British Leyland's fixed race?

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During the past month we were invited by the British Leyland Press Department to a function at the vast Longbridge complex near Birmingham for what was billed as a race between the production lines producing the 2-millionth 1100/1300 and the 5-millionth British Leyland front-wheel-drive car. Naturally the cars are numbered by a computer when they are just a twinkle in the Production Manager’s eye, so it wasn’t exactly a matter of counting them down as they came off the line.

We had hoped that we would see the cars actually roll off the assembly line but it was explained that they were being produced in separate buildings, so we all sat in the conference hall and listened to various speeches which seemed to show a new buoyancy at BL. It was interesting to hear on this front-wheel-drive occasion why the Marina had been introduced, apparently BL feel they should “fulfil all sectors of the market”, whatever that means.

The “race” was won by the 5-millionth f-w-d car which Alex Issigonis drove into the hall, followed only a couple of minutes later by the 2-millionth Mini. What did baffle us was that the 1300 had sixteen miles on the mileometer when it reached us and the export Mini had 32 kms.; maybe they became involved in a race around the block. Whatever, it was a unique record by British Leyland and one they could justifiably celebrate.