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British Leyland—From Triumph to Tragedy: Petrol, Politics & Power

British Leyland—From Triumph to Tragedy: Petrol, Politics & Power

Автор Lance Cole

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British Leyland—From Triumph to Tragedy: Petrol, Politics & Power

Автор Lance Cole

Длина:
402 страницы
5 часов
Издано:
18 янв. 2021 г.
ISBN:
9781526748249
Формат:
Книга

Описание

A history of the British automotive manufacturer and an analysis of what went wrong.

What really happened at British Leyland (BL)? Was it ‘just’ the cars, or were other factors vital to the story? Who really was to blame for BL and MG Rover’s death?

The ‘truth’ about BL is deeper than its cars – were ultra- Left-wing plots to topple BL and British society real? Did secret deals and political intrigue really exist? Was it Labour or Conservative powers who ‘killed’ BL, or was it BL itself? How was it that BL’s design genius was hobbled?

Author Lance Cole lifts the bonnet on BL and presents a forensic yet easy to read new analysis in a story of BL, its cars, and the era of their motoring as powers on the political Left and Right waged war, sometimes even with themselves.

Here is a book about cars and more, a conversation on all things BL: this is a new account of a classic British story told across a trail of evidence in a British industrial and political drama.

Many mistakes made BL, but some of the cars were superb, the designs of genius, the engineering excellent; it is just that we have either forgotten, or been brainwashed into believing the worst.

In a BL book like no other, written by a classic car fanatic with a background in industrial design, automotive, and wider journalism, this story lifts the lid on BL's cars and more. The author also adds inside knowledge from time working in the motor industry.

Lance Cole tells the deeper BL story across the era of its greatest successes and its biggest failures.

“An important and overdue book, well researched which will find a welcome place on the shelves of transport academics and motoring aficionados alike.” —The Journal of the Road Transport History Association

“Cole’s engaging and informal writing style makes things very readable and helps us untangle a lot of the more complex shenanigans that went on. With fifty colour and fifty monochrome pictures, it’s well-illustrated too. Thoroughly recommended for its astute insight whether you’re a BL fan or not.” —Car Mechanics
Издано:
18 янв. 2021 г.
ISBN:
9781526748249
Формат:
Книга

Об авторе

Following early training in illustration and car design/styling, Lance Cole began to write about cars and aircraft. After becoming the 1983 Jaguar Cars/Guild of Motoring Writers Lyons Scholar, he has enjoyed a long career in the media, writing for all the major newspapers and specialist magazines, including The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Classic Cars and the South China Morning Post. The author of over 100 articles and fifteen books, including five for Crowood, he now provides media, content and strategic PR advice, to major organizations including car manufacturers.


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British Leyland—From Triumph to Tragedy - Lance Cole

Introduction

Somewhere, hidden in the BL story there lies a remembrance that is beyond the gates of Longbridge. Here can be found the tears of men amid the frustrations of engineering and design talent squandered or contaminated by committees, communists, and ‘group think’ where confirmation bias, corporate-speak, torpor and the expectation of agreement, guided those who knew what they knew.

‘Oh no, not another book about BL!’ Yes, but read on, because this one is different from most that have gone before in that it views many causes and effects amid the greater BL story across a differing perspective. Cars are vital to the plot, but there is more than cars to the BL tragedy, so this book tries to blend the various strands together in a new approach of how but also why, and who.

As car enthusiasts who buy books about cars do not expect to read about politics, it follows that there are many people who have little idea how politics played a pivotal role in the BL story. The motoring enthusiast reader is also unlikely to want, or expect to read about social politics, yet British politics and the sociology of the ‘class struggle’ play very significant roles in the BL story. So in this book you will find some discussion of such vital evidence, but I have, I promise, remained in touch with the key ingredient – the cars. This book is a conversation about BL cars – across their entire landscape.

In any re-telling upon BL’s tale it is important to avoid ‘rants’ and to try and take a wider view than solely blaming the workers, ‘Commies’, Thatcher, Europe, or the Allegro, for the BL story is a complex drama of many acts. Other car makers, even ‘great’ ones went through crises – notably at Volkswagen and at Citroën, Fiat and even at General Motors, but they all bounced back, they recovered and restored their reputations, brands, products and consequently their finances.

Yet BL did not quite make it. The reasons why are very interesting indeed.

My own fascination for all things Rover, BLMC, and Austin-Morris had a start in my early childhood days, but the defining moment remains clear to me.

