By 10 November 2015 61 Comments Read More →

Top 10 : BMC>MGR’s most successful cars 1952-2005

Keith Adams

The Mini was BMC's best sellier

The Mini was BMC’s best seller

With the number of BMC>MGR cars on our roads diminishing rapidly, we take stock of the successive companies’ 10 most popular cars during the post-war years. Some of these numbers are going to shock you, simply because the cars are so rare on the road now. In fact, even the latest car on this list is now proving to be a rather unusual spot.

We’re going on overall production figures and our numbers include all worldwide and CKD production but, given BL’s dependence on the UK market, it’s also an accurate reflection of the situation on home shores.

Enjoy the countdown and don’t forget to have your say!

Mini
5,505,874

Of course, it’s no surprise that the Mini was – and is – the best-selling car of our era. With a 41-year production run and a huge volume sales during the 1960s and ’70s, the Mini remains an icon. Some would argue that five-and-a-half million in 41 years isn’t exactly a stellar performance but the Mini stands head and shoulders above its supposed higher-volume counterparts. It’s an all-time icon today!

ADO16 proved Brits liked advanced cars

ADO16 proved Brits liked advanced cars

BMC 1100/1300
2,151,007

The 1100/1300 put in a great performance to be the UK’s best-selling car pretty much consistently throughout its decade-long production run. The car proved that, contrary to popular opinion, British car buyers weren’t the conservative bunch many credit them to be – the ADO16 sported sharp Italian styling and front wheel drive in an era when tedious traditionalism was rife among its peers. The 1100/1300 fought long and hard against the Cortina but was eventually left behind as the 1970s progressed. Cheap and largely forgotten today… and so many were killed by rust.

Metro enjoyed two honeymoons

Metro enjoyed two honeymoons

Austin/Rover Metro/100
2,078,218

Launched during the height of BL’s darkest days, the Metro was a welcome poke in the eye for Johnny Foreigner. It was modern in an age of tired old products and chic enough for Lady Di to buy one. For a couple of years, the Metro was the coolest car money could buy in the UK – but time, and the opposition, soon caught and overtook it. The Metro was impressively overhauled to become a Rover in 1990 but was eventually superannunated in the wake of a disastrous NCAP test. Still fun today.

Morris Minor was the UK's first million-seller

Morris Minor
1,368,291

The once berated ‘Poached Egg’ has emerged as one of the classic car scene’s most celebrated popular choices – even before it went out of production in 1971, the cute little Moggy had entered the British public’s wider consciousness. That fondness made the Minor hard to kill – because, in reality, it should have been replaced in the mid-1950s by the car that became the Riley One-Point-Five. When that boat sailed, the Morris 1100 came along in 1962 to replace the Minor – and yet it still lived on. We simply couldn’t get enough, and we still can’t.

Morris Marina was a case of make-do-and-mend

Morris Marina/Ital
1,291,439

Another strong showing from a car that time has been rather unkind to, but which actually did a pretty good job of fighting Ford in its own back garden when it arrived on the scene in 1971. Many people have failed to forgive the Marina for replacing the Minor and did their best to take its best bits, donating them to the older car – and that has made the Haynes-styled saloon rather rare today. Like most BMC>MG cars, the Marina lived too long for its own good – but that’s hardly reason to consign it to the dustbin of history.

Montego was surprisingly popular

Austin Maestro/Montego
1,176,871
(Maestro: 605,411/Montego: 571,460)

The new mid-liners for the 1980s came along to replace the mix-and-match BL range and should have cleaned up. The Maestro especially was exactly the right product – perfectly sized to fight the Escort and Golf and capable of outdriving both – but hit the market five years too late. It was the same case with the Montego. However, for cars that were considered relative failures, they actually acquited themselves quite well. Rare now thanks to rampant rust and apathy, but those that remain are loved by their enthusiastic owners.

R8 was a desirable fusion of Honda and Rover

Rover 200/400
953,699

Here’s a surprise for the more casual fans of AROnline. The Rover 200/400 was crisply styled, packed with tech and incredibly desirable when it hit the market in 1989. A range that was powered by 16V engines, packing Rover 800-style interior ergonomics was just the business at VW Golf money. Sadly, Rover’s lead in the marketplace built up by these cars was instantly eroded by the HH-R and R3 replacements – uninspired, unmemorable and overpriced. It was a mistake the company had made before with the Austin Allegro.

