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B1090 Automobile, full size, Rover, 12 hp, 4-5 seat, 3-door, touring body, car and engine No. 602, designed by Owen Clegg, made by The Rover Company Ltd, Meteor Works, Coventry, England, 1912, used by Mr and Mrs Lewis S. Drummond, Drummoyne, New South Wales, Australia, 1913-1948. Click to enlarge.

1912 Rover 12 hp tourer

Made 1912
This 12 hp Rover touring car, designed by Owen Clegg and built by The Rover Company in Coventry, England, in 1912, is significant because it is in unusually original condition and very complete. It is very rare for a car of this age to survive unrestored. It was purchased new in 1913 by Mr Lewis Drummond of Drummoyne, a Sydney suburb, but by 1925 was registered in the name of his wife, Joan. The car has only three doors; the driver would have had to slide across the bench seat from the passenger side as the driver's side has the spare wheel, brake and gear change levers in the way. Despite the fact that the car's gear change required double-declutching, it was said to be a relatively easy car to drive for the period.

When the Rover was purchased few people in Australia owned cars. Roads outside the city centres were rough dirt tracks, petrol stations were non existent, vehicle registration was only just introduced and motoring was still a very expensive luxury.

The 12 hp Clegg-designed Rover cost 350 British pounds when new and came equipped with electric lighting. It was described at the time as "an excellent car, not very fast but smooth running and practically indestructible". The Rover was a typical Edwardian touring car and was well engineered, solid, robust and reliable. Its price made it affordable for upper middle class families.

The car remained in the Drummond family until 1948 when it was purchased by the Museum. It has been stored by the Museum for many decades and remains a time capsule of early motoring history.

Margaret Simpson
Assistant Curator, Science & Industry
December 2008


Object No.


Object Statement

Automobile, full size, Rover, 12 hp, 4-5 seat, 3-door, touring body, car and engine No. 602, designed by Owen Clegg, made by The Rover Company Ltd, Meteor Works, Coventry, England, 1912, used by Mr and Mrs Lewis S. Drummond, Drummoyne, New South Wales, Australia, 1913-1948

Physical Description

Automobile, full size, Rover, 12 hp, 4-5 seat, 3-door, touring body, car and engine No. 602, designed by Owen Clegg, made by The Rover Company Ltd, Meteor Works, Coventry, England, 1912, used by Mr and Mrs Lewis S. Drummond, Drummoyne, New South Wales, Australia, 1913-1948

The car is a 4 to 5-seat open tourer built with steel panels on a steel sub-frame. Both the chassis and body were made by Rover. There are three doors in all, with the offside having only one door as the handbrake, gear lever and spare wheel are where the driver's door would normally be located. A vertical, single-piece windscreen protects the driver and front passenger from the elements and there is a folded hood at the rear. There are H & B electric side lamps mounted on the pillars of the windscreen, H & B acetylene headlamps with their own gas producing units, and a paraffin tail lamp. The car is fitted with black leather deep button upholstery. The Dunlop tyres are bead edged, on artillery wheels with oak spokes and ash felloes. The hubs bear the Rover insignia.

The four-cylinder engine is cast in one piece, with a solid high-tensile crankshaft on specially lined plane bearings. The side inlet and exhaust valves are mechanically operated with all springs and adjustable tappets enclosed by an aluminium side cover which is easily removable. Oil is pumped into troughs under connecting rods by a geared pump at the bottom of the sump. The overflow of oil from the troughs is filtered on its way back to the sump, which has a capacity of about one and a quarter gallons (5 litres). The magneto and cam are driven by silent chains. The clutch is a metal to metal type, running in oil. The four gears are changed by gate change with direct drive on top. The ratios comprise: first and reverse, 17.7 to 1; second 8.4 to 1; and third 4.7 to 1. The transmission is through a cardan shaft to a worm-driven rear axle, with a universal joint at each end of the shaft. The engine is inclined to keep the transmission in a straight line. Control is by throttle and ignition levers on the steering wheel and an accelerator pedal operated by the right foot. Steering is by worm and segment of hardened steel. Ball thrust bearings are provided above and below the worm. The front axel is a stamped "H" section fitted with swivel pins on ball bearings. The footbrake is of the contracting type operated on the propeller shaft at the rear of the gearbox. The handbrake, an internal expanding type, is operated by a right hand side lever on the rear wheels.

The car retains its original New South Wales number plate, 7603. The original registration label is still fitted together with one for The Australian Bicentennial Castrol World Rally.

The engine number is located on the horizontal alloy surface of the left hand side of the crankcase.

