We were sorry to learn that Arthur Goddard, the man who led Land Rover’s development project in 1947-1948, 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 fairly new to Rover, Arthur had clearly impressed the Chief Engineer with his ability to get things done, and his straightforward, no-frills demeanor was exactly what was needed to take the Land Rover from concept to production in some months. There is no doubt that the Series I saved the Rover Company in 1948, and that Arthur’s part in its creation was fundamental.
Promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer, Arthur remained in charge of the Land Rover project until the mid-1950s, constantly leading the best-selling Rover to greater things. It was only then that he decided to leave Rover for a very high position elsewhere – and in that moment he became invisible to the people of Land Rover. No one knew where he was and few people in the company publicized his accomplishments.
It was only by an extraordinary coincidence that it was rediscovered. Australian Land Rover enthusiast Alex Massey heard of an engineer who had worked for Land Rover before and was familiar with the early days, and wondered if he would like to meet to chat. This engineer turned out to be Arthur Goddard. When news broke, Arthur found himself an overnight celebrity at the age of 89.
Enthusiasts will remember the special event organized by the Series One Club when Arthur visited the UK in 2010. Through multiple interviews and conversations, he greatly enriched our understanding of the early days of the Land Rover (see one of these videos below).
We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Messrs Goddard, R Nash