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Rootes Heritage, Unit 15 Apollo Office Park
Ironstone Lane, Wroxton, Banbury, Oxon OX15 6AY

Rootes Archive Centre

Rootes Archive Centre - Catalogue.

A Catalogue of Rootes Car and Commercial Models.

Note: Over a period of time this list will be linked to the index of drawings and other artefacts in the Rootes Collection. The latter is however going to take some time.

Contributions: We have a collection of contributed photos on-line. If you want your car to be featured on these pages please send a digital photo (but not too big!) to Bob Allan (e-mail). Thanks to the many who have already contributed!

What is the Catalogue?

The Rootes Archive Centre contains information about the models of car and commercial vehicle produced by Rootes and their associated companies which are listed below. We will use this list to guide you through the contents of the Archive. Eventually a database and associated search facilities will be provided. If the archive contains no information on a particular model we will attempt to provide an alternative link.

We list only the companies which had a direct influence on the story of the Rootes Group. There may however be a few additions when they are of specific interest. Please let us know.

We are encouraging club members to send in original images of their cars or of any Rootes models - the rarer the better! See thumbnail images by clicking on this link. They should also appear randomly on the Web pages. The following photo is a mystery, it was sent us by Peter Cope in the hope that someone may be able to identify it: a prototype or amateur build? The registration mark FPD is from Surrey, mid-1937.

An extensive collection of books written on the subject of Rootes history is housed at the Archive Centre. These can be consulted for further information about the topics covered in this catalogue. Of course we also have all the technical drawings from around 1934 onwards, plus huge quantities of photographs and associated records, so its a big and growing collection. See archive page.

See also the catalogue of wartime vehicles.

Companies and Mergers

These cover the companies most strongly involved in the Rootes Group. If you know of others, or have more details to share, please contact Bob Allan.

Companies

Humber (1867-)
Thomas Humber first made Humber bicycles in Sheffield, and later in Beeston near Nottingham with plants at Wolverhampton and Coventry as the business grew. The first Humber car was made in 1898. Humber went on to be one of the more important car companies in the history of the British motor industry. The earliest models were built in Coventry and Beeston. The largest model was the Pullman, the only limousine in the range. Humbers were always luxury cars. Humber was acquired by Rootes in 1929-31 and as Humber Ltd. was their main manufacturing operation.

Coventry-Premier (1875-1923)
Originally made bicycles and claimed to be the world's largest cycle company adding motor cycles to its range in 1908. Their first 4-wheeled cycle cars were built in 1912 under the control of Singer. Coventry-Premier later made commercial vehicles. William Hillman was one of the original partners.

Singer (1876-1970)
Singer's origins were also in the cycle industry, starting in 1876 with business centred on the City of Coventry. They went on to manufacture high quality cars from 1904 which always had a good reputation and sporting image. Particularly recognised was the Singer Ten from 1912 onwards. There were a few commercial models from 1929-32. There were also some notable models competing in long-distance endurance races and rallies. William Rootes was an apprentice with Singer. Under Rootes' later control they had the very successful Gazelle, Vogue and Chamois series.

Sunbeam (1887-)
The Sunbeam cycle factory in Wolverhampton was started by John Marston. Sunbeam produced cars from 1901, during the earliest days of the industry. They were high quality and sporting models, influenced by Louis Coatelen of Hillman fame, including competition cars. Having briefly been involved in the loss making STD organisation, they became Sunbeam-Talbots when Rootes took over production in 1935.

Tilling-Stevens (1897-)
Tilling-Stevens were founded in Maidstone and made commercial vehicles. They acquired Karrier and Vulcan before joining Rootes.

Vulcan (1899-1953)
The first Vulcan was made by Joseph and Thomas Hampson, a production car was shown at the Liverpool Cycle Show in 1902. Vulcan was a small car making company based in Southport which was the largest in the N.W. of England at the time. For their size they made a surprising number of different models in a short time. They were also affordable. The Vulcan company did a large range of engineering tasks so cost could be kept to a minimum. From 1928 until the time they were taken over by Rootes they made commercial vehicles, despite being bankrupt in 1931.

W. and G. du Cros (1901-35)
William and George du Cros of Acton Vale produced ambulances and public service vehicles. They were agents for Panhard-Levassor cars among others and had 3,000 employees in 1914. The company was acquired by STD in 1920 and eventually disposed of by receivers in 1935 when STD joined the Rootes Group.

Clement-Talbot (1902-38)
The first cars built by Talbot under the crest of the Earl of Shrewsbury were actually Clements from France assembled in Britain. Fully British Talbot cars were built from 1906-38. Darracq acquired Clement-Talbot (London) in 1919 and then Sunbeam in 1920 to become STD. STD was finally acquired by Rootes in 1935 after becoming bankrupt, and the marque was phased out soon afterwards to be replaced by the name Sunbeam-Talbot from 1938.

Talbot-Lago (1935-59)
In 1935 the Suresnes factory of Darracq was bought by Major Anthony Lago who built a few models and some successful racing cars after 1945. Sales were eventually crippled by high taxes and his business was absorbed by Simca in 1959.

