I was interested to read H. E. Staal’s letter in the March 1977 issue of Motor Sport on the future of MG; and to note that, as yet, we do not appear to have had the answer from Leyland that he, and countless other MG enthusiasts, would appreciate.
With regard to Leyland Cars’ advertising “throwing the cat amongst the pigeons”, may I point out that on at least three occasions to my knowledge this year, they have taken a full page spread in Official Programmes for Silverstone and Thruxton Race Meetings, onto which they have thrown the “Big Cat” picture with the comment “Our drivers have to know what their (Sic.) doing”. Perhaps the “pigeons” are now too busy with their dictionaries up there at Abingdon to be able to let us know what they’re doing about the MG.
Knocking Leyland however is not the purpose of my letter; for though much abuse has been thrown generally at the Organisation, as in most things in life, it should have been directed at individuals. The “chain is as strong as its weakest link”, and there are doubtless weak links in the British Leyland Organisation. The quality of sales approach and after-sales servicing is just such an area where reputations can be made or destroyed by “weak links”. When I bought my fourth Midget recently from Wadham Stringer Ltd., at Newton Abbot (with whom I have absolutely no connections – not even being a local man), the attention that I received was absolutely first-class. They gave me the feeling that they would have gone to almost any lengths to obtain the car of my choice. The salesman was prepared to drive halfway across the country to obtain the colour scheme that I wanted; all the accessories were obtained and fitted exactly as I asked. The pre-delivery servicing work was first-class; no faults have come to light at all. All this is in direct contrast with “other experiences” at garages which regard servicing as a “welt around the block – see if it goes and stops – change the oil – and tick the 77 little boxes on the service record sheet” variety.
British Leylands’ reputation, like all twentieth-century monolithic empires, is still based upon how one man deals with another. Some garages seem to have persons calling themselves “engineering mechanics” who adopt a “clout it and it will do” attitude, whilst others almost look upon their work as if they were “engineering surgeons”. May I suggest that the difference between the two is due to just one thing; some respect the car, the customer, the company and its reputation, the others do not.
Finally, I must confess to having a few rude thoughts about BL when they stuck those great black bumpers on the Midget. Recently, in company with quite a few bystanders, I saw a chap in a yellow Capri whoosh into a vacant parking space exhibiting more “flourish” than brakes. I can’t find even the smallest of marks on my Midget but rather more than his pride was dented!
Lymington. Robin Clarke