Rover's supermini that wasn't - which then was...

Rover 200/25/MG ZR
780,525

You have to admire Rover for its ability to produce cars on the cheap. Don’t believe us, consider 1995’s Rover 200, which had been developed for the paltry sun of £250m. It combined a shortened R8 floorpan with a Maestro beam axle and contemporary styling to produce an up-to date supermini that should have replaced the Metro handsomely. Unfortunately, what should have been the new Rover 100 became the replacement 200 and was priced to compete with larger, more capable cars. A defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, only later fixed with the arrival of the re-engineered 25 and ZR, priced to sell…

Austin Allegro: BL's killer blow?

Austin Allegro
667,192

BL’s chubby underachiever was one of those cars that singularly failed to improve on the car it replace and, as a result, was punished in the marketplace. The contrast with the Morris Marina is stark, though: whereas that car sold well and is despised by classic car enthusiasts today, the Allegro sold poorly, and today has a cult following. Go figure… However, as a classic car, the Allegro makes a great deal of sense – cheap to run and fuel, it’s a head-turning conversation starter par excellence!

Rover 45 - came good in the end, too late for anyone to care?

Rover 400/45/MG ZS
644,882

The second-generation Rover 400 singularly failed to impress just about everyone who drove it at launch. Unexciting dynamics, drab styling and a dour interior did their best to disguise a remarkably sophisticated Honda chassis. That’s a shame because the 400 grew into a surprisingly capable all-rounder once it gained the boot and a larger range of engines was fitted. The Rover 45 facelift saw it gain some nice 75-Series seats, but robbed it of interior space – the MG ZS transformation was shockingly good, though. This was – and is – one of the great unloved hot hatchbacks, especially in V6 form.


Bubbling under…

MGB is still one of the UK's favourite cars...

MGB
514,852

What’s not to say here. The MGB was BL’s best selling sports car and loved in export markets throughout its 18-year life. Desirable at launch in 1962, humiliatingly hobbled at its death in 1980, but now the iconic British classic car capable of selling magazines better than any other. Half a million sales is impressive nevertheless – still, though, brings a tear to the glass eye to think that it was never replaced and will always remain Abingdon’s final product.  

All the fives: the oh-so practical Maxi

Maxi
486,273

Surprised to see this one here? Don’t be. The Maxi is here on the strength of solid sales and a long production run. Here’s one of those frustratingly incomplete cars that marks out BMC as a company capable of making cars that should have succeeded, but fell at the final fence. In the case of the Maxi – if you can ignore its quirky styling – poor execution was its undoing. Massive inside, utterly practical, a dreadful gearchange and stodgy steering put many people off on their test drives – only to turn instead to the familiarity of the Cortina. A hardcore of fans today will ensure that those which are left will be loved.

Some further reading:-

Full list of production figures

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

61 Comments on "Top 10 : BMC>MGR’s most successful cars 1952-2005"

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  1. Even in my biased opinion (Maestro and Montego were in my era), it seems unfair to add them together and deprive the Allegro and Maxi their fair ranking.

    Oh, and isn’t the 200 a Honda…

  2. Mike C says:

    Isn’t how you combine facelifted and related models part of the problem?

    For example, to my mind the Maestro and Montego are separate models, whereas if you’re combining the very different Rover and Austin Metros, the Ital should definitely be added to the Marina, R3 200 and MG ZR added to R25, HH-R and MG ZS added to R45, Ambassador to Princess etc…

    Doing this shows up the mediocre sales of the Maestro especially.

    Incidentally, what were the production figures for the Freelander 1 and Dolomite?

    One final thought: the Range Rover has just celebrated its millionth model! I don’t know if this includes the Classic or not.

  3. Glenn Aylett says:

    I don’t agree with merging the Montego and Maestro sales as both are totally different cars. However, it does show that, in a similar lifespan to the Marina (about a million sales before it became the Ital), the Montego was a relative failure.

