1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

For the Petrol heads: British Leyland

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Blazer, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Okay for those of you who don't know, British Leyland was a UK car manufactury which in many ways was what Samick is for Asian made guitars: a big factory which makes cars under a large number of brandnames. Dolomite, Austin, Leyland, Rover and Triumph were at one point all made by British Leyland.

    But I guess the most legandary BL car must be the mini.
    Going unchanged for a VERY long time this ten foot feat of engineering became a cult figure on four wheels. And the fact that it WAS left unchanged, never updated or re-designed to fit demands of changing times also led to it's downfall. But honor to those who deserve it, the Mini remains the longest produced British Leyland car ever. Spanning from 1959 to 2000.

    But most of all BL cars are known for their lack of quality control, cars that came apart at the brim, engines that didn't work properly, wooden interior on their most deluxe models that had people getting splinters in their hands if they touched it... But by far the best was that after the Americans issued safety regulations on how high the headlights should be from the ground, BL sub brand MG, rather than modify their designs, just placed blocks underneath the coil spings of the suspencion making the car standing up higher.

    Then there was the sibling rivalry, Austin, Morris, Dolomite, Rover and the other brands were under the British Leyland umbrella but there were no Austins made in the Rover factory and there were no Rovers made with Dolomite and as a result, they actually competed with each other.

    And then there were the strikes, management was just as bad as the cars, BL was trainwreck ready to happen. Jeremy Clarkson made a Special on BL prior to Top Gear's 2002 relaunch which explains it better.
    Part one, Part two and Part Three

    I guess the most bizarre twist was when Rover, a British motoring legend was sold to British Aerospace.
    The Hawker Harrier, one of British Aerospace' best known products, being produced under licence in the USA first by McDonnell/Douglas and now by Boeing. Can you imagine the guys who gave us vectored thrust and jump jets also producing Land Rovers and Range Rovers? It just doesn't seem to fit.

    Okay I mentioned before how badly the cars were made but it's better to show you how bad they were. And what better way to do so than to bring out the Top Gear special in which the 40'th anniversary of the formation of British Leyland was celebrated and the presenters wanted to prove that BL could make a decent car.

    I'll close this thread with a quote from the British Leland special when Clarkson asks former employies of BL what they think when they see a Morris Marina drive by, do they feel a sense of pride or of achievement? The answer was that in most cases they are baffled that it still works.
  2. wow wicked random topic dude :D

    my family on my moms side has a long history of working for Austin, and then Rover when it took over the longbridge plant. my great uncle worked for them for over 40 years and drove an austin metro his entire life (not the same austin metro... naturally). its really interesting to look back and see how the fall of the british auto industry happened, especially concidering the state of the big three in detroit right now. probably won't be too long before chevy is run by koreans and relegated to making stupidly bad "city" cars :facepalm:

    enjoy your true domestics while you can america!
  3. UnsungZeros

    UnsungZeros The only winning move is not to play.

  4. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    ^^^ That looks like an old Morris Marina to me.

    BTW, Dolomite wasn't a make of car. It was a model made by Triumph.

    Just for info:
    Austin cars were built at Longbridge, Birmingham.
    Morris - Cowley, Oxford
    Triumph - Canley, Coventry
    Rover - originally at Coventry, later all over the place (British Leyland changed to BL and then to Rover Group to try and escape the negative association with the British Leyland name.)
    Jaguar - Castle Bromwich, Birmingham (bodies) and Browns Lane, Coventry (assembly).
    Land Rover - Solihull, Birmingham
    MG - Abingdon
    The name Leyland originally belonged to a company in the group that made trucks up in the NW of England at Leyland, near Preston.
    And other stuff, could go on for ages...

    This was the rough situation during the period mentioned in the OP. There's a long history of all these as separate companies before all that, of course. And later, things got moved around a lot - for example, Jaguar was acquired by Ford and some models were produced at the company's factory in Halewood, Liverpool.

    I used to visit all these places back then as part of my job. It was amazing what you could learn about car production by looking around in those factories. :eek:
  5. i really liked that segment on top gear... especially james' line when they're standing around the burning marina.. something like "makes a great brazier, but then again the factory workers spent alot more time around those than cars" or something like that.
  6. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    The Morris Marina became the Kenny of the Top Gear series, every single time when one was featured it met its end by having a piano drop on it.

    In one episode Richard Hammond had a Marina with a Piano already there to keep it from being smashed by a piano, but after he excited the vehicle another piano crashed on top of it.
  7. EdHunter


    Jan 14, 2010
    Sunbeam Talbot, SD1, Spitfire, Dolly Sprint, P6, TR6 - good stuff, shame it all fell apart/blew up/caught fire/broke down/rusted away just after purchase.
  8. It's a shame that the UK no longer has a homegrown car industry - sure, loads of cars get made in the UK, but they're all for Nissan, Honda, GM, etc. Even British icons like Jaguar and Mini, despite still being made in the UK, are now owned by other overseas companies.

    Then again, cars made during the BL era were notoriously awful - people preferred the better-built, better looking and more reliable overseas-made cars, so they only have themselves to blame, really.
  9. EdHunter


    Jan 14, 2010
    Aston, McLaren, Ariel, Caterham, Westfield, Ginetta and Bristol are all doing pretty damn well, without a trace of foreign money...

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.