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KEEPING YOU IN TOUCH - YOUR FREE MONTHLY NEWSPAPER DELIVERED DOOR-TO-DOOR FOR 30 YEARS


BRITISH LEYLAND ~ COCKERMOUTH PROBUS CLUB ~


At a recent meeting, Andy Walkingshaw delivered a most interesting and informative talk on the troubled history of the British Leyland Motor Corporation – eventually BL. This was a sequel to his previous talk dealing with the early years of BL, a company made up of Austin, Rover, Mini, MG and the Land Rover Group. It was tinged not only with amusing anecdotes, but also with some nostalgic elements.


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Andy continued the story from the early seventies, covering the troubled times of industrial strife and the introduction of the Austin Allegro, which earned an unwanted reputation throughout its 10-year production life. This was the model, which many thought was a major factor, leading to the eventual demise of the corporation. He described the efforts of several chief executives to turn around the fortunes of this company and examined in particular Sir Michael Edwardes’ ideas for a rescue. One of his main aims was to have a rationalised product range.


Andy discussed several of BL’s plans for mergers with different well-established international motor companies, such as the collaboration with Honda, resulting in a successful model the Triumph Acclaim, which might have been the saviour of the company


but this was not to be. Throughout his talk, he described how this company evolved into an unwieldy, complex corporation, producing a variety of vehicles such as cars, vans, trucks, and buses. Within this increasingly complex organisation, production costs were greatly increased by


‘badge engineering’, whereby almost identical models were produced at different factories, at one stage in direct competition with each other, an example being the marques of Morris and Austin. This meant that each product was burdened with almost twice the logistics, distribution and marketing costs, compared to production concentrated on one site. This strategy was eventually ended but despite the development of some good quality models such as the Mini, alongside some models of poorer design and construction, this development was too late to save the day. The company under the name of the MG Rover group went into administration in 2005, thus bringing to an end mass car production by a British-owned company, at a great overall cost to the taxpayer.


A hearty vote of thanks was expressed for a very interesting and fascinating talk.


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21 DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE 421 PAGE 44


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