THE Rover Company began its life as a cycle manufacturing firm in 1877. Rover today is the culmination of a long process of mergers and takeovers within the British motor industry since the Second World War. Its history is also the history of the demise of some of Britain's best known car makes: Wolseley, Riley, Austin and Morris. In 1952, Britain's two leading car makers, Austin and Morris, came together to form the British Motor Corporation, BMC. Its leading models in the Sixties, the Morris Minor and the Mini, are still considered classics. In 1966, BMC merged with the Jaguar company to become British Motor Holdings. Meanwhile, Leyland Motors, which made commercial vehicles, moved into family motoring with the acquisition of Standard and Triumph in 1961, forming Leyland Motor Corporation the following year. Rover, which specialised in luxury cars in the post-war period, merged with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1967. In 1968, after a series of upheavals in the British motor industry, Leyland merged with British Motor Holdings to form British Leyland Motor Corporation, the country's largest car maker. It had a 40 per cent share of the British market. In 1975, the name was shortened to British Leyland, to BL Limited in 1978 and finally to the Rover Group plc in 1986. Rover maintained production in limited quantities of the MG sports car, based on the MGB. In 1984, Jaguar became an independent, publicly quoted company. In 1988, Rover became a subsidiary of British Aerospace, when the Government sold its majority share holding. In March 1994, Rover was bought by BMW. It currently has a six per cent share of the British market.