    My family owned a Marina 1.8 Super which, while crude and dated by the early ’80s, was at least reliable, but the Montego 1.6 L I owned for a similar period was a reliability nightmare and had to be scrapped. This was supposedly a better car than the Marina/Ital, but buyers soon saw its shortcomings.

  4. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    Maestro and Montego were pretty much the same car underneath, developed in parallel, and marketed together. I’ve always treated them as the same car on this site and wouldn’t really want to change that now.

    However, you’ll see I’ve tweaked a little, so that the Marina and Ital are combined, as are the 200/25/ZR and 400/45/ZS… Should be more consistent now. Sorry about that.

  5. Ian Mackenzie says:

    One thing this data does show is just how important the A-Series engine was in all of this, fitted exclusively in the cars in the top two spots (and fitted to varying degress in five of the others as well). I still have a Mini Cooper SPi and remain astounded by just how well it keeps up with more modern traffic – if only I could find fifth gear…

  6. Ric says:

    I always loved the simple shape of the 1100/1300. However, looking at the side profile in the picture accompanying this particular article and with the GT version being most prominent, its shape is as I would imagine a 5-door MGB. From the headlights through to the tail end, its very similar – albeit with a shortened bonnet.

  7. Karl says:

    What strikes me is the importance of small cars to BMC and how, between the 1100 and the Metro, there was a glaring gap in the lineup (and volume sales) which then got even larger as the Nineties progressed.

    Just imagine if there had been an Austin 7/Morris Minor for the 21st Century… Maybe the margins would have been small, but look at how many Ford Kas there are out there: cheap and cheerful, but stylish and unique – they raised the profile of Ford at a time when their other cars were frankly dreary sh*te.

  8. Chris Chapman says:

    Where do the Farinas (Cambridge/Oxford/16/60, etc) come in the stats, including overseas (inc. Argentina)?

  9. Will says:

    @Karl
    An Austin 7/Morris Minor for the 21st Century would probably have to be built in Eastern Europe/the Far East. MGR attempted that with the CityRover but the execution and quality were all wrong.

    A shame MGR didn’t pair up with Honda again – the Jazz would have made a capable supermini – or Proton – the Gen2 had potential with the Lotus-tuned chassis.

    The Ka was something of a gamble. I remember that many of those covering its launch at the time were amazed by this futuristic little car. I guess Ford had been burnt before with the Sierra and the Scorpio so dipping their toe in the water with New Edge Design on a small car that ran alongside the Fiesta would, at worst, be disaster limitation. The Ka, at best, spawned the Focus, Mk2 (or is it Mk3?) Mondeo and led the way to “kinetic” Design.

  10. Simon Woodward says:

    I was surprised by the Maxi sales (underrated – I learnt to drive in one) as there were only a handful of trim levels, two engines and only one body style when you consider the Allegro had 3 bodies, 5 engines and loads of trim specs.

    However, the one I was most surprised about was the R3, 25/200/ZR, with sales pushing a million, which just goes to show it wasn’t a bad little earner for BAe/BMW/MGR – at least not considering the shoestring budget it was developed with.

    Incidentally, what happened to the Princess/Ambassador, Rover 800 and the SD1 range?

  11. Zeuss101 says:

    I thought the HHR Rover 400 was a fantastic car – it was comfortable and did exactly the job it was meant to with a minimum of fuss. The early ones were definately pretty shabby looking compared to the R8 SEis but, by 1999, the 400 was a damn smart car.

  12. Marinast says:

    Selling lots of cars is one thing, but profit is what keeps a company going.

    My question, then, is would the Mini and ADO16 be top in a list of BMC>Bust models which made the firm the most money? This must be clear profit, after development costs, basic manufacturing cost and warranty claims etc. are taken into account.

    I think the results would make a sobering read for those who are keen followers of some of the firm’s most famous models.

  13. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Half a million MGBs, eh? Not bad for what was primarily a two-seater.

  14. Simon Woodward says:

    @Marinast
    It would be interesting to see which cars made the most profit? The Metro, Rover 25/ZR/200 R3 and the Marina must be the biggest favourites due to their high content of recycled components and short development times – that raises an interesting point: the simpler design the better?

    The MGF/TF must have made a few quid over the years while the Range Rover Classic spawned the Discovery Series 1 & 2 and the LR Defender 90/110 chassis.

