Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Long Slow Death of the British Car

Once up a time there were Humbers, Hillmans, Armstrong Siddeleys, Morrises, Austins, MGs, Austin-Healeys, Singers, Jensens, Bond Bugs, Triumphs. Now our big car makers are all foreign-owned and the rest are too small to matter. Ford selling off Jaguar and Land Rover is, therefore, no more than business as usual for the British car industry... except that, in spite of everything, these two companies are unique in having retained some remnants of their national origins. So the real sadness now is that the buyer will probably be some private equity operation. Since such companies consist entirely of insensitive, culture-free hoodlums, we can be sure the few remaining fragments of the great British car are about to be eliminated.


  1. And Bryan, once upon a time you could not afford any of them. Art was only for the rich. That is what most of them were. The Japanese stuff worked, near enough every time, and with a price tag that reflected social reality.
    British steel could not be used in oil refining or for much else requiring purity standards, but the steel did what it was designed to do, explode under internal expansion like a ww1 shell.

  2. I must be amongst a fairly small percentage of the population that owns both a Jaguar and a Landrover - and I love them both; apart from the crap radio in the Jag! I was driving to Berwick-upon-Tweed station this morning in the Landrover at 6 a.m. and heard the story on the news and it made me sad to begin with, then I started thinking. The investors will want to see their investment grow, they will want a return. The only way for that to happen is for both Jaguar and Landrover to be a success.

    In my experience the bigger the business the more difficult it is to get focus. They don’t come much bigger than Ford and both brands are in something of a niche market. I think after all that this might be good news. Let's hope so anyway.

  3. I agree, Vince, it would just have been nice to have a Hillman hat worked as well. You car choice, Richard, is impeccable. I have owned both types, but never simultaneously.

  4. yeah! just like our football clubs.

  5. I'm listening to R2 at the mo'. There's plenty of people saying, "Great, now the Brits can buy LR and Jag!"

    Richard, while I appreciate what you say about large businesses lacking focus... It just doesn't quite work like this anymore. D'ya know how much it costs to develop a new engine? Niche car-makers can only succeed if they've got a sugar-daddy (Ferrari) or if they are ultra-niche (Morgan, TVR).

    There is just no future for "medium sized" car-makers. Look at the Rover farce.

  6. I owned a Triumph (TR-4) when I was in college. Considering it was a British car, it sure didn't like rain: Electrical system shorted out every time there was a downpour. Plus, the floorboards had been eaten away by rust, so I could watch the macadam rushing by when I drove.

    Beautiful car, but truly badly made.

  7. We still have www.bristolcars.co.uk
    so why worry?

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