So far ahead and then, well, British Leyland……….

Bcorig

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 17, 2018
1,789
Somewhere in the 909
My first car was the predecessor to the 240Z, a 1969 Datsun 2000. Two-litre two-seater ragtop with a five speed manual in a car that was so light it threatened to drive right off its frame. I drove that Datsun like a rally car for a couple years, with the top down until it snowed. It was like a souped-up MGB… a barrel of monkeys.
“Souped up” is an understatement. If I recall correctly that thumb-beech pack 130 or 140 HP c/w 91 and 79 for the two MGs I owned.
I almost married a nurse who purchased a Fiat 124 which was an absolute animal on the road, and assembled just as poorly as the BLMC product.
 

Ed Storer

Strat-O-Master
Sep 5, 2016
731
Seattle
In my foolish youth, I purchased a 1972 Fiat 128, ignoring the Honda dealer across the street. The Fiat was fun to drive but on a trip from St. Louis to Memphis for a road rally, the car suddenly went silent about 1/3 of the way through the trip. The timing belt pulley on the crankshaft decided that a steel center in a plastic wheel was not a good idea. It took 2 months to get it fixed.

A few months later, I rallied in a 1972 Honda Civic - an altogether better car. I kicked myself for getting that Fiat.
 

Seamus OReally

Outta here
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2019
6,355
Way out west
“Souped up” is an understatement. If I recall correctly that thumb-beech pack 130 or 140 HP c/w 91 and 79 for the two MGs I owned.
I almost married a nurse who purchased a Fiat 124 which was an absolute animal on the road, and assembled just as poorly as the BLMC product.
The Roadster was a bat outta hell, and built like a 1969 Datsun… which was pretty well for its day. That car saved my life one night. Long story, but a big American car spun out and end up straddling a two-lane County blacktop road with the front end of the car taking up my lane. I slammed the brake, and it was obvious that was no use at this distance, so I punched the clutch and downshifted from fifth to second. When I let out the clutch the engine went redline and screamed. I took it into the ditch on my right, slipped in between a speed limit sign and a chain link fence, jumped out of the ditch on the other side of the offending car and did an accidental 180 and came to rest. Even after that abuse, no engine damage, no busted shift pins… I just started it up and drove home.
 

nosmo

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 13, 2020
1,618
Tir-na Nog'th
“Souped up” is an understatement. If I recall correctly that thumb-beech pack 130 or 140 HP c/w 91 and 79 for the two MGs I owned.
I almost married a nurse who purchased a Fiat 124 which was an absolute animal on the road, and assembled just as poorly as the BLMC product.

Yeah.....don't criticize British autos until you've owned a FIAT.

I had a 1976 124 Spyder. It broke down so often, the local towing company knew my voice on the phone (this was before cell phones, I had to use a PAY phone to report my car was busted, again.)
I'd call Thor's towing, and just say, "Hey, it's me."
"Where you at this time?"
"35th and Jacobsen."
"We're on the way."

My second-favorite car to drive (not necessarily to own) was my 1965 Sunbeam Alpine MK IV. I'd wanted a Tiger but didn't have the scratch. It was fun to figure out what the book meant by "positive-earth dynamo", "on-side wheel", etc. 1965 and it still came with a handcrank.

First-favorite was the '74 T-bird, completely on the other end of the land-yacht spectrum.
 

Neil.C

Most Honored Senior Member
Mar 3, 2012
9,254
Surrey, England
All cars up to the 80s, really, were "high maintenance". Tappets (or worse, shims) instead of hydraulic valve lifters, points and timing to set, carbs to adjust and balance, probably a decoke every 12,000 miles and a new engine at 100,000. If the body didn't rust away first due to crummy body design (spot welded joints) and crummy 70s steel (loads of sulfur).

The real problem with British Leyland was (1) nationalization; (2) 70s trade unions out to earn twice as much for doing half as much and refusing to modernise working practices, and (3) having too many brands under the same roof competing against each other. Just like GM for the past 30 years. They didn't even standardize basic components in most cases.

Some of BL's cars were actually pretty good, but the rest...

Exactly right.

Cars in the past were all very high maintenance.

Nowadays you do nothing to modern cars and they are still reliable.

The downside is that most cars look the same now with no character.
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
IMO, too many independent car manufacturers turned into badges on the front of sub-standard cars produced by a disillusioned workforce who no longer felt the slightest loyalty towards the conglomerated organisation they found themselves employed by. Also, I suspect that many of the people on the shop floor had seen what 'rationalisation' and 'efficiency' had done to many of the people they used to work alongside and no longer believed they had long-term job security.

Once you have a workforce that despises the management, producing bad product is the emotional equivalent of kicking the boss's horse while you're out in the yard.

Much the same could be said of the UK Post Office. Maybe even the US post service, though I'm not so sure about that! A cycle of decline caused by low quality management & low quality union reps in a cycle of hatred. It's hard to know how to get out of that.

It's fashionable to knock Leyland but there was some innovative stuff back in the day. These days, people tell me about the latest (always foreign made) trains to run on our railways, & they tell me how revolutionary their hydraulic or air suspension is, like it was some radical new idea. Austin/Morris gave us Hydralastic suspension on the 1100/1300 in the early 70s, & Hydragas suspension on the much maligned Allegro in the late 70s. Pretty much the same thing as these new fangled modern trains use.

Meanwhile, Marinas & Fords used cart springs for suspension. Like an American car...

