This section will include Company Press Statements and Reports,
along with newspaper articles
.

News Articles 1941 to 1976

The items will be in chronology order, with the latest additions in Blue


17 September 1942

Lord Austin's Home

Lord Austin's executors have divided 280 acres of his property on the Lickey Hills, near Birmingham, into a dozen lots for sale.

Messrs. Edwards, Son and Bigwood and Mathews (Birmingham) will hold the auction on September 29. The chief lot is Lickey Grange, for many years Lord Austin's residence. The grounds extend to 26 acres.


01 Oct 1942

Lord Austin Home Sold

The late Lord Austin's Lickey Grange estate, near Birmingham. has been sold, for a total of £37,200, by Messrs. Edwards, Son and Bigwood Mathews. The mansion and grounds have been bought by the Austin Motor Company.


December 1943

Scheme For Injured War Workers Special Section At Austin Factory


A Special shop for the employment of injured war workers was set aside and equipped about eight months ago by the Austin Motor Company, Limited, at its works at Longbridge, Birmingham. A promising rehabilitation experiment was thereby launched in collaboration with the Birmingham Accident Hospital.

These ex-patients, now employed under the best possible conditions, would otherwise have to endure a long period of waiting before being fit for work in the normal way after their injuries. In the Austin rehabilitation they acquire new confidence in the manipulation of their injured limbs and at the same time supplement their workmen's compensation with a useful wage. It is a plan that suggests possibilities for the future of a more effective and widespread cooperation between hospitals and industry in rehabilitating injured workers.

In the eight months of its activity the Austin rehabilitation shop has dealt with all kinds of injuries, although hand injuries have been most common. Virtually all the workers who have passed through the shop have been restored to full productive activity in their former occupation or have been trained for new work, chosen in conformity with the experience gained in adapting the permanently disabled to new occupations. The centre is under the direct supervision of the works medical officers, with the clinical director of the Birmingham Accident Hospital acting as consultant and adviser.

The experiment is proving so successful that the establishment of rehabilitation centres of the same type to serve industrial groups throughout the country is considered probable especially as the project offers great possibilities in the rapid reinstatement in work of men wounded in the war.

Motor Industry Fund for Aircraft
£100,000 to be Raised

Societies and clubs representing the whole motor industry and public appeal to their members for a fund of £100,000 to provide a squadron of fighter aircraft for the RAF.

By arrangement with the Ministry of Aircraft Production amounts already subscribed from the motor industry for the purchase of aircraft will be included in the total. The many cheques already received total £50,000, including several individual sums of £5,000 and over which have entitled the donors to name their own aeroplane.

The president of the fund is Mr. W E Rootes, president of the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders; the chairman of the organising committee is Captain Arthur Waite, of the Austin Motor Company, Ltd. and the organising secretary is Mr H G Starley, a descendant of James Starley, to whom a monument stands in Coventry as the found of the cycle industry. Donations should be sent to 58, Gordon Square, WC1, and cheques made payable to “The Motor Industry Fighting Fund,”


10 August 1944

Chairman’s Remarks E. L. Payton. J.P.

It is not possible for me to refer to the activities of your Company except to say that the whole of the Works has been fully engaged on the War effort. When the War is over I hope to be able to tell you of the work which has been carried out on behalf of the various Government Departments.

Owing to the exceptionally heavy taxation which depletes our cash position I would again refer to the opportunity to build up adequate resources during the period of the War for the purpose of changing over to peace-time work and for the replacement of Plant and Equipment which has suffered exceptional wear and tear during the past five years.

During the War your Company has been unable to carry out all the necessary repairs to Plant and Equipment and Buildings.

Many of our Employees, both Men and Women, are serving in H.M. Forces and doing most excellent work in various capacities all over the world. We wish them a speedy return and the best of luck in the remaining period of the War. Our deepest sympathy is extended to the relatives of those who have made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of their Country.

To all Employees who have so ably cooperated with the Management throughout the period of the War we express our hearty appreciation and thanks.

I am pleased to report that his Majesty the King has honoured several Employees of your Company for outstanding merit in the production of War Material, and has also conferred honours on Employees serving with the Forces.

The Staff Pension and Life Assurance Scheme inaugurated in 1933 was extended in 1942 to include Members of the Works Staff and also to increase the benefits under the original plan. The Safeguard Benefits Scheme for Dependants of Members who die before reaching Pension age has proved of great value and removed much financial anxiety.

The Works Sickness and Saving Scheme arranged in cooperation with the Ideal Benefit Society in 1934 has continued its good work.


25 April 1945

£1m Longbridge Investment

To facilitate the production of motor vehicles to meet demands after the war, the Austin Motor Company yesterday voted an expenditure of £1,000,000 on new machinery, production equipment, and constructional work at the company's Longbridge factory.


13 June 1945


Deliveries To Begin On July 16


The Austin Motor Company yesterday announced the prices of two of their post-war cars. The eight horse-power four-door sliding roof saloon de luxe will cost £255, plus about £71 purchase tax. deliveries will begin on July 16. The 10 h.p. de luxe saloon, which is now going into production, will cost £310, plus about £87 purchase tax. Deliveries of the new overhead-valve 16 h.p. will begin on August 14 and of the 12 h.p. on October 9.The prices of these models will be announced later.

Austins to a value of over £4,000,000 will be dispatched overseas before the end of this year.



10 July 1945


500 Vehicle A Weeks For The Forces


Information is now available about the part played by the Austin Motor Company, Longbridge, Birmingham, in providing the armed forces with supplies and equipment essential to modern warfare. By the, end of the European war the total of transport vehicles produced by the Austin factories for the British armies was over 150,000. Every week up to 500vehicles were produced, ranging from the eight horse-power utility car to the three-ton truck and including four- and six-wheelers, army,breakdown and fire-fighting vehicles, ambulances, RAF. tenders and troop carriers,signals and work-shop units, gun port trucks for six-pounder anti-tank guns, and gun tractors Aircraft products ranged from balloon cable cutters and small but high precision jobs such as hydraulic motors for gun turrets to Beaufighter and Miles Master wing and centre section assemblies and Horsa glider fuselages,representing in all over 5,000 aircraft. Some15,000 oil and fuel tanks for four-engine bombers were also supplied. In addition,there was a steady flow of aircraft engines from an adjacent factory managed for the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The company provided 14,000 railway truckloads of ammunition and ammunition boxes; 4,000,000 magazines for machine or tommy guns; 500,000 service helmets, 600,000 jerricans and 110,000 suspension units and driving gear units for Churchill tanks. Supplies for the war at sea included 3,500 ships lifeboats,440,000 assemblies of mine hemisphere pressings, mine mechanism plates and depth-charge pistols, and 110,000 magazines for the Oerlikongun.

The aid given to civil defence included the equipment of the National Fire Service with 5,000 two-ton vehicles and, of a total of 20,000 industrial engines produced during the war, over 10,000 served to power fire pumps.



03 Nov 1945

Austin Motor - Shadow Factory

The Austin Motor Company have decided not to exercise their Option to acquire the aircraft shadow factory at Cofton Hackett, which they have been managing for the Ministry of Aircraft Production during the war.

In a statement yesterday Mr. L. P. Lord. the company's ' vice-chairman, pointed out that the interim Budget makes the outlook for the sale of cars at home and for export appear such as not to warrant acquisition of the factory. This means that it will be released as soon as the Austin contract is completed.

Mr. Lord said it should be realized that the company through their agreement with M.A.P. could have deferred their decision until three months after their work there had ceased, but it was considered in the interests of full employment that the Ministry, should be notified of its release immediately. Any interested firm may thus have the opportunity of taking it over and the Austin company have offered their advice in such an event.



14 May 1946


Dearer Austin Cars

The prices of Austin motor-cars, vans, commercial vehicles, and spare parts have been increased to compensate for recent rises in the cost of wages and raw materials. The basic prices of the saloon cars, with the old prices shown in parentheses, are now as follows: - 8 h.p., £270 (£255); 10 h.p., £330 (£3l0):12 h.p., £450 (£4l5); 16 h.p., £495 (£445). Purchase tax is £75. 15s. on the 9 h.p. saloon rising to £138. 5s. on the 16 h.p. model.

Commenting on the increased prices, Mr. L P. Lord, chairman of the Austin Motor Company, Limited, said: “The recent awards of increased wages to engineers, which came into operation last month, have increased the company's wages bill by just over £300,000 a year. The prices of materials have shown a gradual increase during recent months.”



29 May 1946


Annual General Meeting

Mr. L. P. Lord, chairman and managing director, presiding at the Annual General Meeting of the Austin Motor Company Limited, held at Longbridge Works, Birrningham , said:-
Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I must refer to the resignation, of our late chairman, Mr. E. L. Payton, on November 21, 1945, due to ill-health, and further to express our very deep regret at his death on February 17 last. Mr. Payton was associated with the Austin Motor Company for 23 years, and the excellent service he rendered to your company is will known to you all.

As this is the first meeting of the members of the company for presentation of accounts since the cessation of hostilities, I thought you would wish me to make rather a broader statement than is usual, and I would refer, first, to your company's

War-Time Activities

The war-time production of your company has been so large and so varied, however, that it is impossible to do it justice within the compass my address to you to-day. I thought it would be as well, therefore, if we prepared a small illustrated brochure. This has been done and a copy is being sent to as many members of the company as the limitation of paper supply permits.

The brochure also gives some indication of the of the production undertaken at the shadow factory for the Ministry of Aircraft Production. This included Bristol Mercury and Pegasus engines in the engine factory and complete Fairy Battle and Hurricane fighters Stirling and Lancaster bombers in the aeroplane factory. I am sure that, having examined the booklet, you will agree that we all have reason to be proud of the war achievements of your company, and that you will be gratified to know that his Majesty the King has recognized the services of 11 members of your staff and workpeople by conferring Honours on them. You will already have seen from the many statements in the Press that your directors decided not to take a lease of the shadow factory from the Government because in their opinion the facilities already available, with the additions which we propose to make, will be ample to cover our requirements until some more encouraging outlook is discernible. In our opinion there will be times to make provision for rapid expansion of this nature after your present factory and equipment are fully extended on the most efficient basis.

Present Position

Next I would deal with the present position of the company. The last few months of the trading year to July, 1945 I saw the beginning of the transitional period from war to peace production. War contracts were being reduced or cancelled and the number of our employees began to fall rapidly. The first release of cars and trucks for civilian use was received in January, 1945, but unfortunately this sanction did not carry with it any priority for the allocation of materials by the controls. In fact, it was given on the understanding that it carried no guarantee that material would be available.

Nevertheless, your staffs and workpeople turned to the task of re-conversion to normal production with the utmost energy. War-time equipment had to be moved and stored, and air raid shelters in every shop were dynamited and removed. Almost every machine in the factory had to be uprooted; painting equipment, ovens and tracks had to be reinstated, assembly tracks and finishing tracks, with miles of conveyers, had to be laid down. By the end of August, 1945, the first stage of the re-conversion was completed and we were set for production.

At one time, towards the end of 1945. we had over 1,000 millwrights and electricians, mates, and labourers engaged on our own staff, together with 400 men employed by outside contractors and 600 to 700 of own production employees who volunteered to help in the removal of their own machinery at weekends. Then began a long series of disappointments and hold-ups, of struggling for delivery of materials. Week after week our programme was not achieved, and more and more employees had to be declared redundant.

Bigger Output Than any Other Manufacture

Yet in spite of all this your company has produced more vehicles since the end of hostilities than any other British manufacturer.The lowest level of output was in May, 1945.Since then gratifying progress has been made,but due to difficulties in obtaining deliveries from our suppliers and other circumstances outside our control, the factory is today running at less than 60 per cent. of its capacity.Actual dispatches of vehicles for the weekending March 16 totalled 1,519.

Given more freedom from controls with more labour released for industry, the position should improve rapidly, but this is essential if your company, and indeed industry generally, is to work to capacity and on a profitable basis.

The Central Statistical office has just issued a statement of the monthly production of cars, including taxis, for 1945, and January 1946, together with the number of new cars exported ever the same period. It will be interesting to the members of our company to see how many of these have been turned out from the Longbridge works.

In eight months from June 1945 we produced 7,996 cars of which 2,124 were exported. In the same period we delivered 6331 vans and commercial vehicles to the home market and exported 1,298. You will have seen in the press during the last few months that your directors decided to allocate the sum of £1,000,000 for the re-equipment and modernisation of various parts of the factory. This plant is all on order and delivery has been taken of approximately one half of it. Further plans for the extension of our commercial vehicle interests are at the present time under consideration. I am pleased to be able to report that the production of commercial vehicles has continued to expand. Many thousands of vehicles of all types were supplied for war purposes, and we are at present quite unable to keep up with the demand from home and overseas markets . We entered the commercial vehicle field shortly before the war, and very quickly earned a reputation for dependability. It is our intention to pursue our activities in this field with increasing vigour, and in the next few months we hope to be able to announce two new models which will form an addition to our present range.

Future Programmes

With regard to the future, you will be interested to learn that we have on our books at the present time orders running into many millions of pounds, both for home and overseas. It would be invidious to quote the actual figures because orders to-day, or many of them, may never be completed. Their fulfilment depends on our ability to deliver promptly and at the right price. Otherwise the end of the present false buying market will, arrive rapidly and cancellations of existing orders will follow. Forward planning and market research, as we knew them before the war, are impossible. There are too many unknown factors. I have said publicly on many occasions that I cannot share in the spirit of easy optimism which can see unlimited markets ahead with continually shortening hours of work and greater rewards for less and less productive effort. There is no evidence to support such happy thoughts, if indeed they can be described as happy. On the contrary, it should be obvious to anyone willing to face unpalatable facts that we in this small country must work and produce as never before.

Government, managements, and workpeople alike look back on the country's war production and see it as a marvellous achievement. So it was, but at what cost ? Are we satisfied that the efficiency of the average factory in war compared so very favourably with pre-war standards, either for quantity, quality, or cost ? Can we be satisfied that war-time productive efficiency, judged on any ordinary business basis, will permit us to compete in world markets successfully enough to maintain our standard of living and make reasonable social progress? Can we accept the war effort of our factories as being good enough for the peace effort we must now undertake? He would be bold man who would answer “Yes” without reservation.

Essentials For Success


Something much better is necessary, and it must be achieved if we are even to re-establish our pre-war standards. no present deadening feeling of frustration and consequent limitation of effort, arising from whatever cause, must be dispelled. Controls and over-emphasis on nationally regulated austerity, with their adverse effect on initiative and effort, must end as quickly as possible. The planning of trade and commerce calls for clear thinking by men of practical experience and courage, backed by the will and the means to carry their plans to fruition.

At the present time industry as a whole is in a state of perplexity and indecision. The time for talking and conferences and evasion of the real issues has long since passed. Action is called for and we cannot contemplate failure. Effort must be acknowledged and rewarded. It is admitted that for some time to come a large part of our best products must be exported, but our own people must be allowed to enjoy some of the fruits of their labours by sharing them with our overseas customers. Industry needs freedom, freedom from control and inexperienced academic planning; freedom from interference arising from departmental indecision or jealousy; freedom to apply the principles and experience of production and commerce on which the foundations of British trade and prosperity were built and on which it flourished.

New Export Company

As you have seen from the figures I have quoted, your company has taken an important part in the drive for the export of motor-cars and commercial vehicles up to date, and with the object of increasing our business overseas, a new company, called the Austin Motor Export Corporation, Limited, has been formed, with our premises at 479, Oxford Street, London, as its headquarters. A full announcement of this will shortly be made.

The large flight shed which adjoins the Longbridge Works, and which was erected in connexion with the aeroplane manufacture at the shadow factory, has been bought and is being equipped for the packing and dispatch of products for overseas. The pre-war staffs in the territories overseas have been reinstated and strengthened. and given a reasonable opportunity to compete we look forward. to an expansion of the export side of our business , which is of such paramount importance to the country to-day.

I have of necessity covered a very wide field in this review, and I would not like to let this opportunity pass without paying tribute to the services rendered to the company by so many of its employees during the difficult days of the war and throughout the period of change-over to peace-time production. To those of our staff and workpeople who have stood by us and worked so hard and so well I would like to extend the thanks and appreciation of the directors.

The report and accounts were adopted.


04 October 1946

Austin’s Record Output


The Austin Motor Company announce that their production of cars, commercial vehicles, and maintenance parts reached a new high record in September. Cars and commercial vehicles dispatched numbered 8,194. The net total of sales was £2,358,000, exports dispatched accounting for £897,000.


The previous production peak was in March 1935.



05 November 1946

Austin Motor Output

In view of the reports regarding probable cuts in automobile production resulting from the shortage of sheet steel, the austin Motor Company announced yesterday that it expected to maintain its rate of output and probably to exceed it during the next few months.



21 December 1946

Austin’s To Shut Down Not Enough Coal
To Keep Going, No Work for 14,000


The Austin Motor Company, which produces between 2,000 and 2,200 motor vehicles a week, notified its 17,000 workers last night that for an indefinite period after the Christmas holidays the factory will remain closed because of shortage of fuel. The number, of workers affected by the stoppage, will be 14,633, because commercial and office staffs will continue on duty.

Mr. L. P. LORD, chairman of the company, announcing the company's decision yesterday, said the present receipts of coal at the factory is 800 tons a week, were sufficient only to keep the factory and its mains from freezing. An additional 1,000 tons a week was needed to maintain production.

It was also stated that in spite of repeated telegrams and applications to the Ministries concerned no promise had been made. The application of coal for the company was 1,710 tons a week, but average receipts for October and November were only 771 tons, which had risen slightly to 840 tons last week. The stoppage was in no way connected with the electricity shortage, but any cut in power fell back in the firm's generators, with a consequent greater demand on coal resources.

The Ministry of Fuel and Power, commenting last night on the Austin statement, said The Ministry already has in hand measures of supplement coal supplies to Austin's and other firms, in the Birmingham area, and if each firm practises rigid economy in coal consumption there is no reason why there should be a complete stoppage.

An official of the Midland advisory. committee of the T.U.C. said that the firm's decision had been taken without consultation with any of the Government Departments or trade unions concerned. An emergency meeting of the committee was to be called to discuss the matter, and it was also to be referred to local M.P.s.



03 February 1947 (When we had the big Freeze)

Announcing that the Austin motor Company’s Longbridge factory at Birmingham, which employs 17,000, will close to-night because it has only two working days supply of fuel. Mr L P Lord (chairman and managing director) on Saturday said that they were faced with the alternative of working one in 10 working days or one full five-day week in every 10 weeks. Representations to three (Minister of Supply) sending a telegram to say that it was not possible to make a special allocation.

Mr Lord said: “Last week I wrote to Mr Shinwell, who replied that he had referred my letter to Sir Stafford Cripps, who was responsible for allocation. Sir Stafford then wrote and referred me to Mr. Wilmot as the Minister dealing with the motor industry, at the same time telling me that no special priority could be given to the motor industry.”

On Friday he had sent a telegram to Sir Stafford Cripps, Mr Wilmot and Mr Shinwell, informing them that by Monday the factory would be down to less than two working days’ supply of coal in hand, and that the new realistic allocation meant that they would receive in future only sufficient fuel to permit working on day in every 10.


No Reopening Date

Mr Lord, in a further statement last evening, said he had heard nothing further during the day from the Ministry concerned. Therefore, after to-days day shift and the night shift had finished the Longbridge works would have to close, and it was impossible to say when they could reopen.

Mr A R Blackburn, Labour MP for King’s Norton, stated on Saturday: “I have an appointment with Mr Wilmot to submit to him the views of the joint production committee of Austin’s and of myself that the Cripps plan for the allocation of fuel is unworkable. We believe that if Mr Shinwell were still responsible for the allocation of coal, as he was last month. Austin’s would not have to close down indefinitely.

“I have spent days in vain trying to make Government Departments take responsibility. The Cripps plan is impracticable. It cuts some factories such as Austin’s require almost half their allocation to prevent machines becoming frozen up, even when the factories are shut.”

Mr Blackburn also said that under the Cripps plan is impracticable . It cuts down all factories to half their allocation, but some factories such as Austin’s require almost half their allocation to prevent machines becoming frozen up even when the factories are shut.”

Mr Blackburn also said that under the Cripps plan a rigid and inflexible rule was imposed which enabled luxury factories to keep open while factories vital to the export trade shut. No priority at all had been given to the motor trade. In view of the fact that Austin’s produced about £500,000 worth of exports a week it seemed to him that the Government should review its decision immediately.


04 February 1947

Mr Wilmots Promise at Westminster

Mr John Wilmot, the Minister of Supply, was asked in the House of Commons this afternoon what steps he was taking to avert a protracted shut-down of the Austin Motor Works. He said that available supplies of fuel were being distributed on the basisIs of a general allocation system to industrial concern. He regretted that it was not possible to give a preferential allocation to the Austin Motor Company.

In the course of the brisk cross-examination which followed he assured Mr Blackburn, who had asked the original question, that if it could be shown that the whole basis of the allocation of coal to Austin under the Cripps plan was unworkable he would consider revising the allocation.

The following was issued later from the Ministry of Supply:-

Mr Raymond Blackburn, MP., and some representatives from the Austin Motor Company called upon Mr John Wilmot, the Minister of Supply today to produced some figures designed to show that the fuel allocation to the company was not sufficient to enable them to carry on. The Minister promised to consider these figures.

Because of the fuel shortage work will cease at the Longbridge factory when the night shift leaves at 5.30 am to-morrow. Notice to this effect were posted at the works to-day.

A statement signed by the chairman, Mr. LP Lord, empresses regret at the necessity for the step taken. No indication is given as to the probable duration of the stoppage.

Referring to the question of the guaranteed week of 34 hours, the statement says: “In our case, if every one engaged on production were suspended the guaranteed week would cost about £1,100 per hour, or £37,400 per week. Obviously heavy payments of this kind cannot continue for more than one or at the most two weeks.”

“We trust that somewhere arrangements will be made for us to start up again before you feel that you must seek employment elsewhere or before we are obliged to give you notice that we must stop payment of the guaranteed week.”

The statement added that the office and administrative workers would not be affected.

February 1947

Austin to Reopen
This was because of the big freeze 1947

The Austin Motor Company, who four weeks ago closed their factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, because of shortage of fuel, announced yesterday that they will reopen on Tuesday 4 March.

Mr L P Lord chairman of the company, said they had been informed that their allocation of coal had been rectified, which brought them in line with other manufactures. They could not gauge exactly how many days they would be able to work, so for next week they proposed to open Tuesday Wednesday and Thursdays only.


28 August 1947

American Car Market
Austin Effort To Obtain Orders


In an effort to obtain £3,750,000 worth of car orders annually from the United Stated and Canada, Mr L. Lord, chairman and managing, left yesterday in the Queen Elizabeth for New York.

A statement by the company at Birmingham said:- "Motor-car dealers from all parts of the United States will meet Mr Lord in New York to see entirely new motor-cars of both high and medium power. Austins are determined to set up a nation-wide distribution oganization for the United States as part of Britain's drive to boost exports. New pre-release models will have all that America wants in style and performance in compact form. The larger types known in Britain as the Sheerline and Princess, developing up to 120hp. will be new to America and the prices will be right. The Austins will be immediately available for trade view, but the public will not see them until they are world released in October."



27 November 1947

Austin Motor Company
Enthusiastic American Reception
Mr L P Lord on the new models


The Thirty-Third ORDINARY GENERAL MEETING of The Austin Motor Company, Ltd.,was held yesterday at Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham, Mr. L. P. LORD (chairman and managing director) presiding.

The SECRETARY (Mr. Arthur Winkles, F.C.I.S. having read the notice convening the meeting and the report of the auditors,

The Chairman said: I am sure you will be pleased that this year we have been able to revert to our pre-war practice of presenting our accounts in November.

At our last meeting, in December, 1946, 1 said that we approached a future full of uncertainties, but in spite of many warnings few of us then believed that this country could fall to its present deplorable condition in such a short space of time.

Let us hope that this phase will pass quickly and that a solution to our national difficulties will soon be found.

Meantime, I can assure you that every possible effort will be made by your company to play its part in the national recovery. The motor industry is the third largest in the country, and your company is one of the largest units in that industry.

We are proud of the success we have already achieved in the drive for exports, and in the future our efforts will be intensified in every possible direction.

Let us therefore review our present position and examine as far as possible the ever changing prospects.


FINANCE AND TAXATION

I think you will agree that our present financial position as disclosed by the balance-sheet is satisfactory. Some items of particular interest have been noted in the directors' report, but there are two others on which you may like me to comment.

The first is depreciation. You will notice from the profit and loss account that the sum of £3831387 is provided for depreciation. This amount is calculated at such rates as to write off the book value of each type of asset over the period of its anticipated life.

I must point out, however, that when the time comes for plant to be replaced by a more modern type, the cost of replacement at current price levels is considerably more than the original cost of the old plant. Provision has to be made for this excess cost by a policy of building, up reserves nd so conserving the resources of the company.

The second item is taxation. No doubt you will be wondering what effect the new taxation on profits, announced in the autumn Budget, will have on the year under review. The total additional payment is estimated at £66,000. This, of course, covers seven months only, from January I to July 31, 1947.

When considering the increased gross profit it must be borne in mind that this was achieved in spite of the fact that your cars were sold during the year at substantially lower prices than those of equal specification produced by your competitors.

The question of quality is often raised. I need hardly assure you that not only are Austin products fully up to pre-war standards in every detail, but that in many instances they are better. This has been made possible by the new factory layouts, the, new methods and machinery to which I referred last year, and also by concentration on the production of fewer types than before the war.


PRODUCTION

Production for the last six months has been running at the rate of 1,950-2,050 vehicles a week, but I am sorry to say that during that time no increase in rate has been possible owing to shortages of supplies of all kinds.

The present capacity of your factory is 3,400 vehicles per week, working two shifts. If the Government carry out their promise to give priority in supplies to the motor industry and to allocate materials to individual firms on the basis of past performance, this output should be reached in a few months. If they do not, invaluable export markets which may remain open to us for no longer than the next nine to 12 months may be closed, or partly closed, and a great opportunity lost.

The outlook appears to be one of increasing austerity, with no private motoring, with the petrol ration discontinued, and with home allocations of cars limited to purposes considered essential. I trust that in view of the jealousies which are sure to be aroused and to guard against the misuse of Government vehicles, the various Ministries and local authorities will see to it that every one of their cars and trucks bears their name in large clear letters.

EXPORT

The emphasis is to be on export. The targets for the industry have been published so I will not repeat them; rather let me review briefly for you the export possibilities of your company, whose contribution to the export trade continues to be impressive, as the following figures disclose.

During the year under review 36,401 vehicles were exported through our subsidiary, the Austin Motor Export Corporation, comprising 30,765 cars and vans and 5,636 commercial vehicles, to a total value of £11,250,197.

Over 200 main distributors now hold the Austin franchise and they, together with our resident overseas representatives, cover every territory open to trade with Great Britain. As conditions are altering rapidly in many countries due to internal conditions, currency restrictions, and import licences, the number of our representatives is being increased considerably so that our day-to-day contacts are strengthened and immediate steps can be taken to cover any sudden changes.

