I am amazed at Lord Stokes’ attitude concerning the purchase of foreign cars. What is required on his part is the production of vehicles that can compete with foreign makes at ex-factory prices, then at least in Britain the temptation to buy foreign would be partly overcome, as the British product would not carry import duty.
I normally reside abroad and last year decided to purchase a car for use on my forthcoming vacation and ultimately re-export to the Middle East. Basically I was faced with the choice of any European-made car that fell within my price bracket; I would then pick it up in the country of its manufacture. No purchase tax on import duties to inflate the price, but ultimate shipment to the Arabian Gulf and local import duty, which is the same percentage irrespective of the car’s origin.
I chose a Fiat 125, to be picked up in Rome, at an approximate cost of £650; the nearest equivalent priced Stokesmobile was an Austin/ Morris 1300. What would you choose? Herein I feel is the explanation for the apparent failure in unprotected world markets of the British mass-produced family car.
In closing, it would be interesting to know what the British Leyland boss has to say about the rumour that Fiat are about to enter International Rallying.
“A Disillusioned Briton”
[Name and address supplied.—Ed.]