    The Mini was famous for not making a profit according to Ford in the ’60s, so what other cars did BMC/BL/AR etc. make which were also unprofitable?

  15. Mark says:

    BMW knew that MG Rover would never recover when they took the MINI!

  16. Marinast says:

    The Marina budget included a large £21 million slice of money to upgrade the (then) tired Cowley works, but it was vital to allow the car to be assembled in a modern factory. Yet the company reaped the rewards of this upgrade – indeed, B** still do…

    The Allegro, on the other hand, was a cheaper model to design and build, using a suprisingly high content of parts from other models, but it never sold as well as the ADO16.

    However, that really was not the point as BL effectively replaced the ADO16, ADO9 and Minor with the Allegro/Marina FWD/RWD combination to spread market share without marketing two different cars with the same type of drive train.

    I’d guess the MGB made a healthy chunk of money for the firm – the expensive federalisation of the B-Series was partly paid for by selling the Marina Stateside and adopting the federal-spec cylinder head across the B-Series range. It recieved minimal improvements to keep it selling and sold well in the States where BL could charge strong money for them.

    Other bargain BMC>Bust models might include the A40 and, of course, the long-lived ADO9. Why is that not in the list above?

  17. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    Ahh, the Maxi! The chosen steed of many vicar, English teacher and caravan owner.

    I owned a 1750 Series 2 in Cinnabar red back in ’89. I bought it for £600, drove it for half an hour and sold it on for £725 – kerching!

    The most vivid memory was the gearchange and clutch – all over the place like a shot giraffe!

  18. Tim_Burgess Tim Burgess says:

    Mike Humble :The most vivid memory was the gearchange and clutch – all over the place like a shot giraffe!

    My Dad had a Maxi from ’73 to ’80. I always remember that the gearbox seemed to contain an awful lot of neutral but not much in the way of gears.

    Love that last comment Mike – very Carcoat Damphands!

  19. Tim Burgess :

    Mike Humble :The most vivid memory was the gearchange and clutch – all over the place like a shot giraffe!

    My Dad had a Maxi from ’73 to ’80. I always remember that the gearbox seemed to contain an awful lot of neutral but not much in the way of gears.

    Love that last comment Mike – very Carcoat Damphands!

    Hehe… if ALL Maxis were like that. However, BL being BL, they managed to turn out some Maxis with a relatively good gearchange and some with an absolute nightmare of a gearbox…

  20. Paul says:

    A few observations:-

    1) The Mini’s performance of just over 5m units in 41 years is really pretty miserable. Ford shifted over 4m Cortinas in the UK alone in just 20 years.

    2) Adding Maestro and Montego sales together is blatant gerrymandering! Add Escort and Sierra or Astra and Cavalier sales together over a similar period to see that the Maestro/Montego weren’t “relative” failures. They sank without a trace!

    3) The star here is the R8 – it was only in production for 6 years but racked up nearly 1m sales. A Ford-type performance that must have been very profitable for Rover given these cars sold at a premium.

  21. Mike C says:

    @Paul
    What’s also interesting is the very strong sales performance of SD3, selling 418,000 in not much time, and outselling the Maestro and Montego for much of that time – that’s really an indictment of the M cars…

  22. Hilton Davis says:

    Whatever we think about BMC/BL/Rover/MGRover products, they certainly made and sold a heck of a lot of cars over those years!! It wasn’t all bad.

  23. Karl says:

    Paul :
    A few observations:-
    1) The Mini’s performance of just over 5m units in 41 years is really pretty miserable. Ford shifted over 4m Cortinas in the UK alone in just 20 years.
    2) Adding Maestro and Montego sales together is blatant gerrymandering! Add Escort and Sierra or Astra and Cavalier sales together over a similar period to see that the Maestro/Montego weren’t “relative” failures. They sank without a trace!
    3) The star here is the R8 – it was only in production for 6 years but racked up nearly 1m sales. A Ford-type performance that must have been very profitable for Rover given these cars sold at a premium.

    Er, but the Maestro and Montego are a damn sight more closely related than the RWD Sierra and FWD Escort…

  24. CMPD says:

    What would be interesting, Keith, is to divide the sales figures by the years over which each car was produced. Sales per year would be the real measure of which car sold the best.