As you will have seen from the directors' report, we have acquired a controlling interest in Ruskin Motor Bodies, Limited, of Melbourne, Australia. This has done because for some time now the production of bodies in Australia has not been keeping pace with the shipments of chassis from Longbridge. Members of our production staff are at present in the Ruskin factory, and we hope by rearrangement and by new tooling and assembly methods to increase the output considerable. The equipment for producing the A40 " Devon " and " Dorset " bodies is now being installed.

All over the world the market for our light cars is being consolidated, and the new A40s have been extremely well received. Our range of commercial vehicles also continues to gain in popularity and demand. This side of our activities has proved most valuable during the last few years, and the new 25cwt. models and ambulances recently announced have been welcomed everywhere.


AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MARKETS

As dollars are the prime necessity to-day, I will deal particularly with the American market. I have been to the United States twice in the last six months,, the first time to examine the market, and the second time to put into effect the programme on which your board decided.

There is no doubt that an important market exists for British cars of new design, above and below the American mass production range.

We are all acquainted with the large six-seater type of American car, the cheapest of which sells for about $3,000 to $3,500. This market is very well covered and to attempt to enter it would be foolish.

Our displays of the new A40s, “Sheerline” and Princess” saloons in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, however, were received enthustically, and unless anything unforeseen happens we can reasonably hope to ship many thousand of cars to the United States during 1948. An American Subsidiary, called “The Austin Motor Company, Limited (England),” has been incorporated and office accommodation and warehouse space has been taken in New York City. This subsidiary will act as our distributor in the United States and all dealers will be signed up direct with it.

Naturally in view of the intense competition to be faced in America and the heavy expendifuture to be borne for advertising, commercial and service staffs and accommodation, our business over there cannot be very remunerative, but although we may not derive much direct profit from our activities we shall gain indirectly by the extra volume of production at Longbridge, and we shall bring back to England many millions of dollars.

It would appear that the latest excise duty proposals and import restrictions will reduce the Canadian market very considerably. Through the Geneva-Paris Conference proposals the motor industry will suffer serious set-backs, chiefly in South Africa, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and in he Empire by the reduction of United Kingdom preferences.


CURRENT FINANCIAL YEAR

The trading results of the first three months of the current financial year, that is from August I to October 31, 1947, have been satisfactory in spite of many difficulties. The change-over of production from the old 8 h.p. and 10 h.p. models is proceeding according to schedule, but, of course, under present conditions a major change such as this cannot proceed with exceptional speed. The lowest point in the production curve should be during November, when the output of cars and trucks will be down to 1,250 to 1,500 per week. In December this should rise and by January we should be back again to 2,000 per week. After that, if supplies permit, a steady increase up to 3,400 per week should be possible during next year.

You will have noted that the selling prices of the new A40 Devon and Dorset saloons have been fixed lower than the previous 10 h.p. This is in continuation of our policy of reducing prices at the earliest possible moment and passing on to our customers the benefits of any economies we may effect. Although the cost of the material for the new models is considerably higher than that of their predecessors, we believe that the reductions in cost consequent upon increased output will justify the lower selling prices. If the Government fail in their promise to deliver more material, or if wages and costs of 'Materials rise, then the present low prices cannot be held, and a sharp increase will have to be announced. This would not reduce the home market demand but would be disastrous in the export field.


COOPERATION OF EMPLOYEES

From what I have said, you will realise that this current year is one of changes, of new models, of varying conditions in export markets, of old markets drying up and new outlets being explored with a desperate sense of urgency, but with an acute consciousness of stiffing controls at home.

18 June 1948

100,000 Austin's for Export

The 100,000th Austin vehicle made for export since the war came off the assemble line at Longbridge yesterday The value of Austin cars, commercial vehicles, and parts exported in the three years since the factory was converted from war service to peace-time manufacture has now reached £30m. Austin are making vehicles for export at the rate of 75,00 to 80,00 a year, and the output is still rising.

09 August 1948

Austin's Paint Finishing Line

The Austin Motor Company plans to enlarge its synthetic paint-finishing plant at Longbridge in view of the success of the plant now operating. This process at present used for the A40 model, is largely replacing cellulose paint finishing because subsequent polishing is not required.

The paint is sprayed on the car bodies in a room, where the air is filtered and kept at a temperature of 80deg. F. and a relative humidity of 65 per cent. After spraying the bodies are passed twice through a 200ft tunnel, in which the paint is dried by indirect air heated by gas to 260deg.

10 September 1948

Hampshire Saloon and Sports 4-seater

The range of Austin cars has been completed by the addition of two new models, a medium-size saloon and a sports four-seater with a drop-head convertible body. The saloon has the 2,199c.c. overhead valve engine used in the present " Sixteen " (which will be retained in the range for some time to come), and in accordance with the new Austin nomenclature it is called the A70 Hampshire saloon. In frontal appearance it is similar to the popular A40, with the line of the front wings carried through to the back. The rear window is curved, and the luggage boot slopes down to a massive " wrap-round " bumper. A gear ]ever on the steering column enables three persons to travel on the two flush-fitting front seats.

The equipment includes a heating and de-misting unit, and provision is made for fitting a radio at extra cost. Mechanical details include a 4-speed gearbox and independent front suspension with coil springs. The engine
develops 64 b.h.p. and the saloon weighs 24cwt. The home price of the Hampshire is £475, plus £132 purchase tax.

More Advanced Design

The A90 Atlantic is a striking looking sports car which is evidently intended to attract United States motorists. It has a " custom-built " body with a frontal appearance different from the other cars in the range; it is more advanced in design with horizontal air vents, a central recessed spot-light, and built-in, flashing traffic indicators of the American pattern. The rear wheels are enclosed. A notable feature is the push-button control of the folding head and the windows, the first time this has been incorporated in a standard British car, The
2,660c.c. 4-cylinder, overhead-valve engine has two carburettors and develops 88 b.h.p. at 4,000 rpm.

The complete car weighs 25cwt. Three passengers can be carried in front and two on the occasional seat at the rear. As on the other new Austin models, the front wheels are independently sprung by coil springs. The A90
Atlantic convertible is priced at £745, plus £207 purchase tax.

These new models have been shown simultaneously this week to British dealers at Longbridge and at the Canadian national exhibition in Toronto. They will be on view in a fortnight's time in New York and San Francisco.

07 October 1948

Nuffield Group and Austin, Pooling of Factory Resources

The following joint announcement was made last night by the Nuffield Organization and the Austin Motor Company: Lord Nuffield and Mr. L. P. Lord have recently had a series of talks which have resulted in an announcement whereby there is to be a constant interchange of information on production methods, costs, purchases, design and research, patents, and all other items which would be likely to result in manufacturing economies. "' The object is to effect maximum standardization coupled with the most efficient manufacture and, by the pooling of all factory resources, a consequence reduction of costs."

Mr. Lord, who joined the Austin Motor Company in 1938 as works director, became chairman and managing & director of the company three years ago. He was formerly managing director of the Morris group of motor companies owned by Lord Nuffield, from which post be resigned in 1936.

The Austin works are at Longbridge, Birmingham. The Nuffield Organization comprises 13 companies. Morris Motors Limited, the parent company, owns freehold factories at Cowley, Oxford, Coventry, and Birmingham and leasehold factories at Coventry and Abingdon-on-Thames. It is understood that the interchange between the two organizations is to begin immediately.


10 December 1948

Mr. L. P. Lord On The Further capital For Expansion.

The Thirty-Fourth Annual General was held on December 8
At Longbridge Works, Northfield, Birmingham.


Mr. L. P. Lord (chairman and managing director), who presided, said :-

Production

In my statement last year I forecast that during the change-over of production from the old 8 h.p. and 10 h.p. models the lowest point in the production curve should be during November.

The change-over started according to programme, but instead of production getting under way and rising after November, output continued low during December and January, and it was not until February that the factory settled down to a steady and rising flow of production. By July we were exceeding all previous weekly records of the company.

The causes of this delay were quite beyond our control and are a reflection of the conditions and restrictions under which industry is labouring to-day. In spite of the most careful planning and scheduling on our part, the change from start to finish took five months instead of the normal two, with a consequent loss of export sales, loss of wages to our employees, increase of costs, and loss of turnover to the company, and, finally, loss to the Exchequer of foreign currency from exports and revenue from taxes on wages and profits.


Since the end of the financial year, July 31 production has been maintained at a high level. The average for August, September, and October was 2,281 cars and commercials vehicles a week, plus 175 tons of spare parts per week. During the six weeks from October 4 to November 15 the average 2,722 per week, plus 197 tons of spare parts. This may, be considered satisfactory, although allocation of materials are restricting us below our capacity of 3,400 per week.

With regard to the actual models we are making, the "A.40 " announced last year has built up for itself a world-wide reputation for quality of workmanship and economy of operation, and is undoubtedly the most popular car we have ever produced. The new " A-70 Hampshire " and the " A.90 Atlantic Sports," which - are just coming into production, have been extremely well received everywhere, and our output has already been covered by orders a long way ahead; in fact the demand for all our products cars. commercial vehicles, utility models, pick-ups, marine engines etc. are so phenomenal that figures giving the value of these orders become meaningless. If we sought more orders these figures, and our consequent embarrassment, could easily be increased. At the same time manufacturers cannot estimate the true value of the business on their books because everyone is tempted to order far ahead of possible delivery.


Increased Efficiency

The process of increasing production efficiency at Longbridge continues as rapidly as circumstances permit. New machinery is arriving constantly , although not as quickly as we could wish. The site for the new chassis erecting and body mounting and finishing shop is been levelled and prepared. When complete next year we believe this shop will be the most modern of its kind in Europe, and will certainly compare most favourably with anything of its kind in the United States.

Your-staffs were gratified and encouraged by the very favourable comments passed on the Longbridge plant by the American members of the Productivity Council. We are indeed fortunate in the very friendly contacts we have preserved through the years with the large American automobile manufacturers and in the kindness and courtesy with which they always welcome our engineers on their frequent visits to the United States.


Exports

As the paramount need still continues to be for export I know you will wish to say something on that subject, although as I have commented at such length on other matters my remarks must be short.

Your company is proud to continue to play a leading part in the country's export drive. We have over 200 main Austin distributors operating in the world markets, and their good will and their orders continue to grow. During the year under review we sold overseas £18,000,000 worth of vehicles and spares, ad most important of all perhaps this included $12,000,000 for products sent to U.S.A. and Canada.

During the week ended December 4 the Minister of Supply visited the works and saw a batch of cars leaving for the United States which brought our dispatches to North America continent up to $ 22,000,000.


Important Canadian Development.

Our most important development in that continent during the year was the purchase in Hamilton, Ontario, of 30 acres of land with very fine buildings of 135,000 square feet. We have options on the remainder of the site which, if taken up, will make a total area of about 100 acres. It is so situated that its value must appreciate considerably; in fact, it has already done so. Members of our senior staff are there at this moment preparing for the installation of plant, to be supplied in the main from this country, Chassis and bodies will be assembled from parts sent initially from here, and the planned output of vehicles to be painted, trimmed, finished, and tested there is 500 per week.

The value of the new British plant to be shipped is £200,000 and when completed next year this the first British automobile plant in North America. will be as up to date as any to be found there, and we believe will enhance the reputation of British products in that all-important continent. Doubts are often expressed as to the longevity of the market over there. I have no serious misgivings and firmly believe that if we are allowed to make the most of our present opportunities and plan and act boldly without interference, we can build up a substantial asset for the future.



16 December 1948


Austin's South African Company

The registration of a new company, Austin Motor Company (South Africa) (Proprietary), Limited, was announced to-day by the Longbridge (Birmingham) Austin headquarters.

The announcement follows a recent statement by Mr. L. P. Lord, chairman and managing director that Austins had acquired a 112-acre site at Black Heath, near Capetown in readiness for further development in South Africa.



13 January 1949

British Taxi-Cabs in USA.

The manoeuvrability and compactness of small British cars, already appreciated by private motorists in the United States, is now being recognized by taxi-cabs operators. The Public Utilities Commission has approved the use of the Austin A40 devon saloon as a taxi-cab in Washington, DC.

A final analysis of the production figures of the Longbridge factory at Birmingham shows that 285 Austin vehicles of all types were exported every working day during 1948.

23 February 1949

Obituary Capt. Neville Stack

Captain T Neville Stack, AFC., who in the period between the wars was one of the leading British pioneers in long distance aviation, was, killed yesterday, in a, road accident near Karachi, according to Reuter. He was 52.

Thomas Neville Stack was born on April 1, 1896, and was educated at St. Edmund's; College. He joined the Army in 1914 and three Years later transferred to the RFC. and served with 212 Squadron. After demobilization he worked as an instructor at the London and Provincial Aviation Company until 1921 when
he rejoined the RAF. and served in Iraq and elsewhere until 1925, when he returned to civilian life and joined the Lancashire Aero Club as chief instructor. In company with Mr. D. S. Leete he made the first light aircraft flight from England to India from. November 15, 1926, to January 8, 1927, and afterwards made a number of flights between European capitals.

A little later be became air superintendent and chief pilot of National Flying Services and in 1938 chief test pilot at the Austin Aircraft Works at Longbridge near Birmingham. For some time during the 1939-45 war he was air adviser at the War Office and later in the war was commissioned in the Fleet Air Arm. After Commanding squadrons, he was appointed Staff. Air Transport Officer to the Flag Officer (Air), East Indies. After the war he was general manager of Hunting Air Travel Limited and last May was appointed manager of the new Pakistan Airways.

10 May 1949

Austin Output for Export


For the. next few months the whole output of Austin cars will be exported. This step is being taken to rectify the balance of home and export sales which was upset by cars being diverted from the United States to the home' market when the setback in retail trade of all goods began in America some months ago. In announcing this policy to-day, Mr. L P Lord, the chairman and managing director, said that in their endeavour to reduce prices to maintain their export trade British manufacturers are handicapped by the high cost of basic materials. Comparing the Austin Cambridge, made before the war, with the present A40, the cost of materials has risen two-and-a-half times, whereas labour charges have risen by only one-fifth and overheads by one-eighth.

In their efforts to reduce prices they are not being helped by the Government. The increased price of steel resulting from the cancellation of the £25m. steel subsidy is being borne, he' maintained, almost entirely by the motor industry. In the United States, on the other hand, the cost of basic materials is falling. Nevertheless, Austins have made 100,000 vehicles of all types in the past nine months, and today the 100,000th A40 was presented to one of the workers as an additional in the weekly incentive bonus draw. Twenty-three per cent. of the A40s have been sold at home, the rest being exported. Last week 2,641 vehicles were produced at Longbridge and vehicles are being made at the rate of one a minute.


20 September 1949

Car Exports

The 3,114 Austin vehicle dispatched from the Longbridge factory, which was a record for one week.



10 May 1949

Austin Output for Export


For the. next few months the whole output of Austin cars will be exported. This step is being taken to rectify the balance of home and export sales which was upset by cars being diverted from the United States to the home' market when the setback in retail trade of all goods began in America some months ago. In announcing this policy to-day, Mr. L P Lord, the chairman and managing director, said that in their endeavour to reduce prices to maintain their export trade British manufacturers are handicapped by the high cost of basic materials. Comparing the Austin Cambridge, made before the war, with the present A40, the cost of materials has risen two-and-a-half times, whereas labour charges have risen by only one-fifth and overheads by one-eighth.

In their efforts to reduce prices they are not being helped by the Government. The increased price of steel resulting from the cancellation of the £25m. steel subsidy is being borne, he' maintained, almost entirely by the motor industry. In the United States, on the other hand, the cost of basic materials is falling. Nevertheless, Austins have made 100,000 vehicles of all types in the past nine months, and today the 100,000th A40 was presented to one of the workers as an additional in the weekly incentive bonus draw. Twenty-three per cent. of the A40s have been sold at home, the rest being exported. Last week 2,641 vehicles were produced at Longbridge and vehicles are being made at the rate of one a minute.


19 September 1949

Car Exports

A total of 3,114 Austin vehicles were dispatched for export from Longbridge last week.


March 1950

The 250,000th post-war Austin for export came off the assembly lines at Longbridge and was despatched to the U.S.A. to be exhibited at the New York Show.



04 March 1950


Car Waiting List Could Be Ended
Austin Chairman’s View


Mr. Leonard Lord, chairman and managing director of the Austin Motor Company, said at Birmingham yesterday that if the company's whole output could be directed into the home market the queue for new cars would be “mopped up” in less than three months. Mr. Lord was speaking at the Austin factory after the dispatch of the firm's 250,000th car to Australia and the 250,001st to America.

“We are losing good friends at home because we cannot put our can on the home market, and other people who cannot export are gaining the credit.” he said. The Austin company was responsible for 40 per cent. of Britain's exports to hard currency areas-nearly twice as much as the next of the “big six” motor firms.

This year the firm was on a definite quantity for the home market, riot a ratio of 25 per cent. to 75 per cent. export, as it was last year. “For several weeks now we have either had nothing or up to 4 per cent. of cars for the home market, and of commercials 25 per cent. for the home market. We are behind even the meagre quantity we are allowed to put on the home market.”


April 1950

Austin installed a new and revolutionary Electrostatic Paint-Spray Plant for painting car wheels, in which the wheels are carried through an Electrode System meeting, finally, an atomised paint mist in which the paint particles arc highly charged with electricity and are drawn to the wheels, eliminating waste of material. An Austin A40 running on an aerodrome on Long Island, New York, established 36 Stock Car records and 12 National records, in the course of which it averaged 65.08 m.p.h. for 12 hours. The same car subsequently travelled from New York to Toronto under official observation, averaging 42 miles per gallon of fuel. During April, Switzerland took delivery of its 5,000th post-war Austin.

June 1950

The A.A.A. ratified all the records established by Austin cars in America in 1949 and 1950 granting the Austin Company a total of 156 records.

24 August 1950

Fighting Vehicles


The Austin Motor Company confirmed yesterday that it has received a Ministry of Supply order for "some thousands" of British fighting vehicles. An official announcement, which the company stated had been agreed with the Ministry of Supply, said:

During the last few days rumours have been current regarding Army contracts received by the Austin Motor Company, and, as is usually the case, some of the assumptions bear little relation to the facts. It can be confirmed that an order for some thousands of British light four-wheel drive vehicles exclusive of engines (the contract for which has not yet been placed) has been received during the last few days. These vehicles will be made to the specifications of the fighting vehicles division of the Ministry of Supply. Their production will be in addition to the normal work of the Longbridge factory and therefore will not affect home and export markets.


24 October 1950


New Austin Seven (A30)
Production Waiting for more Steel Supplies


The introduction of the new Austin Seven an event which many motorists are awaiting is timed for the day when more steel is available for the motor industry. In making this announcement last night Mr. L. P. Lord, the chairman and managing director of the Austin ,company, said that to introduce the car now would only take away steel from models that are selling successfully in the export markets of the world.

He warned the motor trade and motorist, that while everyone would like to see more cars going to the home market, it would be necessary to maintain exports at the highest level for years to come, what ever Government were in office.

In the last financial year Austin exports earned £43m. Since the war 15,000 vehicle had been shipped to North America. Of the 250,000 Austin A40s made more than 200,000 had been exported. Today the 1,500,000. Austin would be made at Longbridge.

07 Dec 1950

Austin Motor Output


Good as was the year 1949-50 for the Austin Motor Company, the current year to date was better, at any rate in production. The 1949-50 output of cars and commercial vehicles numbered 157,628. Mr. L. P. Lord told shareholders yesterday that for the 15 weeks since July 31 production had risen further and was 11per cent. above last year's figures. Output for the three months ended October 28 bad been at an annual rate of over 165.000 vehicles plus an average of nearly 300 tons of. spares, a week, and would be higher still were more steel sheet available. Mr. Lord did not give similar figures for current sales, but the company's order book evidently leaves little to be desired. Orders in hand for the company's new two and five-ton trucks are sufficient to cover the entire production of these vehicles for the rest of this financial year.

For various reasons Mr. Lord does not expect to improve greatly upon the 1949-50 export turnover. but he is confident of maintaining it in spite of growing competition from the Continent. Last year's overseas turnover of £44m. included sales of £2m. to the United States, of £9m. to Canada, and of £33m. to markets outside North America, more especially Australia. So important has the Australian market become that the directors are considering how far they would be justified in expanding or supplementing the assembly works in Melbourne. All the trading subsidiaries, including those in North America, made satisfactory profits, though the American and Canadian companies retained their gains, in order to strengthen their balance-sheets and paid no dividends to the parent company.

Mr. Lord referred only briefly to the groups participation in the rearmament programme. The initial contract for the manufacture of several thousand light fighting vehicles for the Army has now been supplemented by orders for engines for these vehicles and for a large number of eight-cylinder engines. A lease of the aircraft factory adjoining the company's Longbridge works, which the company managed during the war for the Ministry of Aircraft Production, has been taken in order to find room for this extra work. The present contracts should not interfere with the normal production of the group "providing that the materials are made available."

1951 Longbridge Facts & Figures

1951

EMPLOYEES
Total employed Over 19,000
Night Shift 3,300
Females 2,000
Employees with over 25 to 50 years' service 1,800
Total hours worked per week 730,000
Total weekly wages (works and staff) £228,000

FACTORY
Length of internal roadways 8 miles
Length of internal railway track 7.5 miles
Total length of cable in internal works
telephone system 20 miles
Coal used per year 74,338 tons
Oil fuel used per year 1,712,233 galls.
Water consumption per year ... 350,558,660 galls.
Gas consumed per year 541,198,320 cu. ft.
Power House generating capacity ... 8,650 k.w.
Total electricity load 18,000 k.w.
Total volume of works buildings 86,232,930 cu. ft

MATERIAL FOR PRODUCTION (per week)
Timber (for door frames, truck bodies, etc.) 7,654 cu.ft.
Carpet 5.5 miles
Roof lining and fabrics 4.5 miles
Hide 2,500
Sound insulating material 6 tons
Glass (windscreens and windows) 40,000 sq. ft.
Paint 12,00 galls.
Paint abrasives, polish, stopping etc 5 tons
Rubber solution 4.5 tons
Steel pressings 2,500,000
Total body parts 21,000,000
Steel tubing 9.5 miles
Lamp bulbs 50,000
Sparking plugs 17,000

Length of electric wiring cable (approx.) 180 miles

SPARE PARTS
Orders handled per week 3,000
Individual lines stocked 35,000
Average weight of parts despatched per week 400 tons
Spare parts despatched per week 300,000


USE OF SALVAGED MATERIAL (Per year)

YELLOW METALS (brass and phos-phor bronze) ... 333 tons
Re-smelted for the production of ingots.
ALUMINIUM and Light Alloys ... 734 tons
Re-smelted for the production of ingots.
LEATHER Cuttings 50 tons
Used in making slippers, shoes, industrial gloves and artificial
fertilisers.
Roof Linings and Calic 7 tons
Used for incubator curtains and boot, shoe, slipper and glove linings
PAPER 105 tons
This is baled and shredded for the purpose of packing B.M.C.
spare parts.
FIREWOOD 680 tons
Used for lighting fires in works railway engines and the forges
of the Stamp Shop.

PACKING FOR EXPORT
Number of complete cars crated in one week 814
Crates for C.K.D, vehicles and spare parts (average per week) ... 700
Total of timber used per week 27,000 cu. ft
Waterproof lining paper used per week 180,000 sq. ft.
Nails used in crates per week I.25 ton

WORKS POST OFFICE
Letters and postcards despatched per week 52,850
Average cost per week of letter post £575
Parcels despatched per week 1,500
Average cost of parcel post £179
Internal works post-number of postmen 11

WELFARE SERVICES
Dining rooms l6
Snack bars ... 4
Cooked meals served a year 700,000
Subsidised meals served a year ... 1,000,000
Canteen staff employed ... 215
Ambulance stations 8
Qualified Nurses 25

A modern Health Department, which has been built as a memorial to the late Lord Austin, includes X-ray apparatus and deep ray and radiant heat equipment. There are two resident medical officers, and two specialists attend two or three times a week.

Operated in close association with the Health Department is the Rehabilitation Shop. Here injured workers can exercise stiff limbs, and at the same time do a useful paid job of work by operating light machines fitted with special manual or foot controls.


10 January 1951

Steel Shortage Hits Car Production

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders announced yesterday that the production of vehicles, chiefly motor-cars, might be cut by 15 to 20 per cent this quarter and that from Monday many companies would be able to work only a four day week. Two causes are given for this drastic reduction a fall in imports of sheet steel and the effects of the rearmament programme, which have combined to reduce the allocation of sheet steel to the industry this quarter by 15 to 20 per cent. The initial announcement of the society was received with some surprise in the industry, especially the statement "that many companies would be able to work only four days a week from Monday. Several companies denied any intention of reducing working hours through out their factories next week, and the society issued A second statement pointing out that some companies may have enough steel in stock to carry them through for the present. The seriousness of the position is seen in the decission of the Pressed Steel Company to cut down all department using sheet steel, including body making, to four days a week. The motor companies most affected by this move are Austin, Nuffield, and Rootes, who expect a reduction of 20 per cent. in the supply of motor-car bodies. Factories which have their own press shops will eventually suffer a similar reduction in output.

Mr Lord's Denials

The difficult reorganization facing motor manufacturers was described by Mr. Leonard P. Lord, chairman and managing director of Austin, who stated that if complete body building and finishing was to be curtailed, extra quantities of other Austin products must be made. and the building of complete. bodies overseas increased in order to maintain the maximum employment at the Longbridge factory. Mr. Lord denied emphatically that the total Austin output would be reduced by 20 per cent, or that the whole factory would be cut to a four-day week. During the first week the body assembly and finishing shops would probably be reduced to four days a week, but it hoped to continue normal working in rest of the factory.

20 June 1951

New Car Assemble Plant
Capacity of 4,000 vehicles a week


A new building for assembling Austin cars was opened to-day at Longbridge by Mr. Strauss, Minister of Supply. It is said to contain the most advanced motor assembly layout in the world, and is an important step in the reorganization of the Austin factory.

Components such as engines, axles, and completely trimmed bodies are not touched by hand from the time they leave their respective manufacturing buildings, on conveyors until they are placed in position on the chassis as these move along the assembly line. The chassis itself operates a switch and calls forward the requisite component, which is dropped into place automatically.

The components reach the new assembly hall from the manufacturing shops by way of a new 1,000ft. tunnel, at the end of which they are sorted automatically into the proper channels for the various assembly lines. They emerge from underground at the required points in the new building, which has a capacity of 4,000 vehicles a week.