The brass bulb horn is missing together with one of the instruments (possibly an 8-day clock) on the polished mahogany dashboard.

Engine No. 602
Capacity: 2297 cc
Cylinders: 4
Bore: 3 inches (75 mm)
Stroke: 5 and three quarter inches (130 mm)
Gears: 3 forward, 1 reverse constant mesh gearbox
Springs: semi-elliptic, extra long
Carburettor: sloper S.U. made by Rover Co. under licence
Ignition: Bosch magneto, variable ignition by lever on steering wheel
Cooling: Thermo-syphon
Clutch: single phosphor-bronze clutch plate running in oil.
Petrol tank: 9 gallons (40.91 litres), dashboard mounted
Speed: approximately 45 mph (70 kph)
Track: 4 ft 2 inches (1270 mm)
Width of frame (behind dashboard) 30 inches (762 mm)
Wheelbase: 9 ft 2 inches (2794 mm)
Weight complete: 1 ton (1.01 tonnes)
Weight of chassis: 14 cwt (711.2 kg)


Brass plate on dashboard: THE / ROVER / CO LTD / MANUFACTURERS / COVENTRY / HP12 CAR AND / ENGINE NOS 602. Speedometer: Model 26 Stewart Cark Mfg Co., Chicago, USA.



1600 mm


1600 mm





The Rover Company Ltd had its origins in 1861 when James Starley and his partner, Josiah Turner, moved from London to Coventry to establish the Coventry Sewing Machine Company. The firm's staff included Singer, Bayliss, Herbert and Hillman who all had a significant impact on the motor industry in later years. The company developed into the Coventry Machinists Co. Ltd in 1869 and made velocipedes and ordinary (penny farthing) bicycles. Starley was a gifted inventor and developed large numbers of tricycles of various configurations. He died in 1881 and his nephew, John Kemp Starley, joined with William Sutton to establish the Meteor Works in 1878 to produce Rover bicycles and later Rover motorcycles, tricars cars and in 1904, their first car. This was designed by Edmund Lewis, lured from Daimler, and was an 8 hp, single-cylinder model. Lewis went on to the Deasy company but his designs persisted with a smaller 6 hp model which appeared in 1905 followed by a 16/20 four-cylinder model. Several models with Knight sleeve-value engines appeared briefly but a major development occurred in 1912 with the 12 hp four-cylinder model of which this Rover is an example.

The 12 hp was designed by Owen Clegg who had arrived at Rover in September 1910 from Wolseley. He was a successful works manager and transformed the Rover production from a diverse and dated range of models to a limited model, large-scale production run. Clegg used a number of features already in production including the chassis and worm-drive back axles and united it with a monobloc four-cylinder engine. Over 5,000 12 hp models were produced between 1912 and 1915 though Clegg had left Rover for the French firm Darracq in 1912.

"The Automobile", August, 1989, pp.50-54.



The car was purchased new in 1913 by Mr Lewis (or Louis) S. Drummond. In 1918 it was listed with registration plate No. 7603 and noted as being owned by Louis S. Drummond of the Equitable Building, George Street, Sydney, telephone 1262 where Drummond had an accountancy firm, L.S. Drummond & Co. Incorp. The firm also had an office in Newcastle in the City Bank Chambers, Hunter Street, telephone 78. By 1925 the Rover was registered in the name of Mrs Joan Drummond of 37 Collingwood Street, Drummoyne. Lewis Drummond had married Joan Barnett, daughter of John and Catherine Barnett, in Sydney in 1889 . It appears that the Rover was driven up until the Second World, but when petrol rationing was introduced, it was stored and not used. Mrs Drummond died in 1948 and in the same year the car was sold to the Museum with only about 13,000 miles on the odometer.

The car was left virtually untouched for 40 years and stored by the Museum. In 1988 considerable conservation work was undertaken and tyres and king pins were replaced before the car participated in The Bicentennial Parade in Sydney on 9 January 1988 and The Australian Bicentennial Castrol World Rally in March 1988 organised by the Veteran Car Club of Australia under the auspices of the world organising body Federation Internationale Vehicules Anciens in Switzerland. The event was one of many celebrations undertaken to mark the 200 hundredth anniversary of European settlement in Australia. Some 1200 cars from 21 countries, all built before the end of 1930, participated in the six day motoring festival in Canberra with cars being driven in a Monte Carlo rally style with official starts in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart.

"The Australian Bicentennial Castrol World Rally"


Credit Line

Purchased 1948

Acquisition Date

30 July 1948

Cite this Object


1912 Rover 12 hp tourer 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=1912 Rover 12 hp tourer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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