Commer (1903-)
Commercial Cars Ltd. of Biscot Road, Luton originally made commercial vehicles. Production moved to a new factory in Dunstable in 1954.

Karrier (1904-46)
Karrier Cars made by Clayton and Co. Ltd. of Huddersfield produced a diverse range of commercial vehicles from c.1907. Karrier Motors Limited was formed in 1920, moved to Luton when acquired by Rootes in 1934 and moved with Commer to Dunstable in 1954.

Hillman (1906-)
The Hillman Motor Car Company, founded by William Hillman (d. 1921), was a very well known British manufacturer (4th largest at the time), initially making bicycles and later quite large and sporting cars. The firm was later run by sons-in-law Black and Wilks. Hillman became the stock-in-trade of Rootes with the successful range of Minx models and variants, and of course later the Imp and Avenger.

Calcott (1913-26)
The Calcott family made roller skates and were also involved in the bicycle and motor cycle industry. A. Anderson joined them from Singer to design their first car in 1913. Calcott was later acquired by Singer as was Aster.

Dodge (1914-)
Dodge made production cars in the USA from 1914 and commercial vehicles and merged with Chrysler in 1928. Later models were introduced to the UK from the Chrysler range around 1969, but the Dodge brothers had interests here before that time. Several of the previous Commer models were "improved" and badged as Dodges.

Citroen (1925-)
Andre Citroen established a French company to mass produce cheap motor cars in 1919 and moved to the UK in 1925 establishing production facilities in Slough which built the famous DS model. Chrysler later became part of the Peugeot-Citroen Group.

Chrysler (1926-)
Chrysler was created in the USA from Maxwell and Chalmers in 1924 by Walter P. Chrysler, formerly of Buick. They established a UK factory near Kew Gardens in 1926. Some overseas Rootes models were badged as Plymouth, e.g. in Australia, which was a Chrysler model name. Chrysler acquired interests in the Rootes Group from 1964 onwards.

Simca (1935-81)
Built Fiat cars in France until 1951. They then acquired Unic and began to produce their own models until 1981.

Rootes Securities Ltd. (1939-45)
Shadow factory at Speke built Hadley Page Halifax and Blenheim bombers and transport aircraft for the war effort. Another shadow factory at Blythe Bridge built Blenheim and Beaufighter planes. During WWII Rootes built 1 in 7 of all bombers, 60% of all armoured cars and 35% of scout cars used by the British armed forces.

Dates of Company Formations and Mergers

The following are the closest dates we can find to the various mergers which took place between the companies which eventually became synonimous with Rootes and which gave their names to the various marques sold over the whole period.

1789 Thrupp and Maberly coach and carriage builders formed
1880s Rootes started a cycle shop in Hawkhurst, Kent
1907 the Rootes Motor Agency was formed
1920 (13th August) Sunbeam merged with Talbot and Darracq to form STD Motors under director Alexander Darracq
1921 Coventry-Premier with Singer
c.1920-5 Coventry-Repetition and Sparkbrook Manufacturing joined Singer
1925 Rootes Limited were formed
1925 Commercial Cars with Humber to become Commer
1926 the Calcott factory was acquired by Singer.
1926-7 Singer bought the BSA and Daimler armaments premises in Birmingham
1928 Hillman joined Humber
1929 Singer bought the Aster factory at Wembley
1929-31 Humber joined Rootes
1932 Tilling-Stevens (T.S.Motors) acquired Karrier
1934 Karrier joined Rootes via Humber and moved to Luton
1935 STD joined Rootes
1937 BLSP joined Rootes
c.1938-45 Vulcan joined Tilling-Stevens and the Southport factory was vacated
1948 Karrier-Sunbeam Trolley Bus operations sold to Guy Motors
1951 Tilling-Stevens joined Rootes. Production of TSM and Vulcan at the Maidstone plant was ceased in 1953 continuing only with Commer and Karrier
1951 Simca acquired Unic
1954 Simca acquired Ford France
1956 Singer joined Rootes
1958 Chrysler bought a minority stake in Simca
1959 Talbot-Lago absorbed by Simca
1963 Rootes "Scotland" was formed to manufacture the Imp following Government recommendations
1963 Chrysler gained a controlling interest in Simca
1964 Chrysler bought 30% interest in Rootes. Lord William Rootes of Ramsbury died on 12th December the same year.
1967-69 Rootes absorbed by Chrysler following the retirement of Reginald Rootes. Geoffrey Rootes remained as Chairman until 1992.
1970 Simca became known as Chrysler (France)
1978-9 Chrysler UK (1970) was sold to Peugeot-Citroen Group in 1979 with the UK operations taking the old Talbot name.
1981-7 Dodge UK name was finally replaced by Renault.

Car and Commercial Models

This catalogue is not definitive and does not list every model produced. It is a simplified version of the summaries provided in the books and Web sites listed in the references. The authors have done very thorough research for which all Rootes vehicle owners should be grateful. They provide a great deal of additional marque, model and historical information which is sure to be of interest. However, if you have corrections or additions to this catalogue please contact Bob Allan.