19 July 1951

New Car Assemble Plant (CAB 1)

A new building for assembling Austin cars was opened to-day at Longbridge by Mr. Strauss, Minister of Supply. It is said to contain the most advanced motor assembly layout in the world, and is an important step in the reorganization of the Austin factory. Components such as engines. axles, and completely trimmed bodies are not touched by hand from the time they leave their respective manufacturing buildings on conveyors until they are placed in position on the chassis as these move along the assembly line. The chassis itself operates a switch and calls forward the requisite component, which is dropped into place automatically. The components reach the new assembly hall from the manufacturing shops by way of a new 1,000ft. tunnel, at the end of which they are sorted automatically into the proper channels for the various assembly lines. They emerge from underground at the required points in the new building, which has a capacity of 4,000 vehicles a week.

31 October 1951

Returned Austin Cars From Canada

The Austin Motor Company, of Birmingham in a statement issued yesterday "to dispel and doubts" on what would happen to any Austin cars returned from Canada, said the the majority would probably be re-exported, but those which came on the home market would be converted to right-hand steering and would be in new condition. they would be subject to the two-year covenant.

Such cars would not be sold at a premium price, but at the home market price at which they would have been sold if they had not been exported to Canada originally. They would not be extra to the home quota, and therefore would not in any way affect home deliveries. It was not expected that more than 2,500 cars would be returning.


24 Nov 1951


MORRIS-AUSTIN MERGER New £5m. Company
Lord Nuffield as Chairman


Plans for a merger of Morris Motors, Limited, and the Austin Motor Company Limited, were announced by the two companies last night. The scheme is subject to Treasury consent, approval by 90 per cent. of the shareholders of each company, and Stock Exchange permission to deal.

It is proposed to form a holding company with an authorized capital of £5m. and with Lord Nuffield as chairman and Mr. L.P.Lord as deputy-chairman and managing director. This company will make an offer to holders of Ordinary stock and shares of the two companies to exchange their holdings for an equivalent number of shares in the holding company.

A joint statement issued last night said that the directors had come to the conclusion that “unifted control would not only lead to more efficient and economic production, but would also further the export drive and be particularly beneficial to manufacturing and assembly abroad.”

It is understood that the two companies will retain their separate identities and will not produce the same models.


Operational Changes

Important changes are implicit in the phrases about unified control leading to more efficient and economic production and being particularly beneficial to manufacturing and assembly abroad. Changes in regard to the number of different models made, the pooling of design staffs, the reallocation of manufacturing facilities, and the sharing of assembly and service plants abroad would necessarily have to be spread over a considerable period of time.

It will be recalled that an agreement, amounting to amalgamation in everything but financial structure, was reached between the two companies in October, 1948. The terms included the constant interchange of information on production methods, research, design, buying, and almost every other aspect of the companies' work. The agreement even went so far as to envisage the reduction of costs by pooling all factory resources.

At that time it was estimated by Mr. R.F.Hanks, vice-chairman of Morris Motors, that the reorganization would take five years to complete. In July, 1949, the companies announced the end of their scheme, adding that no further steps would be taken to pool their production resources and that no merger of any kind was contemplated.


Different Structures

The two concerns are, fundamentally different in structure. The Nuffield Organization consists of a group of car and other companies, under the control of Morris Motors, making three Morris car models, two Wolseley models, two Riley models, and two M.G. models, as well as Morris Commercial trucks, Nuffield Universal tractors, and marine engines. In addition to the main factory at Cowley, there are Nuffield factories at Birmingham, Coventry and Abingdon.

The Austin company is highly concentrated, both in its huge Longbridge factory near Birmingham and in its products-six Austin car models, Austin trucks and marine engines, and battery electric vehicles. With intensifying competition from United States and continental firms in the export field, in which British firms have to sell most of their output, some closing of the ranks of British companies is not unexpected. It is not without significance that whereas in the United States, the most advanced motor producing country, the industry is dominated by three big companies, in this country we have had, until now our “Big Six” Both the Ford Company at Dagenham and Vauxhall Motors at Luton are engaged upon development plans costing over £10m., and these firms will provide increasingly stiffer competition both at home and abroad. The Nuffield-Austin merge can be regarded from one aspect as an answer to this challenge.

07 December 1951

The Thirty- Seventh Annual General Meeting


Of the Austin motor Company limited, was held yesterday at Longbridge Works, Birmingham, Mr L P Lord, the chairman, presiding.


The following is the Chairman’s statements:-

We have had a very good year and I would like to express our thanks and good wishes to all our staff and workpeople, suppliers and agents.

The directors' report covered the more important items in our operations and finances, but there remain one or two matters to which I think you may wish me to draw your particular attention. The vexed problem of replacing fixed assets, particularly plant and equipment, at current and continually rising prices still remains. The strain thrown on industry's capital resources by the ever mounting pressure of inflation and the fantastically heavy taxation of companies' profits gives cause for grave concern.


Distribution of Profit


Our profits this year have been high but, as I have mentioned before, they have been earned mainly abroad; the Exchequer has benefited by the foreign currency we have brought to England and by its large share of the
The following figures will be of interest:-

We paid in wages and salaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £9,55,348 gross
We had to provide for United Kingdom taxation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £3,738,033
We earned from exports to United States and Canadian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$21,671,597

Production


Production and profits so far in the current financial year have been satisfactory. our lead in the export of cars and vehicles has been maintained. The new Austin " Seven," (A30) shown for the first time at Earls Court in October, has been wonderfully received both at home and overseas. Assembly should start in the spring, but this of course depends on steel supplies.

Rearmament Programme.-I mentioned last year that we were taking over the aeroplane factory.at Cofton Hackett, adjoining the Longbridge works. During the last 12 months it has been almost completely filled with machinery and production has started. For obvious reasons I cannot give you details of the orders we have in hand for the Government Extensions. The new final assembly building is complete and the equipment in operation. The whole scheme has proved satisfactory in every way. In another part of the works the installation of an entirely new body paint plant is almost finished and from this also we expect to gain both in quantity and quality.

Export


We have had a successful year in world markets in spite of increasing difficulties. Our trade exceeded that of the previous year with a total turnover, including the United States and Canada of over £45,000,000. With Canadian demand most drastically reduced by the crippling credit restrictions imposed by the Dominion government and with our most flourishing Australian market imperilled by a shipping crisis, both of which troubles descended on us in full force in the early spring, it is remarkable that we have come through the year so well. Turning to individual products, the A70 Hereford and the A.40 Sports model, which were introduced at the 1950 Motor Show in London. have proved most successful and the world-wide demand is beyond what we can at present hope to satisfy. The model which has played such an important part in our export achievements is the A.40 Saloon, which continues to maintain and consolidate its hold on world markets. Over 62,000 were exported in the year under review, and for the nine weeks from April to June 98.5 per cent. of our A40 Devon output went overseas.

The light commercial vehicles, that is, those on the A40 and the A70 chassis, have proved very successful export products. Over 20,000 were shipped abroad, a 12 per cent increase over last year. In addition, we made record shipments of almost 20,000 heavy commercial vehicles, and we ended the year as we began, with a full order book.

Projected Visit


In my last statement I announced that I hoped to go to Australia and New Zealand early this year, but the visit had to be postponed. However, these are such important markets that I am planning to fulfil my promise of last year and visit both territories early in 1952 to look over the assembly plants and selling organizations and to gather information on the spot regarding future demand.

Whilst, for the reasons already mentioned, results from Canada, and to a lesser degree the United States, have this year proved most disappointing, I believe that both these dollar markets will fore long revert, very largely if not fully, to their previous level. We shall then be prepared to develop them to the utmost and will have available newly acquired showrooms and offices in New York and showrooms and service centre in Toronto which will rank amongst the finest in each of these great commercial capitals.

It would be wrong of me to express easy confidence as to the future of car and commercial vehicle exports. It is already clear that this year will be one of growing difficulties, but we have a range of products of proved success, and in the first 17 weeks of the current year the turnover of our export subsidiary, the Austin Motor Export corporation, advanced by 18 per cent over the previous year.

Austin – Nuffield Merger and New Austin Issue.


A notice of this merger was circulated to the shareholders of both companies, and you have also received particulars of the new capital issue of the Austin Motor Company In the notice it was stated that stock and shareholders of each company would receive a detailed communication and an offer to exchange their Ordinary stock or shares as soon as all the necessary formalities have been completed. I am afraid that at this early date I have nothing further to report. I am sure you will all agree that the unified control will be beneficial and to the advantage of both companies.

Conclusion. With regards to the next 12 months, we are hoping that our immense programme of production for rearmament will be in addition to our normal output of cars and commercial vehicles for home and export, but of a world upheaval occurs, or the shortage of raw materials becomes more acute, domestic and export production will of course be affected.

03 January 1952

Austin Car Prices Raised

The Austin Motor Company has raised the price of its full range of cars and commercial vehicles by amounts varying from £15 on the Austin Seven saloon, which now costs £340, plus £190 purchase tax. to £153 on the Princess limousine which now has a list price of £l,903. plus £1,058 purchase tax.

The prices of the main car models are now: A.40 Devon fixed head saloon, £457, plus £255 purchase tax: A.40 sports, £586, plus £327 tax, A.70 Hereford fixed head saloon. £627, plus £349 tax. A.90 sports saloon, £9l9, plus £512 tax. A-125 Sheerline saloon, £l,457. plus £810 tax; A.135 Princess saloon. £1,767. plus £983 purchase tax.

The increases, it is stated, are unavoidable because of continuing rises in manufacturing costs. They are applicable to vehicles supplied from January 1.


05 February 1952


New Austin Model (A40 Somerset)
Successor to Devon Saloon


The Austin A40 Devon saloon, which had been the foundation of the Austin company's export drive since the war, has been succeeded by a new model called the A40 Somerset. The last Devon saloon came off the production line at Longbridge Birmingham, on December 31 and was followed immediately by the first Somerset model. Output at the factory did not fall below 2,000 Austin vehicles while the change over was taking place: of all kinds a week during the change-over. Stocks of the new cars have been shipped to most export markets.

The Austin A40 has been one of the most successful British cars ever made; 344,000 have been produced and 265,000 of them exported. Canada and the United States together have imported 82,000, Australia 77,000 South Africa 18,000, New Zealand 10,000, and Eire 9,000. These exports were valued at £85m. and included shipments worth $75m.

The technical specification of the Somerset is much the same as that of the Devon, but it has a new body similar in lines to the Hereford and the Austin A30. The car has wider rear doors and more leg room for the rear-seat passengers.


16 Aug 1952

800 Austin Workers Redundant Plan To Cut Costs

It was announced yesterday that in an effort to reduce costs and keep export prices down, the Austin Motor Company is to declare redundant about 800 of the 20.000 employees at its factory at Longbridge, Birmingham.

An official of the company said that about, 800 employees would be declared redundant shortly. The dismissals would be spread over a period of three or four weeks. The tradesmen involved covered a wide range, but it was impossible to specify all of them.


Production, he said, was being streamlined to keep down costs. The company was fighting hard in export markets and could not afford to carry uneconomic labour.

After a meeting of the joint shop stewards committee at the factory yesterday the convenor, Mr. R. Etheridge, said that in the opinion of the shop stewards the redundancy move had been decided upon by the management to damp down or stop the wage claim being made nationally by the engineering workers.


“The shop stewards are determined to fight this redundancy issue,” said Mr. Etheridge “but do not get the impression that this opposition will take the form of a 20,000 workers strike. We do not know yet what form our opposition will take, but we have decided, to recommend an immediate ban on overtime a deputation to the Ministry of Labour, and the issue of leaflets explaining the position.”


Mr. Etheridge added that on Monday section meetings would be held at the factory at which workers would be told what was happening and shop stewards would report to meeting of the joint shop stewards' committee on Tuesday. A mass meeting of workers might be called later in the week. The shop steward, had been told in advance of the management’s intentions, and the management had agreed that recruitment of new labour should stop and that selection of employees to be dismissed should be on the basis of “last in, first out,” but the firm had turned down other shop stewards suggestions including reversion of a four-day- week.


Mr. E. Beard, district organizer of the Transport and General Workers Union which has several thousand members at the Factory said that the management had promised to re-engage as many of the men as could be absorbed when production on the Austin Seven started. It was also hoped that some of the men would be given employment in the East Works, where military vehicle were been built.


24 October 1952

Austin to Market New Healey Car
Lower Production Cost


The new Healey “Hundred” sports model, which is one of the outstanding new cars at Earls Court, is to be called in future the Austin-Healey car and will be sold throughout the world by the Austin oversea subsidiaries and distributors. This news was given in a joint announcement by the Austin and Healey companies at the Motor Show yesterday.

The new Austin-Healey sports car utilizes other Austin components as well as the A90 engine, and the vast Austin production facilities will enable the complete car to be made at a much lower cost than would be possible if it were made entirely in the specialized Healey factory at Warwick.

It is expected that the Austin-Healey will find a big sale in the United States where it will sell for about $3,000. The home price is £850 plus purchase tax. There is a growing interest in European sports cars in the United States, as has been shown by the success of the Jaguar and the M.G. Midget, and the Austin-Healey, with a price midway between these two cars, is intended to develop the market still further. The combination of the Austin A90 engine, with its high torque characteristics, in the light Healey combined chassis and body, gives the car great acceleration as well as a maximum speed in excess of 100 m.p.h. The first car made broke Belgian national records at 111 m.p.h. on the Jabbeke highway last Saturday.



09 Nov 1953


British Cars for Communist China
(Export Ban Lifted)

The ban on the export of small British passenger cars to Communist China has been lifted. British car manufacturers were told this last week by the Board of Trade through the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

A Board of Trade spokesman said yesterday that export licences were still required, but the move was expected to produce the sale of “some hundreds “ of cars to China. They will be strictly for non-military purposes because the relaxation of the ban applies only to cars which can carry no more than six passengers. Station wagons are not included.

Export of all cars from Britain to Communist China was banned two years and a half ago as part of the United Nations blockade of strategic goods.

A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders said yesterday: “ Anything in the form of a liberalization of trade is something to be welcomed by the industry.” He added that this was " the thin end of the wedge." The value of China as a potential market for British cars was not yet known, but on receiving the news of the relaxation of the ban manufacturers had begun to explore its possibilities. They believe that it might prove to be a big market.

Mr. Leonard Lord, head of the British Motor Corporation, said his organization had an order from Communist China for small cars. He hoped that an export licence, which had so far been withheld, would now be forthcoming.


26 November 1953

The two millionth vehicle left the Austin factory at Longbridge yesterday.

01 Jan 1954

Leonard Percy Lord became KBE.

The Austin Company announced a new Twelve which, with its roominess and full equipment, should prove a popular family car. The moulded steel body has two large seats in front which are tension sprung to prevent roll, and the back seat is planned to take three passengers.

The extension formed by the back panel when let down will take 1cwt. of extra luggage, and the size of the boot allows four sets of golf clubs to be taken. There is a separate compartment for the spare wheel, and the number plate is behind glass and has concealed lighting. The electrical equipment is 12 volt.

The dip and switch for the headlamps is worked by the foot, the direction indicators have automatic return, and there are remote drive dual screen wipers. The model can be had with a fixed head or with a sliding roof. There are two sun visors, hand slings, and so forth, while the sliding head model has window louvres and a centre arm-rest. A radio set and air-conditioning equipment can be fitted at additional cost. The air conditioning plant works from the engine cooling system and supplies warm air to the inside, of the car in cool weather or cool, filtered air in the summer. There are ducts in the instrument panel in order to allow heated air to be directed on to the screen in time of frost or in moist weather when mist might form on the inner side of the screen. Permanent hydraulic jacking can also be had.

The 4-cylinder engine, of 1,535 c.c. capacity, is flexibly mounted to avoid vibration being passed on. It is of the side-valve type. The driver has four forward speeds at his disposal, and there is synchromesh on second, third, and top to make direct changes of gear simple-and quiet in operation. The braking is on the Girling system - the suspension is half elliptical with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers and torsion-bar stabilizers which offer resistance to rolling; there is a large flexible steering wheel. The overall length and width of this Twelve do not call for exceptional garage space, being 14ft. 3in. and 5ft. 8in. The price of the model with the fixed head is £225 ; the sliding head one £235.

12 February 1954

Nash Cars Made By Austin

The first fruits of the agreement reached in October 1952, between the Austin Motor Co. and the Nash company of the United States, whereby a small Nash car designed for the North American market is to be made in Britain, can now be seen on the roads leading from the Austin factory at Longbridge Birmingham, to the docks. Big transporters, carrying up to six brightly painted little cars bearing the name Nash on the spare wheel cover,. arouse the curiosity of passing motorists as the pipe-line is filled with stocks for the distributors and dealers throughout the United States and Canada.

No details of the car, beyond the initial information that it would have an Austin A40 engine and a body made by Fisher and Ludlow, have yet been given, but an official announcement of its specification and price is expected next month. It will not be sold in this country.

26 Sept 1954

New Austin Car (Cambridge)

An entirely new Austin car, the Cambridge to replace the existing A40 Somerset, is announced to-day.

To broaden the market for the car as much as possible it is to be supplied with two sizes of engine-the A40 with an engine of 1,200 cc and the A50 with an engine of 1,500 c.c., both with overhead valves. Moreover, a choice is provided of two-door or four-door bodies, 11 different colour schemes, and family or de luxe equipment. The lowest-priced model, the A40 two-door family saloon, has a basic price of £458, to which must be added purchase tax of £19t 19s. 2d., a total of £649 19s. 2d. The A50 family saloon costs £678-5s.-10d., including purchase tax.

The Cambridge which revives the name of a famous Austin Model before the war, has a wheelbase nearly 7in. longer than that of the Somerset, an improvement which brings the rear seat cushion in front of, the wheel arches, and increases its width by more than a foot.

Externally, the car is quite different from the previous A40 Somerset. The new model has been in course of preparation for three years and the first prototypes were sent to France and Spain for testing last winter. Since then many thousands of miles have been covered in the north of Scotland and at the Motor Industry Research Association's proving ground, including 1,000 miles on the pave' track.

At a luncheon yesterday Sir Leonard Lord, chairman of the British Motor Corporation, said the output of the British Motor Corporation had reached a peak of between 8,000 and 8,250 cars a week this summer, and by March next year the output would rise to 10,000 cars a week.

10 Feb 1955

Maintenance of Suez Canal Base
New Company Formed


As part of the plan to take over and maintain the Suez Canal base after the withdrawal of the British forces, a new contracting company, Suez Contractors (Vehicles Ltd.), has been formed by Associated Commercial Vehicles Ltd., the Austin Motor Company Ltd., and Rootes Motors, Ltd.

The object of the company, which has a share capital of £12,000, is to maintain the vehicles, engineering plant, and general stores at the base ordnance depot and base workshops in accordance with the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty whereby the Suez Canal base will be maintained in future by civilians. A number of British firms have agreed. to participate in the maintenance of the base in the national interest.

The directors of the new company are Mr. W.R. Black, Lord Brabazon of Tara, Sir Leonard Lord, Major-General E. H. Clayton, Sir William Rootes, and Sir Reginald Rootes


10 July 1955

2,320,000 Austin Vehicles made in 50 years


The Austin Motor Company to-day employed more than 20,000 people, who produced more than 120 vehicles every working hour, said Sir Leonard Lord, chairman and managing director, when he started the jubilee celebrations of the firm at Longbridge, Birmingham, yesterday. He said that 50 years ago, when me Longbridge factory was started by Herbert Austin, it employed fewer than 250 people and in the first year produced 120 vehicles. More than 2,320,000 cars and commercial vehicles had been produced in the 50 years.

Mr. Harry Austin, aged 78, brother of the founder, unveiled a plaque. 30ft. high in memory of his brother.

Austin distributors from the Commonwealth countries and from the Continent, and most of the 20,000 employees with their families attended the celebrations.

The final event, a cavalcade of Austin cars from 1908 to the present day, contained the gas turbine-engined Austin Sheerline, which was announced last August but has not previously been shown to the public. A spokesman for the company decided they were not yet ready to market a gas turbine car.

11 Aug 1955

Import of Austin Cars in United States


Sir Leonard Lord, chairman and managing director of the British. Motor Corporation, yesterday denied - reports that the Austin Motor Company was disbanding, its sales and service organizition in the United States. He said that in future the Hambro Trading Company of America, Inc. who have acted as importers for Morris, M.G. and Riley cars for a number of years, will import all B.M.C. products including Austin. “This new move in coordinating its sales activities and securing better provision for the financing of dealers' stocks will further strengthen the B.M.C.'s position in America," Sir Leonard Lord said.


07 Dec 1955


Duke of Edinburgh Visit to Factory


The Duke of Edinburgh's visit to the Austin Motor Works, Birmingham, to-morrow will be a private one, at the Duke's request. In a message to the workers of the factory, Sir Leonard Lord, chairman of the British Motor Corporation, says: " There will be no flags, no reception committees, no guards of honour, no formal presentations, and no red carpets. He wants to see a factory as it is every normal working day, a thing he can never do on formal occasions. . . . He will be free to go wherever he pleases. In fact, he is coming to see you and not for you to see him. . . . Do please keep on with your work."'

08 Dec 1955

Duke’s Tour of Austin Motor Works


The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday paid a private and informal visit to the Austin Motor works, Birmingham, to see a normal day's production. He arrived by train at a section of Longbridge station, which is inside the works, and was met by Sir Leonard Lord. chairman and managing director. In the afternoon the Duke piloted a Heron aircraft from Elmdon airport, Birmingham, to Northolt, and returned to Buckingham Palace by car.

30 Dec 1955

BMC Exports Valued at £75m.


The British Motor Corporation, it was announced to-night, exported more vehicles during the year than any other motor manufacturer in the world. Nearly 200,000 vehicles to a total value of approximately £75m were shipped oversea. During the year nearly four were have been produced every working day in spite of industrial disputes which affected some of the supplying companies.

Sir Leonard Lord, chairman of the corporation, said the total output for the year, which constitutes a record for the corporation and any other British company, has been 468,943 vehicles, an increase over last year of 26.7%. sir Leonard Lord added: "No other motor manufacturer outside America has ever achieved this output, and even in America it has only been exceeded by three of the great corporations there. I consider our export performance to be exceeded by three of the great corporations there. I consider our export performance to be extremely satisfactory in view of the overnight in imports by Australia and other leading markets."

December 1955

Annual Report

The Fourth Annual General Meeting of The British Motor Corporation was held yesterday at Longbridge works Birmingham. Sir Leonard Lord KBE, chairman and managing director, presided.

Once more may I say " Welcome to Longbridge," particularly as this is the golden jubilee year of The Austin Motor Company. For those of you who art old friends of The Austin Motor Company the meeting to-day must be tinged with a certain feeling of regret, because this is the last time we shall hold our meetings in this room. Next month this building will be handed over to the contractors for demolition. A new and more modern showroom is being built near the. car assembly building, and on this site a large engineering and research block will be erected.

It is usual for me to extend to you an invitation to look round the factory after the meeting. If you do so to-day you will see that we are still installing masses of new machinery, and you will notice very considerable building activity. I hope you regard this as a good augury for the future.

From the accounts which you have seen no doubt you have drawn the conclusion that the year has been a good one, and I am sure you will consider the results satisfactory. Our thanks are due once more to all our employees, whatever their degree of responsibility, at home and perhaps particularly those abroad, because year by year their contribution is becoming greater and more important.

Production

The complete range of models now on sale from The British Motor Corporation reflects the development and standardisation which is taking place, although the process is by no means finished. At our meeting last year I devoted much of my statement to explaining our future plans and to outlining the progress we bad made since the merger of Austin and Morris in 1952.

1 am pleased to be able to tell you that we have kept well up to the schedule we set. I said that by the spring of this year over-all output would be 10,000 vehicles a week plus spares. This figure was in fact exceeded by a hundred or so a week.

I said also that further expansion plans had been approved by your board to raise production to 12,500 a week by midsummer 1956. Present indications are that this will be done, but although the new buildings are up to schedule some difficulties are being encountered with the supply of the now machinery we must have.

At the moment we are ahead in what is called " Automation " but new methods of production are continually being introduced all over the world. Comparatively new machinery tends to become obsolete before it is even partially worn out, with the result that replacements expenditure must continue to grow.

I told you last year that many millions had been provided for capital expenditure by the ploughing back of profits. A comparatively small amount of fresh capital was raised last year and you will see from the accounts that this has helped to improve our liquid position. During the year under review the production of the British Motor Corporation was 418.705 vehicles, against 353,834 for the
previous year, an increase of 18 per cent.

Increased output of vehicles spares obviously necessitates increased sales effort, particularly abroad. It is certainly a fact that we must export to live. and motor vehicles are among the most important of British exports.

The question in many minds now is can the planned expanding output of the motor industry be sold, as if the home market contracts by reason of taxation or saturation can the export market take the balance? "As far as The British Motor Corporation is concerned I believe the answer to be 'Yes,' but I do not minimise the difficulties . We have to contend with the growing strength of foreign competition and the adverse continually rising costs of wages and materials. Any further increases of wages anywhere in this country must therefore be accompanied by an equivalent increase in efficiency and greater output.

You will have seen from the Press that rising costs have forced many manufactures to increase their selling prices. We have decided to maintain ours at present levels as long as possible. This means that the savings we have made by improved methods and the installation of high-production machinery are being passed on to our customers, although these savings have not been sufficient to cover the rise in costs.

We are subject to the same increases in cost as other manufactures; perhaps they are more important in our case as our basic specifications are higher than most others. We know that we offer better "value for money" became of the excellent of our manufacturing equipment, the volume of our production, and the extent of our purchases.

In taking the decision to leave our prices unaltered we had in mind the possible savings from the increased production which is planned from the factories between now and the summer of next year. Thus whilst we are prepared to forgo some of our profit in the early stages it is obvious that if production does not rise and costs of supplies do increase we shall have to raise our prices.

New Models and Developments

During the year we introduced a range of new models, all of which have been very well received.


They comprise BMC diesel engines, a new MGA sports car, the Morris Isis, and a complete range known as the "Series III" commercial vehicles for both Morris and Austin. In addition an automatic gearbox is now fitted on the Austin "Princess" and overdrive as an extra on some of the smaller models.

The British motor Industry is sometimes accused of lack of foresight and of hesitating to introduce new models of advanced design, leading to the suggestion that for this reason it is likely to lose sales to its foreign competitors. I do not believe that our motor industry is resting on its laurels, but of course no manufacture is prepared to disclose his future plans.

Roads


I cannot let this meeting pass without a further reference to the home market and the suggested possibility of saturation. This will not come became of lack of demand. It is more likely to arise from the irritations caused by the delays on our archaic roads and the inescapable effect which such delays have on the costs of every industry in Great Britain.
Overseas


Year by year I mention our expansion programmes overseas.

The plant in Cape Town is now running very satisfactorily indeed, both for quality and cost, and we are in a position to take advantage immediately of any increased quotas which may be made available by the Government of South Africa.

In Australia the installation of the most advanced type of automatic machinery for engine and transmission production at the rate of 50,000 a year is proceeding, and should be completed during 1956. In addition plans have been place and expenditure approved for a new car assembly building and paint plant at Victoria Park, Sydney, to handle complete cars at the same rate. On the same site we are also making a start on the buildings for a large press plant for our subsidiary, Fisher and Ludlow.

