Lord Stokes and the "idiots"

I have just read your comments on your recent meeting with Lord Stokes, and I am probably not alone in wondering why he has singled out the Triumph 2.5 PI from the other BLMC Specialist Division products, as being a better buy than the BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

What about the XJ Jaguar, I wonder, or the now highly popular and well developed Rover 3500? I have always regarded these two cars as representing the prestige side of BLMC, as no doubt have many others. Is it not a fact that the Rover 2000 has always enjoyed a greater volume of sales than its Triumph counterpart? If sto, this surely suggests a profound appreciation of the Rover engineering record both at home and abroad.

We have all heard much criticism from Lord Stokes of the old BMC and its failure to do this and that; perhaps a good question to put to his lordship, regarding his sponsorship of the “Stag” might be, “Why spend a fortune on developing yet another 3-litre V8 engine, when perhaps a variant of the well established Rover 3.5 unit could have been adapted?”

I seem to remember Motor Sport complaining that the “Stag” V8 was not silent by current standards, especially those of Rover and Jaguar.

A little while ago, Lord Stokes condemned all those “idiots” who have pushed up the sales of imported cars to 20% of home sales. My recent experience suggests that the “idiots”, quite apart from wanting to own a car which is “different”, and which is available for early delivery, may also require quality, and immediate and reliable after sales service.

My present car, a Riley Kestrel, Mk. II (March 1969) developed an unusual noise at 15,000 miles, which the local Dealer diagnosed as being tightness in the differential. Removal of the engine/gearbox unit revealed on dismantling incorrect thrust clearances, which the Dealer suggested could only be assembly faults, and certainly nothing to which I could have contributed even though the car had exceeded the warranty mileage of 12,000 by a mere 3,000 miles.

The BLMC service department was emphatic that it could make no contribution towards my account of £35. A subsequent approach to Lord Stokes produced an assertion by him that trouble of this nature would have revealed itself earlier in the life of the car, and therefore he saw fit to uphold the decision of the Service Division.

The upshot of all this is, that Lord Stokes is clearly as unconcerned with the ultimate fate of the “non-idiot” who buys a BLMC car, as he is with the fate of the “idiot” who does not. My wife and I have owned twelve BLMC cars during the past 15 years, but I doubt very much if either of our next cars will come from Lord Stokes’ stable.

Quite apart from this latest brush with the quality and reliability boys of BLMC, my experience includes such items as missing engine mounting nuts; incorrect plug clearances; incorrectly assembled and tuned carburetters; late ignition timing; finger loose sump drain plugs; an internal brake line connection had not been tightened in one of my wife’s cars, which very nearly involved her in what could have been a fatal accident; the list of the experiences of just two “non-idiots” could go on and on.

Fortunately, I am able to spot and remedy many defects myself, but not everyone is able or qualified to do so. The rate for the job is high, is there no way of ensuring our cars are soundly constructed and serviced?

From what I hear, most of Lord Stokes’ “idiots” seem to avoid such “non-idiot” troubles.

Wadlow Rose.