We note in particular that the names and notations used for commercial vehicles is only indicative. Each model was available in many versions - normal or forward control, petrol or diesel, truck, bus or coach chassis of different sizes and capacities, some as tractors only. Many were custom built for their final requirements, such as War Department vehicles, ambulances, fire engines, road sweepers, waste disposal vehicles, low loaders, etc. The references should be consulted for further details and examples.

For those interested in more information about the models produced during the Rootes period, the book Cars of the Rootes Group by Graham Robson is highly recommended and available from the Archive Centre Trust.

Thanks to...

All who attended the Hillman Centenary, 2007 despite the weather. Some photos from the event are featured for reference purposes in this catalogue.

Jim Crampton for working on the commercial and Liverpool connections including the WWII shadow factories; Sam Cottingham for much additional input on commercials; Hugh Boultbee and Brunson Martin for information on Humber; Gordon Jarvis, James Spencer, Simon Benoy, Colin Gunn, Roger Swift and other enthusiastic Imp Club members; Leon Gibbs for additional historical information; Tim and Sally Sutton; people referenced via the bibliography and Web links below; and everyone who has sent information and photographs for this Web page.

References and Web Links for more Information

Books

John Bullock The Rootes Brothers. (Patrick Stephens, 1993) ISBN 1-85260-454-9

Geoff Caverhill The Commer Story (Crowood Press, 2002) ISBN 1-86126-491-7

David Culshaw and Peter Horrobin The Complete Catalogue of British Cars. (MacMillan, London, 1974) ISBN 0-333-16689-2

Glass's Guides (1939 onwards)

L. Geary Rootes Commercial Vehicles (Ian Henry Publications, 1993) ISBN 0-86025-448-8

R. Langworth Tiger, Alpine, Rapier (Osprey Publishing Ltd., London, 1982) ISBN 0-85045-443-3

A.B. Demaus and J.C. Tarring The Humber Story 1868-1932 (Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1989) ISBN 0-86299-596-3

Graham Robson Cars of the Rootes Group (Motor Racing Publications, 1990) ISBN 0-947981-35-7. Reprinted for the Rootes Archive Trust (Mercian Manuals, 2007) ISBN 978-1-903088-29-6

Web sites

Ian and Jan's Sunbeam Harrington Web site http://www.harringtonalpine.org

Keith Adams' Web site http://rootes-chrysler.co.uk

Bob Allan's Web site for Imps and derivatives http://tardis.dl.ac.uk/Mercia

Russ Maddock's Web site http://www.sunbeam.org.au

Andy Murkins's Web site http://homepage.ntlworld.com/andymurkin/Hillman/Hillman.html

Tony Taylor's Web site http://www.hillmancar.com

Hillman Car Club of South Australia http://www.sa.hillman.org.au

Franka Steinhuis' site http://www.imps4ever.info for identification and information about Imps see

Fleet Data Web site http://www.fleetdata.co.uk/rootes.html for information on commercial vehicles

Howard Pettigrew's Commer and Karrier site http://www.commer.org.nz and http://www.commer.org.nz/new

Alan and Mary Lou Miles' Hillman site http://www.theseriesminxpages.com

Remy Theibaut's site http://www.gruporootes.org for the Spanish Rootes Group (you may need to wait a while).

The Association of Rootes Car Clubs (ARCC). Look here for information about affiliated clubs world wide. http://www.thearcc.co.uk

and for a nearly complete set of links, see: http://www.sa.hillman.org.au/Links.htm

Bert Clewit's home page also has lots of links (but quite a lot don't work any more): http://www.geocities.com/clewitsbert/cars.html

Allpar's Chrysler Corporation Web site: http://www.allpar.com

Tony Gardner's Alpine site: http://www.mamut.net/alpine/

Alec Morley's Hillman Wizard site: http://www.hillmanwizard.com

Alec Morley's pre-War Hillman Web site: http://www.hillman16.wix.com/hillman-sixteen also on Wikipedia.

British and European Car Spotter's Guide: http://ucapusa.com/car_spotters_guide_europe_1939.htm

Paykan Hunter Web site: http://www.paykanhunter.com/

For pictures of classic Minx cars from 1921-1939 see Frank Parson's Web site: http://www.classichillman.co.uk.

Shahin Armin's photo stream on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/shahins/, and his blog http://www.paykanhunter.com/.

Classic Car Catalogue http://www.classiccarcatalogue.com/.

What's a Hillman Web site: http://www.whatsahillman.com/.

Sunbeam Venezia Web site built by Hans Visser and Robert Jaarsma: http://www.sunbeamvenezia.com.


"Preserving the past for the future."
Rootes Heritage, Unit 15 Apollo Office Park, Ironstone Lane, Wroxton, Banbury, Oxon OX15 6AY, UK


The Rootes Archive Centre is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales number 1108882.
Patrons: Lord Rootes, T.D. Rootes, W.B. Rootes.


This document can best viewed with any browser

Web site developed and maintained by R.J. Allan
"Hand Knitted Software" 2005-17

Comments on and contributions to the Web site should be send to Bob Allan (e-mail).

Page last modified: Thursday, 27-Aug-2015 17:08:04 BST