Thus finally we shall have a complete factory at Victoria Park for the production of pressings, the manufacture of engines and the assembly, painting, finishing and dispatch of cars and commercial vehicle.

At this stage our investment in this plant alone will be between £4,500,000 and £5,000.000.

Spares

The British motor industry is frequently criticised in the press for lack of spares abroad This certainly is not true in the case of your company. We have never opened up a new:market nor shipped new models of any kind anywhere in the world before we have sent to that territory sufficient spares to give service within 24 hours.

The production of both current and obsolete spares is rapidly increasing and a much more ample supply of spares of every kind is now available. Extensive new buildings have been put up at Cowley to copt with the extra volume and additional staff is being engaged both in the factories and on the sales and distributive.


The Future

There is no doubt that competition has become very much more severe in the last year and it will continue to do so. We have taken a chance in our selling prices at their present levels. This, as I have already pointed out, could mean reduced profits. Therefore, whilst I have tittle doubt that we shall be able to sell our output, including a proper proportion of it abroad, it would be unreasonable to expect profits in the current year to be higher than those disclosed for the year under review; in fact, despite increased turnover they could conceivably be somewhat lower.

Our objective is always efficiency coupled with the maximum rate of production. This enables us to offer the lowest possible selling prices consistent with high quality and dependable design and construction. We know this is the only way to continued success, and so with the willing help of our suppliers and employees all over the world we look forward to the future with confidence.

27 November 1956

£25m BMC Scheme Nearly Complete

A warning that it was not yet possible to estimate the full effect upon British industry of the closing of the Suez Canal was given to-day by Mr. A R W. Low, Minister of State, Board of Trade, when be opened an exhibition hall at the Longbridge factory of the British Motor Corporation. The motor industry was affected not only by the shortage of oil for production but also by the need to ration motor fuel and by shipping difficulties, he said. But it was imbued with the spirit of hitting back at unfavourable circumstances, at its competitors, and if necessary at Governments.

Mr. G. W. Harriman, joint managing director of the B.M.C., said their £25m. expansion scheme was nearing completion. It was based upon an 80 hour week, with day and night shifts to achieve maximum production. Of the £25m., £15m. was being spent on machinery and equipment, £2,500,000 on buildings and amenities, and £7m. in Australia, where the new plant would be provided with the same transfer machines as were used in England, enabling 1,000 vehicles a week to be produced by the end of 1957.

Experimental Turbine


During a tour of the new research and development departments visitors were shown an experimental gas turbine of 30 developed horsepower, which could be suitable as a power unit for cars of the Austin A35 size. It is being developed under a Ministry of Supply contract. On their own account the corporation are developing larger gas turbines of 140 and 250 horse power. An automatic gearbox, suitable for small cars, was also seen under development. A unique feature of the department is a wind tunnel for testing full-size cars.

11 December 1956

BMC Expansion Costing £25m


Although the Suez crisis, with its adverse effect on the home and export markets, has caused a severe setback for the motor industry, the big firms are not allowing themselves to be diverted from their plans to obtain as large a share of the world market as possible when the present tension dies down.

The need for motor vehicles throughout the world is far from being satisfied, and there are immense rewards for the firms that can provide mn and trucks of the appropriate design at competitive prices. In Britain the battle will be waged principally between the British Motor Corporation, Ford, and Vauxhall, all three being actively engaged on far-reaching expansion programmes. The sum allocated by BMC for this purpose is Mini, but in point of fact expansion does not fully describe the series of projects now being undertaken in the corporations plants in the Midlands and near Oxford. The background of these Projects is the reorganization of the separate manufacturing facilities possessed by the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield Organization before they combined to form the British Motor Corporation in 1952. Since then there has been a good deal of standardization of components used in the various models, notably engines of which three types are now used for almost the whole range of cars. Body shells too have been standardized to some extent. These are the first outward signs of the benefits of amalgamation, but as was seen on a recent three-day tour of the corporation’s Plants at Longbridge and Cowley, the major benefits accruing from raionalized production have yet to mature. Their completion will lead not only to lower costs but to greatly increased output.

Transfer Machines


The production and assembly of engines has already reached a high pitch of efficiency, transfer machines being widely used-the largest has 32 stations performing more than 160 operations on engine blocks, and requires only two men to operate it. The manufacture of transmissions is being concentrated at the Ward End site in Birmingham (the old Wolseley car factory), where a new building is being equipped to produce 12,500 axles and front suspensions every week for BMC. passenger cars and light vans. The equipment will include 184 of the most modem gear cutting machines as well as automatic transfer machines with 70 cutting tools, each capable of producing a practically finished rear axle case every half minute. The reorganization here will increase production by 32 per cent. from a 21 per cent increase in floor space, thanks to the use of automatic machinery, mechanical handling, and the adoption of standardized components.

BMC obtain their bodies mainly from their own plants and the associated company, Fisher and Ludlow, and partly from Pressed Steel. Additions to the Fisher and Ludlow plant at Castle Bromwich now being carried out include new presses, costing £1,250,000, which will increase output to 2,500 bodies a week, and a new Roto-dip rust-proofing and primer painting plant capable of processing 26 bodies an hour. In addition, a new building is going up at Cowley which in six months time will comprise one of the most up-to-date car body painting plants anywhere in the world.

Each paint line is designed to paint completely 26 bodies an hour in synthetic enamel in any of 26 different colours. The bodies will arrive at this plant already rust-proofed and prime coated, and automatic spraying equipment will be used at every stage.


New Assembly Building


The assembly of engines, transmissions, and bodies into complete Austin cars is carried out in the new assembly building at Longbridge. The engines and bodies are conveyed to this building in a predetermined sequence. a Hollerith punched card system being used to send forward the appropriate engine and body for each vehicle. These components proceed from the south works to the assembly building by way of a 1,000ft tunnel, at the end of which they remain in a kind of underground marshalling yard until their turn comes to be hoisted automatically through the main floor and lowered on to one of the four assembly tracks.

The assembly building at Longbridge has just been extended to give 70 per cent. more space. most of which will be used for final assembly inspection. The inspection of individual components to ensure that quality has been maintained is not difficult, but the inspection of a complete car is less easy. The inspection of final assembly operations is vitally important, and is an aspect of manufacturing which has not perhaps received the attention by British manufacturers that it should have done. The general practice here and abroad is to use roving inspectors. but BMC. have introduced a new method at Longbridge in the form of a special conveyor line for carrying out the final inspection in stages. The great advantage is that every car receives the same examination, and the chances of slipshod assembly being overlooked should be much less.


Improving Models


One of the most important developments in the B.M.C programme is the new engineering block now being completed at Longbridge. Here will be concentrated all the production engineers of the corporation who will undertake the drawings and manufacturing specifications required to put new models into large-scale production. This will leave the engineers at the various factories to work out their own problems of improving existing models and designing new ones. the engineering block will also house the works planning and development staff, beside the section devoted to the designing and assembly of transfer and other machine tools for the BMC plant in Australia are being assembled and tested here.

But all these grandiose engineering schemes will be of no avail, unless they have well designed vehicles as the “end product”. A proper place is given in the overall scheme to research and development. At Longbridge there is a splendidly equipped new building housing four! main sections - the turbine department, rig and stress laboratory, piston engine and transmission development departments, and the aerodynamic department. While touring this building it was noticed that it is the policy to test foreign car engines for comparative performance.


Staff College


Sir Leonard Lord has wisely realized that human development is as important as capital development, and that in a concern with more than 40,000 employees the problems of human relationships present a considerable challenge to management. To meet this challenge the BMC staff college has been inaugurated at Haseley Manor, near Warwick, under the direction of Mr. J. Wilson, who was until recently principal of the Birmingham School of Technology. The aim of the staff college are to improve the standard of management and the quality of the staff, and to develop potential talent on all levels from charge-hands to executive. Weekly residential courses are held, including courses for apprentices, who are thereby introduced to the whole extent of the BMC enterprise. The courses cover as many aspects of the corporations activities as possible. Nearly 80 senior executives who have undertaken courses have returned to give lectures. Perhaps the most valuable function of the staff college is that it largely eliminates the possibility of talented men, at any level, being overlooked.

The whole of this 125m. scheme will stand or fall by the success of BMC. cars and trucks in world markets. Although there is no indication of an early change of models it is inevitable, that some of the present range of Austin and Morris cars which have been on the market for several Years, and which have been recently improved in performance and appearance, will in due course give way to new designs. On the mechanical side the significant move has been the recall of Mr. A. Issigonnis, who was largely responsible for designing the Morris Minor, and his installation in a department where he is free to exercise his brilliant creative ability. On the styling side, all that can be said at present is that this vital aspect of design is now receiving the same thorough and long-term attention as the rest of the corporation's manufacturing policy.

There remains the need to ensure that owners of BMC vehicles all over the world receive the highest standards of service after purchase. For this purpose a new company, BMC Service, Ltd., has been formed and the supply of parts for all vehicles made by the corporation is being integrated at Cowley.

27 Feb 1957

New Model Austin A55

Another new British model is the Austin A55 saloon. This is an improved version of the A50, the changes including more power from the 1.5-litre engine and a new rear end to the body which gives the car much more attractive appearance and increases the amount of passenger and luggage space. No increase in price is being made, in spite of the improved specification The standard model sells at £772 7s. including purchase tax.

The new A55 has been in full production at Longbridge, Birmingham for several weeks and it is estimated that orders up to July this year will amount to £14m of which £8,500,000 will be for export markets. As a result production conferences have taken place with a view to the reintroduction of night shift working at Longbridge, where all the car Production lines are already fully extended for a five-day week.

02 April 1957

The Metropolitan 1500

Many motorists have admired the smart lines and bright colours of the Nash Metropolitan occasional four-seater, some examples of which can be seen driven on British roads by American service men, Although made at Longbridge by the British Motor Corporation, the Metropolitan 1500 has not been available on the home market, the whole of the output having been reserved for the United States and Canada and dollar purchasers in Europe.

An arrangement has now been reached between the Austin Motor Company and the American Motors Corporation (of whom Nash are a component) for selected Austin distributors to sell the car on a world-wide basis. including the home market. Selling at the basic price of £475 for the hardtop model (£7l3 17s. including purchase tax) the Metropolitan is claimed to be the lowest Priced 1,5 litre car in Britain. The convertible model sells for £725 2s. including tax. The low price includes the provision of a radio, cigar lighter, and heating-ventilating installation.

In a different field the Austin company organized last week at Longbridge what was claimed to be the largest private show of special vehicles ever held in Britain. It was aimed primarily at the operators of fleets of commercial vehicles, including some from abroad. Up to the end of February the sales of Austin commercial vehicles since the, war amounted to 504,000 of which 240,000 were exported. The term special vehicles " included estate car conversions and other vehicles using Austin chassis. One of the most interesting, from the private motorist's point of view, was a "moto-caravan" which is the A.152 Omnicoach converted into a powered caravan with sleeping accommodation for two adults and two children, plus a tent extension for two more adults.

02 July 1957

BMC.'s Record Dollar Earnings

The British Motor Corporation's dollar earnings for the first six months of the year has averaged $1,493,882 a week-the highest rate yet achieved, and equivalent to nearly $600 a minute of the normal working week. Best sellers in the United States are Nash Metropolitan (which is manufactured at Longbridge for the American Motor Corporation), the MGA.. Austin Healey, and the Morris Minor 1000. The corporation's exports to the United States are three times as many as they were this time last year, and, overall, at least 50 per cent. of the total production is going overseas.

27 Nov 1957

Austin-Healey Transfer

Assembly of the Austin-Healey, one of Britain's sports car dollar-earners is being transferred from the works of the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge, Birmingham, to the British Motor Corporation factory at Abingdon, Berkshire, home of the M.G. and Riley. The transfer to be completed by the end of the year, is part of BMC.'s rationalization policy and will concentrate sports car production at Abingdon.

30 Nov 1957

Austin's Break Production


The Austin Motor Company announced last night that all daily and weekly production records for cars at their factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, were broken yesterday. A total of 1,066 cars came off the assembly line yesterday, 33 more than the previous daily record. The weekly record was exceeded by 21.


17 December 1957

Production Recovery A major Achievement
Aerious Effect Of Home Market Controls


The Sixth Annual General Meeting of The British Motor Corporation Limited was held yesterday at Longbridge Works. Birmingham.

Sir Leonard Lord K.B.E. chairman and joint managing director, presided.

The following is his statement, which had been circulated with the report and accounts for the year ended July 31, 1957 and which was taken as read: -

Last year I predicted that conditions would be difficult for the next year or 18 months. This proved to be an understatement. No period in my experience has been attended by such extreme fluctuations of demand or fraught with so many uncertainties as that under review. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" to quote, perhaps not inappropriately the opening words of "A Tale of Two Cities."

The year began after nine months of contracting world trade in the motor industry. It seemed that Finance Ministers at the behest of their Governments, were standing ready with the tourniquet to restrict any revival in the circulation of trade generally. On top of this came the international crisis over the ownership and management of the Suez Canal. Of this we became painfully aware, was petrol was rationed in varying degrees throughout most of Europe, and with particular severity in Britain.

The tax an fuel in this country was increased by a further 1s. per gallon. Over 40 per cent of our exports were diverted round the Cape, at greatly increased freight costs. We were surrounded by many difficulties of unpredictable duration.


Lost Ground Regained

For these reasons world demand fell to a very low level until, in March, we bad to announce that a loss had been incurred for the first half of the year, and that therefore no interim dividend would be paid on the Ordinary shares. Almost from that date conditions started to improve and we began to regain the lost ground.

Against this background, the production of 352,855 vehicles in the year, although it must be compared with 439,558 produced in the previous year, may be considered as a major achievement.


Home and Export Trade

Coming to more particular aspects of the year's trading, it is gratifying to report that in the home market we weathered the storm of the first six months better than did the industry as a whole. Of new vehicles produced by the five leading manufacturers, our share of registrations which had been fairly consistently in the region of 40 per cent, rose each month until by December last it reached 50 per cent.

Our vehicle exports followed to a lesser degree the same curve of recession and recovery as home market sales. They amounted to 180,069 for the year, or 51 per cent. of total output. This compared with our exports of 187,146 vehicles in the previous Year, which was 43 per cent.

The marked recovery of overseas markets in the second half of the year was helped by the relaxation of import licensing in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, as well as by a rapid expansion of demand from North America. In fact the United States displaced Australia from its traditional first position for our products in world markets.

This vigorous trend was very largely due to the sustained success in the United States of our sports cars the M.G.A. and Austin-Healey Hundred Six-of which 22,285 were exported. Such an achievement with sports cars is unprecedented in the history of the motor industry.

A speed of over 245 m.p.h. was reached by the M.G.A. on the Salt Flats at Utah last August, was I am sure you will agree, remarkable for a 1500 c.c. car, and a tribute to the skill of our designers and engineers.

Also contributing handsomely to our dollar sales was the Metropolitan, the distinctive small car which we manufacture for the American Motors Corporation for sale in America, of which 16,133 were built in the year. In my last statement I mentioned that this car was to be made available outside dollar markets. Since April it has also been supplied to the home market and to export markets in general, where it has met with a most favourable reception.

B.M.C. Service Ltd. the subsidiary now responsible for our replacement part business in the home and export markets, is now firmly established at Cowley in new buildings of over 750,000 square feet floor area. Its stock of 18,500,000 value covers 130,000 different Part numbers and it is currently despatching 1,300 tons of parts weekly. We are receiving many benefits from this centralization but mostly from the goodwill of our customers, which results from the higher standards of service given by our distributors and dealers.


Australia and South Africa

Our Australian companies have made very satisfactory progress with the equipment of their plants. We have built up an excellent management team to control the new factory at Victoria Park, Sydney, which, within the next six months, will be producing what can be claimed as its first car substantially Australian in manufacture.

Our capital investment in this new plant was increased by a further £3,300,000 during the year, and we are planning a combined programme of manufacture and assembly to satisfy at least 30 per cent of the Australian market. Our South African assembly plant near Cape Town is operating efficiently and is achieving a high standard of quality.

The relaxation of import licensing in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, to which I have referred, means that imports although controlled, are very largely liberalized. Competition has become keener but I am confident that our products will continue to hold their own in these markets as they have done elsewhere.

The effort of grappling with the problems of the year did not deter us from looking to the future. Our development programme at home and overseas was substantially maintained, with additional investments of over £7,000,000 in plant and buildings. Our plans for the next two years envisage further substantial expenditure.

The new models and many improvements in styling, equipment, and specification which we introduced on our cars at the 1956 Motor Show, and to which I briefly referred in my last statement, have been very well received, and in the light of subsequent events their introduction could not have been more timely.


Popularity of New Models

Early in 1957 we introduced the new Austin A55 car, and the A55 half-ton van and pick-up. These have all proved most popular and the A55 is generally held to be the best medium sized car we have yet produced.

The Wolseley 1500, the first small Wolseley car for many years was announced later in the spring and its success exceeded our anticipations, calling for a production capacity treble that originally planned. It has proved that there is a big demand in the home market for a small to medium sized luxury car with outstanding performance.


European Free Trade

The advent of European Free Trade and the progressive reduction of tariffs throughout Europe now appears to be certain. The signing of the Common Market Treaty by Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands. Luxembourg and Italy, commits out Government to promoting its European Free Trade formula in wider association with these and other European countries in order to preserve our access to these important markets.

Here again, it is the home market that will have to meet the impact of this revolution in European economic policy. Therefore, we have reason and justice on our side when we ask the Government for a better understanding of the home markets function as the foundation of our economy. The Government's policies which affect home sales through credit restrictions, purchase tax, profit taxes, hire purchase and other controls, must be revised to give us parity of home market conditions with those of our Continental competitors. It must make trade free to meet Free Trade.

We must accept the fact that we shall, as an industry, always be particularly susceptible to world conditions and Government controls. We shall always have plenty of problems, many of them demanding for their solution all our resources of initiative and experience.

In The British Motor Corporation we feel sure that the limit of world demand for motor vehicles is not yet in sight. That is the constant factor behind and beyond all passing phases. On that assessment we base our optimism for the future and our policy of expansion.

The report and accounts were unanimously adopted, and the proceedings terminated with a vote of thanks to the chairman, deputy chairman, directors and staff.



Oct 1958

100m Dollar Orders for BMC Cars

Mr. Lester Suffield, British Motor Corporation managing director of North American markets, said at the Motor Show in London yesterday that orders from distributors and dealers in all transatlantic dollar areas totalled $100m., representing 75,000 cars, for 1959. The cars are Austin A40 and A55, Austin Healey, Morris Minor, and M.G.

The sum did not include the further $15m. earned by the sale of the Nash Metropolitan manufactured at Longbridge and marketed independently by the American Motor Corporation. The combined orders are worth over £4lm.



03 March 1959

Concern At Industrial Disputes Tribunal (I.D.T)
Pay Award


Austin’s to ask For Interpretation

One of the recent awards of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal who went out of existence at the end of last week, has greatly disturbed the minds of engineering employers, who claim that it would have the effect of overriding voluntarily negotiated agreements for clerical workers in the industry.

The dispute was between the Austin Motor Company and the Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union, and the company have informed the union that although they have hitherto invariably honoured arbitration awards they cannot put this one into effect unless they are able to obtain some interpretation of the award. It is understood that they intend to ask for an interpretation.

Since the tribunal have ceased to exist it is difficult to see how any interpretation can be given. All awards become an implied terms of contract and presumably the union could seek enforcement of this one through the courts.


Salary Scales Claim

The dispute arose out of a claim for salary scales for time office and material control staff employed by the company. The tribunal who were presided over by Mr. H. Lloyd-Williams, found on January 15 that the claim had not been established but taking into account recent nationally negotiated increases, ruled that the commencing salaries of male staff workers concerned should be correspondingly higher than the amount the union asked for.

The employers point out that the commencing salary awarded for clerks in the departments concerned is about £3 above the negotiated minimum for clerical workers of £8. 18s. 6d. Such an award they suggest could have an influence on clerical pay not only in Austin's, and the BMC. but in the motor industry and engineering generally. There are some 3,000 clerks altogether at Austin's and 12,000 or so in BMC. factories.

The union case is that the two groups of clerical workers are suitable for separate treatment as they are clearly defined and the company are already most of them amounts in excess of £11. They say there is no question of overriding the general agreement.

Points on which the company would like clarification are whether only male staff workers are to be affected and whether an award for commencing salaries means that it has no relevance to staff already in their employment.


18 June 1959


£10m On Small Car Development - New Austin and Morris models


These cars have been through extensive trials and have taken three years to develop. New buildings have been erected and new plant, and equipment using the most up-to-date methods installed at a total cost of well over 10m. The Morris Minor and the new Farina-styled Austin A40 will however, remain undisturbed; in fact the Morris Minor production line has recently been reorganized and separated from other lines to increase output to meet the high world-wide demand. Without revealing any details of their design, Sir Leonard Lord said he felt sure that the new models will be considered to be among the most advanced small cars in the world. He described them as fully engineered, full four-seater cars that will keep up with the rest of the traffic any-where, and will give tremendous economy at a price that will appeal to the family man.

23 November 1959

£49m. Expansion by BMC to Double output of “Baby” Car

A three-year plan for the expenditure of nearly, £50m. which will raise the British Motor Corporation's production potential to one million vehicles a year is announced to-day by the chairman of the corporation, Sir Leonard Lord.

In his statement circulated to shareholders with the annual report, Sir Leonard Lord, says that the planned output of 4.000 of the BMC. "baby" cars a week has already become insufficient They were taking steps immediately to double this output to 8,000 a week, including an. additional range of light commercial vehicles, which it is expected to announce in January.

"Currently we are producing at the rate of 750,000 vehicles per annum," says Sir Leonard Lord. "When extra facilities become progressively available in 18 months to two years', the magical figure of one million units a year will be within our reach, This cannot be done in the existing factories and it will mean new sites, now buildings, and a fresh approach to the problems of production


11 January 1960

Cofton Hackett Residents Oppose New Austin Factory


Representatives of 2,000 residents at Cofton Hackett Worcestershire, a village on the industrial fringe of Birmingham, said today that they would fight at every stage c proposal by the British Motor Corporation to extend the Austin factory at Longbridge on 51 acres of green belt land.

Sir Leonard Lord, Chairman of BMC. recently announced a £49m. expansion scheme to raise the corporation's annual output of vehicles from 750,000 to a million in the next two Years and the corporation are at present engaged in negotiations with the Government over the location of new factories. The Government are anxious that further development of the prosperous motor industry should be directed to areas such as Wales and Scotland.

Mr. George Harriman, deputy chairman of BMC., has met Mr. Maudling, President of the Board of Trade, and is believed to have offered to direct part of the group's extension to now areas, provided that the Government sanctioned a further extension of the Longbridge factory.

Low Unemployment

Government policy is normally strongly opposed to further industrial development in the Birmingham area, where the lowest level of unemployment in Britain is combined with a high degree of industrial congestion. The Board of Trade grant industrial development certificates to firms there only when the applicants can prove that an extension is wanted for an integrated industrial process that could not be located away from existing plant.

The Austin factory, which covers 250 acres and' employs more than 20,000 workers. is alrcady by far the biggest in Birmingham. BMC. have now applied to the Board of Trade for a certificate to allow them to expand the factory on adjoining land at Cofton Hackett which they already own. An official of the board said to-day that it was not known when a decision would be reached. An additional complication is that this land has been zoned by Worcestershire County Council as part of a proposed green belt which has yet to be approved by the Minister of Housing and Local Government. BMC. have objected to the inclusion of their land in the restricted area. claiming that it is needed for the natural expansion of their factory.

The villagers of Cofton Hackett have formed a protection association to resist the corporation's plans. Mr. S. H. Phillips, the chairman, said to-day: "An expansion of the Austin factory would create even greater labour problems in Birmingham and the demand for housing which cannot be met now would be further increased,

22 Jan 1960

£26m.Extensions in Midlands


In addition to the three new factories, the British Motor Corporation announce that another £26m will be spent on extensions to their existing factories in the Midlands and at Oxford, but no new demand for labour will be created in these already prosperous areas. Nor will the expansion at the Longbridge factory here extend the Birmingham industrial sprawl into the Worcestershire green belt as many people feared.

In the "package deal" with B.M.C. over the first of the motor industry’s big expansion schemes to be concluded the Government have achieved their aim of diverting new capacity to areas, where the social and economic need for it is most acute.

Mr. George Harriman, deputy chairman of B.M.C., said to-day: "We may as well be frank. It was our intention to expand alongside our existing factories, but the Government wanted us to go to areas of high unemployment. After considerable negotiations conducted in a very cordial atmosphere, we have reached what I hope will be a successful conclusion."

In a nutshell, B.M.C. plan to raise their annual output of vehicles from 750,000 to one million within two years by extending their car and light commercial vehicle production in the Midlands and by moving the manufacture of heavy commercial vehicles and tractors from Birmingham to Scotland.

They plan to build a new factory costing £8,800,000 and employing 5,600 people at Bathgate in West Lothian. Exact detail of the location of the site chosen from 12 inspected in Scotland, will not be disclosed until borings and other survey work due to begin.

Another new factory costing £7,500,000, is to be sited between Llanelly and Trostre, near the sheet steel manufacturing resources of South West Wales. This plant, which together with an extension of the existing radiator factory at Llanelly will employ 4,100 workers. and will provide pressings and major sub-assemblies for the corporation's Midland car factories. Mr. S. Samuel, Town Clerk of Llanelly, said that he had received confirmation that the site for the new factory would be immediately east of the Trostre works of the Steel Company of Wales.



29 June 1960

To Washington via The Andes.
10,000 Miles In 1925 Austin Seven


Mr John Coleman, aged 32. a redbearded school-master from Bromley, Kent, put on show here today the battered 1925 Austin Seven car which brought him 10.000 miles through mountains. desert. rivers, and an earthquake, from Buenos Aires.

Mr Coleman, a bachelor who once taught at a special school near Winchester and has undertaken educational research for London University said today he made the trip, which lasted seven and a half months, just for interest.

He added that as a student of educational psychology who hoped to take a doctor's degree, he thought that "those who are responsible for leading the young into the adult world should be people who have thought and travelled as widely as possible."

During his journey he was helped from a flood by a Chilean cowboy, suffered dysentery in the desert was in hospital for a week, and was mobbed as the car travelled through Ecuador by looters who tore bits of it away.

He had one puncture on his drive through 12 countries in spite of travelling, in the Andes on some of the worst roads in the world. He forded flooded rivers on log rafts and under his own power: survived a Chilean dust storm and a Peruvian earthquake; and, when the magneto got wet, found in a remote Chilean village just one man with sufficient knowledge to fix it.

Mr. Coleman said that he had received another offer to make a long drive, but had not yet made up his mind. After his car has been on show here a few days he will drive it to New York and return to England by sea,


04 Oct 1960

Cofton Green Belt

An objection made by the British Motor Corporation to the Worcestershire County Council’s green belt proposals was settled today by agreement when the public inquiry into the proposals was continued at the Shire.

