The man considered to have been the father of the Range Rover, passed away this weekend, after being involved in a traffic accident on his bicycle. Widely known as 'Spen', Charles Spencer King was born in 1925. He started a lifetime in the automotive industry in 1942, as an apprentice with Rolls-Royce. Three years later, he joined Rover, then run by his uncles, Maurice and Spencer Wilks.
King worked on Rover's new vehicle projects from 1959. He worked on the Rover P6 Series, which spawned the 2000, 2200, and 3500 models. It was after this, while Spen and his team were waiting to be told what the next job would be, that they started thinking about what would become the Range Rover. Spen was of the opinion that Land Rover needed something new. He felt that 'it was obvious that people carriers of the time were not competitive and that there was better to be done.' Spen recalled, earlier this year as the model celebrated its 40th anniversary that that, 'We simply hoped that it would be a successful Land Rover.'
With design and engineering work well underway King moved to the group's new acquisition, Standard-Triumph, where King helped develop the Triumph Stag, Triumph TR6 and Triumph TR7.
In the great engineer's last interview (LRO July 2010), LRO asked him, 'how he felt about the Range Rover after 40 years as an icon? His smile widened and he said, 'It's very nice to look back on something that you did a long time ago and know that it's been successful. It's a luxury that I enjoy very much.'
Spen King (1925-2010) RIP