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AROnline News

Obituary : Timo Makinen 1938-2017

Obituary : Timo Makinen 1938-2017

Timo Makinen, legendary Finnish rally driver has died, aged 79. Among his achievements was a hat-trick of wins in the RAC Rally driving the Ford Escort, but he is perhaps best remembered as one of the of the ‘three musketeers’ of the British Motor Corporation’s works rally team in the 1960s – alongside fellow Finn Rauno Aaltonen and Ulsterman Paddy Hopkirk.

News : Ledbury Maestro’s happy ending

News : Ledbury Maestro’s happy ending

Regular readers might remember Ed Rollet’s tale of a Ledbury Maestro, which needed to find a new home following the untimely death of its owner, Lance Pickering. The T-registered example had been offered in exchange for a donation to the Midlands Air Ambulance. The good news is that AROnline has helped find the car a new owner – […]

News : Four-cylinder F-Type revives the traditional British sports car

News : Four-cylinder F-Type revives the traditional British sports car

The popular Jaguar F-Type has received a shot in the arm with the addition of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium engine under the bonnet. Before you shriek ‘no way’ and insist that a Jaguar sports car should pack a multi-cylinder engine, this one has 296bhp and heralds the arrival of the first four-cylinder petrol Ingenium. The […]

News : Grab a Ledbury, help the Midlands Air Ambulance

News : Grab a Ledbury, help the Midlands Air Ambulance

Site reader and ex-Rover Engine Development Engineer at Longbridge, Ed Rollet, has been in touch with a sad tale. One of his team-mates from the factory, Lance, has recently passed away, but not before he’d bought a Ledbury Maestro with a view to using it to teach his eldest daughter to drive. In the end, it’s too […]

News : Aston Martin starts Phase II works at St Athan

News : Aston Martin starts Phase II works at St Athan

Aston Martin’s new factory in South Wales moves closer towards full-scale car production. The former RAF base is ramping up…

News : JLR breaks sales records in 2016/2017 Financial Year

News : JLR breaks sales records in 2016/2017 Financial Year

Jaguar Land Rover continues its growth trajectory in 2016, posting record global sales figures, confirming its position as the UK’s largest carmaker.

AROnline blogs

Blog : X X X – That’s all men think about!

Blog : X X X – That’s all men think about!

Mike Humble gets nostalgic for an era when the badge on your bootlid meant more than what was under the bonnet. And adding an X to Ghia put you above the rest of the herd.

Blog : Rover SD1 – the Australian perspective

Blog : Rover SD1 – the Australian perspective

Igor Spajic When my stepfather bought a new Rover SD1 3500SE in 1982 (among the last Series 1s), it was still car-of-the-future stuff – alloy V8, EFI, hatchback, etc. It was impressive, but I couldn’t help wondering why the auto was only a three-speed, when those backward Americans all had four-speed autos (with overdrive) by […]

By 28 April 2017 13 Comments Read More →
Blog : Diesel scrappage – here we go again…

Blog : Diesel scrappage – here we go again…

Oh dear – it looks like the issue of diesel scrappage is on the agenda again. According to a story by the BBC, drivers could be offered up to £2000 to chop in their old cars. Unlike the earlier scrappage scheme, which was instigated to keep the motor industry turning in the midst of the […]

Blog : What happened to Issigonis’ Mini world? – Part 2

Blog : What happened to Issigonis’ Mini world? – Part 2

Back in September 2012, I penned a blog asking where had all the small cars gone and why were people driving around in diesel-powered behemoths. I concluded that the price of diesel fuel had created a situation where it was perceived that it was just as economical to drive around in a large diesel car […]

Blog : Why the history books are waiting for MG…

Blog : Why the history books are waiting for MG…

AROnline Contributor and former BMC/British Leyland manufacturing apprentice Richard Williams recently returned to Longbridge and that prompted some in-depth reflections on the fate of the famous factory. Here’s his take on that and SAIC Motor’s stewardship of the historic and still much-loved MG marque…

