13 JUNE 1998, Page 29

The one that got away

ROLLS-ROYCE Motors rolls away from a land of missed opportunities. Its new own- ers, Volkswagen, might have been a British company. Lord King tells me that after the war VW was offered to Rootes, the makers of Humbers and Hillmans. Unimpressed by the prospects for the Beetle (not a patch, I suppose, on the Hillman Imp), Rootes turned the offer down, and was in its turn swallowed up, first by Chrysler and then by Peugeot. It is true that a VW under Rootes's management would not have been much threat to anyone. What a shame it was not offered to Rolls-Royce.