MATTERS OF MOMENT
THE STATE OF THE MOTOR INDUSTRY
On the eve of Britain’s probable entry into the Common Market and following close on the London Motor Show where our exhibits were opposed by the products of almost every car-producing Nation with the exception of Japan, it behoves us to look at the state of the British Motor Industry. Lord Rootes told us on October r6th that due to strike action his Company had ceased to exist and the B.B.C.’s ” Panorama ” programme that evening painted a gloomy picture of the future so far as British cars are concerned. The next day, Mr. George Harriman, of B.M.C., dispelled some of the Dimbleby despondency by telling guests at the B.M.C. Press Lunch at Grosvenor House that Austin Healey and M.G. sports cars were being produced at the rate of over 1,000 a week and that 90% were being exported, the majority to North America, where in the last few months sales have risen by 70%. Moreover, in Western Europe there was marked improvement, exports for the first seven months of this year being up by 71% on the same period in t960, with a 95% increase in the last three months. B.M.C. regard the Common Market as a challenge they would welcome, provided there are sufficient safeguards for the Commonwealth countries. “While the European potential of 250-million people cannot be ignored, neither can the sever the cords which bind
the Commonwealth to the Mother Country,” said Mr. Harriman.
He went on to say that the secret of success is competitive prices and criticised strongly the Government’s policy of ” Stop-Go ” on purchase tax, its credit squeezes, hire purchase restrictions, etc. In Britain the light is red, sometimes green, without even a precautionary amber, whereas in Germany the light is always green. Germany produced doubk the number of cars in the first six months of the year, compared with the U.K., largely because of a healthy home market unfettered by economic stops and starts.
B.M.C. claim that they are as advanced in engineering features as any of their European competitors and Mr. Harriman remarked : “TI we do not like the rear-engine arrangement we have shown the World that there is a very suitable alternative in the unique design of the B.M.C. Minis, which have captured the imagination of motorists everywhere, already to the extent of over a 1-million sales.” Mr. Harriman then turned to B.M.C. initiative, telling the Press that they have ” plenty of things in the cupboard, and they are not skeletons” (from his previous reference to the rear-engined layout these may be forecasted as larger tw.d.
designs), that Brands Hatch had been hired so that racing drivers could demonstrate to American distributors the effectiveness of the ADOT5 range, particularly the Cooper twins, and that an intense sales and service campaign has been opened in Western Europe, with rco men on the ground, executives at Director level living permanently in the territories and an additional 1-million pounds spent on advertising in these countries. So B.M.C. means business.
Renault might counter B.M.C.’s front-drive enthusiasm by announcing that since 1946 well over 21-million rear-engined 4 c.v. and Dauphines have been produced, the Dauphine, since 1956, accounting for ‘ over xi-million sales. Last year, incidentally, against 11,78! German and 7,626 Italian cars imported into France Renault exported 27,995 cars to Germany and 22,401 ears to Italy. These are Common Market targets for B.M.C. to digest but on the whole we favour front-wheeldrive, which Renault have adopted for their latest model and which Ford uses for the little V4 Cardinal, America’s first true small car. . ‘
Sir Henry Spurrier is to he commended for his vigorous reorganisation of Standard-Triumph International, from which” class” cars built to Leyland’s exacting standards should shortly emerge. So Britain is all set to” have a go.” Let us hope that strikes will not mart her good intentions. And, leaving motoring matters for a moment, may we say how glad we are that the teaching profession has withdrawn strike action —could anything be worse for the young people of Britain than to have their teachers, whom they should respect, setting the example that the way to get more money without working harder is not to work at all!
not to IMPORTANT FIXTURES
The Veteran Car Run from Hyde Park to Brighton, in which the Editor of MOTOR SPORT expects to drive the Montagu Motor Museum’s 1904 singlecylinder Brushmobile. takes place early on November sth, and the R.A.C. Rally starts from Blackpool at 6 p.m. on November 13th, ending with testa at Brighton
on THE FUTURE OF THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX
Lost month we asked readers to state their preference for Silverstone or Aintree us the venue for the 1962 R.A.C. British G.P. To date the war of the poll is :
Normally we receive far more letters than we can possibly publish (although all appreciated) so this astonishingly small response surely proves that the racefraternity doesn’t care where the race Is held so long as it is well run, with entries. Almost a case of love all “I The letter favouring appears in this issue; that in favour of Silverstone Can be inspected at offices and we are delighted to state that it contains nothing libellous or in way otT?.snsivc Si) anyone.