By 9 April 2017 25 Comments Read More →
Blog : What CHPD means to me

Blog : What CHPD means to me

Keith Adams I know what you’re thinking – what the hell does CHPD mean? If you’re not a regular reader of AROnline, then the chances are that you’ve not come across the term, and that’s probably a very good thing. It’s an acronym for Compulsive Heap Purchasing Disorder, and it kinda sums up my car buying life – and […]

The AROnline Archive

Archive : 10 years ago – MG TF goes into production at Longbridge

Archive : 10 years ago – MG TF goes into production at Longbridge

From the despondency following its closure in 2005, Longbridge came back to life just two years later under the ownership of Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC), which put the popular MG TF back into production. Here’s how we reported it back then…

Archive : 37 years ago – BL workers sleeping on the job

Archive : 37 years ago – BL workers sleeping on the job

BL was an industrial soap opera that provided Fleet Street hacks with plenty to write about. Here’s the story of sleeping night shift workers. In this occasional series Ian Nicholls revisits some of these stories, using the newspaper articles of the time as the main source of information. Did the media have it in for British Leyland? Judge for yourself.

Archive : 40 years ago – Ryder Report submitted for Government approval

Archive : 40 years ago – Ryder Report submitted for Government approval

On 26 April 1977, the Ryder Report was submitted for government approval. In it, were detailed breakdowns of what funding British Leyland would need, both to survive in the short term, and then deliver in the more distant future.

Archive : 40 years ago – Mini needs money

Archive : 40 years ago – Mini needs money

On 26 April 1977, British Leyland was still finding its way under government control, having been bailed out the previous year. The priority was to get the Mini’s replacement into production. To do that, it needed to deliver the Ryder Report, and hope that Callaghan’s Labour government would foot the bill. Here’s how The Times reported the story.

Archive : 10 years ago – MGs go into production again

Archive : 10 years ago – MGs go into production again

Nanjing Automobile Corporation announced it would start production in March 2007. Except that it never panned out as expected…

Archive : 30 years ago – Ford and ARG’s negotiations go public

Archive : 30 years ago – Ford and ARG’s negotiations go public

During the 1986 negotiations between Ford and Austin Rover, Longbridge’s future model plans were shared with the American company’s executives. Thirty years ago this week, news of this became public knowledge – does it mean that K-series were shared with Uncle Henry? This is how The Guardian reported the story.

AROnline Cars

Our Cars : Keith’s Mondeo – racking up (even more) miles

Our Cars : Keith’s Mondeo – racking up (even more) miles

Our £760 2008 Ford Mondeo 2.0 Ghia gets new brakes and continues to impress as a long-distance cruiser. Even with 210,000 miles on the clock. New brakes and a reset of the engine management warning light seem to have turned into a good-as-new Bangernomics motor.

Blog : The Rover reviver becomes Mondeo Man

Blog : The Rover reviver becomes Mondeo Man

Our man in the south waves farewell to Project HHR, the car that’s quite possibly been the cheapest and most dependable of the bangers we have brought you. In a strange twist of fate, Mike hasn’t got a new project, but he is making good use of the ratty Mondeo we recently purchased. Andy Widdows […]

Our Cars : Mike’s 400 blots its copy book

Our Cars : Mike’s 400 blots its copy book

Mike Humble After months of trouble free motoring it had to happen eventually. The old scrotter itself, our Project HHR, has finally given me a serious enough reason to dig deep into the pocket in order to keep the old girl rolling just that little bit longer… It’s always the way, isn’t it? Just as you settle […]

Our Cars : Keith’s MINI Cooper – lighting up the way

Our Cars : Keith’s MINI Cooper – lighting up the way

Keith’s fitted LED headlamp bulbs to his MINI Cooper in an attempt to improve the view forward. They’re working, but are they legal?