Mr. Eric Blain, who appeared for the BMC. suggested that a disputed area of some 46 acres at Cofton Hackett should be allowed to remain in the green belt on condition it was agreed that special consideration should be given if this land was needed for "the reasonable requirements of expansion" of the neighbouring Austin motor works.

Mr. J. P. Widgery, for the county council accepted the suggested postponement of the issue, and others who had entered objections to the BMC. scheme accepted with reluctance that this was a possible basis of settlement.

Opening the case for the BMC. Mr. Blain said that if the 46 acres were included in the green belt the future development of the Austin works would be jeopardized if not positively prevented. There was almost a firm commercial programme for this land and the factory it was hoped to build would be a vital link in the chain of national prosperity.


Outdated Buildings

The Production of vehicles at the Longbridge works had risen to 324,000 last year. This was half the corporation’s total output and the expansion programme envisaged that a million vehicles a year would be turned out by the BMC. half of them at Longbridge, and that the value of exports would rise from a present figure of £128m. per annum to £220m.

Many of the present buildings at Longbridge were out of date and a big rebuilding programme, faced the BMC. together with the need to increase parking, space for employees’ cars. Mr. Blain emphasised that a settlement along the lines he had suggested would leave the BMC. the county council and those local interests that were objecting with the same rights if the corporation in future submitted a plan for a new factory.

Mr. Widgery said he must warn that the county council would still feel that Cofton was not the right place for a car factory because of the adjoining beauty spots of !he Lickey Hills and Upper Bittell reservoir. Mr. Philip Cox, who appeared on behalf of the Barnt Green Fishing Club, said they felt that by the proposed delay they had been manoeuvred into a position where their objection became weaker.

Mr. F. Blennerhassett said that a protection committee formed by residents of Cofton agreed that the matter be adjourned but felt there should be no special provision made for industry to come nearer their homes.


September 1960

Sir Leonard Lord Interview September 1960
BMC World


Soon after the record-breaking financial year ended on 31 July we interviewed Sir Leonard Lord, Executive Chairman of The British Motor Corporation, in his Office at Longbridge

In the record year just ended, a high proportion of the total output of 650,000 vehicles was exported, including 110,000 to the U.S.A. and Canada. Since the Government have again called for increased exports, would you give your views on the export drive ?

'We take our export responsibilities very seriously indeed. None of us could live without exports, let alone enjoy the standard of living we feel we ought to have. In B.M.C. it is our firm policy to endeavour to export at least half our output. Of course it varies from model to model but that's what we are aiming at overall. The motor industry has set an example to the whole country in exporting, and BMC. is now one of the world's leading exporters, but cars don't sell themselves; they sell on price and quality, and against intense foreign competition. Don't forget that West Germany and possibly at this moment France are each producing more cars now than Britain, which ought to keep everyone on their toes.'

Will the credit squeeze make the Corporation cut down on its £49 million expansion plan?

'It will not! The plan will go right ahead until it is completed in 1962. This is long-term planning to provide us with the productive capacity that we and the country-need in the future. World demand for vehicles is growing and our capacity has to grow accordingly. Some other country like France or Germany will provide those cars if we can't, it's just as simple as that. When we are planning for years ahead we can't let passing things like a credit squeeze affect us. During the last credit squeeze there were plenty of pessimists who thought we ought to cut down our £26 million expansion plan at that time. Of course we didn't and so, when trading became easier again, we had the capacity to take advantage of it, and you can see the result of that in the record year we have just.

Some people seem to think that when all the present motor expansion plans are completed we will have too many cars. What do you think ?

‘There have always been these gloomy prophecies for as long as I have been in the industry. We would be in a poor way now if we had acted on them. 'What we are doing in BMC. is to spread motoring even more widely and particularly by our Austin Sevens and Mini-Minors, and produce those cars in greater volume than any other model. At the same time we must have a range of cars to meet all needs right up to the luxury class. In other words, we produce both in volume and variety, which keeps us buoyant in competitive conditions.

‘Competition will get keener, but we should thrive on it, and think of the potential demand from the rapidly developing countries. They want roads first nowadays, not railways; and that means trucks, tractors, and eventually, cars as well.'

Recent figures show that British car exports to the United States-the industry's best market-have fallen considerably. What is BMC.'s experience?

'Our market there is mainly in sports cars, and for the first six months of 1960 we have maintained our high sales in North America. The compact cars introduced by the American manufacturers have mainly reduced the sales of imported saloon cars-"sedans" as they call them-but they haven't affected the sports-car market except by increasing the overall stocks held by distributors and dealers, and so reducing their selling activities.

‘It is reported that American manufacturers have over-produced their compact cars by some million units. We are the biggest producers of sports cars in the world, and we see an enduring market for them in the U.S.A. There's a big field, too, for our Austin Sevens and Mini-Minors particularly as second or even third cars for such uses as shopping in the city. These are two types of cars that the Americans just don't make themselves. so the compact cars do not directly affect them.'

Are not more markets closing to us?

'The tendency is for more countries to start producing their own cars. Our answer in many cases is to set up assembly plants in those countries to take advantage of the lower duties on CKD. sets of vehicle parts as compared with built-up cars.

'This isn't taking work away from our British factories; on the contrary, it is providing work for them in producing CKD. sets for overseas assembly. It is giving us business which otherwise would have been lost, or opening markets formerly closed. As a world-wide industry with a stake in many rapidly developing countries we must be prepared to develop in this way,'

What about Europe-isn’t that a difficult market ?

'It certainly isn't easy to sell cars in Europe, which is extremely price-and-quality-conscious, and has its own big car manufacturers; but we have just got to do it, as a Corporation and as a nation. 'As you know, six countries (France, Western Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg) have linked up in a "Common Market". They will gradually get rid of all tariff barriers between each other, but keep up a common tariff-wall against the outside world. Britain could not join because it would have meant putting up a tariff against the Commonwealth as part of the "outside world"; but we have joined, with six surrounding countries, in a Free Trade Area, in which, while there will be free trade between them, each country will maintain its own tariffs against other countries outside.

'BMC. welcome this, because the "outer seven" area includes in the Scandinavian countries some of the best European markets. We want to see a link-up between the Common Market and the Free Trade Area. We have made a manufacturing arrangement with Innocenti of Milan which will enable our cars to be produced inside the Common Market-and sent to countries like Austria that are in the Free Trade Area. The Farina styling of our cars has proved popular, and proved that we were right in keeping in line with European taste and trends.'

Are you generally satisfied with the contribution the workers are making ?

'Yes, indeed I am; we couldn't get the record production we are getting if people generally were not working flat out. We suffer more from the effect of outside disputes than we do from our own stoppages. Take Austin's-since as long ago as March we have not lost a single vehicle from disputes originating at Longbridge or in other BMC. factories, but we have lost 1,670 vehicles and 1,728 bodies as a result of outside disputes. 'There is a great readiness to use the negotiating procedure, and management are determined to give a fair deal when men have a fair case and pursue it through procedure, and I think this is being increasingly recognized.

'As I see it, the only fly in the ointment at present is the Friday nightshift strikes which are against national agreements and union policy and can put our general working out of balance, but the number supporting these strikes has fallen steeply in recent weeks and the unions concerned have been trying hard to solve this problem.'

Longbridge Facts & Figures 1961

Employees
Total employed 22,000
Night Shift 5,100
Females 2,496
Employees with over 25 to 50 years' service 3,250
Total hours worked per week 874,760
Total weekly wages (works and staff) £344,034
Factory
Area covered by site 260 acres
Length of internal roadways l0 miles
Length of internal railway track 7 miles
Total length of cable in internal works
Telephone system 22 miles
Coal used per year 85,870 tons
Oil fuel used per year 4,401,954 galls.
Water consumption per year ... 479,603,020 galls.
Gas consumed per year 605,845,410 cu. ft.
Power House generating capacity ... 8,650 k.w.
Total electricity load 21,000 k.w.
Total volume of works buildings 92,529,432 cu. ft
Material For Production (per week)
Timber (for door frames, truck bodies, etc.) l,000cu.ft.
Carpet 7| miles
Roof lining and fabrics 23 miles
Hide and P.V.C. 2,500
Sound insulating material 14 tons
Glass (windscreens and windows) 173,000 sq. ft.
Paint 22,000 galls.
Steel pressings 4,750,000
Total body parts 64,000,000
Steel tubing 100 miles
Lamp bulbs 90,000
Sparking plugs 46,000
Length of electric wiring cable (approx.) 457 miles
Spare Parts
Orders handled per week 6,500
Individual lines stocked 100,000
Average weight of parts despatched per week 1,500 tons
Cartons used per week 350,000
Packing For Export.
Crates for C.K.D, vehicles and spare parts, average per week 350.
Total of timber used per week 13,50O cu. ft
Waterproof lining paper used per week 75,000 sq. ft.
Nails used in crates per week 1 ton

Use Of Salvaged Material (Per year)
Yellow Metals (brass and phosphor bronze) ... 317 tons Re-smelted for the production of ingots.
Aluminium and Light Alloys ... 1,085 tons Re-smelted for the production of ingots.
Leather and Carpet Cuttings 366 tons Used in making slippers, shoes, industrial gloves and artificial fertilisers. . . . . Paper 337 tons. This is baled and shredded for the purpose of packing B.M.C. spare parts.
Baled and Light Sheet Steel 13,491 tons. Re-smelted for steel sheets.
Firewood 263 tons used for lighting fires in works railway engines and the forges of the Stamp Shop.

Works Post Office
Letters and postcards despatched per week 45,000
Average cost per week of letter post £800
Parcels despatched per week 1,500
Average cost of parcel post £2l6
Internal works post-number of postmen 17
Welfare Service
Dining rooms l8
Snack bars ... l0
Cooked meals served a year 478,214
Subsidised meals served a year ... 500,000
Canteen staff employed ... 213
Ambulance stations 12
Qualified Nurses 27
Works Police 74
Firemen (full time) 35

A modern Health Department, which has been built as a memorial to the late Lord Austin, includes X-ray apparatus and deep ray and radiant heat equipment. There are two resident medical officers, and two specialists attend two or three times a week. A modern Health Department, which has been built as a memorial to the late Lord Austin, includes X-ray apparatus and deep ray and radiant heat equipment. There are two resident medical officers, and two specialists attend two or three times a week. Operated in close association with the Health Department is the Rehabilitation Shop. Here injured workers can exercise stiff limbs, and at the same time do a useful paid job of work by operating light machines fitted with special manual or foot controls.

14 June 1961

BMC to Acquire A West German Car Firm?


Strong rumours were current in the City yesterday that the British Motor Corporation, like two or three other companies, was interested in acquiring, the Borgward Car Company, West Germany's fifth largest car maker. Borgward cars include the Goliath which competes with the Volkswagen. No confirmation of the rumours could be obtained either from Longbridge or from Germany. But they seem feasible, even though the Borgward manager told The Times Bonn Correspondent that no negotiations were going on between the company and BMC." The key to the present interest in Borgward is an option held by Herr Borgward, the former owner of the business which expires at the end of this month.

The Borgward Company is ripe for acquisition. It ran into financial difficulties last February and was taken over by the Bremen Senate who then turned the business into a public company with a capital of DM.54m. But Herr Borgward was given an option to buy the business back for about DM. 57,5m (£5,1m). It is this option that is interesting the European car industry. Presumably BMC. if involved, would be in touch with Herr Borgward not the state of Bremen. It would not be surprising if BMC. were involved. The company already has a working agreement with Innocenti under which the Italian firm makes BMC. cars. and also has arrangements for the assembly of BMC. cars in Holland and Belgium. Borward would give it the opportunity to exploit the German market.

Whilst it is obvious that absorption of a car manufacturer in the Common Market could bring substantial long term benefits to BMC shareholders immediate interest will be in the manner in which the takeover, if concluded. is arranged and more particularly in how it is financed.

25 September 1961

Multi-Storey Car Park


Today the new multi-storey car park that can accommodate more than 3,000, about three days' production at the Austin Motor Company's factory at Longbridge by Mr E J Dodd. Chief Constable of Birmingham.

The building, which covers two acres has nine floors including the roof and will be used to store new cars awaiting dispatch to dealers and the export markets. The parking of new vehicles is a major problem and with the output of the factory to be increased from 8,000 to 10,500 vehicles a week.

The building is constructed on the ramped floor principle. Each floor level is divided into an incline and decline running through the building in separate spirals. Cars can be driven up or down in separate streams. As these meet at the centre of each of each floor it is possible to transfer from to the other. A carefully organized storage system makes it simple to find and drive away any particular vehicle without delay.

The building, which is open at the sides, cost £550,000 and was built on schedule in 13 months. Hall.



11 Oct 1961

More 1962 Austin Models


Fully Automatic Transmission


This is a vintage year for new models. The Austin Motor Company, having already introduced a revised version of the Austin-Healey 3000 and the new Sprite and Cooper Austin Seven, today announce details of the rest of the range for 1962.

Although the cars are basically the same as the models they replace there are many changes of detail both in appearance and specification. The most significant aspect of these 1962 models is that fully-automatic Borg-Warner transmission is available on the medium sized cars. This is the Model 35 which was introduced by Borg-Warner recently.

The extra cost is £68. which with the addition of £31. 39. 4d. Purchase tax, amounts to £99. 3s. 4d. This is a considerable additional sum to pay on the purchase price of a car in the £850 group, and it will be interesting to see how heavy is he demand for the automatic system.


The A40 which was the first Austin with he “Farina line” is now to be known as he A40 Mark II. There are minor revisions to the body and equipment. The changes to the A55 saloon which now becomes the A60 are more apparent. The fins at the back have been reduced in size and the car has a now radiator grille. The wheelbase has been lengthened and the track widened to give more room inside and it is claimed, better handling qualities. A larger engine of 1,622 c.c. is fitted which has a power output of 61 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m. compared with the 53 b.h.p. of the previous 1,489 c.c. unit.

The A99 saloon now become the A110 and also has a redesigned radiator grille and a longer wheelbase. The cylinder capacity of 2,912 c.c. remains unchanged but the engine now gives more power by means of a now camshaft and twin exhaust system. Price increases of about 2.5 per cent apply to the now models. According to the manufacturer this is the first time for more than five years that the prices of Austin cars have been raised.


07 Nov 1961


Mr George Harriman


Young George has taken over at last. it was officially announced today that Mr. G . W. Harriman is now to be both chairman and managing director of the British Motor Corporation. After 38 years in the car industry Mr. Harriman has become the most powerful single figure in a company which claims to be the fourth largest manufacturer of motor cars in the world. "I shall paddle along for a few years more and then lot young George take over". Sir Leonard Lord. the retiring chairman, said some years ago. and there was a good deal of respect and affection in that remark. Mr. Harriman has been a protege of Sir Leonard's since taking his first job at the Morris, engine factory, Coventry in 1923. 'There he collected both a patron and a nickname, for his father. "Old George " Harriman, was works manager of the Morris Motors engine branch.

One of the central experiences in Mr. Harriman's life was a voyage across the Atlantic which he and Sir Leonard undertook shortly after the war. In the hold of their vessel was a range of cars from Longbridge. The two merchant adventurers from the Midland car industry had no showrooms arranged in America and no assurance that anybody would want to buy their vehicles.

Laid Foundations

"People told us we were mad". says Mr. Harriman, but the trip laid the foundations of the British car industry's post-war export drive in the new world.

At 53. Mr. Harriman retained the cheerful will to have a look at new horizons, allied with the cool eye for the possibilities in any situation, which have distinguished a certain type of man for very many centuries. Men like this no doubt traded for tin with the ancient Britons. ambushed gold trains on the Spanish Main, or set off across the Gobi desert with a string of camels to bargain with the Great Cham.

The painting of a Longbridge production shop floor behind his desk never the less reminds the visitor that this is also very much a production man. Mr. Harriman became assistant works superintendent to the Morris engine factory in 1938 by 1944 he was production manager at Longbridge. He had managed to combine this rapid rise towards the top with a good deal of Rugby football. A captain of Coventry and of the Warwickshire County team, be had a trial for England as a three-quarter in 1933.

Knows What is What

Reared in the Leonard Lord tradition, Mr. Harriman has not always too much patience with people who need to look things up. On tours of the works he gives subordinates the frightening impression of knowing everything about every piece of equipment there. At press conferences he can reel off lists of statistics in answer to spontaneous questions. He knows exactly what is what at BMC.

The problems facing Mr. Harriman in the future will nevertheless be for more complex even than the assembly lines here, and he has been groomed to deal with them. He has had years of experience in
high command: Mr. Harriman became deputy chairman of the company in 1952 and managing director in 1956. He is an optimist about the expanding world market for cars.

For Big Battalions

Firmly convinced that the greatest news potential for the industry lies in Europe within the foreseeable future. Mr. Harriman is a supporter of the idea that Britain should enter the Common Market if this can be done without injuring Commonwealth trade. He asserts. with heat, that the British car is good enough to compete with anybody else’s vehicle on equal terms.

He is, appropriately an advocate of big battalions in car production. Waxes and prices of raw materials are unlikely to go down, be points out. and in order to compete one must increase the volume of production and do more intensive tooling to bring prices down or even maintain them. Smaller firms are likely to be less capable of weathering uncertain condition in the industry, he believes. Apart from his family he is a married
man with a daughter Mr. Harriman other interest now are golf and fishing. He was appointed an OBE. for his wartime work on the manufacture of aircraft engines and promoted to CBE in 1951.

13 November 1961

Mr A Issigonis's New BMC Post


The name of the man who will head the BMCs new amalgamated design unit when it is formed in the New Year was disclosed today. He is mr Alec Issigonis, aged 55. chief engineer of BMC since 1957 who has been appointed technical director of the company.

One of his task will be to superintend the amalgamation of the design units at Cowley and Longbridge. Next year BMC design work will be centralized in Birmingham under his personal control.

He rejects any suggestion that this increased centralization will tend to decrease the number of points of difference between BMC models. "I think the change will make everybody's job much easier and we shall still be able to impart individuality to the various models" he says. "In fact we are going to make the difference bigger where we can".


17 April 1962

New Design Building


News of the launching at Longbridge of the British Motor Corporation's new £550,000 design building prompts a closer look at the effect that this particular streamlining - bringing the group's main design forces under one roof will have on its products.

Primarily it will mean greater concentration on unified design, further standardization of parts and faster development of new models. And through their policy of standardization the corporation are planning big production economies.

This is another example of tightening up of design and production technique by the British motor industry in the face of intensifying Common Market competition. By centralizing their designing force, previously scattered around different plants. BMC. will also be able to operate for the first time a single engineering system for their overseas subsidiaries.

But Mr. Alec Issigonis, technical director of BMC. assures us that there is no question of this move blurring the distinction between the corporation's different marques. In the 10 years since the Austin-Nuffield merger, BMC's " simplification " policy has reduced the 14 body shells which were in production in 1952 to five, and the number of engines from 12 to three. Today they produce only two types of four-speed gearbox. one three-speed with proprietary, overdrive, and two optional automatic boxes, while three axle designs cover the whole range of cars.


Conventional Stays

In the new Longbridge office block, passenger car engineering is divided into sections. Group A concentrate on developing and extending the ADO 15 design in small cars of less than 1,100 cc. engine capacity. Group B working on medium-sized 1,100 to 1,500 cc. cars-which are in greatest demand throughout the world, will be the key to assessing the future strength of the whole corporation. Groups C and D are concerned with large cars and sports cars, while Group F deal with engines. Of the ADO 15 engine and transmission, BMC. say that although the last has not been seen of this layout, it will not of necessity be followed in future models powered by a second generation of BMC. engines which are now being designed and are in some cases under development.

But the ADO 15 Mini, introduced three years ago, with its transverse engine and front wheel drive, has been so successful that the principle can be expected to appear soon in other BMC. models that will have an even more remarkable performance. And Mr. Issigonis is not necessarily confining his ideas to the small and medium-sized cars. In the meantime, the corporation do not intend to abandon their existing conventional designs, which they plan " to perfect and refine within their own limits ".


01 January 1963

Cofton Hacket Factory
Planning permission required in Greenbelt


The interests of the mini-car and of the Worcestershire green belt are in headlong collision here. The national balance of payments could be affected by the clash, it was argued at a planning inquiry which began today.

The central question is simple. Should the British Motor Corporation be allowed to build a factory extension of
300,000 sq ft. and a trailer park on part of' the 46.5 acres which the company owns at Cofton Hackett. The land is in the draft green belt adjoining the Austin works at Longbridge. Throughout much of the day the main part of the BMC. case was being put by Mr. Eric Blain. Q.C. and by Mr. W H Davis, the corporation's deputy managing director. The land was of no great natural beauty they said. Failure to find space to expand would mean a serious lessening in BMC.'s competitive efficiency.

Loss of Output


Mr. Davis said about 6 per cent of the nation's exports were made by BMC. The corporation's exports had averaged more than £100m. a year for the past five years, and they could be increased to no less than £220 a year by the present expansion plan. Half this total would be from the sale of cars produced at Longbridge

"Many Longbridge buildings are waiting to be pulled down, but this cannot be done until new buildings are available", he continued, "If the present building are pulled down before alternative accommodation is available, a loss of production will result and heavy unemployment will be unavoidable".

Workers cars are also a tremendous headache to us and to the local police. At the present time 2,700 cars, 270 motor cycles, and 20 coaches are parked at the works daily. We estimate that in five years time, there will be some 5,000 employee cars requiring accommodation at the Longbridge factory. The new factory space he said, was required for the manufacture of small parts for power units of less than 1300 cc. capacity. The units were been made at Longbridge by high-speed methods, it would be more expensive and less efficient to have these components made elsewhere. High-speed production was centred upon the Austin works, and if any large quantity of it were moved away, higher costs would be bound to result.

Mr. Davis concluded: "Unless this development is allowed, the whole of the BMC development and reorganization will be disrupted. This would seriously disrupt this country's export drive and the balance of payment."

Mr. Blain said the BMC had not objected when the land was included in the preposed Worcestershire green belt. The county council had agreed to include in their proposal the sentence. "The responsible requirements of large and established industries which cannot be expected to move will have special consideration on their merits." In his opinion the application fully qualified to receive this consideration. He was bound to admit, however that the county council did not agree with him.

Among objctors to the proposal are Worcestershire County' Council,' Bromsgrove Rural District Council, Cofton Hackett Parish Council, Midlands New Towns Society. and Cofton Hackett Green Belt Protection Association. During the next few days, Mr. D. Senior, the Ministry inspector, is likely to hear a good deal
about the need to respect a draft green belt, the view from the Lickey Hills, the amenities of Cofton Hall, aesthetics in general, and the Midlands Population Policy.

Aim of Rebuilding


A request that Mr. Senior should hold evening sittings for the Cofton Hackett residents has been refused, Mr. R A Etheridge, the Longbridge. convener of shop. stewards, announced that if it were granted he wished to bring 15,000 BMC. workers to give evidence on the other side.

Mr. Geoffrey R A Ayre, the company's building projects engineer, said the Longbridge works now produced, three vehicles every two minutes. It was hoped to increase the rate to more than two vehicles a minute. To do this it was necessary to carry out a rebuilding programme requiring a complicated series of moves by departments. This could not be done unless the corporation had a new building of 300.009 sq. ft at Longbridge.

08 Jan 1963

Austin Moke


A twin-engined 1.696 c.c. version of the BMC. Mini-Car has been produced experimental at the BMC. works here by Mr. Alec Issigonis, technical director, and Mr. George Harriman, chairman of BMC. Together they have been working on special versions of the vehicle for nine months, with the idea of conquering arctic driving conditions and last Thursday it passed its final proving runs.

The vehicle known as the twin-engined Moke 4 x 4 is powered by two 848 cc. Mini engines, fitted front and rear and driving each pair of wheels, using the normal independent rubber suspension.

The car with an open body, has interconnected throttles and clutch controls. But there are two gear levers. mounted on either side of the driver. so that with the front engine in use the rear engine and drive can be brought in when required.

In snow 1ft. deep I drove the double-engined Moke today at up to 40 mph. Starting in normal first gear we ploughed through the snow, changing up to second and bringing in the rear engine with a flick of off-side gear lever. Snow flew up on either side in 6ft. plumes, but the Moke roared forward with complete traction, carrying eight bales of hay.

When a 4ft. snowdrift brought the Moke to a halt we put both engines into reverse and cleared the drift in three seconds. Acceleration was as fast and positive as on a dry road and the Moke can cope easily with a one-in-two gradient.

The twin Moke has a power output of 72 bhp. a top speed of 75 mph. and double the pulling power of the standard Mini. It is designed basically as an agricultural and military cross-country vehicle. In production form, not subject to purchase tax--it would cost-about £475 (against £672 for the Land Rover). Or, as a double- engined saloon. it could be produced for £850.

Mr. Harriman told me: "This was originally conceived by Mr. Issigonis and myself from the idea of an 0-8-0 locomotive which has its wheels linked on either side. After Producing some experimental versions we found that the traction of the two, Mini engines balanced each other and that it was possible to run one in top gear and the other in bottom simultaneously."

The power output can be stepped up by installing two 1,100 cc. power units producing 110 bhp. and the designers say that it could be easily adapted to use an electronic gear change.

10 June 1964

US Army Testing BMC Vehicle


The United States Army is carrying out trials with two British Motor Corporation vehicles derived from the
design of the mini-car, the BMC announced yesterday. One is the Mini-Moke and the other the Twin-Moke
a twin-engined version. Left-hand drive prototypes of each are undergoing study and evaluation by the United
States Army Tank Automotive Centre.

The single-engined Moke is a general, purpose vehicle, built by BMC for possible military use. Powered by an 850 cc engine mounted transversely and driving the front wheels, it is likely to go into production this year.
Originally fitted with two 850 c.c. Mini engines. the Twin-Moke is a four wheel drive version, first produced experimentally by Mr. Alet Issigonis, technical director of BMC and Mr. George Harriman the corporations chairman during the severe 1962-63 winter.

In January last year, at Longbridge, I drove the first double-engined Moke, which proved capable of astonishing performance and road holding in deep snow and mud. In its latest form the Twin-Moke is powered by two 1,100 cc. BMC engines, fitted transversely front and rear and driving each pair of wheels, with twin, linked gear levers. The open-bodied vehicle can carry four passengers or a heavy payload. No vehicle of this type have yet been sold to the United States Army, but BMC say that they are undergoing field tests"all kinds of extensive field tests".

02 Feb 1965

Millionth Mini leaves Longbridge


Tomorrow the millionth Mini leaves the Longbridge production lines of the British Motor Corporation. This is only the second British car to reach this figure, the first being the Morris Miinor. Both were designed by BMC.'s technical director, Mr. Alec Issigonis.

The irony of his tiny offspring's phenomenal success, achieved in five years and a half from launching, is that it was conceived of an international crisis, yet born into an era when space saving was to become a prime requisite of automobile design. And the model planned as basic family transport has emerged as one of the nimblest competition challengers ever seen.