One of the most exciting memories I have about cars is the day when aged 18, I walked into the Austin Rover design centre to start an experience that had been arranged for me after we had had a lecture on car design from one of the Austin Rover designers at my school. I had grabbed him and whinged for a visit and some work experience at the altar of advanced British car design.

On arrival, in the car park I saw not just a Rover SD1 V8S, but one in Triton Green – a bright, ‘electric’ green of intense metallic hue. This SD1 was specially trimmed and had non-standard wheels. It had been de-chromed and it seemed to sit and seethe on the car park’s tarmac. I simply stood and took in the shape and the stance of the thing. Every line, every panel, every piece of the car’s sculpture seemed to work, to gel into a form that looked as though it was moving even when static. The shape of the windscreen seemed as ‘emotional’ as that of a Porsche 911; the line of the windows, the nose or ‘face’ of the car simple reeked of style – all defined a new age. From the rear, SD1 was brilliant too. SD1 reminded me of the style of a Vickers VC10 airliner – a piece of totally integrated sculpture in metal. British engineering brilliance.

This then may have been my first appreciation of SD1’s superb scaling. Beside it, there was another SD1 and this was mustard yellow. It looked good, but it was not as exciting as that metallic-hued green shark of an SD1 that lay basking beside it. At no stage did I think SD1 was a Ferrari ‘copy’ either. It turned out that the oft-cited Ferrari ‘Daytona’ styling cues were more likely to have come from another Ferrari and more importantly, its designer’s previous work on the Rover P8 projects and a saloon whose windscreen and window shapes were very obvious SD1 precursors.

I went inside and asked about that Triton SD1. Apparently, it was the chief designer’s car. David Bache’s own SD1. Bache had close Birmingham roots, had started at ‘the Austin’ and was the son of Aston Villa and England footballer Joe Bache. What a story – footballer’s son becomes famous car designer.

There was also a smart looking Harris Mann-designed Princess in the car park that bore special paint and trims. It too, looked modern and a car of great scaling and stance – more like a ‘Solihull Citroën’ than a Rover P6 ever did; Princess was a truly advanced Austin and could have taken on the world.

Inside the design centre, which truly ‘buzzed’, there were some amazing sketches and clay models. I was addicted; the sketches I saw were fantastic. There was also the SD1 estate car – the one they did not mass produce. I saw the amazing Triumph Lynx, too, in all its cancelled glory (what a tragic waste), and the excellent SD2. It was like being at a feast hall, surrounded by inspiration and men who believed in great British design. Yet the reality was also that outside in the car park there lay examples of Allegro ‘3’, Marina MK15, Maxi Mk3.5, and ancient but new examples of Mini (why were their cabins smeared with glue?). The contrast between these cars and the SD1, Princess, Rover P6, and to the abandoned ‘nearly’ cars of Lynx, SD2, AR6 and more, was massive.

The very rare sight of the 1966-1967 Innocenti Sprite two-door based upon the chassis and mechanicals of the Austin Healey Sprite. Unlike the Tom Tjaardi-designed Innocenti 950 Spider, only 487 of these Sergio Sartotelli-designed coupés were ever made and this is the rarest of all the BL overseas interpretations. It used the A-series engine and the body was built by O.S.I., with Ghia input.

Was it there, back at the home of BL, that I was infected with the car design bug? Or had it happened in a childhood surrounded by BMC, BL and many other marques of amazing cars of the era before ‘Euro design’ and its rules were applied across black slatted radiators, oblong chrome brand badges, vestigial under-bumper-spoilers, rubber-ended bumpers, black paint around windows and slush-moulded interiors – as seen on every Euro-clone wheeled box of the 1970s-1980s, then to be applied to the 1969-era Morris Marina as the utterly stunning Ital for the 1980s?

Our family owned a series of BMC and BL cars which included A40, Mini, 1100, 1300, Morris Minor 1000, its van derivative, Spitfire, Dolomite, Rover P6 and an early Land Rover Series One which dominated my teenage driving years, for I learned to drive in BL cars; they imbued in me an admiration for British industrial design in its great post-war decades. Think Vickers VC10 airliner, think Concorde, think Rover P5B 3500, think QE2; works like the English Electric Deltic, the Western Class 52, or the Blackburn Buccaneer, all these were the greats of British 1950s-1960s design. Genius created these metal beasts, as had genius built the de Havilland Comet, the Avro Vulcan, the King Class locomotive, the A4 Pacific and notably, the Shorts C Class ‘Empire’ flying boats, to name just a few of our world-beating heroes of British industrial design. All that before we even mention an Anglo-Grecian-Germanic genius named Issigonis.