By 18 February 2017 9 Comments Read More →
Our Cars : A new lease of life

Our Cars : A new lease of life

Alexander Boucke Car ownership involves certain plights – at least if the word automobile has a certain importance for you. Of course, we all know that servicing car is essential to remain mobile. When a timing belt slips into the equation, this often means a significant expenditure, in particular when a big V6 fills the […]

Blog : The view ahead…

Blog : The view ahead…

Alexander Boucke While I know that about 3 per cent of the New Year have already passed, I will start with a look in the rear view mirror… Listening to a two-hour special on the local radio station playing just David Bowie songs, I am reminded that 2016 had some memorable moments, but certainly not all […]

Concepts & Prototypes

Concepts and prototypes : Vauxhall Scamp

Concepts and prototypes : Vauxhall Scamp

In 1974, Vauxhall designed this superb-looking supermini with an eye on stealing a share of Europe’s fastest-growing sector of the market. Sadly, it wasn’t to be – most probably because it didn’t have the platform to underpin it…

Concepts and prototypes : Vauxhall Equus

Concepts and prototypes : Vauxhall Equus

Keith Adams tells the story of the promising Vauxhall Equus – a sports car from Luton which could have shown the Triumph TR7 the way home, had it made it off the ground. Panther Westwinds would have built this Magnum-based ragtop, but would it have sold in the post-hot hatch world of the 1980s? Luton reinvents […]

Concepts and prototypes : Maxi-based Aquila

Concepts and prototypes : Maxi-based Aquila

The biggest criticism normally aimed at the Maxi – other than the early model’s obstructive gearchange – is usually reserved for its plain Jane styling. The Aquila showed how it could have been made into a far more stylish beast. Alas, it was only ever to be a one-off styling exercise.

Sports car projects : ADO30

Sports car projects : ADO30

Robert Leitch tells the story of the amazing ADO30 – a grand tourer that sprung out of a design competition before coming close to replacing the Austin-Healey 3000. The ‘Fireball XL-5’ proved to be a victim of internal politics, tight budgets, and more pressing problems for parent company BMC. But still, it would have been wonderful…

Concepts and prototypes : Mini – Classic

Concepts and prototypes : Mini – Classic

A brief look at how the ground-breaking Mini made it from sketch pad to showroom in little more than two years, a remarkable achievement for a car that completely threw away the rule book. Keith Adams walks through the Mini’s development to production reality in August 1959. From cigarette packet to showroom in 30 months […]

Concepts and prototypes : Triumph Fury

Concepts and prototypes : Triumph Fury

The Triumph Fury was a little more than a motor show crowd pleaser – it was a hint at what Triumph could really achieve with its sports car range during the 1960s. Shame this show concept didn’t make it into production… It was a huge missed opportunity.

Facts & Figures

The converters : Owen Sedanca

The converters : Owen Sedanca

The Owen Sedanca was an amazing coupe, based on the 1970s Jaguar XJ6 and built by Panther Westwinds. Only three were made, but they now have a cult following…

Obituary : Timo Makinen 1938-2017

Obituary : Timo Makinen 1938-2017

Timo Makinen, legendary Finnish rally driver has died, aged 79. Among his achievements was a hat-trick of wins in the RAC Rally driving the Ford Escort, but he is perhaps best remembered as one of the of the ‘three musketeers’ of the British Motor Corporation’s works rally team in the 1960s – alongside fellow Finn Rauno Aaltonen and Ulsterman Paddy Hopkirk.

History : Production figures

History : Production figures

Ever wanted a full breakdown of BMC>MGR production figures, but didn’t know where to go? Fear not – AROnline has all the numbers you’ll ever need.

History : The Ryder Report

History : The Ryder Report

The Ryder Report was commissioned by the government in 1976 and took a year to compile. It underlined the £1.5bn plan to return BL to profitability by 1981.

Sales Talk : Pitch perfect? Far from it…

Sales Talk : Pitch perfect? Far from it…

Taking the cars to the customer if they don’t come to you is just one way of creating business. However, missed opportunities happen all too often as our Mike Humble witnessed only recently. The sad thing is though it’s just oh so very simple to get it right. A newly-appointed MG dealer proudly displays their wares in a busy […]

History : The complete BMH story – Part One

History : The complete BMH story – Part One

Ian Nicholls charts the complete history of the product of the short-lived merger between BMC and Jaguar, forming British Motor Holdings. It’s a tale of ill-judged hirings and firings, odd and disastrously bad product decisions and a night of the long knives. Read on to learn more about this short but turbulent period of automotive […]

Recent stories worth reading

The Converters : Panther Rio

The Converters : Panther Rio

The Panther Rio was a brave idea – to take a humble family saloon and upgrade it into a brilliantly economical luxury car. A mere 35 were sold, probably because it was too expensive, and not different enough from the Triumph Dolomite.

