Saturday, 5 November 2011

Neither wing nor prayer

A few weeks ago, Demetrius posted one of his erudite demolitions of folly, using the dire Morris Marina as his starting point. As I read the post, I was reminded of a story once told to me by a colleague who originally hailed from the Birmingham area. The story came from his father who worked at the British Leyland car plant at Longbridge and it concerned a guy on the assembly line.

This chap had decided to buy one of the Austin 1100 models he was involved in making. It would be his first ever new car. He chose his car as it travelled down the production line, paid over his money and took delivery of his brand-new Austin 1100. He was genuinely proud of the fact that he owned a British car he’d had a hand in making and personally chosen it off the production line.

Five years later he was actually reduced to tears when he found he was able to poke his finger through the rusted wing of his pride and joy. Of course he was upset about the fact that he’d paid good money for rubbish, but he was also upset that British Leyland, the company he worked for and once believed in, was making crap cars and selling them to ordinary working people. He was ashamed.


James Higham said...

Sad not to be able to buy British any more but we can't. End of story.

Sam Vega said...

The older Austins were fine, though, wren't they? I seem to remember several that bimbled on for decades.

I wonder when and why the rot set in. Is there a pivotal moment, do you think? Or even one that poetically symbolises when we turned that corner towards mediocrity and tat?

A K Haart said...

JH - apart from a few makes I can't afford.

SV - for me the turning point was the 1100, although I'm not sure why.

Anonymous said...

The 1100 was a perfectly decent car for its time. Its successor, the Marina, was not.

btw Apart from the premium manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota, Honda and even Vauxhall (General Motors) all make mainstream cars in Britain, and I guess you could even argue that BMW's Mini is a mainstream model. The British motor industry is very far from dead.