Britain’s independent MG Rover Group today (July 10) today completed the five-millionth Rover-brand car made since the one-time bicycle maker began car production in 1904. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, visited Longbridge to congratulate MG Rover staff and celebrate the significance of this motoring milestone.

Chief executive Kevin Howe said: “Though MG Rover Group is a relatively young company, the Rover marque represents a very important historical legacy. Next year we’ll be celebrating Rover’s centenary, which will also hold special significance.”

The five-millionth Rover is a 2.5-litre 75 saloon, with Rover’s in-house-designed K series V6 engine, painted in a special ‘Xirallic’ aubergine finish with unique ‘oyster’ leather seats and an aubergine ‘Personal Line’ interior.

The car is a top-line Connoisseur SE model with a stack of options including automatic transmission, alloy wheels upgrade, ‘Driver Intelligence’ pack (rain sensor, trip computer and reversing aid), Harman-Kardon stereo system, colour screen satellite navigation, ‘Business’ pack (mobile phone holder and accessory sockets), electric glass sunroof, traction control, cruise control, electric driver and passenger seat adjustment, plus a wood steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake grip and a Sony DVD player.

The Xirallic (a trademark of Merck KgaA, Darmstadt, Germany) aubergine paint finish was specially prepared for the milestone car by MG Rover Group’s paint supplier DuPont. Xirallic is the newest development of paint effect with high chroma crystal effect pigments. These produce a very high lustre, a strong glitter effect and have what MG Rover calls a “distinct shimmer behaviour”.

The most popular Rover ever was the Rover 200 (R8) model, based on Honda’s Concerto, and launched in 1989 with the lightweight K Series engine still used in current MG and Rover models.

MG Rover will keep the milestone car ready for Rover’s centenary celebrations in 2004.