As a boy, I used to take a bus to school and one day, a Michelotti-styled bus that had style and a sculpted roof-mounted pod, came howling into view. This bus also had brilliant suspension, an advanced drivetrain, safety structure and was to sell all over the world, despite some initial problems with the engine. The bus was built by Leyland, and it was called the Leyland National – although such a name would be deemed racist now (unless it was Scottish). Inherent within it could be found part of the British Leyland story and Britain’s long history of building brilliant commercial vehicles. Leyland Bus Ltd is long gone, but bizarrely, an old, ex-Leyland, Indian company named Ashok Leyland has recently stepped in to purchase the remains of a bus company that itself rose from the 1980s sell-off of Leyland Bus.

Travelling to school on a brilliant Leyland bus and having had a Leyland tractor on our farm, and a rusty old wreck of a Scammell truck in a field, all meant that I was immersed in Leyland. I also learned the craft of driving on our Land-Rover Series 1, a rare early-1950 model.

Leyland built superb and class-leading buses, trucks and tractors – a fact all too often forgotten in the ‘cars’ narrative. So there were design greats inside all of BL, but BL’s tale of wonder and of woe truly is worth re-examining, but it can leave us with the same questions that have hung in the air for decades. How and why?

Academics have studied the fall of BL and Rover Group and produced many papers upon the story, yet few have gone deeper into the actual thinking of the men that contributed to the outcome – notably in the political beliefs, causes and effects that lay deep inside the mechanicals of BL.

Let’s not forget that not only was BL subsidised by the British taxpayers, so too were the likes of Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Peugeot/Talbot – all as direct, British-based car building competitors with some invited by Margaret Thatcher to compete with the very BL that she and other people complained received too much state aid – just before she gave BL’s competitors hundreds of millions of pounds, in cash and in kind. This did of course signal just where Thatcherism was going – the international market place and the abandonment of domestic loyalties.

Critically, in the 1970s, a BL ‘narrative’ was set down by the media, politicians, the motoring public, and even by BL’s workers themselves. Just as in today’s politics and corporate ‘spin’, the narrative is just that, not always actually factual but a woven construct of opinions and placed agendas which ‘the people’ come to assume are ‘fact’, or paradoxical ‘fake fact’. Once such a narrative is set, it becomes difficult to escape from it, or for anyone to challenge it, and if they do, they are attacked. This is what happened to BL and at BL. It also infected our politics and BL’s remains via New Labour and now infects everything.

The mass-media and tabloid headlines created an anti-BL mindset (the narrative) and brainwashed the public amid the BL crisis years. Of this there is little doubt, and I write that view as an ex-national press journalist. But such media mind games did reflect the culture of strikes and stricken cars. But once the die was cast, there was little hope.

Mel Nichols, the revered editor of Car magazine in the crucial late 1970s-early 1980s period of BL’s affairs, pointed out in September 1981 that the media gave Michael Edwardes’ efforts a negative treatment over factory closures and lost jobs, but that in fact, Edwardes’ actions, notably those ignored by the media, were, in their totality, positive moves designed to secure a vital future for BL.

Unravelling that BL narrative has taken decades and is still not settled. I hope this book kicks that can further up the road to clarity.

As an example, the Allegro and its designer have been defamed by the narrative. BL at large has also been cited and blamed for cars with problems, yet the likes of Renault, Fiat, Citroën have been forgiven for their 1970s produce that was dire. Ford turned out some truly dreadful build quality and re-warmed old cars in the 1970s, yet are rarely cited for it. Poor old BL still gets it in the neck however. Oh, and BL did not design and produce the wretched Ford Pinto and its serious design problem either. Neither did BL stick a modern car’s fuel tank up under a rear wing and near the rear bumper – no, not the 1970s Pinto but the 1980s Sierra.

Renault 14, AlfaSud, VW Polo MK1 and Passat Mk1, Citroën GSA, Datsun Cherry, Ford Escort Mk III, AMC Pacer – they all rusted and failed to proceed at some stage. Lack of build quality was not unique to BL! Automotive ‘lemons’ were also built beyond Birmingham and Oxford.

