Charles Spencer "Spen" King
It is with much regret that From The Captain's Chair announces the death of one of the most influential men within Rover and later British Leyland; Charles Spencer King. Spen, as he was known, was first apprenticed to Rolls-Royce in 1942, joining the Rover company under his uncles Spencer and Maurice Wilks in 1945, working upon the Rover gas-turbine projects.
A significant figure in the creation of the P6 range, King was effectively the man behind the legendary Range Rover project - a special edition of which bore his initials in 1990. His input into the Maestro and Montego during the early stages of development ensured the car's simplicity. Freely admitting to copying the basic principles of the VW Golf, King eschewed the Hydragas and box-in-sump layout of previous BL mid-range cars for both ease of maintenance and customer familiarity - there was no need for anything more complicated, so he advocated the use of a simplistic design.
As Chairman of BL Technology in 1979 he was responsible for Leyland's ECV projects to investigate efficient and green technoology - some thirty years before the rest of the planet became interested. Many of the features of the Design Award-winning K-series stemmed from research done by BL Technology during his tenure as Chairman. He resigned from BL in 1985 at the age of sixty.
He died last weekend as the result of injuries caused by a cycling accident 2 weeks ago, from which he did not recover. Spen was an influential man, and contributed to many of From The Captain's Chair's favourite designs. He will be sorely missed.