Spencer King

 Charles Spencer “Spen” King was a significant figure in the Rover Company and, after their takeover, in the British Leyland Motor Corporation.

After leaving school in 1942, he was first apprenticed to Rolls-Royce. He joined Rover, run by his uncles Maurice and Spencer Wilks, in 1945 and worked initially on the gas-turbine powered JET1 and T3 experimental prototypes. In 1959 he became chief engineer of new vehicle projects and is best known for his leadership of the teams that developed the advanced Rover P6 series, introduced as the 2000 in 1963, and the hugely successful Range Rover launched in June, 1970. As well, he was responsible for the Rover-based Marauder sports car in 1950 and many Rover experimental and prototype vehicles.

As Rover was taken over by the Leyland Motor Corporation which subsequently became British Leyland, he also led teams responsible for the Triumph TR6, Triumph Stag and Triumph TR7 models as well as the innovative design of the 16-valve cylinder head used on the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Several other BL Group models were developed under his leadership but during a chaotic time for the British motor industry, King was frequently frustrated by the design compromises imposed by lack of adequate funding, and the poor quality of vehicles produced by an uncooperative workforce in the diverse and mainly outdated plants owned by the company.

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