    I’m too scared to do it because I’m afraid the Marina/Ital might win. Mind you, on doing a quick calculation in my head, it might be the R8.

  25. The Rockabilly Red says:

    @Keith Adams
    The Maestro and Montego were not developed together. The Maestro pre-dated the Montego by about 3 years. They were very different cars ‘underneath’ – that was one of their problems.

  26. The Rockabilly Red says:

    @Marinast
    The site where that £21m was spent (the South Works) was demolished years ago. The only thing left is a stretch of railings on the south side of the site. BMW didn’t get a penny out of the money and it’s wrong to imply that they did.

  27. The Rockabilly Red :

    @Keith Adams
    The Maestro and Montego were not developed together. The Maestro pre-dated the Montego by about 3 years. They were very different cars ‘underneath’ – that was one of their problems.

    The only difference ‘underneath’ I can think of is the slightly longer wheelbase of the Montego which used the same rear axle as the Maestro, but moved back a couple of inches. All the differences between them are the ones to be seen when placing them next to each other – i.e. superficial styling changes.

  28. Marinast says:

    The Rockabilly Red :@Marinast The site where that £21m was spent (the South Works) was demolished years ago. The only thing left is a stretch of railings on the south side of the site. BMW didn’t get a penny out of the money and it’s wrong to imply that they did.

    Well, it looks like BMW got some nice railings out of it…

    CMPD :What would be interesting, Keith, is to divide the sales figures by the years over which each car was produced. Sales per year would be the real measure of which car sold the best.

    I’m too scared to do it because I’m afraid the Marina/Ital might win. Mind you, on doing a quick calculation in my head, it might be the R8.

    Mini sales peaked in 1971 and 1972 with 318,475 (1971) and 306,937 (1972) which was a good few years for BL with 218,322 ADO16s being built in 1970/71 along with 36,039 Marinas and 144,327 ADO16s built in 1971/72 along with 155,817 Marinas.

    The best year of production for the ADO17 was 1965/66 with 56,876 while ADO16’s best year was 1967/68 with 249,500 vehicles. All these figures are from Barney Sharratt’s ‘Men and Motors Of The Austin.’

  29. Patrick says:

    I miss the legendary Triumph Acclaim!

  30. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    There’s a link to all car production figures at the foot of the article and they make for a fascinating read…

  31. Marinast says:

    CMPD :What would be interesting, Keith, is to divide the sales figures by the years over which each car was produced. Sales per year would be the real measure of which car sold the best.

    I’m too scared to do it because I’m afraid the Marina/Ital might win. Mind you, on doing a quick calculation in my head, it might be the R8.

    Average Marina and Ital production works out at 95,599 per year while the ADO16 is 153,643 per year. The Metro averaged 115,456 per year while the Allegro averaged 66,719 cars per year.

    I don’t have figures for the R8 but the ADO17 managed a paultry 32,273 cars per year, narrowly beating the 28,836 average for the Princess and Ambassador combined…

  32. Marinast says:

    Incidentally, as an aside, Longbridge built 173,445 cars in 1999 but its zenith was in 1964/65 with 376,781.

    However, in 1997 (slap bang in B** ownership time) the firm made 343,157 cars – that’s hardly the output of a ‘basket case’ – but production fell by a massive 110,000 cars between 1998 and 1999.

  33. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    Here’s that link to the production figures:
    http://www.aronline.co.uk/productionf.htm

    /K

  34. Marinast says:

    Oddly, R8 production averaged 95,369 cars per year, just under the Marinas level of 95,599 (not bad for a ‘failed’ car).

    Ironically, MGR’s output for 2005 was 27,590, almost identical to the first full year’s production of the Allegro back in 1973 (27,528).

    • didierz65 didierz65 says:

      In all fairness, for the last 4 years(95-99) only the cabrio, tomcat and tourer were left in the catalogue… Stop the clock in 95 when HHR took over and you have around 150,000 units per year.

  35. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Nearly twice as many Marinas as Allegros – I’m surprised the difference was that great as they seemed to track each other quite closely in the sales charts, although the Marina came out a couple of years earlier. I wonder which there are the most left of today?