:whistling:
 

HighwayStar106

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 5, 2018
1,980
United Kingdom
The downside is that most cars look the same now with no character.
The original BMW Mini has way more character than the current one IMO. Plus they’re really stretching the definition of ‘Mini’ with some versions!

To be honest, as much as I love BMWs, they did kind of take advantage of Rover. The Mini was for the most part Rover design and engineering, and BMW just turned it into a huge success - and took the credit.
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
The original BMW Mini has way more character than the current one IMO. Plus they’re really stretching the definition of ‘Mini’ with some versions!

To be honest, as much as I love BMWs, they did kind of take advantage of Rover. The Mini was for the most part Rover design and engineering, and BMW just turned it into a huge success - and took the credit.

That is pretty much the story of the UK. Take the Industrial Revolution. Born & bred in the UK, the ideas behind it were nicked by various other countries which produced similar stuff at lower cost, undercutting UK manufacturers. It's not a new phenomenon.

And then the Americans (or Henry Ford to be precise) invented & perfected planned obsolescence, which is the root of our current highly wasteful society.
 

Gonflyn

Strat-O-Master
Apr 7, 2020
722
Minneapolis
Seems like the seventies into the early eighties were the dark years for cars everywhere in general, but British Leyland had an especially good knack for producing streaming piles.

I remember my grandfather's car in England back then was an Allegro, it had the square steering wheel, which matched his oversized square spectacles, it was hilarious (ah the seventies, the decade that style forgot), anyway not so hilarious was when one of the front wheels on the nearly new vehicle sheared off while attempting to get on the motorway one day.
Pretty much summed it up.
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
Seems like the seventies into the early eighties were the dark years for cars everywhere in general, but British Leyland had an especially good knack for producing streaming piles.

I remember my grandfather's car in England back then was an Allegro, it had the square steering wheel, which matched his oversized square spectacles, it was hilarious (ah the seventies, the decade that style forgot), anyway not so hilarious was when one of the front wheels on the nearly new vehicle sheared off while attempting to get on the motorway one day.
Pretty much summed it up.

I learned to drive on an Allegro. Yet again I have to defend this much maligned car. It was my Dad's choice rather than mine, but it was better than most of the alternatives. Certainly preferable to Leyland's rival offering, the Marina.
 

Gonflyn

Strat-O-Master
Apr 7, 2020
722
Minneapolis
I drove a Marina Estate for work when I lived there in the late seventies and can confirm that every other vehicle I had ever driven before or since was preferable to it.

The handling was genuinely frightening, (thats saying something coming from the States), it floated and bobbed more than Muhammad Ali in a Buick and the spectacular understeer made every bend a lively adventure.

Add to that the random bits that would simply fall off without provocation on a regular basis and you had the makings of a vehicle that was classic in it's badness.
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
I worked in the motor trade in the late 70s, early 80s.
I learned for quality, buy German.
For reliability, buy Japanese.
For style, buy Italian.
Otherwise, forget the rest....

That's where we were different to the rest of Europe. In Italy, they buy Italian cars, in France they buy French cars etc etc. It might have been partly national loyalty, but it was also maybe because they realised that, without a car industry, their manufacturing sector was ****ed. And therefore the country was ****ed.

But in this country, car buyers didn't look at it this way. So our car industry was indeed ****ed & later died. Pretty much the same thing happened to our entire engineering infrastructure.

If the country is indeed ****ed now (and the evidence is certainly pointing that way...). the rot started in the 1970s.
 

balston11

Senior Stratmaster
May 8, 2013
4,383
Preston UK
First car a ford escort had to reset the spark plug gap weekly or it wouldn't start then the engine basically died. Bought a second hand Datsun to replace it never an issue for years bodywork a bit thin but mechanically complete reliability.
Fast forward we had 2 German cars both bought new a Hybrid BMW and a VW Golf BMW started losing electric range dramatically BMW said nothing wrong the electric mileage came down from an advertised 30 to 8-10 BMW said nothing wrong. The Golf regularly decided to refuse to respond to the keys VW said nothing wrong. Got rid of both and bought 2 Kias miles better value for money. I doubt I will buy a German car again
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
I drove a Marina Estate for work when I lived there in the late seventies and can confirm that every other vehicle I had ever driven before or since was preferable to it.

The handling was genuinely frightening, (thats saying something coming from the States), it floated and bobbed more than Muhammad Ali in a Buick and the spectacular understeer made every bend a lively adventure.

Add to that the random bits that would simply fall off without provocation on a regular basis and you had the makings of a vehicle that was classic in it's badness.

Just for you. ;)



 

ThreeChordWonder

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 2, 2020
4,522
Cypress TX
Somebody should build electric replicas of early 70s MGBs and TR6s.
A few years ago Jaguar built an electric E-Type as a technology demonstrator. An old University pal of mine, Alan, who has been a unit with the Hayley I mentioned earlier for nearly 40 years, is back at JLR after he worked himself out of a job as one of the Chief Engineers at Aston Martin. I asked him how much the E-Type conversion cost. "Too much".

Although Musk started Tesla converting Lotus Elises, I dont think cramming batteries into lightweight MGs or TRs would work. It would be like putting a dozen bags of cement in them.
First car a ford escort had to reset the spark plug gap weekly
My Merc R350 has its original plugs, never gapped even, at 280k miles. How times have changed.

In 1981 my dad bought one of the "new" front wheel drive Escorts. My grandfather ended up with it and it lasted until about 2010. It went to the big multi-storey in the sky simply because we couldn't find a new rotor arm for the distributor. Remember distributors or rotor arms?
 


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