In March, 1957, when the Suez trouble had brought petrol rationing to Britain and small Continental cars were gaining ground in the absence of a better British equivalent, Sir Leonard Lord (now Lord Lambury of Northfield) directed Mr. Issigonis to create a now small car. "You can use any sort of engine you like ", he said. “so long as we have it on our present production line ".


Roomy and Economical

Mr. Issigonis aimed immediately at something economical in performance and engine space, yet generous in passenger room. Although the propulsion method was an eternal problem, he had taught himself how it was relatively easy to make a car directionally stable, if it was nose heavy. "The Morris Minor"', he says," was among the first small cars designed nose heavy, and logically, this concept requires front-wheel drive ".

The performance of his earlier experiment front-wheel drive Morris Minor resolved the drive arrangement for the new car. He visualized a box 10ft. x 4ft. x 4ft., with 65 per cent passenger room, 15 per cent luggage space, and a mere 20 per cent engine space. This necessitated the use of the BMC. “A " series engine (which measured 3ft. 2in. from radiator to gearbox), and the idea of reducing the effective length of a four-cylinder in-line unit by sitting the whole transmission beneath the crankshaft driven by an intermediate gear solved the space problem and allowed standard production " A " series engine parts to be used from the crankshaft upwards.

Measuring just 18in. from radiator to gearbox, this transverse engine fitted into the normally unused space between the front wheel arches. Engine and suspension were mounted on subframes that could be attached to any desired body shell. All independent suspension, with small 10in. wheels allowed more internal room, comfort and cornering stability. Constant velocity joints drove the front wheels eliminating any unstable handling characteristics which had, up to this time, been associated with low-price front wheel drive vehicles.

The complete design team for the ADO 15 (as the Mini was code-named) comprised only nine people. Work began in March, 1957. By July, wooden mock-ups were built. In October, two prototypes cars were fitted with the “East-to-West “ 950c.c. engine and in the next nine months each one had done 50,000 miles. In July. 1958. Sir Leonard Lord decided to back the ADO 15 financially, but its development and improvement was to continue well after production had begun.

Since prototype stage, the Mini has had five major modifications: sub-frames were devised to mount the rear suspension and transverse engine. The floor pressing was redesigned to improve sealing, baulk-ring synchromesh, introduced in 1962. transformed the earlier troublesome gear-change, with detail changes in the clutch design improving its durability. Most recently came the Moulton Hydrolastic suspension, replacing the rubber cone, all independent units.


19 Models

Today, there are no fewer than 19 Mini models. The first Austin and Morris saloons were soon followed by van, pick-ups and estate car versions; then came the more refined Elf and Hornet bearing the Riley and Wolseley badges, next the sporting Cooper and Cooper S versions which have swept the board in international competition, including two successive. outright victories in the Monte Carlo Rally.

How much of the Mini’s has been improved by competition work ? I put this question to Mr. Issigonis, as we flew home from Monte Carlo. " Racing, while valuable in spectacle and publicity, I am certain, does not improve the breed ", he said. But rallying does, because it so closely allude to road use. It forces development. It tends to exaggerate many mechanical features to underline weaknesses. It is directly through rally experience

that we have strengthened our gearboxes enormously.

Too often. it was the " little things " that went wrong during rallying that upset a designer's thinking. “Aaltonen's Mini went out with a faulty distributor. Hopkirk's broke a tie-rod. Another car broke its sump. No, I do not get deeply involved. My interest has come about really only since the Mini started rallying. Now, it seems natural for that car.

Influence of Rallies

Had the Mini's competition work directly influenced his designs ? I do not know. We used to think that if you had very good engine breathing it gave no low-speed torque. But this kind of rallying shows that you can have both. I would say the influence of rally work is quite subtle....

But, given these conditions of ice and snow, we see the Mini could not be a more suitable engineering package, enabling us to take on the five or seven litre cars, which we cannot do on the race track. Even so, it was not designed as a competition car."

Was rallying worthwhile on the present scale for any manufacturer ? " I have no doubt that the ordinary car buyer benefits through all this ", Mr. Issigonis said. " But at the same time, it is possible to overdevelop a car to make some parts unnecessarily strong and expensive, until it is no longer a cheap, popular little car. Whether it is worthwhile depends purely on the type of cars you are making. For us, it is.,,

The man behind the Mini fell silent for a minute, gazing out through the Caravelle window. " I think we are nearing the end of a phase in motor car development. . . The mind is becoming fogged. The next step must be a very big one - a different sort of engine, cars with no wheels a world which is not my own. I do not see an air-cushion car on the streets....

Once you leave the ground you are at the mercy of the elements and you have a new problem, on your hands. I still like little cars. They fascinate me. . .


05 February 1965

Adult Male Production Pieceworkers Rates
For the period 17th Jan 1964 to 18th Jan 1965


The average piecework rate per minute has increased in the last twelve months by 10% and is now 1.7633d per minute.
Average Wages for 41 hrs is £24. 15s 3d this includes any Nation Bonus (N.B.) plus Good Timekeeping Bonus (G.T.B.)
From the figures below you will see the wide variation that workers could earn depending on where they worked.

Screen shot 2016-01-11 at 15.03.52



01 March 1965


Vanden Plas Princess " R " saloon

When the 112 m.p.h. BMC. Vanden Plas Princess " R " saloon was launched six months ago, international orders fell like an avalanche upon the British Motor Corporation at Longbridge. No one was under any delusion about the secret behind its overnight success-the power unit was by Rolls-Royce, a specially developed six-cylinder, 4-litre aluminium engine, weighing only 4501b., and developing 175 h.p. Within one week of its launching, 12,000 orders had piled up for the Princess " R " representing a whole year's output at the maximum planned production rate.

Today, both Rolls-Royces motor car division here, at Pyms Lane, Crewe, and the Vanden Plas works in London, are working flat out to reduce the enormous waiting list for the BMC - Rolls, in which joint investment has amounted to more than £l,250,000.


Big Expansion

Of this total, Rolls-Royce have spent £800,000 on a completely new assembly shop for the FB.60 engine, this representing the biggest expansion of the works since its establishment here in 1938. For the first time, semi-automation has set foot in the motor car factory, for the Princess " R " engine, although assembled with the meticulous hand-craftsmanship and care that is lavished on any Rolls-Royce Rower unit, is put together on a slowly moving conveyor line, and not a hand-pushed cradle-as is still used for the V8 power units.

The joint exercise with BMC. has unquestionably injected new strength into Rolls-Royce car division, who, just before the project was agreed, had spent some £300,000 on a new paint shop here. Now, on the Princess " R " engine production line, we find a £140,000 link-line machine drilling crankcases in a six-minute operation. Output of the 4-litre units is running at 150 a week. and it is hoped to reach the planned target of 250 a week during the next three months.

Although still in its infancy the technical marriage between Rolls-Royce and BMC is proving fruitful and extremely happy. An exchange of information and advice goes on continuously between the senior design teams and engineers. " BMC. talk our language ". they will tell you here. " We talk theirs, and this business of supplying engines is something we understand. We would admit, also, that we are also learning from them how to make things.-. . . .


Spur To Venture

The FB.60 Princess " R " engine was derived from the Rolls-Royce military " B " range of four, six and eight-cylinder units. When the Goverment defence policy was changed, three years ago, the company had developed a lightweight, aluminium alloy version of the six-cylinder 130 hp. engine, and this was the unit that inspired the idea of a Rolls-Royce engine in a BMC. car.

Another spur to the joint venture was the blow dealt by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1961, when tax relief on company cars was limited to those costing under £2,000. Rolls-Royce sales dropped from a record level of 2,400 a year. But discussions between the heads of the two companies soon revealed a logical. common interest in a new sector of the quality car market - one which could developed too, as motorists grew increasingly selective.


Multi-Fuel Engine

Today Rolls-Royce’s own car production is running at a steady 1,600 vehicles a year, with a total labour force at Crewe of about 4,500. On the engine side of the factory production of the " K " range of multi-fuel, opposed piston engine, is also being expanded. These extremely powerful, compact six-cylinder units, which will run on four different kinds of fuel, from 80 octane petrol to Paraffin, were introduced 14 months ago as a future replacement for the " B " range of Rolls-Royce engines, which at present power all the wheeled vehicles of the British Army and are in use by 21 governments.

The outstanding advantages of the Rolls Royce " K " engine are its small number of moving parts and longer working life. It has no vales, springs rockers, tappetsa, push-rods. camshaft, or cylinder head so servicing can be cut to the minimum.



1966 ?


Sir George Harriman, reporting to shareholders of the British Motor Corporation today, says that in the present troubles facing the home side of the industry the main problem is how to plan for the immediate future. The industry must once again " revert to the fundamental faith" in the growth of demand which has always proved justified. On the export front the prospect is promising. More than a third of total output was exported and B.M.C. provided 44 per cent of British vehicle export to the Continent. For 1966 the group expects to raise its export earnings to £160m., £4m. more than last year. Meanwhile expansion continues against a background of falling output for the industry as a whole. During October the United Kingdom production was down by 21 per cent compared with the same month a year ago.

Smarting under the lashing it has taken from the politicians, unions and press, and what it considers to be unfair comparisons with the position of other car companies, a leaner and hungrier B.M.C. is preparing to take a bigger bite of the car cake.

High on the list of priorities is the equipping of an engine factory costing more than £10m at Cofton Hackett, about half a mile from B.M.C.'s because of local opposition to its intrusion into a rural setting. The 300,000 sq. ft building that is as big as the main assembly workshop at Longbridge, is now ready for its machinery.

At least £8M. is being spent to provide the most automated engine production plant in the world. So advanced are B.M.C's requirements that where machine tool manufacturers are unable to meet them, its own design teams and workshops are undertaking the work.

In spite of the present enforced cutbacks and gloomy predictions that it will be 1968 before B.M.C. is back on its feet the company is pressing ahead with its original plans to start production at the new plant towards the middle of next year.

Its reasons are twofold :- Engine production is still the biggest bottleneck at the height of the sales season. Although it steadfastly refuses to confirm this, an entire new range of engines has now reached an advanced planning stage. The first to appear will undoubtedly be a 1500 cc. engine to power a model to fill the costly gap in B,M.C.'s range between the 1100 and 1800, making it a direct competitor for Ford's best-selling Cortina.

There are many at Longbridge who now accept that a mistake was made in stretching the front-wheel drive conception so far in one jump. The market was not ready for the 1800, on top of which it had more than its share of teething troubles These have now been ironed out and B.M.C. salesmen are confident that when markets pick up it will establish itself as a healthy member of the family.

The delayed appearance in significant numbers of the automatic Minis and I I 00s should also boost sales. The factory acquired at King's Norton has now been fully converted to their exclusive production which required dust-free conditions well in advance of those applying in any other car plant. Initially production will be 500 a week, with capacity for 1,000. Both models are already being exported to France and Italy and the intention is to extend this export coverage as production increases.

One thing is certain, however chastened B.M.C. management may be by its present ordeal (and one senior executive told me candidly; “i hope I never have to go through another three months like the last three”) it is more than ever determined to increase its share of the home market.

The surprising truth is that in August and September it was already making steady progress in this direction. In August its share was 38.5 per cent (34.7 per cent 1965). This is still a long way from the 50 per cent targets set a long way from the 50 per cent target set by Sir George Harriman, chairman, who, however harrowing the present, refuses to lower his long range sights.

“As far as B.M.C. is concerned”, he said, “we are maintaining our investment programmes in anticipation of the future demands of motorist in Britain and world markets in general since our view has always been that the key to business prosperity lies in progressive investment whatever the prevailing economic climate. The basis for this approach is the company's estimate that whatever the short term ups and downs, in the long term total world requirements for cars will be in long term of 10 million a year.

B.M.C.'s target for the financial year ending July 31, 1967, was 1,100,000 units. This was reduced to 809,000 (a 21 per cent cut) and it is based on this production figure that the labour force was trimmed by 12,000. Setting aside for the moment any long-term plans, it therefore becomes clear that if it can achieve this much reduced figure with 12,000 fewer workers, and it hopes to exceed it B.M.C. will still be a lot better off than it was in the last financial year when it produced only 945,617 units because of 93,000 lost through industrial disputes and 23,000 lost in the West Midlands gas shortages last winter.

In the 14 years since the Morris-Austin merger, annual production has see-sawed, but it has maintained a remarkably steady upward progress over the period as a whole towards the target of 1,200,000 by 1968. With the new engine factory scheduled for completion in less than six months it will have more than enough capacity to meet this target. But its immediate problem is not how to make cars but how to sell them.

It claims 60 per cent of the sales outlets in Britain and far from reducing the number of its distributors in favour of a fewer and bigger policy as has been suggested in some quarters, it sticks firmly to a policy of saturation to deny sales outlets to the opposition.

A misunderstanding to have arisen here because B.M.C. has welcomed linkups between distributors. The reasoning behind this is simply that it enables the wider-based distributors to hold bigger stocks throughout the year and the factories to smooth out a little more of the cyclic ups and downs of production.

To speed the integration of its own sales force, the individual brand sales managers have recently been replaced by six regional sales managers all based on the group’s headquarters at Longbridge. This has led to some speculation in the trade that it is the prelude to the disappearance of old established names, but is vigorously denied.

Allegations of serious over-manning as the prime cause of the massive cutback in the labour force have caused some heart searching at Longbridge. But as one company official put it to me: " We had a labour force geared to our immediate target of 1,100,000. It would be a counsel of despair to set such a target and then believe we could never achieve it. Now we have re-trimed our labour form for a new target and the signs are that we shall not want any of the 12,000 back in the foreseeable future, certainly not less than a year. We shall use this time for a great deal of inward looking."

Top of the list must be the simplification of the present complicated and analogous wage structure which is the primary cause of the endless number of strikes, so many of which occur in the vital spring period when production capacity is under pressure. This is what causes B.M.C. to miss so much of the cream from the top end of volume production.

Sir George and his colleagues on the board would dearly like to reorganize the group's whole wage structure but they realize perhaps better than anyone else that this is a path strewn with industrial dynamite. A single step in the wrong direction and the whole thing could blow up in their faces. This is not, however, preventing them from making a number of detailed investigations into new systems of payment largely based on work study and job evaluation.

Much will depend in the next few months on the relationship established at each of the group’s factories between the industrial relations managers appointed a year ago and the shop stewards. B.M.C is pinning a lot of faith on the success of these men, whose brief is quite simply to deal with labour upsets as near the source as possible before either side has time to take up entrenched positions.




15 Jan 1966

BMC. Start Inquiry On Fatigue


The British Motor Corporation began urgent technical investigations yesterday, into the metal fatigue failure in the steering of an Austin 1100 saloon, which was alleged at a Cambridge inquest last Thursday to have been the cause of a fatal accident.

On Sunday BMC. rejected the suggestion that failure of a Birfield constant transmission velocity joint, part of the car's front drive assemble - could have caused the accident.

At the inquest. Professor Leslie Derry, a metallurgical consultant, said he considered the failure had been caused by metal fatigue. As reported in The Times yesterday, BMC, have ordered a special investigation, with the cooperation of Ministry of Transport engineers.

Two of these transmission joints form part of the front drive assembly on all the BMC. transverse-engine cars.


Little Known

At BMC.'s Longbridge headquarters yesterday, Mr. Alec Issigonis technical director of the corporation, and designer of the Mini, 1100, and 1800 range of front-wheel drive cars, began the preliminary investigation. He and Sir George Harriman, chairman of BMC. have called for full details of the inquest.

"This is being treated with the utmost seriousness and urgency". said BMC. yesterday, " as part of our general concern for the safety of the public". Surprisingly little is known about metal fatigue in the engineering world. It is one of those "mysteries" of molecular structure, known to exist in metal but extremely hard to foresee.

Dr. HJH. Starks. head of the vehicles section at the Government's Road Research Laboratory, told me that scientists there had discovered a few cases over the Years. He emphasized that there was no evidence that metal fatigue was a general hazard.

07 April 1965

Commercial Showroom (Elephant House)

Having chalked up a record earning of nearly £330m. in foreign exchange by their exports of commercial vehicles since the war, the British Motor Corporation today opened what they have named a " Showcase for export " at their headquarters here.

A massive, multi-faceted, circular, glass and concrete building, 38ft. high and standing 30ft. above road level, it is crowned by a dome 100ft. in diameter, and is sited near the corporation's multi-storey car park, which has a capacity of 3,300 vehicles. The new hall will provide the first permanent display of the full BMC. range of Austin and Morris vans and lorries. Designed by Harry W. Weedon and Partners, the corporation's architects, it embodies a vast, well-lit floor space, with a capacity of between 30 and 40 vehicles, the whole exhibition area having minimum obstruction by columns.

Since 1945 BMC. have produced well over 1,900,000 Austin and Morris commercial vehicles and during 1964 they accounted for more than 52 per cent of the main British manufacturers' light commercial vehicle production and 22 per cent of truck production. In Western Europe nearly 220.000 BMC. vans, pick-ups and trucks have been sold since 1945, increasing the corporation's share of total commercial vehicle exports to some 30 per cent. Current BMC. commercial vehicle output is running at 3,100 units a week.

In 1961 a new £11,250,000 factory was opened at Bathgate, Scotland, to take over the corporation's heavy commercial vehicle and tractor production. and today the 5,100 workers at this plant produce all BMC.'s heavy vehicles, from 1.5 to 8ton lorries and 12 and 18-ton prime movers. Current Austin and Morris commercial vehicles range between payload capacities of 5cwt. and 13 tons, in engine capacities from 848 c.c. to 5,657 c.c., and prices from £380 to £l,900.

Today's opening ceremony of the new commercial vehicle exhibition hall was performed by Sir Richard Powell, Permanent Secretary, Board of Trade.

12 July 1966

Jaguars to join up with BMC


Under a jointly-agreed £l8.200,000 deal announced last night, the Jaguar group of companies and the British Motor Corporation are to merge. In financial terms, it is a take-over of Sir William Lyons's Coventry company by Sir George Harriman's Longbridge giant, the result of which will be a new group, comprising Jaguar, BMC. and Pressed Steel-Fisher.

Sir George Harriman, BMC.'s chairman. said the merger should be seen as a joining. of forces designed to strengthen the motor industry in general. Jaguar will continue to operate as a separate entity " and with the greatest practical degree of autonomy, " still under the chairmanship of Sir William Lyons, who is 65. Sir George Harriman, aged 58, is to be chairman of the new group, and Sir William a director.

News of the merger did not come as a surprise in the motor industry, where it had been known for some time that negotiations were in the offing. The linkup is another stage of the banding together of the European motor industry against the powerful production units established here by Detroit.

It gives Britain a stronger manufacturing and selling group alongside newly linked Renault-Peugeot companies in France, Volkswagen-Mercedes-Auto-Union in Germany, and Fiat in Italy, competing against Ford International, General Motors (Vauxhall in Britain, Opel in Germany), and the Chrysler-Simca-Rootes group.

BMC., as Great Britain's biggest vehicle manufacturer, hold 42 per cent of the market, represented by an annual production of about 890,000, currently running at 19,500 units a week. Jaguar will give them only an extra 2 per cent of the market, or 30,000 vehicles a year. I but the Jaguar range of cars gives BMC an extension into the high-performance luxury class that they have not been able to cover before.

There is no question, under the terms of the merger of jointly-manufactured cars in the foreseeable future, or any interference with dealerships at home where most Jaguar dealers already handle BMC. cars. But overseas there will be big advantages on the selling side.

Jaguars who are at an advanced stage in the development of a new range of engines and models, are planning a major expansion, while the Daimler and Guy commercial vehicle side of the group (which also includes the Coventry Climax engine company) is reported to be doing well now, with demand far ahead of production.

BMC. are also planning a big expansion, intending to spend £42m. on new plant and equipment over the next four years, as well as £10m. a year on modernizing their existing plant. By 1970 they plan to be turning out more than 1,300,000 vehicles a year, so with the expanded Jaguar business also under, their wing the corporation will have a production capacity approaching 1,500,000. This would put them on nearly equal terms with Volkswagen-Mereedes-Auto-Union in Germany, ahead of Fiat and probably, by then, even with Ford.


Record profit

On the export side, Jaguars shipped $20m. worth of vehicles to the United States last year, and BMC. put their earnings at S55m. to $60ni. a year.

BMC., who produce Morris, Austin, Austin-Healey, Riley, Wolseley, M.G., and the Vanden Plas range of cars, also have a technical cooperation agreement with Rolls-Royce. whose engine powers the 4-litre Vanden Plas Princess R saloon, and this side of their business is also being extended.

Jaguar's net profit for 1965, at £l,663,489 was a record for the company, even though over £5m. in turnover was lost through strikes. highly significant in the “battle for Europe” and the forming of a united frony by the native car makers is the current rate of investment by BMC’s main adversaries - American-owned Ford, who have invested more than £200m since 1962 and show no signs of dropping their pace, and GM’s Vauxhall (14% of the market), who plan to spend £50m on new equipment by 1970.

Rootes, now linked to American Chrysler Corporation, are on the brink for further expansion, while Standard – Triumph is prospering under the powerful Leyland Group, Rover accounting for about 25,000 vehicles a year, merged with Alvis last year, and at one stage it was thought a BMC – Rover merge would be the next move.

BMC. further strengthened their position last year by the successful merger with the Pressed Steel Company, on whom some of the smaller vehicle producers relied for their body requirements.

27 September 1966

BMC to Dismiss over 10,000

Angry protests over the announcement from BMC. today that between 10 and 11 per cent of their total labour force of 109,000 are to be dismissed can be expected throughout the Midlands.

Shop stewards were given details of the redundancies in individual factories today. The notices will go out on October 10 to expire on November 4. Thirty-eight thousand BMC. workers are already on short-time.

No overall details of where the redundancies will take place have yet been released. but a shop steward at the Birmingham works of Morris Commercial Cars said 900 of the 2,600 men there were going.


Shop stewards meet.

Senior BMC. shop stewards and Midlands members of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions will be discussing the latest developments at a joint meeting tomorrow.

The news came at the end of the first day's strike by the car delivery drivers who were picketing the BMC. headquarters of Longbridge. Output at the Longbridge factory will continue tomorrow – it normally produces 10,000 vehicles a week -- but will cease when the day shift ends at 5 p.m. Many workers will be laid off, the company stated.


Dismissals 'callous’

The strike, in protest at the dismissal of 333 drivers by 10 firms of delivery agents, was declared official by the TGWU. today.

The action of the employers in dismissing more than half their labour force had been " provocative and ruthless ".Mr H Urwin, the union's regional secretary. said. The union had proposed that work should be shared.

Mr Urwin added: "I sincerely regret any loss that may be sustained by BMC. and any hardship suffered by their employees, but any trade union worthy of its salt could not fail to support members treated in this callous way.

"I cannot believe that any Government spokesman who may have referred to 'shake-outs ' intended workers to be treated like this."

04 Nov 1966

Factors behind BMCs Tale of Woe
Fall in demand and two strikes


Three factors are responsible for the miserable position in which the British Motor Corporation now finds itself.

These are the economic recession, which has severely cut demand for cars; a strike of car delivery drivers which has for the past six weeks prevented BMC. from distributing its output of cars from the Longbridge plant; and finally the strike of about 190 men at Morris Radiators, Oxford, which has led to this week's suspension of car production.

BMC's tale of woe has unfolded in the following sequence:

July 20. The Prime Minister announced deflationary measures, including hire purchase requirements for car buyers of a down payment of 40 per cent and the completion of payments within two years.

The influence of these measures can be seen in the fact that in September output from the British motor industry was 13 per cent lower than in August, after making allowance for seasonal factors.

BMC. who had been aiming for an output of a million vehicles a year, have in the past two or three months reduced their production rate first of all to 809,000 units a year, and this month to a rate of 750,000 units a year.

September 25. Some 650 car delivery drivers employed by the Longbridge group of delivery agents began a strike against the intended redundancy of 333 of their number. The strike has been declared official by the Transport and General Workers Union, and has led to the huge stockpiling in the Birmingham area of vehicles which could not be distribute. The strike continues.

September 26. BMC. announced that 12,000 workers were to be made redundant from today. It is thought that about 3,000 of these have already left, in advance of the expiration of their notices. BMC have said that these redundancies were the result of the decision to reduce the production rate from a million to 809,000 units.

October 14. BMC. announced that in addition to the redundancies about 40,000 car workers would have to go on to a shorter working week, even though when the redundancies were announced BMC. had said they hoped these would enable the corporation to maintain a normal working week for its remaining 97,000 employees. About 34,000 workers were already on short time on October 14, but this had generally been attributed to the effects of the strike of delivery drivers. The fact that this was to be extended to a further 6.000 workers, and to continue indefinitely, made it clear that to some extent the delivery drivers had been carrying the responsibility for short-time working, which would have been inevitable even without their strike.


October 2l Unofficial strike began at Morris Radiators, Oxford, in protest against plans to make 69 men redundant. This number has now been reduced to 24, mainly by early retirements, Mr. H Urwin, Midlands Regional secretary of the TGWU. has argued that it ought to be possible for the company to avoid redundancy where such a small number of workers is involved.

This strike has affected the supply of petrol tanks and certain other components to all BMC's plants, and this has caused BMC. to bring its car production to a halt.

22 November 1966

BMC Presses On With It's £10m Engine Plant

Sir George Harriman, reporting to shareholders of the British Motor Corporation today says that in the present troubles facing the home side of the industry the main problem is how to plan for the immediate future. The industry must once again " revert to the fundamental faith " in the growth of demand which has always proved justified.On the export front the prospect is promising. More than a third of total output was exported and BMC. provided44 per cent of British vehicle export to the Continent. For 1966 the group expects to raise its export earnings to£160m., £4m. more than last year. Meanwhile expansion continues against a background of falling output for the industry as a whole. During October the United Kingdom production was down by 21 per cent compared with the same month a year ago.

Smarting under the lashing it has taken from the politicians, unions and press and what it considers to be unfair comparisons with the position of other car companies--a leaner and hungrier BMC. is preparing to take a bigger bite of the car cake.

High on the list of priorities is the equipping of an engine factory more than £10m. at Cofton Hackett, about half a mile from BMC's huge Longbridge works. Little has been heard of this project since planning permission was granted two years ago. A state of affairs which suits BMC. because of the local opposition to its intrusion into rural setting. The 300,000 sq. ft. building, that is as big as the main car assembly workshop at Longbridge now ready for its machinery.

At least £8m. is being spent to provide the most automated engine production plant in the world. So advanced are BMC's requirements that where machine-tool manufacturers are unable to meet them, its own design teams and workshops are undertaking the work.

In spite of the present enforced cutbacks and gloomy predictions that it will be 1968 before BMC. is back on its feet, the company is pressing ahead with its original plans to start production at the new plant towards the middle of next year.


Its reasons are twofold:-

Engine production is still the biggest bottle-neck at the height of the sales season; Although it steadfastly refuses to confirm this, an entire new range of engines has now reached an advanced planning stage. The first to appear will undoubtedly be a 1500 cc engine to power a model to fill the costly gap in BMC’s range between the 1100 and 1900, making it a direct competitor for Ford's best-selling Cortina.

