We were sorry to hear that Arthur Goddard, the man who led the Land Rover development project in 1947-1948, has died in Brisbane, Australia. He was 101 years old.
Arthur was a young engineer in his twenties when Maurice Wilks put him in charge of the Land Rover project. Still quite new to Rover, Arthur had clearly impressed the Chief Engineer with his ability to get things done, and his straightforward, no-nonsense attitude was exactly what was needed to take the Land Rover from design to production in a matter of months. It is beyond question that the Series I saved the Rover Company in 1948, and that Arthur’s part in its creation was fundamental.
Promoted to Assistant Chief Engineer, Arthur remained in charge of the Land Rover project until the mid-1950s, constantly driving Rover’s best-seller on to greater things. Only then did he decide to leave Rover for a very senior position elsewhere – and at that point, he became invisible to Land Rover people. Nobody knew where he was, and few people in the company broadcast his achievements.
It was only by an extraordinary coincidence that he was rediscovered. Australian Land Rover enthusiast Alex Massey heard about an engineer who had once worked for Land Rover and knew something about the early days, and wondered if he would like to meet for a chat. That engineer turned out to be Arthur Goddard. When word got around, Arthur found himself an overnight celebrity at the age of 89.
Enthusiasts will remember the special event hosted by the Series One Club when Arthur visited the UK in 2010. Through multiple interviews and conversations he immeasurably enriched our understanding of the Land Rover’s early days (see one such video below).
We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.