Inventor's headstone, the headstone of Maurice Wilks overlooked by the east end of St Mary's Church, Llanfair-yn-y-Cwmwd
19 August 1904|
Hayling Island, Hampshire, England
|Died||8 September 1963
Newborough, Anglesey, Wales
|Known for||Car design engineer|
Maurice Cary Ferdinand Wilks (1904—1963) was an automotive and aeronautical engineer, and by the time of his death in 1963, was the chairman of the Rover Company, a British car manufacturer. He was responsible for the inspiration and concept work that led to the development of the Land Rover off-road utility vehicle.
Wilks worked at Hillman for two years as a planning engineer until 1930, when he moved to the Rover Company as chief engineer, joining his brother, Spencer, who was managing director at Rover at that time. During World War II, Wilks led Rover's team developing Frank Whittle's gas turbine aircraft engines.
Shortly after the war, whilst at his farm in Anglesey, Wilks, who used an army surplus Willys Jeep for farm work, and his brother Spencer who was visiting him, were inspired to develop and produce a utility four-wheel-drive vehicle for farmers, and the name Land Rover was coined for it.
By the summer of 1947 Rover had built a prototype Land Rover vehicle based on a Jeep chassis. In September 1947, the Rover company authorised the production of 50 pre-production models for evaluation purposes. The Land Rover was launched to the world at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.
After the war, Wilks continued working with gas turbine engines, leading to Rover unveiling the first gas turbine powered car in 1949. He then was appointed mechanical director in 1960 and then in 1961 he was appointed chair of the Rover Company.
Wilks died at his farm near Newborough, Anglesey, on 8 September 1963.
Notable family members
- "Wilks, Maurice Cary Ferdinand". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
- "Obituary: Mr. Maurice Wilks". The Times. 1963-09-10. p. 12.
- Nick Georgano, Nick Baldwin, Anders Clausager, Jonathan Wood. Nick Georgano, ed. Britain's Motor Industry: The First Hundred Years. ISBN 0-85429-923-8.