There are many at Longbridge who now accept that a mistake was made in stretching the front-wheel drive conception so far in one jump. The market was not ready for the 1800, on top of which it had more than its share of teething troubles. These have now been ironed out and BMC. salesmen are confident that when markets pick up it will establish itself as a healthy member of the family.

The delayed appearance in significant numbers of the automatic Minis and 1100s should also boost sales. The factory acquired at Kings Norton has now been fully converted to their exclusive production which required dust-free conditions well in advance of those applying, in another car plant. Initially production will be 500 a week, with capacity for 1,000. Both models are already being exported to France and Italy and the intention is to extend this export coverage as production increases.

One thing is certain however chastened BMC. management may be by its present ordeal (and one senior executive told me candidly: - “I hope I never have to go through another three months like the last three”) it is more than ever determined to increase its share of the home market.

The surprising truth is that in August and September it was already making steady progress in this direction. In August its share was 38.5 per cent (34.7 per cent in 1965) and in September 39 per cent (35.7 Per cent in 1965). This is sill a long way from the 50 per cent target set by Sir George Harriman, chairman, who, however harrowing the present, refuses to lower his long-range sights.

“As far as BMC. is concerned ", he said, we are maintaining our investment programmes in anticipation of the future demands of motorists in Britain and world markets in general since our view has always been that the key to business prosperity lies in progressive investment whatever the prevailing economic climate”

BMC's target for the financial year ending July 31, 19670 was 1,100,000 units. This was reduced to 809,000 (a 21 per cent cut) and it is based on this production figure that the labour force was trimmed by 12,000. Setting aside for the moment any long-term, plans, it therefore becomes clear that if it can achieve this much reduced figure with 12,000 fewer workers-and it hopes to exceed it. BMC. will still be a lot better off than it was in the last financial year when it produced only 845,617 units because of 93,000 lost through industrial disputes and 23,000 lost in the West Midlands gas shortages last winter.

In the 14 years since the Morris-Austin merger, annual production has see-sawed, but it has maintained a remarkably steady upward progress over the period as a whole towards the target of 1,200,000 by 1968. With the new engine factory scheduled for completion in less than six months it will have more than enough capacity to meet this target. But its immediate problem is not how to make cars but how to sell them.

It claims 60 per cent of the sales outlets in Britain and far from reducing the number of its distributors in favour of a fewer and bigger policy as has been suggested in some quarters, it sticks firmly to a policy of saturation to deny sales outlets to the opposition.

A misunderstanding seems to have arisen here because BMC. has welcomed linkups between distributors. The reasoning behind this is simply that it enables the wider-based distributors to hold bigger stocks throughout the year and the factories to smooth out a little more of the cyclic ups and downs of production.

To speed the integration of its own sales force, the individual brand sales managers have recently been replaced by six regional sales managers all based on the group’s headquarters at Longbridge. This has led to some speculation in the trade that it is the prelude to tie disappearance of old established names, but this is denied.

Allegations of serious over-manning as the prime cause of the massive outback in the force have caused some heart-searching at Longbridge. But as one company official put it to me: " We had a labour force geared to our immediate target of 1,100,000. It would be a counsel of despair to set such a target and then believe we could never achieve it. Now we have re-trimmed our labour force for a new target and the signs are that we shall not want any of 12,000 back in the foreseeable future, certainly not less than a year. We shall use this time for a great deal of inward looking. "

Top of the list must be the simplification of the present complicated and analogous wage structure which is the primary cause of the endless number of strikes, so many of which occur in the vital spring period when production capacity is under pressure. This is what causes BMC. to miss so much of the cream from the top end of volume production.

Sir George and his colleagues on the board would dearly like to reorganise the group’s whole wage structure but they realize perhaps better than anyone else that this is a path strewn with industrial dynamite. A single step in the wrong direction and the whole thing could blow up in their faces. This is not, however, preventing them from making a number of detailed investigations into new systems of payment largely based on work study and job evaluation.

Much will depend in the next few months on the relationship established at each of the groups factories between the industrial relations managers appointed a year ago and the shop stewards. BMC. is pinning a lot of faith on the success of these men, whose brief is quite simply to deal with labour upsets as near the source as possible before either side has time to take up entrenched positions.


07 March 1967

Production at BMC is rising sharply as more and more orders flow in. This month’s weekly target is 17,200, an increase of 1,700 since January, when sales were 30 per cent higher than in the same month last year.

To maintain output at this new level BMC. is recruiting 3,000 men (only four months ago 12,000 were laid off). In case the proposed recruitment causes rumblings of discontent among the unions, and to ensure that the corporation's plan are not upset, new appointments in labour relations are expected to be announced shortly.

This month's weekly production total of 17,200 is 700 above the average needed to achieve the corporation's target of 809,000 for the financial year ending July 31. Only one serious stoppage before then would make this target impossible. And to smooth over any likely rough patches personnel and industrial relations services are being strengthened throughout the group.

I understand that Mr. P. E. Mitchell, who was in charge of industrial relations at the Austin plant, becomes BMC. Personnel and Industrial Relations Manager, and that Mr. A G F. Ditcham, Overseas Personnel Manager at Joseph Lucas, has been appointed Coordinator of BMC. Central Personnel services. Another new step is the appointment of Area Industrial Relations Managers for groups of factories.

Mr. B L Mackie, the group's director of Personnel and Industrial Relations, says: " The new appointments can be accepted as a measure of the importance we attach to handling our industrial relations in the most efficient, prompt, and fair manner."

Already the unions are stirring over the 3,000 new recruits, but BMC. is quick to point out that they are replacements for men who left voluntarily after the October redundancies to seek a more secure job elsewhere. No attempt will now be made to attract back either of these two categories but, as a BMC. spokesman diplomatically put it. " If they apply to us we shall not turn them away. After all they are experienced car workers ".

A significant pointer of the returning confidence is that during the past few weeks jobs seekers have once again appeared at the corporation's factory gates . But at present, in spite of the need for increased production, there is no intention of recruiting more than the 3,000 needed to restore the balance upset by their departure.

" When we cut our target to 809,000 we only reduced the work force sufficient to achieve this target. At present we have every intention of increasing weekly production targets still further than the present 17,200 but we shall be able to do this with overtime working and other flexible measures ". I was told. (The annual target is 20 per cent less than the pre-squeeze figure.)

Production Targets


These are weekly production targets set by British Motor Corporation since August 1966:-


1966
August 22,600
September. 20,200
October 16,000
November 14,000
December 12,200
1967
January 15.500
February 16,300
March 17,200


Between September and December none of these production targets was achieved because of a series of strikes.

There is every hope that BMC. is back on the road, especially after the post Christmas shock when new registrations in December showed that BMC's 40 per cent share of the home market had fallen disastrously to around the 27 per cent mark.

There is little doubt that this was due to BMC's inability to meet distributors' demands and to the impact of its rivals' new models such as the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Viva.

There was much jubilation at Longbridge when the January registrations showed this to have been a temporary phase with BMC. taking 35.9 per cent of the market.

28 June 1967


Top BMC Job For American


The long search by BMC. to find a top executive to overlord its entire European manufacturing and sales network has ended with the appointment of 46 year old Filmer (Phil) Paradise, the extrovert cigar-smoking American who headed Ford’s operation in Italy until a few months ago.

He becomes managing director BMC. International Services, BMC. Europe and BMC. Switzerland and he will be based at the corporation’s European head quarters at Lausanne. He was president and managing director of Ford Italiana for eight years and during this time directed the organization and expansion of the company from 1,000 cars year to a peak of 45,000.

His standing is exceptionally high in Italian Government circles following the strong line he took with Detroit when urging them to break with long established tradition and use an outside company to manufacture a Ford car. The result was the Italian-bodied Ford Anglia Torino produced by OSI., the body building firm owned by the Olivetti family. Last year he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for services to the economy and labour of the country.

Italy is already BMC's biggest European market. Over 175,000 vehicles have been produced there since 1960 under a progressive manufacturing agreement with Innocenti of Milan.

Mr Paradise’s capture is quite a feather in the cap for Lester Suffield, BMC’s deputy managing director in charge of sales. He first heard of Mr Paradise.s discontent with Ford’s European reorganization some months ago by the very alert grapevine in the industry and found to his surprise that Mr Paradise had already resigned from Ford to take up another European appointment.

Mr Suffield immediately began his own well-guarded courtship and proved to be the more acceptable suitor. Colleagues at Longbridge, where Mr Paradise is already picking up the threads, say it is apparent that the two men made quite a hit with each other.


04 September 1967

Automotive Products (Automatic Transmission)

It is no secret that Automotive Products. the big Leamington based car components group, has been bitterly disappointed by the results to date of its two-year-old deal with British Motor Holdings to fit its revolutionary automatic transmission system to Minis and 1100s. Now comes news of a move by AP which could herald the completion of a similar deal with one of BMH's European competitors.

A new post of general manager of the automatic transmission division. with a seat on the main board and responsibility for the new systems entire development and production has been created. An indication of the importance AP attaches to this Post is its choice of Mr. C. B. Grandfield to fill it.

Mr. Grandfield is at present director and general manager of the group's pace-setting Borg and Beck, one of the best known names in the industry. That he should be switched over to a still comparatively minor operation can only mean hat AP is preparing for bigger things to come. But beyond making the bare facts of the appointment known, AP is playing its cards close to its chest. A company spokesman yesterday confirmed that several foreign car manufacturers are at present carrying, out exhaustive tests of our system ", but he ref-used to name any of them.

Production of the hydraulic components that comprise the heart of the new system, BMH itself manufactures the remainder and does the final assembly at its new King's Norton plant, has been stepped up in the past month but is still only running at 1,000 units a week. This is only half the capacity that AP pulled out all the stops to build up when the introduction of the automatic Minis and 1100s brought rave receptions from press and public alike in October, 1965.

Initially production problems at Kings Norton, mainly centred on the need for a level of dust control far higher than any car firm has encountered previously, proved to be a major setback. Longbridge was inundated with complaints from dealers with orders and no cars. When the cars at last began to flow, this coincided almost exactly with the start of the Present recession in car sale on the home market.



24 Oct 1967

Electric Town Cars

The British Motor Corporation, Britain's biggest car-making group, are developing a new type of electric town cars, using an Anglo-American designed metal-air battery. The car, BMC. says, will be capable of covering 500 miles on one " charge " of its battery, which is only half as big again as that used in a conventional petrol-engined car.

News of the development came, yesterday after Crompton Parkinson, a Hawker Siddeley Group company, announced an agreement with Leesona Corporation of Rhode Island, United States, to acquire existing and future patent rights in the new-air batteries developed by Leesona.

The battery is one of the advanced types of electricity-generating units which have been under development in the United States and Britain. Eventually zinc-air batteries with up to 12 times the capacity of conventional lead-acid accumulators will be made at Crompton Parkinson's recently enlarged plant at Newport Monmouthshire.


Commuter car talks

The normal lead-acid battery, as used in most electric-powered cars under present development, is bulky and allows a range of only 30-50 miles a day. But the Leesona battery, with between 200 and 300 ampere-hours’ capacity (four or five times that of a battery used in a Rolls-Royce), would perhaps be only one and a half times the size of a 12-volt BMC. Mini saloon battery.

Preliminary talks on a commuter car using the zinc-air battery are already under way at BMC.'s longbridge headquarters in Birmingham, between directors of Crompton Parkinson and Mr. Alec Issigonis, technical director of BMC., who said earlier this year that the corporation were working on designs for such a car.


Defence applications

Crompton Parkinson already produce about half of the electric delivery vehicles on the roads of Britain at a Leicester factory. As part of the deal they get manufacturing rights now in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland. South Africa and all Commonwealth countries, except Canada, Hongkong, and Malaysia. World-wide selling rights, apart from certain areas in south east Asia, are included.

Leesona are already making zinc-air batteries in the United States, mainly for defence applications. Soon they will be making primary, throwaway batteries for use in radios, flash-lamps, toys and other products which now use ordinary carbon-zinc dry cells.

With lead-acid batteries weighing 5901b., a 2,0001b. electric-car, has a range of 25 miles at 40 mph., and can run in city traffic for only about one hour. A zinc-air battery, giving a 28 per cent saving in weight, increases the 40 mph range to at least 280 miles and traffic driving duration to 10 hours. Used in a purpose built car, such as BMC. have in mind, this range could certainly be doubled.

Crompton Parkinson have extensive interests in general battery manufacture, and the traction field in particular. In partnership with British Motor Holdings (which includes BMC and Jaguar), through Austin, Crompton Parkinson Electric Vehicles Ltd., and Stacatruc Ltd., they manufacture and market both electric road vehicles and industrial trucks.


Into new fields

Mr. C J W Sott, Crompton Parkinson's managing director, yesterday said BMH. was not a party to the agreement, but had been kept informed and were showing a "very lively interest ". Later, BMC. disclosed their plans for using the new battery.

Mr. Scott pointed out that the deal with Leasona would allow Crompton Parkinson to move into a new field the primary throwaway battery market-in favourable conditions with a great potential for electric cars and commercial vehicles.


October 1967

Austin Challenges rates Valuation

The Austin Motor Company yesterday challenged before the Lands Tribunal a valuation of £750,000 rateable value for their Longbridge works Birmingham.

Mr David Widdicombe, QC for Austin’s told the tribunal that the works covered an area of about 239 acres and contented that the rateable value was therefore £500.000.

11 September 1967

What Paradise is doing for BMC in Europe


In the two short months since his appointment as " Mr. BMC. Europe " former Ford executive 48-year-old Filmer Paradise has taken the group's whole European operation firmly by the scruff of the neck and shaken it so vigorously that in the words of one of his new colleagues " When the pain subsides you realize that the sheer irreverence of this man for the establishment is the best thing that has happened in BMC. for a very long time."

His first action on arrival at the Lausanne headquarters of BMC. Europe set the scene for what was to follow. Senior members of the small team were assembled expecting the standard pep talk attendant on a now boss's appointment.

Instead they were greeted with this outburst: " I plan to double our European sales in the next five years so if any of you guys want out, now is the time to tell me. There’s a quiet job waiting for you back at the home base. If you decide to stay there is still no guarantee that you will make the grade. We are going to push more iron in this market-place than" you ever dreamt was possible. We are already late in mounting an operation of the magnitude warranted by the capacity of Britain's biggest automotive out fit and we've got to move like hell to make up for lost time. OK that's it. I shall be in my office if anybody wants out."

Nobody did. But there are some who now admit they thought they had made a mistake during the next busy days. Today they joke about these early misgivings. They are now clearly caught up in the back wash of infectious enthusiasm and wholesale slaughtering of sacred cows that follows this fast-taking mid-Westerner's every move.

And move he does. At least one nervous Continental competitor has instructed his field reps to report as soon as Paradise surfaces in their territory. Paradise himself scorns secrecy and the fact that the opposition is trying to keep tabs on him makes him even bolder: "Gee, there's nothing I like better than competition–locking horns with a worthy opponent selling cars is like fighting a battle and right now this is the hottest battlefield in the car industry. That includes America. Those guys back home don’t know they're born.

I'm the guy BMC. picked to do the job. I don’t know how they operated before and I don’t want to. In fact the less I know the better. In that way whom I step out of line – and boy have I stepped out of line already – I can always make with the surprise and say, No! Really ? “

He is already prepared for a head-on collision with Longbridge’s establishment over its stubborn retention of a proliferation of brand names. But even he sees the danger signals flying on this one and carefully restricts his criticism to export fields.

He talked frankly about his plans to increase the present pay roll of BMC Europe from 39 to 100 within the next four months. " We are late. We have no time to start from the bottom and train. We are stealing skilled automotive sales people wherever we can find them" He is doing it with advertisements like the following, which appeared in Swedish newspapers recently." Are you a better man than your boss ?” Are you blocked for promotion ? " That brought a flood of applications which he is still sifting.

One of his first actions after appointment was to put an end to the existing arrangements under which field representatives in Europe covered their territories from the United Kingdom. Field offices are already planned for France, the Benelux countries, Denmark, and Germany. Wherever possible they will be staffed with the nationals of those countries.

All of this will cost BMC. a deal of money. Will the results warrant such an outlay at a time when BMC. is labouring under a £7,500,000 loss in the first six months of the current financial year ? " Spare parts, that’s the key. I shall cover the entire cost of the European operation by the increase in parts Wes. This is the most profitable bit of automobile exporting. Sales of new cars are so competitive in the export field that there’s very little profit in it, unless you're somebody like Fiat whose export efforts are backed by a home market in which they hold 80 per cent. But if we follow up our sales with a well-organized parts and accessories business we are in the gravy."

Beneath the brash and what, to English eyes at least, seems to be a typically glib, smooth-talking, cigar chomping American approach, Paradise is a realist. He knows that in the end he will stand or fall on the sales he achieves. His only concern is that the decision-makers will go along with him for long enough for him to make the changes necessary to produce results.

The long-heralded new 1500 family saloon will not be around before the autumn of next year. He is convinced that this is the car to spearhead the European assault. In the meantime he is determined to show that much can be done with the present machinery if it is freely adapted to European tastes and hints that changes to be announced at the Motor Show will go a long way towards helping him.

Paradise himself may not appreciate this, but much more than a successful European campaign hangs in the balance. Since its shattering losses last winter BMC. management has shown itself more receptive to change-indeed there are many at Longbridge and Cowley who wre convinced that such a salutary lesson was needed to push the sometimes still reluctant partners of the 14 year old merger into on enormous but infinitely more accommodating bid.

24 October 1967

The British Motor Corporation, Britain's biggest car-making group, are developing a new type of electric town car, using an Anglo-American designed metal-air battery. The car, BMC. says, will be capable of covering 500 miles on one " charge " of its battery, which is only half as big again as that used in a conventional petrol-engined car.

News of the development came, yesterday after Crompton Parkinson, a Hawker Siddeley Group company, announced an agreement with Leesona Corporation of Rhode Island, United States, to acquire existing and future patent rights in the new-air batteries developed by Leesona.

The battery is one of the advanced types of electricity-generating units which have been under development in the United States and Britain. Eventually zinc-air batteries with up to 12 times the capacity of conventional lead-acid accumulators will be made at Crompton Parkinson's recently enlarged plant at Newport Monmouthshire.


Commuter car talks

The normal lead-acid battery, as used in most electric-powered cars under present development, is bulky and allows a range of only 30-50 miles a day. But the Leesona battery, with between 200 and 300 ampere-hours’ capacity (four or five times that of a battery used in a Rolls-Royce), would perhaps be only one and a half times the size of a 12-volt BMC. Mini saloon battery.

Preliminary talks on a commuter car using the zinc-air battery are already under way at BMC.'s longbridge headquarters in Birmingham, between directors of Crompton Parkinson and Mr. Alec Issigonis, technical director of BMC., who said earlier this year that the corporation were working on designs for such a car.

Defence applications

Crompton Parkinson already produce about half of the electric delivery vehicles on the roads of Britain at a Leicester factory. As part of the deal they get manufacturing rights now in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland. South Africa and all Commonwealth countries, except Canada, Hongkong, and Malaysia. World-wide selling rights, apart from certain areas in south east Asia, are included.

Leesona are already making zinc-air batteries in the United States, mainly for defence applications. Soon they will be making primary, throwaway batteries for use in radios, flash-lamps, toys and other products which now use ordinary carbon-zinc dry cells.

With lead-acid batteries weighing 5901b., a 2,0001b. electric-car, has a range of 25 miles at 40 mph., and can run in city traffic for only about one hour. A zinc-air battery, giving a 28 per cent saving in weight, increases the 40 mph range to at least 280 miles and traffic driving duration to 10 hours. Used in a purpose built car, such as BMC. have in mind, this range could certainly be doubled.

Crompton Parkinson have extensive interests in general battery manufacture, and the traction field in particular. In partnership with British Motor Holdings (which includes BMC and Jaguar), through Austin, Crompton Parkinson Electric Vehicles Ltd., and Stacatruc Ltd., they manufacture and market both electric road vehicles and industrial trucks.

Into new field

Mr. C J W Sott, Crompton Parkinson's managing director, yesterday said BMH. was not a party to the agreement, but had been kept informed and were showing a "very lively interest ". Later, BMC. disclosed their plans for using the new battery.

Mr. Scott pointed out that the deal with Leasona would allow Crompton Parkinson to move into a new field the primary throwaway battery market-in favourable conditions with a great potential for electric cars and commercial vehicles.

21 February 1968

Mr Issigonis looks to the future


Whatever the outcome of the BMH.-Leyland merger in model rationalization, intensified marketing or expansion-and any joint project will not appear for at least 3.5 years there will be no retreat within BMH. from the Issigonis advanced engineering concepts.

Front wheel drive family saloons and sports cars, lighter, more powerful multi-cylinder engines," gearboxes designed for motorway driving, compact, space-saving bodies with an increasing accent on aesthetic lines, these will be the trends in BMC. marques.

From last years appointment of Mr. Roy Haynes, Ford of Britain's chief stylist, as BMC.'s director of styling, will emerge revitalized body shapes, married to models of advanced technical design. But the basic emphasis will be on higher performance and primary safety.

To make an authoritative assessment of the engineering approach inside BMH., I talked to Mr. Alec Issigonis, their technical director and father" of the Mini. He remains uncompromisingly in favour of front-wheel-drive small and medium-sized cars, against the conventional front-engine, rear drive. rigid back axle layout.

As we forged in his Austin 1800 through deep snow and ice around Longbridge, while "conventional" cars slithered by the wayside, his argument was reinforced. " If we had months of this weather every year, it would kill the old design approach", he said. " Combine front-wheel-drive with a good automatic and the resultant traction and stability become sensational. . . I am more than ever convinced that this is the future road."

He underlined the vital importance of weight distribution, in a conventional car about 55 per cent on the front wheels and 45 per cent on the back, compared with the 70/30 in a front-drive car. But he empted from the argument cars with a refined independent rear suspension, which makes a good compromise. and rear-engined models, which have exceptional traction. Its just possible, in the long run, that there might be some technically acceptable solution there", he added. He thought the cost difference between front- and rear-drive had been greatly over-dramatized.

Looking around Europe, we find the recruits to front-wheel-drive family cars steadily increasing, now including every major French manufacturer and soon to be seen on a bigger scale in Italy. But it is still out of favour for the larger cars.

I detected little enthusiasm at Longbridge for revolutionary types of engine. "The piston, engine is still in its infancy". Mr. Issigonis maintains. “Economics will prolong the 4-cylinder unit but I foresee a change around the corner to more than four cylinders, even for cars of under 1.5 litres. Today, the average power for a family car engines about 50 bhp. a litre. I see this being raised to around 65 within five years.”

Simultaneously, engines will be come still more compact and lighter, through greater use of aluminium (this can save up to 1201b. on a small four-cylinder unit) and plastics for less-stressed parts. Power will be increased by improved combustion chambers, coupled with completely new thinking on induction and carburation. Experimental work now being done on exhaust emission controls to meet the Uuited States regulations is already raising engine efficiency.

Fuel injection Mr. Issigonis said: " I do not see much future for it on bread-and-butter engines, though it will have applications on out-and-out sports cars. The extra cost £50 to £6O, still rules against it. But the real development will come through anti-smog design.

“Because of time, our work on this so far has had to be done in a crowded, makeshift way. using a system of burning the hydrocarbons in the exhaust as they escape from the engine. This is not only costly, but does nothing to improve engine efficiency. The next stage is to improve the induction system so that these hydrocarbons get burnt within the engine.".

BMC. engineers are now working on a new approach to clean exhaust, likely to be applied to all cars within the next five years. The price difference will be negligible.

On electric car development. two lines are being followed: a battery powered car and separate power units for each wheel, this system being closer to a breakthrough than the zinc-air battery. "I still see the first electric commuter car with a lightweight. zinc-air battery", Mr. Issigonis declared. “We have made a car and it is very good, but we cannot do much with it until we get this battery.

“The future city runabouts, will no doubt start along these lines, but once you get a range of 200 or 300 miles with a unit that can be immediately replaced, the customer wants four seats and as soon as you make it a four-seater because of economic and social requirements. it is no longer the ideal city car. . . . “

In their automatic Minis, 1100s and 1300s, BMC. have unquestionably achieved a significant advance in abolishing the clutch for everyday motoring, but the extra £92 in cost for the Automotive Products system is still a deterrent for most buyers. Here, the engineering view is that until the public accept the advantages of an automatic transmission which allows full control of each gear. and it is more widely used. a break-through on price cannot be made. At the same time, an attack must be levelled on the design side.

Ironically, the cost of a small car automatic transmission system is higher than that for a bigger car because, ideally it needs four gears. To gain really widespread acceptance, the extra cost about 16% needs to be halved.

"It is infuriating", Mr. lssigonis says, that people are so reluctant to accept the higher cost for a car that combines all the advantages of compactness with an automatic box - so dramatic and so near, yet so far from the ideal."

Looking at future developments in the Longbridge pipelines I see no likelihood of BMC. moving out of the small and medium car markets. Design, production and future engine projects are all being directed principally towards models of under 2litres and particularly between one and 1.5 litres. The life of the Mini would appear to stretch indefinitely ahead, while the 110011300 and 1800 saloons are still in their comparatively early stages of development.

Although these are also early days in the BMH.-Leyland group (which should receive a less unwieldy title than British Leyland Motor Corporation before long), and future joint projects is the sports car market, where up to now both BMC. and Triumph have been competing with models similar in appeal.

“Europe will always remain a limited market for bog cars” Mr Issigonis observed. “I still see it as the biggest market for cars of 1.5 to 2.5 litres, while the Mini has yet to explode on the Continent. In all the underdeveloped countries the small and medium-sized car is the one that will be most acceptable, because of economic problems in say, up to 1.5 litres.

“The same applies in eastern Europe, where we shall sell bigger engines maybe, but not bigger cars there. I think the time when the American buying public become sensible and accept small cars is very far away. . . “

28 February 1968

BMC Board Switch


A high-level reshuffle of BMC. directors' areas of responsibility was announced yesterday as part of a streamlining process before completion of the BMH.-Leyland merger.

The moves centre on the decision by Alec Issigonis, BMC.’s technical director, to devote himself full-time to more creative and forward looking concepts of research and development.

More of an engineer than a professional administrator, Mr. Issigonis has asked to be relieved of executive responsibilities for the operational and administrative aspects of the corporations engineering functions. He will continue as technical director. answering to Mr. J R Edwards, managing director, and will advise the board on long term vehicle research projects.

Mr. Issigonis previous executive responsibilities are to be divided among three other BMC. directors. In the new appointment director of engineering, Mr. Charles Griffin becomes the executive responsible to the managing director for all aspects of the corporations product engineering, work concerned with vehicle mechanical units such as engines, transmission and suspensions.

As deputy director of engineering, Stanley Dews will be responsible to Mr Griffin, supporting him in directing the various aspects of product engineering, with special responsibility for administration of the department and its day-to-day operations.

Responsibility for body styling, structure, trim and finish will remain with Harry Barber, assistant managing director of Pressed Steel Fisher, who is directly responsible for these specialized functions to Mr. Edwards.