The mighty Volkswagen (VW), so often hailed as BL’s successful rival, saw its sales in America plummet from half a million cars a year in the 1970s to under 80,000 a year in the 1990s. Why? Because of quality issues and inappropriate model ranges pitched higher into the market than traditional VW fare. In the early 1990s, the company that gave America the Beetle had no base model, volume car proposition on sale to America. But who knows about – let alone remembers, this great VW failure?

At the same time, BL as Austin Rover made a fantastic mainstream ‘bread and butter car’ – one of the best cars in its class of its era that competed head-on with all its main competitors. Yet it sold in low numbers and was obscured by the narrative that had been constructed around its manufacturer. That car was the Montego estate, notably in its top-of-the-range 2.0-litre fuel injection variant. I drove one at length and knew its greatness. Like many owners, I loved that car. Only a Volvo 740 GLT estate tempted me away. Yet Montego, like other BL cars, and the BL ‘nearly cars’ – the ones that were nearly made, all suffered at the hand of the narrative and the hidden agendas of the politics of the Left and the Right that framed the BL story.

1990s ‘Roverisation’ of the old BL and Austin Rover product line, amid Rover-badged Hondas, both diluted and confused the marketing message and brand foundations of BL.

Yet Rover’s 800 series, specifically as the post-1988 2.7-Litre V6 Vitesse Fastback (or even as an 827si fitted with the optional sport’s suspension tuning pack seen on the Vitesse), was a fantastic car. Roy Axe, Gordon, Sked and the design team, with Roland Bertodo (engineering) and Kevin Morley (marketing), turned out a real winner in the Vitesse – stylish, fast, and efficient, with improved handling. Here was proof that BL – or Rover Group – could create a winner, something with real appeal, a car people really wanted and it had build quality. I drove one for a while and loved it. Where the engine’s extra power came from compared to the standard unit, who knew, but 827 Vitesse was a superb tool, a real flyer. However, things did start to fall off... And underneath lay the 1980s Honda Legend structure, which did not make reassuring watching at the Auto Motor und Sport/ADAC crash test of that car; the cabin intrusion, footwell collapse and A-pillar movement was horrific and inexcusable, notably in comparison to the performances of contemporary Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volvo cars in the same tests.

Sadly, the new 800 Mk2 model never came for the 800 range – just another facelift of Mk1 for the 1990s and a stick-on chrome grille where branding took preference over its product – which was an old car based on an old Honda. Above all, not even Sir Graham Day’s hopes for ‘Roverisation’ could throw off the old BL narrative, however good the 800 Fastback and its Vitesse were.

Another rarity, Ian Creese’s LeyKor South Africa Apache. Looking like a baby Triumph that never was, it is of course a Michellotti-styled reinterpretation of the ADO16 1100-1300. BL stupidly failed to market the car in the UK.

Below, are the words of a very senior ex-BL personage who wishes to remain anonymous. They are calm, carefully considered words, thought about for decades. They are not in error.

‘Something else was going on. For all sorts of reasons that include money, politics, power and maybe even the stability of the government and the nation, the lid was kept on the underlying cause. Many political deals were done between Longbridge and Downing Street. A lot has not been told.’

Something else was going on inside BL’s factories. And it affected the cars, even the outcome of their design and production viability. That something else was of a 1970s socio-political nature, maybe even of revolutionary intrigue.

Did the Morris Marina’s ‘TC’ trim badge stand for ‘Trotskyists Cowley’? Or maybe ‘Try Communism’?

Editorialised hyperbole? Not at all; read on to find out how both would have been factually accurate.

Ray Hutton, the greatly respected editor of Autocar in the 1980s, referred to ‘revolutionary union leaders’ in that revered publication on 11 October 1980 when he reviewed the story of the then new Metro and its political context and birth. Ray may have been referring to Derek Robinson – ‘Red Robbo’ – and like the rest of us, probably had little idea that some members of the BL workforce were so far-Left that they considered some of their own union leaders (even Robinson) not to be revolutionary but to be ‘Right-wing’, ‘Tories’, and being in ‘collusion’ with management.

Who knew that the ‘revolutionaries’ were real, ultra-far-Left and actually believed in social and political revolution for Britain (and not just for BL) by various means. Bringing down the government and altering society by industrial and other means was their ethos. Was BL their mechanism?

So, deep inside BL there lay a struggle, and it went beyond cars and their badges.

