For students of the history of Jaguar Cars, a book written by Chris Cowin, first 2012 and republished 2014 may be of interest. The book, British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978 is simply packed with interesting history. This is the comprehensive story of a collection of once great and diverse British industries, primarily automotive, and their slow but relentless move toward destruction with only a few surviving pieces, Jaguar and Land Rover. For Jaguar only followers much of this book may be irrelevant as it deals in great detail about the downward spiral of the largest indigenous British car companies beginning about 1968 but this date is approximate.
Compiled from the original 35mm filmstrip and vinyl LP record soundtrack, this is a training film from 1970 which introduces the BL salesmen to the new Triumph Stag. Well, new to 1970. I love using our video of the week to look back at how cars were viewed in the period versus how we think of them now. OK, I will admit that it is also fun to view the world pre-PowerPoint. Even though Time lists the Stag as one of the “50 Worst Cars of All-Time“, I have always liked them. And, they have a pretty good following these days. The issues can be sorted out these days, the wrongs set right, and then you have a very stylish, comfortable, touring sports-car. Sure, the Stag should have gotten the Rover V8 that went into so many other cars of […]
The history of the British car industry is a fascinating one. From Britain’s the top-of-the-heap position through the 1960s down to a mere footnote by the 1990s, the rise and fall has been analyzed to death. But, most of that analyzation has been from the outside. Only recently have those actually involved in the industry begun to come forward and tell their tales. British Leyland Motor Corporation 1968 – 2005 The Story From Inside by Mike Carver, Nick Seale and Anne Youngson is just such an insider story. This book tells the story of the constituent parts of British Leyland, later Rover Group, from the merger in 1968 to the end of production of the last MG Rover in 2005. The story has been told before, but this account is different. It is told by three people who were part of it, […]
The British Motor Corporation. BMC. Loved and hated at the same time by British car fans around the world. Loved for the cars produced during the company’s existence – the MGB, the Austin Healey 3000, the ‘Spridget’, and many more. Loved, or at least liked, because they were better than British Leyland that came after them. Hated for the corporate think, homogenization of the cars, and start of the slide that soon would swallow Jaguar as well. Our Video of the Week this time is “British Motor Corporation Story”, a look back at the company that for many epitomizes the British car industry of the 1960s. BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey and Wolseley as […]
When John Egan arrived at Jaguar Cars in April 1980, newly appointed as Chief Executive, the company’s very survival was in grave doubt. In fact, the situation looked utterly hopeless. Not only was the once-proud Jaguar company a part of the catastrophic BL Cars but he was greeted at the gates by the workforce – on strike! The odds against saving Jaguar were immense. Quality was appalling, the workforce bitter, the management disillusioned and it was hemorrhaging money. The Labour Government had introduced the ‘closed shop’, giving the unions and their militant shop stewards immense power. This book tells the story of how John Egan gradually overcame the odds and, piece by piece, rebuilt this once great company, winning over the workforce, the suppliers, the overseas dealers and, most important of all, the customers. Working initially with BL Chairman Michael […]
British Leyland – The History, the Engineering, the People is a book for those of us with a love hate relationship with the ubiquitous British Leyland. During the 1960s vehicle makers all over the world were looking to expand and amalgamate as at the time it was considered the only way they could survive. As a major manufacturing nation Britain at the time had a large number of makers of all kinds of vehicles and gradually many of them joined together to form two large companies. The first of these was the Leyland Motor Corporation which was principally involved with the manufacture of commercial vehicles although they had also recently diversified into cars. The other major concern was British Motor Holdings, owners of some of Britain’s iconic car makes including Austin, Morris, Wolseley and Riley to name but a few. […]
Our video this week is a little something different. It is a internal corporate video from British Leyland on the importance of quality in building a car. Some may laugh at this now, but it is obvious that the powers that be at British Leyland knew the had a problem and had to do something to address it. “The Quality Connection” is just such an attempt. If nothing else, view this 24 minute video for all the period cars you will see. And try, just try, not to imagine Eric Idle, John Cleese, or any other of the Monty Python bunch coming out to stop the video as “too serious” or something. It really does look almost like a comedy sketch to us these days, but then history and perspective can do that.
History repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce … then as the Mini. An announcement that two new versions of Britain’s most successful car will soon be produced at BMW’s Cowley plant offers coruscating insights into national identity, consumer psychology and the realities of design today. It was on August 26, 1959, when ice-cream colored Ford Zodiacs with fluted chrome still wafted along dual-carriageways, that the Mini 1.0 appeared. As a small boy my father took me to see one of the first at the Rocket Garage in Liverpool. What was obvious even — perhaps specially — to a child was ingenuity of a high order. Alec Issigonis’s insistence on compactness and his refusal of “style” produced the most unusual and influential car ever. But Issigonis had a demanding personality: he insisted, for example, that discomfort kept drivers helpfully […]
An interesting article from The Yuma Sun …. Stan Gourley is a man who obviously loves cars, particularly his 1970 Triumph TR6. The car sits in his garage, partially restored. “You know,” Gourley said, looking at his jasmine yellow car, “it’s really sad to think that in 20 or 30 years this TR-6 would probably be a Chevrolet Camaro or a Pontiac GTO or an Oldsmobile 442.” Gourley, a man who knows British sports cars, explains that he thinks what happened to the British Leyland Co. back in the ’70s and what is occurring to General Motors now is too similar to be ignored. “They were a giant company that dominated the market for British cars in the ’60s and ’70s, but then they had real labor problems, the government nationalized the companies, then guaranteed billions of dollars in bailout […]
The MG sports car is now back on sale in Britain. The company’s story is an amazing one of survival since the birth of the marque in the 1920s. It survived ownership by BMC, British Leyland, BMW and is now in Chinese hands. Yet, this nifty little sports car is still there bearing its badge with pride. So with the rebirth of the brand in Britain, it is perhaps appropriate to look at the model which drove MG into modern times. The MG TD was arguably the most popular of all the T series cars. It followed the success of the TC Midget which made inroads into the United States market. Underpinned by the success of the TC, the TD answered calls for a bigger and better equipped car. MG was then owned by the Nuffield Group and as the […]
A faltering auto giant whose brands are synonymous with the open road. Hundreds of thousands of unionized workers with powerful political backers. An urgent plea for the government to write a virtual blank check. This is not the story of Ford and General Motors, but British Leyland, a car company that went through £11 billion of inflation-adjusted British taxpayer money, or $16.5 billion, in the ’70s and ’80s before going out of business. All that is left of the company now are memories of cars like the Triumph, and a painful lesson in the limited effectiveness of bailouts.