What Killed the British Motor Industry?

What Killed the British Motor Industry?


[Music] [Music] [Music] at the end of the Second World War the Japanese car industry was on its knees but then it stood up again in fact the present-day Nissen Skyline GTR is very probably the most advanced car it has twin ceramic turbochargers four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering [Applause] fifty years ago Japan was wiped out yet now the making cars as good as this so how did they do it well it was thanks in no small part to Austin after the war they sent British engineers to Japan and invited ATS and engineers over to Longbridge and in return for this extraordinary generosity Austin got two million pounds and a lovely thank-you letter one of the bats and engineers wrote to his British teacher and host afterwards saying that one day he had to make cars and trucks as good as those from Austin [Music] Japanese car firms have never been very good with names Toyota for instance gave us the toyopet and then dreamed up by the American importers after Toyota themselves wanted to call it the Toyo let listen a very poor we’ve had the Silvia the Gloria and a particular favorite of mine the Cedric and then there’s this now apparently Mitsubishi wanted to call it the stallion and that’s a very good name very butch but someone at the American advertising agency I think misheard ok sterian well of the brochures printed tonight Mitsubishi Starion Lovelace so why on earth did Japanese cars be shot well it was simple at the time British car makers would make you pay extra for a heater whereas this came as standard with everything even Terry Wogan it’s a major breakthrough for car get bored chassis and there was more if you came out of your house on a cold miserable winters morning and try to start your 1970s Morris it would respond by making a noise like this whereas the 1970s datsan would respond by making and always like this [Music] until the Japanese came along we all assumed that cars break down of course they did they were complex and difficult it’s only natural that every so often one of the 15,000 parts would break and there was another issue too outlined nicely in this 1971 top gear report this is Harry on a sunny Tuesday morning and I’m surrounded by cars cars of good quality reasonable price and cars above all that are available today and not tomorrow they are unfortunately Japanese though the Japanese don’t sell enough cars in Britain yet but these are Toyota’s and Toyota are one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world so this is a trickle that could soon become a menacing flood of course this being a weekday morning there’s a strike somewhere in the British motor in the stream find me a day when there isn’t in fact this morning there are thirty thousand men out British Leyland are having to make cars with no wiper motors because of a dispute at Lucas we’re not just opening the gates to the Japanese we’re laying down a big red carpet with welcome on it all the way to the showroom don’t think however that strike itis was a British invention the Japanese had had all sorts of problems with LED labo in the 50s 3700 striking car workers were sacked and Nissen managers barricaded themselves inside the plans of 45 days behind the barbed wire they formed the ultimate oxymoron an in-house company trade union and amazingly it solved the problem as the rest of the world was coming out on strike Japan went back to work and productivity when good evening to understand the massive changes that were going on in the world motoring climate you need to take a global view in 1978 Detroit was basking under a warm front General Motors made fourteen point nine cars per employee and they considered this to be pretty good and it was compared to what was happening in Italy here they were experiencing the period of extremely low production Alfa Romeo made just six cars per employee whereas in Japan the Sun was shining brightly rising over the whole country Toyota made not six not fourteen point nine but forty three cars per employee in 1978 the outlook was good no the outlook was very good Japan was on its way to becoming the most successful automotive nation on earth [Music] you [Music] [Music] and then there was this the Toyota Corolla by adopting a no-nonsense attitude too soon just bear with me for a second Oh No No No no oh sorry here it is sorry um the Toyota Corolla went on to become the best-selling car the world has ever seen desperate to prevent meltdown European governments imposed import restrictions on Japanese cars but this didn’t work at all first of all Japanese car companies forged partnerships with euro car makers to create some truly horrific cross-breeze [Music] the triumph acclaim succeeded where even the tr7 had failed and finished off the triumph name for good and then in Italy a deal between listen and Alfa Romeo spawned one of the worst creations in the whole of history and here it is the Alfa Romeo Anna now it might have worked if they married Japanese build quality to Italian design Flair but they did it the other way around so what we ended up with was a terribly ugly listen cherry that have Al facade electrics could you imagine anything anything worse I was extremely disappointed to find that they actually made sixty-two thousand of them but then quite cheered when I called the DVLA the other day and found it on the roads of Britain only three hundred and forty-one are left make that 340 you


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