The cars : Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2

The cars : Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2

The full story of how the front-wheel drive Vauxhall Cavalier overturned the Ford Sierra and Austin Montego in the UK fleet market during the 1980s.

The cars : Ford Granada Mk1 and Mk2

The cars : Ford Granada Mk1 and Mk2

When launched in 1972, the Ford Granada represented a bold move in Ford’s pan-European strategy. It replaced the Zephyr/Zodiac in the UK, and the P7-series in Germany with a new and stylish Anglo-German design.

Marques : Triumph Story – Part One

Marques : Triumph Story – Part One

Triumph’s history was an interesting one but, following bankruptcy on the eve of World War II, it was left to The Standard Motor Company to pick up the baton and shape Triumph’s brave new world…

The cars : Matra-Simca Rancho

The cars : Matra-Simca Rancho

The 1977 Matra-Simca Rancho is one of those wonderful cars that made more of an impact than anyone realised at the time of its launch. Today, no-one would bat an eyelid if a manufacturer launched a chunky-looking van-based lifestyle vehicle with looks that hinted at off-road ability– but back in the late 1970s, this was radical stuff. Here’s its story.

The cars : Fast Ford Escorts

The cars : Fast Ford Escorts

Everyone, and we mean everyone loves a fast Ford Escort. And to celebrate that, we’ve pulled together a list of all the best – from Mk1 Twin Cam to Mk4 RS Cosworth. It’s an eclectic bunch, we’re sure you’ll agree.

The cars : Vauxhall Viva

The cars : Vauxhall Viva

The Vauxhall Viva is one of the most underrated British family cars – it was built at a new factory in Cheshire, and more than 1.5 million examples rolled off the line. Time to remember a great British institution…

The cars : SIMCA 1100

The cars : SIMCA 1100

The Simca 1100 might be all-but forgotten today, but this revolutionary hatch caused quite the storm when it was launched in 1967. With front-wheel drive, torsion bar suspension and a wide-opening tailgate, it had everything a modern family man needed in their car.

The cars : Talbot Samba Rallye

The cars : Talbot Samba Rallye

The Talbot Samba Rallye was launched as a follow up to the successful Simca 1000 Rallye, and developed as a budget-level rallying machine. With 80bhp and weighing at less than 800kg, it was a bundle of fun. Where are they all now?

The cars : Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

The cars : Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was an unexpectedly wonderful collaboration between Coventry and Hethel. With 150bhp, it was quick and exciting proto-hot hatch.

Concepts and prototypes : MG E-motion

Concepts and prototypes : MG E-motion

MG Motor unveiled its electric supercar concept at the Shanghai International Automotive Show. Styled in the UK at the SMTC design centre in Longbridge, it’s a fine-looking, albeit generic coupe, with echoes of the recently-launched MG ZS. It sports a controversial round version of the MG octagon, which has marque enthusiasts up in arms.

Prototypes : BMC, BL and Rover’s most tragic missed opportunities

Prototypes : BMC, BL and Rover’s most tragic missed opportunities

Keith Adams chooses 10 of the greatest cars that should have transformed the fortunes of BMC, BL and Rover. Sit back and try not to shed bitter tears.

Essay : Tony Benn and British Leyland

Essay : Tony Benn and British Leyland

Ian Nicholls examines the time when Tony Benn’s political career intersected with that of British Leyland. Benn was well-intentioned for his plans for the Government-controlled carmaker, but events conspired against him. Here’s how and why. The troubleshooter The death of Tony Benn only a year after the demise of his political opponent Margaret Thatcher marked […]