Mr. Griffin, who is 49. previously held the post of director and chief engineer, BMC., under Mr. Issigonis. He has been with member companies of BMC. for 27 years, having served as experimental engineer, Wolseley Motors, and chief experimental engineer at the Nuffield Organization. He became chief engineer (passanger cars), BMC., in 1961, and chief engineer for all BMC. vehicles in May 1966.

Mr. Dews was previously director of commercial vehicle design, and will embody this function within his new post as deputy to Mr. Griffin. He joined BMC. last November from Ford Motor, where he was director of commercial vehicle design. Before joining Ford, he was a design draughtsman at the Austin Motor Co., at Longbridge.

Mr. Issigonis, 62, creator of BMC's front-wheel-drive Minis, 1100s. 1800s and Morris Minor, joined Morris Motor in 1936 as a suspension engineer and was appointed chief engineer in 1948, becoming technical director of BMC. in 1961. The moves are not a consequence of the BMH.-Leyland merger, but were undertaken at the direct request of Mr. Issigonis, who wanted to concentrate on the far-reaching engineer projects he has in the BMC. pipelines.

With its steady expansion, even before the latest merger, the organization was making increasing administrative demands on his time. He is essentially a creator. l’m really the last of the Bugatts ", he told me recently - and resents being tethered to detailed administration.

Mr. Barber, on the other hand, is a highly skilled administrator in the planning of a product and bringing it forward through the design stages to full production. His responsibilities in BMC, will now follow the pattern of a similar relationship he could have with any member company of the group, including the Leyland side and any outside customers.

His team at Pressed Steel Fisher, will meet regularly and work closely with the BMC. design team, and it could cooperate equally will with those of Rover, Triumph, or any other group.

Playing a central role in the new line-up will be Mr. Joe Edwards, who reports direct to BMC.'s chairman, Sir George Harriman (also chairman of the new British Leyland Motor Corporation). The results of the moves should be particularly fruitful in new model policies, enabling BMC. to operate a more stream-lined machine for getting projects to the production stage and launching future model ranges.

27 September 1968

Moke Production moves to Australia


The Mini Moke, beloved vehicle of King’s Chelsea has gone out of production in Britain, a BLMC. representative said yesterday at Longbridge Birmingham.

The draughty, sideless, convertibly topless little car was despised by some and worshipped by others as the only contemporary thing on four wheels with a soul. At last few are being put together to meet outstanding orders.

BLMC. are shipping equipment to Australia, to resume production of the Moke at their factory which already produces the standard Mini there. The move does not represent gigantic upheaval of manufacturing plant, since the Moke with very simple bodywork.

What it does mean is that the cheap little “fun” car of two months ago will be off the market for a while. BLMC. say they will sell the Australian Moke in Britain, but are not prepared to forecast cost. The price of shipping a single car from Australia is rough £70.

The move is being made in an effort to step up production of the Moke for the world market, and particularly for Australia, where the climate is more in its favour
than here.

British response to the Moke must have been disappointing to its makers. although they say that they never intended it is a "high volume type of vehicle ". Original reception was promising with glossy magazines photographing it all over the place as a background to fashion and the perfect, zany transport for "getting away, from it all”. But since it was launched in 1964 they have built only between 14,000 and 15,000 - a very small proportion of a total of 1,750,000 Minis of all types.

But there are some for whom Moke vehicles have become a way of life, especially since the Battersea firm of Runamoke last year took to organizing parties of Mokes, driven by their owners, to carry television people and their equipment around at golf tournaments.


15 March 1969

Mr Filmer Paradise Appointed Director of Sales.


The huge sales organization of British Leyland's key Austin Morris division-the old B.M.C. is just emerging from its most traumatic shake-up since the original Austin-Nuffield merger in 1952.

In less than four months every single department head has been replaced by a younger man in some cases promoted over the head of his old boss, and in only two instances imported from outside.

Yet so skilfully and tactfully has this sensitive operation been carried out that not one resignation has been reported. The man responsible is Filmer M. Paradise, the American who was formerly Ford's top man in Italy, and who joined B.M.C. in June 1967, to rejuvenate its European sales force. Now he is director of sales at Longbridge.

"Unlike my approach in Europe", says Mr. Paradise in his rounded mid-West accent, " I really felt that my reputation preceded me here at Longbridge. I think people were expecting a revolution. They were certainly uneasy. It was a situation which would not have been served properly by barnstorming in and throwing my weight about. Everybody was expecting a lot of firings. Morale was low and I had to nurse it carefully."

So instead of getting rid of people Mr. Paradise began a massive series of interviews with existing personnel. "I was looking for the kind of people ready and able to do things that had never been done before. The pleasant thing is that I found so many.

From it emerged an eight-man team with an average age of only 38 compared with its predecessors’ average of well over 50. Mr. Paradise himself is the oldest, at 50. Then comes 48-year-old Bernard Bates, director of home sales. Export sales director Michael Trodd is 44, Vehicle sales manager Michael Heelas is 40, programming and distribution manager Henry Jelinek is 36, organization and administration manager Douglas Pittaway is 34, financial controller Tony Aston is 30 and the youngest in the team, John Gorton, Mr.. Paradise's personal assistant. is 27.

With the exception of two they are all former B.M.C men. Mr. Jelinek and Mr. Aston came from Ford, Says Mr. Paradise: "We are most reluctant to keep concentrating on any one company (both British Leyland and Rootes have raided Ford extensively in the past 18 months), There are times when we wish that the other automotive companies in the United Kingdom were more capable so that we could find some of our key people there. That there is pirating in the automobile industry is a very natural thing.

"Ford trains droves of young people who cannot advance. But the fact is that you cannot get anyone to come who doesn't want to move. These people at Ford have made their own appraisal of British Leyland and they have come to the conclusion that Austin Morris is a growth company offering fine opportunities."

Mr. Paradise is at pains to explain why one of his best men is not to be found in his top eight. Bert Lawrence, 33, was recruited from Ford Europe two years ago to join the American as his general sales manager in Lausanne. "He is one of the most able young Englishmen I know anywhere in the international automotive business." Mr. Lawrence has been given the task of attempting to reorganize, Austin Morries 5.000 retail outlets. It is a job which Mr. Paradise admits will take him several years. Although Lord Stokes’s decision to retain both Austin and Morris franchises and to give them entirely different model ranges has taken off some of the immediate pressure, there are still too many dealers.

Market representation teams are being organized to tackle the whole of the United Kingdom. They will produce a Doomsday Book, similar to Ford's recent operation, listing every detail which can conceivably influence car sales. On their findings Mr. Paradise and Mr. Lawrence will make their decisions.

Already the distributors have been called in for several long pep talks by Mr. Paradise - his staff call it "indoctrination." Whatever the title these talks, and particularly their directness, have made a profound impression on the distributors. Just before be left for the Geneva Motor Show on Friday Mr. Paradise called a meeting of every distributor in the country. Only 12 failed to turn up.

When be introduced a system of 10-day reports requiring distributors to complete the most detailed returns of stock and sales three times a month, he achieved a 100 per cent return.

Confidence lost in the lean times of 1966-67 is flooding back. The Mini is selling better than ever and the 1100-1300 range is now the best seller in the United Kingdom with 14 per cent of the total car market. From a 28 per cent market share in October the division as a whole now holds 31 per cent.

Mr. Paradise is adamant that within two years this will be over 35 per cent and this in a market where a maintained one per cent improvement is considered outstanding.

"When the boss arrived last November morale could hardly have been worse. Today nothing is impossible, if he says 35 per cent is possible then that’s it," says a member of his staff.



03 July 1969

Austin Maxi Road Tax Warning


Companies buying the new Austin Maxi are warned by the Freight Transport Association that it is officially classified as a dual-purpose vehicle.

This means that when the five-door Maxi which can be used either as a conventional saloon or as a load-carrier is used for "business purposes and goods" it must be taxed at the goods vehicle rate of £36 10s. a year.

The F.T.A. also points out that the drivers hours regulations must be observed by its driver. "Although there is no legal requirements for driver's records to be kept for this class of vehicle, companies are advised, in their own interests, to adopt some simple form of record system", it states. The description " business purposes and goods" includes samples, post being taken to the post office and service engineering tools.

The F.T.A. points out that the same regulations apply to conventional estate cars, but that these are more easily identifiable as dual-purpose vehicles.

British Leyland said yesterday that they were aware of the regulations affecting the Maxi. "We knew it was considered a dual-purpose vehicle by the Ministry of Transport as is any other estate car", said a company spokesman. "There is nothing particularly un-usual about this. If people are going to put it to business use, they may have to pay extra tax according to what type of use it is. The classification is up to the Ministry".



11 November 1969


BLMC links with Italy

Two way traffic: Every week an Italian railway wagon drops a load of Lambretta scooters at Croydon, Surrey, and is then hauled away to the British Leyland Austin-Morris plant at Lonbridge. There it is filled with body pressings, engines, transmissions and other mechanical hardware for Minis and 1300s, and sets off for the Innocenti factory in Milan.

Britain now has third place in the Italian motor market behind Fiat and Alfa Romeo, with nearly 45,000 Innocenti assembled BLMC cars sold there so far this year. But for the initiative of Mr. Peter Agg, managing director of Lambretta Concessionaires, it would be a different story.

Hearing at the end of the 1950s that Inocenti, one of Europe's industrial giants, wanted to get into car manufacture, he brought them into contact with the then British Motor Corporation.

A licensing agreement to assemble the Austin A40 and Austin-Healey Sprite resulted, although Innocenti had earlier been exploring the possibility of assembling a German car. The A40 has now been phased out. An Imocenti assembled Austin Maxi is. I understand, a future possibility.

27 April 1970

Mini Exports reach a Million

A yellow left-hand drive Mini made history yesterday when it left the assembly track at British Leyland Longbridge plant to become the first British car to pass the millionth export mark.

Last May, the Mini had set another record when it became the first British car to sell more than 2 million units.


04 December 1970

5,000 Austin Morris workers to lose jobs.
Two plants to close.


Five thousand British Leyland car workers will lose their jobs in a large-scale reorganization of the corporation's giant Austin-Morris car division that will include the shutdown of two Coventry plants. The bulk of the cuts will come by March. with the rest following by the end of next year.

This, I understand. was the grim news given to national union leaders Yesterday when they were called to a meeting with Mr. Pat Lowry, BLMC.'s labour relation director, and other top management men.

Closure of the two Coventry factories will account for roughly 25 per cent of the redundancies. The rest will be spread across the Austin-Morris division which at present employs 83.000 people, of whom about 66,000 are manual workers. The division's car assembly car body and engineering operations are concentrated in five main centres; Longbridge Birmingham. Cowley Oxford, Coventry, Swindon and Lianelli.

Details of where the labour cuts are to be made will be revealed to shop floor representatives at plant meeting in the five centres this morning.

Leaders of 16 different unions were called to the meeting at the engineering Employers’ Federation headquarters in London. Afterwards the corporation insisted it could not reveal any details until after the plant level meetings today.

Mr. Reg Birch. national executive council member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, who led the union team, said: " We have agreed with the corporation not to revel details. but we have told them their proposals -which include redundancies and some plant closures, are not acceptable to the unions at national level.

"Mr. Birch said the proposals had not been presented to the unions as being “negotiable”. “They simply asked us here to tell us what they intend to do.” The corporation had not put its redundancy plans in the context of the current negotiations on a new wages structure.

Asked about BLMC.'s financial position, Mr. Birch said, “They obviously have their troubles, but no more than the rest of the car industry. We think these cuts are unnecessary and we intend to oppose them. That will be our advice to members.”

Mr. Moss Evans, national engineering officer of the Transport & General Workers’ recalled that in 1966 the then British Motor Corporation had announced labour cuts of 12,000 on the Austin-Morris operations. The unions had offered to implement “work sharing” with a three-day working week as an alternative, but this had been rejected. After the company's plans bad been contested through the engineering industry disputes procedure the cuts had been made but by the following year most of the workers had been reinstated.

Mr. Evans said that if the present proposals were opposed at plant level, the disputes procedure would be invoked. The unions would probably call a further meeting of national officers through the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions to discuss the redundancy plans.

Management representatives to the union leaders that although the corporation's present position was "acute." steps were being taken to improve it. There was a need to modernize the Austin-Morris operation; this must include the shutdown of some older establishments.

The redundancy shocks and the inevitable threat of shop floor unrest come at a time when British Leyland is making a determined bid to reform its whole labour relations strategy. Mr. Lowry, who joined BLMC. earlier this year after being labour relations director of the EEF. would also like to reach agreement with the unions about a “specially tailored” disputes procedure.

With the new pay proposals already under discussion in the largest of the Austin-Morris centres at Longbridge and Cowley the corporation apparently felt obliged to bring its manning problems out into the open to forestall union accusations of “double dealing”.


24 August 1971

£1m. Car Body Plans For Longbridge Integration

British Leyland are installing a £1m body preparation and paint for Austin-Morris at Longbridge in the the first step towards integration of their biggest car complex. The next is expected to be an extension of existing body building faculties there.

Final assembly lines at Longbridge are now supplied with a mixture of bodies. Some are built on the spot from panels supplied by group factories at Castle Bromwich and Cowley near Oxford, while others are assembled at these plants and only require painting.

Mr. George Turnbull, managing director of Austin-Morris has said he is giving priority to the integration of Longbridge to end the costly transporting of steel boxes “containing nothing but fresh air.”

Body panels will continue to be pressed in the former Pressed Steel Fisher plants but will then be dovetailed into each other and moved by road with considerable cost saving.

It is though that an overhead conveyor will be built across a public road in Longbridge to carry bodies from welding shops to the new preparation and paint shop which is to be built on the site of the existing Number Two Trentham paint shop. Trentham Number One is to be demolished.


03 September 1972

The New Wage Agreement

Mr. SHEEHAN said 3 November, 1972, was a historic day for Longbridge.


The Agreement reached on that day between management and shop stewards marked the end of a long and painstaking series of negotiations to change our system of payment from piecework to standard day-work.

'This new Agreement lays down a really sound basis for our future and we must make full use of the opportunities now given us. The opportunities I refer to are opportunities for continuous production, along with consistent earrings level for our employees'

Cofton Hacket

In recent years we have witnessed a steadily growing number of strikes and production losses connected with piecework, a situation which clearly could not be allowed to continue. We therefore began to look for a system of pay which was better from everyone's point of view and after much thought and discussion we put our ideas into practice in the Cofton Hackett (Unit 4) agreement, the negotiations for which began in 1968.

The Cofton Hackett agreement was eventually signed in May 1970 so we have now had two years' experience in one part of Lonpbridge of working under non-piecework conditions.

Both employees and management working in that area agreed that the system had been successful and we have therefore used that experience in drawing up this new Standard Daywork Agreement which now covers all direct employees in Units l, 2 and 3.

This Agreement is more than a new pay system, it is a new way of the life for everyone and as soon as possible a full copy of the agreement we be issued to each direct employee.

The main features are a simple two-grade pay structure , immediately increased earnings, better holidays and premium payments, security against lay-off and greater mobility of labour.

I think that most of our employees realised that there have been long arguments and very hard bargaining during the whole course of the negotiations particularly the five members of management and the twenty-eight shop stewards involved in the last five solid weeks of talks at the Chateau Impney Hotel near Droitwich where the Agreement was finally concluded. concluded.


Sound basis

I realize that no Agreement, however thorough, can completely eliminate conflict, but I am optimistic that, with goodwill and a real effort by all parties to the Agreement to try to make it work, we have a very sound basis for the future.

In recent years we have lost production through strikes and, as a result lost some of our share of the market for our cars. Our competitors in this country and overseas have been quick to exploit our troubles.

Mr. Don Galloway Longbridge Industrial Relations Manager, and Mr. Ron Savage, his deputy, led the management negotiating team at the Chateau Impney. Austin Morris Express put to them some typical questions now being asked about the agreement.

Q: Who is covered by this Agreement?

A: The Agreement covers all hourly paid direct employees in Units l,2 and 3 of Longbridge Operations whose Jobs were paid on piecework or had payment linked directly to piecework before the date of this Agreement. Employees covered by the Indirect or Unit 4 Agreements will continue to be covered by these Agreements.



Q: How will overtime premium and shift allowance be calculated.

A: Overtime premiums and shift allowances will be calculated as at present but based on the improved premium rates set out in the Agreement.

Q: Why are the female rates higher than the male semi-direct rates after May 1973?

A: The Equal Pay Act introduced in May 1970 lays down that by the end of 1975, female employees will have equal pay with their male counterparts for equal work. The female rates are therefore being increased where appropriate so that equal pay will be achieved end of 1975 as the Act lays down.

Q: How many grades of labour are there in the new Agreements.

A: These are two grades of male employee. Main Grade, Semi-Directed Female directs are included in the main grade and, as explained above, move towards equal pay by the end of 1975. In addition, within the main grade, there are certain designated Job categories, e.g. slip-rnen and sickness relief men on assembly 'tracks who qualify for an additional fixed payment. The main grade covers all operators formerly paid directly under the piecework system. The semi-direct grade includes all those paid 77% of their related piecework area and includes marshals, body handlers etc.

Q: Does mobility of labour mean.that operators will be constantly moved from job to job?

A: No. Management's objective, with the full co-operation of employees, is to obtain the smooth running of all production areas, and operators can be expected to be on regular Jobs for most of the time as they are now. In the past mobility was limited because of variations for piecework earnings levels. Under standard day work these problems caused by variation in earnings will not occur. The Agreement reiterates that the understandings on mobility previously existing in the factory will continue. However, in addition, the Agreement sets out clear guidelines for the operation of mobility within the new two grade job structure. If necessary training will be given to enable operators to carry out alternative work. If, on a temporary basis, a higher graded employee does a lower graded Job he will be paid his normal rate i.e. the higher rate. If a lower graded employee does higher graded job he will be paid the higher rate. It must be clearly understood, however, that this is only for temporary situations.

Q: Will employees be expected to work harder under standard daywork?


A: Provided that employees are already working conscientiously they will not be expected of performance from each operator over the full shift. To do this the operator will need to work at a normal pace and will be given the appropriate allowances for fatigue and personal needs in his work standard. The normal way to describe performance is by reference to British Standards Scale. The expected level of performance on this scale is 100 (usually called 100BSI). This is just another way of defining a rate of working which is recognised as a normal rate of work in industries all over the world. Most of our pieceworkers at Longbridge were, already doing this.
Q: If labour has to be reduced what will happen to those who are surplus?


A: Although it is not expressly intended that the Agreement should reduce manpower, if, as a direct result of Industrial Engineering, it is necessary to reduce the labour strength of any Job or area, there will be no redundancy until joint consultation has taken place to resolve the situation. Every effort will be made to provide alternative jobs, by


(l) investigating vacancies caused by natural wastage.

(2) advising all British Leyland factories in Birmingham and Coventry of surplus labour available.

(3) looking at work carried out by contractors with a view to having it done by employees within the Company if possible.

After all these steps have been taken employees who are still surplus will be offered voluntary redundancy. If, after this, there are still surplus employees, these may be declared redundant but subject to conditions prevailing in the plant will have guarantee of six months further employment at grade rate. When finally leaving they will receive an ex-gratia payment of £l0 for each year of continuous service in addition to normal redundancy entitlement.

Q: Will elimination of piece-work give better security of earnings?


A: Piecework disputes accounted for 85%, of the total time lost from all disputes during the last financial year. Having a flat rate pay structure will eliminate the arguments there were previously over new prices or make up pay resulting from changes or breakdowns. There may still be problems, however, concerning determination of manning levels and the Agreement has made provision for dealing with these by means of a trial period followed by use of the domestic procedure. Provided these are used disruption of production and lay-off should be greatly reduced. As a consequence greater security of earnings will be achieved by employees.


Q: How will the shop role be affected by the new wage structure.

A: Under the piecework system the shop steward was mainly concerned with the fixing of new piecework prices. Under the new system the man's earnings are fixed, and so bargaining over prices will not take place. However, it can be expected that the shop steward will now have a changed role in that he is likely to be involved in such matters as working conditions and methods and, where appropriate , manning levels.


17 July 1973


British Leyland To Site £15m Factory Longbridge


British Leyland is seeking planning permission to build an engine factory costing an estimated £15m at Longbridge near Birmingham, the group’s biggest car manufacturing complex. The Department of Trade and Industry has already granted an Industrial development certificate for the project.

To make way for the 750ft long building it will be necessary to demolish part of the existing 300,000 sq ft North works which produces the B series engine fitted in the Austin and Morris 1800 models, and more powerful versions of the Morris Marina. North Works, one of the oldest in the group, was Herbert Austin’s original engine factory.

This is the first news of the site chosen by British Leyland to produce one of the four advance car engines foreshadowed by Lord Stokes, BLMC chairman, two months ago. At that time he disclosed plans for the largest expansion programme ever undertaken in the British motor industry, calling for an estimated £400m to £500m over the next five years.

He said a substantial part of the money would to the production of new engines. No official figures are available for the overall cost of designing the engines, tooling and installing the huge in-line transfer machine needed for mass production of the engines. Industry sources suggest however that at least £60m will have to be earmarked.

In addition a new aluminium foundry is planned to integrate engine building still further. It is understood that tooling will soon be ordered for the first of the new engines, described by Lord Stokes as “of an exciting specification and incorporating increased amounts of aluminium alloy as an aid to meeting present and future exhaust pollution laws.”

The absence of new engines – particularly one suitable for small cars such as the Mini – has handicapped British Leyland’s attempts to build up its European sales. The Morris Marina and the more recently announced Austin Allegro – the two models which carry the group’s hopes in the popular saloon market – are mainly powered by A and B series engines, first seen more than 10 years ago.

Some versions of the Allegro use the five year old E series engine but the output of this unit has been disappointing and its development painfully slow.


02 October 1973

British Leyland to Challenge Pay Board Ruling on £4 rise in High Court.


British Leyland is to appeal to the High Court against a Pay Board ruling that it cannot pay a £4-a-week increase to 9,000 of its Midlands car workers.

The corporation announced its challenge to the board's interpretation of the Government's wages legislation yesterday as the crisis in Chrysler’s British car plants, which also centres on a confrontation over the Phase Two rules, appeared to worsen.

British Leyland becomes the firm employer to appeal against a Pay Board ruling and to dispute the board's interpretation of the law.

When the ruling was announced 12 days ago the 9,000 workers at Longbridge, Birmingham, concerned staged a one-day strike, and 10,000 others had to be laid off. All car production was halted, In talks with the unions the management agreed to go back to the Pay Board and make fresh representations. That was done but the board stood by its original ruling.

Yesterday when the Longbridge plant reopened after a week's holiday, management representatives met shop stewards to tell them of the Pay Boards decision, and that the corporation intended to challenge that decision.

The unanswered question last night was whether the workers concerned would be prepared to wait for what seem bound to be lengthy legal proceedings.

British Leyland present position arises from a wage agreement which it concluded with 10,000 assembly-line workers a few hours before the Government's wages freeze was announced last November.

That has meant that the assembly workers have not been affected by the freeze or subsequent Phase Two legislation. British Leyland argues that it can pay the remaining 9,000 workers at Longbridge the £4 it has offered, backdated to May, it a £1 plus 4 per cent calculation is based on the entire labour force of the plant.

The board’s ruling is that the 9,000 workers can have only £2.42 backdated to may can be paid only after November 1. when phase Twin ends.



14 February 1975

Austin Morris explains its upmarket policy


British Leyland's new "up-market" policy for selling Austin Morris cars was spelt out for the first time yesterday by Mr Keith Hopkins, managing director of the Austin Morris division.

He said at a press preview of a new Austin Morris car to be launched next month: "This upmarket policy may have been misconstrued by some people. What we are doing is a recognition of the fact that with an Austin Morris output of below one million on cars a year it is just not sensible or realistic for us to try to compete bead on with those of our international competitors who have output potentials twice or three times as big as ours.

Mr Hopkins said their policy was to improve product quality and refine engineering standards to a degree which justified the slightly higher price for each model. "We shall be seeking to create little niches in the world
market place which are more profitable for us ".

He emphasized, however, that Austin Morris was not opting out of the volume section of the market and indeed intended to consolidate its position as leader of this sector.

British Leyland's new "up-market" policy for selling Austin Morris cars was spelt out for the first time yesterday by Mr Keith Hopkins, managing director of the Austin Morris division.

He said at a press preview of a new Austin Morris car to be launched next month: "This upmarket policy may have been misconstrued by some people. What we are doing is a recognition of the fact that with an Austin Morris output of below one million cars a year it is just not sensible or realistic for us to try to compete head on
with those of our international competitors who have output potentials twice or three times as big as ours.

Mr Hopkins said their policy was to improve product quality and refine engineering standards to a degree which justified the slightly higher price for each model. "We shall be seeking to create little niches in the world
market place which are more profitable for us".

He emphasized, however, that Austin Morris was not opting out of the volume section of the market and indeed intended to consolidate its position as leader of this sector.



18 August 1976


£40m Leyland plans for automated output of super Mini at Longbridge


Ambitious plans by Leyland Cars to produce a new super Mini in very large numbers include the construction of a highly automated, 750,000 sq ft body plant on land adjoining the company"s complex at Longbridge, Birmingham. Together with extensive redevelopment of existing Longbridge facilities, the reported £40m investment will enable the new car to be produced on a single integrated site. Only body pressings in panel form will have to be transported to Longbridge. One of the main reasons for the present Mini's failure to make real profits, despite the success of its world-beating design, has been the short-comings of its scattered body building facilities. Some bodies are assembled in the old West Works at Longbridge from pressings brought by lorry from Castle Bromwich, Swindon, Rubery Owen's works at Darlaston, Staffordshire, and other out side suppliers.

At the same time some bodies are brought to the "body in white" (ready for painting) stage at Castle Bromwich while others are fully painted and also trimmed there. Either way they have to be transported on special lorries to Longbridge. This movement has been described as "'an expensive method of carrying fresh air in steel boxes". With production of Ford's new, small car, the Fiesta, building up to a total of 500,000 a year from factories at Valencia, Saarlouis and Dagenham, the weaknesses of the present hotchpotch of Mini facilities; will leave the British motor group even more vulnerable in this growing sector of the market. Leylannd has submitted an application for outline planning approval covering a proposed 23 acre development at Longbridge. Most of the land is at present owned by the West Midlands Regional Health Authority. The company has also indicated that, despite its size, the factory will only employ 600. This would seem to indicate that Leyland intend to cram the plant with all the latest automatic aids to body assembly, including the use of the huge, multi-station welding machines.

But the main problem still facing Mr Derek Whittaker managing director of Leyland Cars, is how to cut corners on the new Mini programme without damaging the product. The old management team had practically stopped development while it reviewed the economies of further investment in the most competitive sector of the international car market.

Now, under pressure from Mr Varley, Secretary of State for Industry, and Lord Ryder, chairman of the National Enterprise Board, Mr Whittaker is trying to shorten the three-year programme to bring in the new Mini before 1979.