back to work, yes, driving the Land Rover, with skirt & heels too! Later, about '71, the 109" was sold to SF Land Rover dealer Paul Felton and replaced with a white 3500S.

When the company name changed yet again, I think it was British Leyland Motor Sales by now, they would take over the importation & distribution of MG, Austin/Morris and Jaguar from BMCD in San Francisco. I remember the first Jaguar dad brought home was a new baby blue V12 E-type coupe' that he was to do some testing on. Soon we'd have Jaguar's and MG's to rush about in too. Good fun! Dad enjoyed the MG's too, be it a GT or roadster. One must remember that Richard was on the MG Works racing team for 1955/56 season before coming to America in Feb '56).

By 1974 I was doing work for BL under my dad. Some it was just running up miles on cars, which I did very well. I was roaring around in the last of the California TR6s. It was great fun cruising in Walnut Creek during the summer weekend nights. It was a white hardtop, overdrive, AM-FM-8Track stereo, and Air Con. Wish I had it now. One day I was told to take it to Cal-Auto in Benicia, the port facility, where I'd pick up what we knew as "Bullet". Waiting for me was a slime green TR7... it was a good giggle, but it was no TR6. In May '75 mum & dad bought me an Austin Marina GT... I wanted a TR6! I was lucky to get that though. I had been driving many a Marina company car at that time. One day at the port we unloaded two bloody ugly purple 4-door Marinas with bright red upholstery! No dealer would take them so the became company hacks.

My first real job was to help (after school) at Cal-Auto at the port in Benicia, then later during the XJ6 change over that the Fed's required BL to do. Richard had to set up these Change-over facilities in a number of ports west of the Mississippi. It wasn't a simple project either, as crews were to be shipped over from Coventry to do the work. Richard rented a new building near Cal-Auto where we installed car lifts and bench's, and my job was to help these Brit's as I could, keep the place clean, and shuffle parts to/from Brisbane warehouse... and road test the cars after complete and take notes. After hours four of us would get in the purple Marina and go rally driving down the dirt & gavel roads within the old military base... was quite the giggle, the 4-door all crossed up in the corners, gravel flying everywhere, the Brit's love it and they though I was totally mad!  My car was soon to look like a rally car. Dads pal at Lucas donated some lovely driving & fog lamps, we made an polished alloy mount to fit ammeter and clock, later fitted a limited slip TR7 diff. I was soon in the Special Tuning catalog. Can you say.. Rally Car?  Now it had twin SUs from an MGB and it would do nearly 90 mph in 3rd gear (highly over geared in America however). Later a drunk would hit the Marina and though it was repaired, our insurance company canceled me! So for some months I couldn't drive anything, not even a company car, so it was back to the Honda. Commuting to Benicia in a bike wasn't much fun, so I took a local job at a motorcycle shop. it wasn't always cars, motorcycles played a big parts of my life because of dad. I started racing in 1973... unknown to my mother, she did find out one time and wouldn't let me take the Honda, so I raced Steve's Honda instead! I would later go road racing by 1978 on a 3-cylinder Triumph, then a 750 Twin and later Ducati's I built myself, in addition to helping create historic motorcycle racing on both the west coast and nation wide (CVRG 1984 & AHRMA in 1989) where I'd race my beloved Honda SL100 again and a number of BSA 250, 350 & 500cc scramblers. This didn't stop until 2008.

Come May 1976 however I was 18 and could get insurance again. Dad bought me a '71 Chevy Vega (or I could of had a '67 MGB, but it was tired) for $600.00 on my birthday. By June I was back at Cal-Auto, but now being paid by them and not BL, someone had made noises within the company (get a life!), hence I worked for Ray Thompson. Mr T was/is great guy, talked to him recently.  

When mum & dad went to England Oct 1976 I sold the Vega for $1000.00 after dolling it up and bought a 1967 88" Hardtop for $900.00   My first Land Rover, just think, it was only 9 years old at the time. During this time someone (B McWilliams I think) came up with the idea of the TR7 "Victory Edition" due to its SCCA Championship in America. Cal-Auto did the change over... all we did all day was modify standard cars. I put on stripe kits for days, then I'd be running the tire machine fitting the white 8-spoke wheels made down the street at International Wheel, while the other guys fitted a nasty vinyl top & sunroof. This was on top of regular PDI work on Jaguar's, MG's and Triumph's.

Dad would say, "If anyone can run up more miles in a weekend it's him." In those days they were  constantly doing EPA tests. These would sometimes require multiple cars being chosen off the docks then a test on a Wednesday in Los Angeles, then another the following week, which in the meantime required an additional 2000 miles be covered prior to the next test.  Richard would drive down and back to Los Angeles from Dublin, then on the Saturday or Sunday I would get in it and drive to Palm Springs or Elko, Nevada and back, then dad would take it Tuesday to LA again to be re-tested. This would go on and on, one minute in a TR8, then an XJS V12 Jaguar. I had a great time flogging these cars, but learned a lot at the same time.

In 1977 three TR8s arrived for testing, two yellow 5-speeders and a white auto car (what a dog!). First thing dad and I did was remove the "Sprint" decals and modify the exhaust pipes and paint them flat-black. We did this to all three cars. It was great fun, the people you could aggravate with it on the freeway of two-laner's such as, Datsun 280Z, 911T Porsche to name two. The TR8 would just drive away, but the best thing was everyone thought it was a TR7!

                        Con't next page...  hit "next" at bottom of this page

 Here are some great old pictures from dads collection as well as mine that you might enjoy.

Left: Richard Green collects the first Rover 2000 to land in America. After many miles of testing, in both hot and cold climates would the car be introduced. Later the 2000TC would arrive, followed by the 3500S in 1969. After these cars left our shores, the next time we saw a Rover V8 engine would be in the Triumph TR8 test cars that arrived in 1977. The 3500 (SD1) sedan would arrive shortly thereafter. Then wed have to wait until 87 and the Range Rover... a wait of 17 years since its introduction in 1970. Totally unacceptable!

Above: Spring 1970, San Simian, CA. Richard Green with "his" NADA109" Wagon. On the way home the old 109" would have a constant misfire, Richard would make a gallant attempt to find it one night in the hotel. A couple burnt exhaust valves was found to be the cause.

Chassis # 34300284A   Lic# 641ATW.

Since 2002 this Land Rover is owned & restored by West Coast British. Here it is April 2016 at Blackhawk Auto Museum in Blackhawk (danville) California.



Great links


These photos are from the Richard F. Green collection, which were saved from the many years at Rovers, BL, JRT, etc. We have no idea who the original copyright holder is, or who even took them in the first place - in most cases. But these are protected by our copyright RFG/WCB2013.

Above: Vacaville Raceway B.A.M.A. Meeting, 1965

Above: Harold Taylor gets 109" stuck in South San Francisco, 1965.

Above: Rover Motor Co stand, San Francisco Motor Show, Brooks Hall, 1960.

Above: Harold Taylor & Herb Goldie with float S.L.C. 1960.

Above: Royal visit Hilifax, N.S.