Obituary : Maurice Wilks 1904-1963

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Maurice Wilks
Maurice Wilks

Mr Maurice Wilks, Chairman of the Rover Company Limited, died at his home in Anglesey on Sunday night. He was 59. Born in 1904 Maurice Carey Wilks was educated at Malvern and gained his initial experience of the motor industry with General Motors, for whom he worked for two years from 1926. From America he moved to the Hillman Motor Car Co. at Coventry, where he worked as a planning engineer for a further two years.

In 1930 he joined the Rover Company as chief engineer, which position he held until he was made technical director in 1946. In 1960 he was appointed managing director of the Rover company, and in 1962 he became chairman. This position suited him as he could devote more of his time to engineering policy rather than day-to-day management. In 1930 with his brother, Spencer, who was then managing-director, he was largely responsible for taking the decision to produce only high quality cars.

The boldness of his decision can be appreciated when it is remembered that the economy of the country and the industry in particular was at this time at a low ebb. During the war he headed the Rover team responsible for the development of the first production version of the gas-turbine aircraft engine. He was convinced that gas turbines would eventually play an important role as power units for wheeled vehicles.

His foresight led the Rover Company to continue this development after the war and resulted in the first gas-turbine car being produced by the Rover Company in 1949. At this time he was a moving spirit in the development of the Motor Industries Research Establishment proving ground which ultimately became of such value to the industry as a whole.

The decision to produce the Land Rover was also that of Maurice Wilks, in conjunction with his brother. Essentially a quiet, shy, studious man he shunned publicity and preferred to remain in the background. He had a brilliant knowledge of engineering detail and was regarded as one of the industry’s outstanding engineers, In addition, he had great boldness and the ability to foresee the requirements of his company for years ahead. He leaves a widow and three sons.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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