There is a largely untold story about politics inside BL’s factories – politics that affected the cars. The truth is that the extreme perspectives inside BL, Communism and Trotskyism, the left and the far-left, all were at war with each other, as well as with the unions, the members, and not just the management.

Today, in a bizarre outcome of history and a once strike-bound society, you can buy a Chinese MG in England and make your payment to the coffers of the thing that America and Britain have spent several wars and more than seventy years trying to destroy – a Communist State. This one is called the People’s Republic of China, with its own People’s Revolutionary Army and its own auto industry.

Oh, what a tragic irony.

Over thirty years on from BL’s darkest days, the late ‘Red Robbo’ the Communist Party of Great Britain member, Morning Star stalwart and strike-leader at Longbridge, would have smiled wryly at the one.

Only a marble hearted soul would fail to react.

Ex-Talbot and Peugeot workers from Coventry may also smile at the reality of Peugeot now being part-owned by China’s communist state. Because I do not wish to give money to China, I no longer buy Peugeots nor new Volvos. It’s a free world – but not in Beijing, in case you have forgotten.

Others, who occupied a different political position, said that under Thatcher it was all a 1980s plot to kill off British car making and remove Europe’s and Germany’s biggest car competitor – to the benefit of German car industry and German economy amid the European Union adventure. And Britain would get something in return – a quid pro quo.

This sounds like a conspiracy theory, but there were many of those inside BL, Austin Rover and the EEC/EU.

Still with MG – the last sad remnant of a great British brand, even the Chinese State-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) that owns MG, has just had to give up its British, Longbridge-based final local assembly of MGs from imported kits and resort to Chinese-built fully finished cars arriving on a ship. MG’s plan to restart full-scale MG manufacture in Britain is dead in 2019. For the second time, Longbridge is turning off the lights and selling off scrap. The MG dream has died – again, probably because it was a dream that was beyond a manufactured and planned reality.

The EU is a vital part of this story, as is China – which now owns part of our history. The EU currently has a trade deficit with China to the tune of €185 billion! But that is ‘ok’ says the EU in its strange logic, because ‘other investments’ make up for it. So that’s all right then . . .

Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 and Europe and the resultant European Union (EU) are writ large inside the BL story then and now. Britain was full member of the EEC/EU when BL, Talbot and Peugeot ceased car making in the Midlands. Europe did not ride to the rescue, and Brexit had not been thought of.

So I make no excuses for citing past and current European matters and their legacies.

All these years on, we also have a tranche of younger people who have little idea of what really went on at BL, because they were not around to watch it, let alone sleep in a Maxi or try to drive a wobbly Marina or bouncy Allegro. So maybe they need telling? They certainly need to know about the genius inside the likes of Rover, Triumph, Jaguar, Austin, BL Technology, and the cars that were and ‘nearly’ were. Today’s youngsters need to drive an XJ-S, a proper Range Rover, a TR8, or an XJ6, but many have not – instead they have been brainwashed into cars of digital authoritarianism amid the worst ride qualities and steering responses in the history of motoring.

Modern cars are wonderfully safe and very efficient, but they are also chemically extruded from a mould of blandness. Many are numbing to drive and utterly anaemic in character. True, there are cars of excellence and design, yet many cars separate the driver from reality. As for low-profile wheels and tyres and stiff springs and dampers, today’s young do not know what ‘ride quality’ is, do they? BMC and BL did, for sure.

There were some very fine cars, and a great engineering and design history inside BL. So perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, we should try to be fairer upon BL, its cars, its men, and its marketing. Some of today’s critical motoring media mouths are given to the automatic slag-off of BL, and so are their readers, but there is more to the story than they know from their current context or memories of Leyland bashing.

My attempt at even handedness cannot ignore the Marina’s front suspension, the SD1’s lack of build quality, or the hobbling of Metro, or XJ40’s wheel bearing woes to name just a few moments in the ebbing tide of BL. And did not strikes become an endemic, daily condition for BL’s workforce? 1975-78 were horrendous years for industrial relations at BL – under a Labour government and contrary to perceived wisdom, not inspired by Mrs Margaret Hilda Thatcher who did not launch her psychological experiment upon Britain until 1979. But read on to discover more about strikes and their relevance.