  36. Marinast says:

    I believe there are more Allegros than Marinas left today (at least in the UK) and by a comfortable margin too.

    On a side note, I wonder if there are more ADO16s than Allegros in the UK – many ADO16s were dead after just eight to ten years due to rot.

  37. Alasdair Mackenzie says:

    @Marinast
    I think you will find that the South Works was sold off for redevelopment by British Aerospace and was largely gone by the time BMW came on the scene.

  38. Simon Woodward says:

    @Marinast
    Your comment about the Marina’s figures being “not bad for a ‘failed’ car” is an interesting one because the Marina/Ital always consistently featured in the Top 10 sales figures throughout its product cycle.

    That is, indeed, not bad for a parts-bin special – no offence intended – and the Marina/Ital must have made BL a tidy profit over the years.

    Incidentally, in the late ’70s, my Dad had a 1.8 TC with a front suspension upgrade from the ‘Argos catalogue’ of all places!

  39. Marinast says:

    The stats for ADO28 improve if you remove the Ital from the equation. BL averaged 116,311 per year, more than the Metro though a good distance behind the ADO16 which was, I believe, BMC>Busts most produced car based on a yearly average.

  40. Mike C says:

    I reckon that, to put some of these sales into perspective, we should remember that the BMW MINI had sold 1.5m by the summer of 2009 and so should hit 2m within the next year or two while the 200,000th Freelander 2 was produced this summer (after 3 years).

    Indeed, as the Land Rover Defender hit the 4m mark in 2007 and the Range Rover hit 1m this year, I can’t imagine that the total of number of Freelanders and Discoveries will be short of the magic mark either!

  41. Paul says:

    @Karl
    …and your point is?

  42. The Rockabilly Red says:

    @Alexander Boucke
    The body shells share very, very, few common panels. The underframes are radically different. Clearly, you don’t understand how different “a rear axle….moved back a couple of inches” makes a car.

  43. @The Rockabilly Red
    Yes, it was a bit simplified. The only common visible panels between Montego and Maestro are, in fact, the door skins.

    However, when the outer panels are removed, more commonalities come to light: the structures at the front, the bulkhead and the floorpan are the same. Obviously the rear structures are different, as is the shape of the roof and the outer sills. It is as bigger difference as there is between an Escort and an Orion, but to me the Montego is clearly a re-clothed Maestro with a bit of length added to the rear.

    Looking at the development story, it can be said that the Montego received a major facelift before it was lauched – thus further delaying the launch.

  44. Chris says:

    Zeuss101 :
    I thought the HHR Rover 400 was a fantastic car – it was comfortable and did exactly the job it was meant to with a minimum of fuss. The early ones were definately pretty shabby looking compared to the R8 SEis but, by 1999, the 400 was a damn smart car.

    Spot on, mate.

  45. The Rockabilly Red says:

    @Alexander Boucke
    You say “…to me the Montego is clearly a re-clothed Maestro with a bit of length added…”

    Well, it wasn’t to me. I was one of the Engineers who worked on the design of both Maestro and Montego.

  46. Blimey, who am I to argue with you… My experience only stems from having had both M-cars in the family for ages and learning which parts are really shared – which are not really a lot regarding the body.

    The Rockabilly Red :

    @Keith Adams
    The Maestro and Montego were not developed together. The Maestro pre-dated the Montego by about 3 years. They were very different cars ‘underneath’ – that was one of their problems.

    Do you mean 3 years of development then? The Montego was launched about 1 year after the Maestro and shortly followed by the Estate.

  47. Lord Sward says:

    It would be interesting to see the full Sherpa production figures. However, with the factory in disrepair and bust, I doubt we’ll ever know the exact figures.

  48. Lord Sward says:

    @The Rockabilly Red
    Come on then!!! Tell us some stories! You’re hiding your light under a bushel!

  49. Iain Joshua says:

    The R8 was a great car. I sold Rovers from 1993-2000 and I have to say that the R8 was a very competitive car. It sold very well as did the Rover Metro at the time. The R8 was a proper joint venture and the models kept arriving and selling well. It was a great time and the Dealer Network was on a high when I started. We had exciting new models in the pipeline such as the MG F How could we fail?

