Obituary : A.B. Smith

AB Smith

Former Rover boss A.B. Smith dies in Birmingham at the age of 87 years .
Obituary from the Association of Rover Clubs’ website

It is with deep regret that we have to report the death of Mr. A.B. Smith, former Managing Director and Chairman of the ‘old’ Rover Company. He died in the early hours of Saturday 27th June after fighting against pneumonia for several weeks. He was 87 years old.

Known to some as Bernard, he was, to all his Rover colleagues, known affectionately as ‘A. B’. He started his career at Rover straight out of school, and was involved in finding and equipping the Rover factories in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, for jet engine manufacture, and later involved in the commercial side of the post war reconstruction of the Rover car and Land Rover manufacturing success.

In 1969 he became Managing Director and, in 1973, Chairman, until his retirement in 1975. He was the last surviving member of the ‘old’ Rover Board of Directors. A. B. reached the top of the tree, but never forgot his roots, he always had a word of encouragement for his junior staff, and was always the perfect gentleman.

He loved to join in at press events and club rallies, and surprised many of the press pundits in 1970 by driving his Velar YVB 173H on some of the Eastnor tracks considered too severe for the press.

Upon retirement he retained his management Range Rover YXC 975K which he cherished until about 3 years ago, when he passed it on to a close friend so that he could still keep an eye on it!

He was looking forward to our 50th year celebrations, and took part in the “Founders Day” at Gaydon in March, but despite his best efforts, he had to withdraw from the Solihull Heritage Run and the Eastnor International Rally due to the onset of pneumonia.

He was immensely proud that the ‘Rover’ name survived the multiple re-organisations created by Leyland and Government control – a real “Rover Man” – he will be sadly missed.

Keith Adams

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