Even though I left England 11 years ago I still take pleasure in seeing British companies competing successfully in overseas markets.
At the recent Montreal Motor Show, therefore, I made inquiries at the BLMC stand concerning the availability of the 1275 Clubman and the 1300 GT. At all levels I was met with uncomprehending stares or mumbled excuses about large inventories of older models.
By comparison, Datsun were pleased to show me their very modern and handsome 240 Z sports car, which is priced at the same level as an MG-B or a GT6. Renault were out pushing the R12, Fiat were making noises about their 124S, BMW/ had a really marvellous film of their competition activities, and Peugeot were actively selling their 504. All the European companies had something new to talk about. BLMC had the Rover 3500, but Volkswagen and Datsun are the fat cats; there never will be any volume in the Rover price range in North America.
Feeling that perhaps I was biased by my cold reception at BLMC, discussed my impressions with some fellow journalists at the Toyota Press Conference. One of them informed me that at a recent industry meeting in Toronto a representative of the British motor manufacturers stated publicly that: “We are not concerned about Japanese competition in the Canadian market.” I’m not sure whether such a remark should be regarded as incredibly insular or downright stupid.
By contrast, the Canadian distributor of Lotus cars put on a first-class display with knowledgeable, turned-on salesmen. It would not surprise me if Lotus don’t start to sell more cars than Austin ‘Morris in the text couple of years in this country.
P. G. Bailey