Seen from the today of the here and the now, it is easy to knock the great past of the empire of badge-engineering and re-engineering that was variously known as British Motor Corporation (BMC), British Motor Holdings (BMH), Leyland-Standard-Triumph, and British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), British Leyland Ltd, (BL) and more – resulting in Leyland Cars, then Austin Rover Group and various Jaguar Rover Triumph branding iterations. A story perhaps best or worst known after the post-1968 amalgamation to be eventually known in 1975 as British Leyland or just BL as it became framed amid its era of infamy. A shout of ‘BL’ became a colloquial exclamation to describe much.

Indeed, the very issue of the Corporation’s name was the stuff of internal debate, with Donald Stokes and his team insisting in a 1970s branding document¹ that it should always be styled as ‘British Leyland Motor Corporation’. Yet as late as 1974, the company’s head office was advising that it should only be abbreviated to ‘British Leyland’ or ‘BL’. The company categorically stated in 1974 that ‘BLMC’ should not be used as it was cumbersome, ugly and reminded people of BMC which had died in 1968.

Inside the BL monolith could be found the components of historic marques which were eventually to be cited as Jaguar, Rover Triumph, Leyland Cars, Austin Morris, Austin Rover Group, Rover Group. Further final iterations of these once great names did, of course, transpire and then succumb in a more recent history. The flames of a MG Rover’s phoenix have left many a scar.

Meanwhile, the names of Riley, Triumph, and Wolseley, lie dormant in a lawyer’s file, while the once essential marque that was Rover hovers in invisible limbo awaiting its fate, which we can only hope is not that of MG of Abingdon-upon-China.

Perceived wisdom can be a contradiction in terms and in this book my aim is to usurp the constraints of the conditioned mind and re-frame so-called perceived wisdom about ‘BL’ and its cars. Indeed, numerous writers and observers have stated that BLMC came into being in 1968 and that the problems started soon after, or that the fault lay solely with its cars. Both statements are incorrect.

For the cars were not the only problem. Some writers about BL have looked at the story from a Right-wing perspective, others have taken a more Left-leaning view. There are people who entirely fault the workforce for destroying BL. Or you might solely blame management and the Tories. There is also a differently educated new generation of people who, principally, blame the cars.

It is all too easy to solely the blame the workers. And in case you do not know, the BL production lines moved at a speed that made careful fitting and utmost quality, hard to achieve. Stopwatches were used and men were timed in their tasks – that is a truth, not a piece of hyperbole or hearsay. Today, toilet breaks are timed in at least one car factory that I have worked in. Transgressors of allotted toilet time will be interviewed and placed on review!

Lots of BL snippets and bits referred to here came from inside BL and ARG, from the various marque histories and from motor industry men, as well as my own notes across the years. I have recalled what I have seen and heard during time within or at BL and the industry across my early, youthful days as a styling apprentice and then as an annoyingly confident young reporter.

I think the ‘maddest’ car I have ever driven has to be the MG Metro Turbo. How close to death it took me.

BL was not alone in its poor build quality and badge engineering. Renault’s 14 was a corrosion castle of the direst build quality, Fiat’s Tipo a nightmare of poor parts and flimsy structure, and Citroën’s GS a spaceship that rusted. Even Ford had its issues of build, rust, ride and old technology under the cover of its expensive marketing budget. Saab had a rusty period, as did Mercedes. And BL was not responsible for that most expensive of follies of the 1980s era that was the Talbot Tagora.

So BL were not alone in taking some dumb decisions, but the media would have you believe that it was; BMC and BL were not unique in their badge madness and beige banality. But there were so many BL ‘nearly’ cars. Hidden in the depths of the British Motor Museum, there lie some of the stunning ideas that nearly made it such as Lynx, and AR6 – and also including the Harris Mann-styled, Charles Spencer King-engineered ECV 3, a car that was futurism personified and a world-beater in all but production reality. ECV 3 was a glittering future, yet one cast to the winds of a fate that was so damn British in its tragedy.

Princess 2 – stylish, modern, beautifully scaled, Harris Mann’s design has aged well. Princess should have put BL back on top of the international stage, but BL’s issues affected its fate. Rover SD1 3500V8 S. Bache’s masterpiece design in all its scale and stance. Another brilliant BL car that was ruined by build quality issues.

Rover SD1 3500V8 S. Bache’s masterpiece design in all its scale and stance. Another brilliant BL car that was ruined by build quality issues.

This book is an affectionate but sometimes scathing look back at all the good and the bad of BL, its era, the cars that were heroes

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