1936 Rover 12 P1 Sports Tourer
Current owner 49 years; known history from new; multiple show-winner in lovely condition throughout
The Rover 12 was one of the first cars with which the Wilks brothers established 'The Rover Tradition', transforming the firm from a humble maker of cyclecars into the brand of choice for the aspirational middle classes in the post-Depression era.
Introduced in 1934, the Rover 12 (P1) was a top quality car, semi-handbuilt, that was good for an easy 70mph from its 1,496cc 4-cylinder OHV engine. An updated P2 version arrived in 1937 with a longer wheelbase and Girling brakes, this model going back into production once the War was over.
Saloon and open versions were available, the Tourers having excellent weather equipment and a neat folding aluminium hood cover which accentuated the sleek lines of the car when the hood was down. The Rover 12 continued until the end of 1948 by which time 17,561 had left the factory, only 5,775 in P1 form and only a few of these being open Tourers.
As the original buff logbook shows, this Rover 12 P1 Sports Tourer was supplied new in May 1936 via Henry Garner Ltd, Hill Street, Birmingham, to its first owner, Edgar Lawmon of Harborne, the list price being £288. He was to keep it until 1946 when ownership transferred to his son, Roger Lawmon, who had just come out of the Army after six years of service.
Two photos on file show Roger with the car just after he got it, both of them looking very smart as the Rover would have been moth-balled during the war years and can’t have been driven much. In 1948 Roger went to South Africa for a year and took the Rover with him, a letter on file recalling how ‘Matilda’, as she was affectionately known, had to cope with the heavily ridged dirt roads. On his return to England, Roger was forced to sell Matilda because he was now selling bacon machines for a living (as his father had done) and they wouldn’t fit in the boot!
The Rover then had four more owners, as detailed in two further buff logbooks on file, before being acquired by the current keeper in 1972. By this point the car was in bits and he was to spend the next 29 years (!!) painstakingly rebuilding it from the ground up, doing some of the work himself and getting some of it done professionally, as detailed in notes and invoices on file.
Finally back on the road in 2001, COA 550 was then used for tours of France, Scandinavia, Ireland and Scotland, reportedly holding her own on the motorways and happily cruising at 60mph. She also attended many shows and won numerous prizes including ‘Committee’s Choice’ (SARR 2002); ‘Best Open Car’ (RSR 2007); 2nd Place at the 2010 Otley Vintage Show; ‘Best Pre-War Car’ at the 2016 Harleston and Waveney Show and the Geoff Kent Award (RSR 2016).
As you can see in the photos, she remains in lovely condition throughout with excellent paintwork, a nicely mellowed interior and a full set of weather gear (hood; tonneau; sidescreens) all in good condition. She has also been starting promptly and running sweetly as we have moved her around on site, despite not having been started or driven at all for the last year or more.
Standard features include Startix automatic starting; harmonic stabiliser; freewheel clutchless gear change; combined petrol and oil level gauge plus Girling-Bijur automatic chassis lubrication. Accessories include the rear bumper (from a Rover 10 coupe), a temperature gauge, reversing lights and a Tapley gradient meter.
A spare steering wheel is included along with a spare set of keys and a solar-powered battery trickle-charger. We are told that there are also many other spares which can be made available to the winning bidder if desired.
The history file also includes an original Rover 12 instruction manual and spare parts catalogue plus an original 16-page guide to the Rover range from 1935. The icing on the cake is the original Birmingham-issue number plate, COA 550, which is transferable – and will no doubt get envious looks from Ferrari 550 Maranello owners…
Only reluctantly for sale due to illness (the V5C now being in the name of the long-term owner’s daughter), this is the nicest Rover 12 we have ever offered and you would be hard pressed to find a better example anywhere.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
* All charges are subject to VAT