    Sadly, that’s exactly what happened so where did it go wrong? Well, I think the main reason was that the HHR was not very well equipped and replaced a great car, the R8, which had more room, was better specced and had a superior interior.

    The R3 was exciting and I made sure that I always had one as a demo but daft mistakes were made with specs like fitting a standard electric sunroof but no electric windows on the Si model at a time when the public were more bothered about electric windows than a sunroof.

    The car looked great then they insisted on that terrible seat trim on the Si. Why, oh why? This was a car aimed at the younger market. Look at the early Rover Metro and R8 – great, very sporty seats which were then replaced with something out of an OAPs’ home.

  50. Jon T Pierce says:

    I think that it’s a bit cruel to rubbish the Rover 25. I cannot fault this car, having driven Ford Escorts from 1988 to 2004. The Rover 25 has more bells and whistles than all five of my previous Escorts put together!

    My last Escort was a 1998 R reg. Flight. I now own a 2001 Rover 25 Advantage S – which I have today successfully re-registered in France!

  51. Jon T Pierce says:

    Another point to ponder on is this: after MG Rover went, Auto Express ran a feature on BMC which stated that BMC was the third biggest car maker in the WORLD in 1968 – I was born a year later.

    Anyway, if BMC/BL/MG Rover products were that crap, would they have lasted as long as they did? Er, I think not. The Maestro and Montego were okay in their day – we did not have the choice we have now – worth thinking about, isn’t it?

  52. Ianto says:

    @Chris
    The HHR had a class-leading ride quality and was definitely a nicer place to be than a Focus or Astra or, for that matter, a Mondeo or Vectra.

    I had one of the last 400s before the 45 came along and it was a fantastically refined car. Sadly, after I sold the car, the new owner did not service it to the same standard as I had (8,000 miles, Mobil 1) and, within a year, the car was on a SORN.

    Look after a K-Series and it is one of the best engines out there.

  53. Mountain Rover says:

    @Mike: Cinnabar! I’d forgotten that colour. Where did it come in timing terms in relation to Vermillion, Targa Red and Flame Red, can anybody help me remember?

  54. Rodrigo says:

    What about the Farina range? Using Wikipedia data, all the range of Austin A55/A60 Cambridge, Morris, MG, Riley and etc show about more than 860.000 units, and it’s very probable that argentinian Di Tella, australian and soth african units were not included.

  55. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    Hi Rodrigo,

    That’s a very good point. I probably have the production data for these cars, but never included them on my original sales charts, as the site originally started with the Mini. However, that has moved on a little, I guess.

  56. Rodrigo says:

    Thanks for your answer! At the risk of being pedantic, what about Land Rover Series I/II/etc, etc/Defender? I think that being the very same vehicle -altough well evolved- produced since 1948 to this day, must accumalate well over 500.000 units in all versions with all kind of bodies.
    Maybe the same could apply for the 1300/1500FWD/Toledo/Dolomite RWD Triumph saloons, but again I’m only guessing. Anywa, it seems that the poor Maxi will not stand in a top ten list for much longer…

  57. I am lucky to own and drive a Jaguar XE which is superb car. It is probably
    the first wholly developed British saloon car since the Montego. Shows how far the British motor industry has traveled.

  58. M says:

    What would be the top ten in profitability?

  59. Glenn Aylett says:

    Hats off to the Top Gear hated Metro. This car managed to sell nearly two million units in its 17 year lifespan and was never out of the top ten best sellers until the mid nineties. Remember the Metro was saved British Leyland from collapse, was very popular for about 14 years, and was a cheap as chips to own small car that was quite good to drive and in MG and Rover form had quite a lot of go. Austin versions might have rusted, but a lot of cars did in the eighties, so it wasn’t unique in that respect, and by the time it became a Rover, it was a thoroughly sorted supermini with an excellent range of engines and much improved quality and rustproofing.

    • christopher storey says:

      Couldn’t agree more. We had a 1986 MG for about 7 years as a shopping car, and it was a lovely thing to drive , quite fast , comfortable with a good ride, and excellent handling.Nice looking as well in red with a colour coded interior . It was mechanically very reliable – I don’t recall a single mechanical fault . The Achilles’ heel – there always has to be one – was hidden rust in the floor pans, but as our last BL car it is one I look back on with pleasure

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