Blog : 2015 – A year for birthdays, celebrations and reflection

This past year has certainly seen some notable birthdays and anniversary’s, some joyous and some more heart-breaking. Mike Humble ploughs through the memory banks and shares some past events…


Well, if Millicent Martin had her way, she’d be snapping her fingers while singing That was the year that was – and it certainly was one, at that.

The site managed to survive another year without any hosting dramas, Keith Adams came back to the fold, Pride of Longbridge 2015 was bigger than ever before and we brought you two perfect AROnline project cars – my own Montego 1600LX and Keith’s Land Rover Freelander. Rather oddly, when compared to our experiences with previous project clunkers, they both seem to be plodding on with little problem. In fact, the Montego is really racking up the mileage thanks to a daily motorway commute of 40 miles.

Current British metal has also caused a fuss over the past year. Ongoing massive investment has seen the opening of the new impressive Jaguar Land Rover engine plant in Wolverhampton. This has given the revised XF, Discovery Sport, Evoque and all new Jaguar XE an ultra-low emission 2.0-litre diesel engine, and, best of all, it’s recently been announced the plant is going to be expanded in the not-too-distant future. That’s great news for British manufacturing and a huge show of confidence in British workmanship and quality from the parent company, Tata Motors Limited.

Honda in the UK launched a new Civic and CR-V which both utilise the UK-assembled 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine. All three products are wholly assembled in Swindon, while Derbyshire’s Toyota plant launched revised Auris and Avensis ranges with the former featuring an all-new, Deeside-assembled 1.2-litre petrol turbo unit.

MG Motor showed that they sometimes do listen to public opinion and launched a revised MG3 in 2015. The 1.5-litre petrol engine now has stop-start technology and, with some engine software re-mapping, the CO2 level has been improved, MPG is better and driveability seems that bit sharper. We’ve tested this car recently so keep a look out for the report in the New Year. MG’s new compact SUV is currently well underway in terms of development and a few have been spotted out on the road. Can MG gain some of that badly needed credibility in 2016? We hope so.

Vauxhall launched the all-new Astra recently, too. A huge investment in the Ellesmere Port plant has cemented its long-term future in the UK – despite all global GM plants being invited to tender for this new model’s production. Now in its seventh generation, the Astra remains the only passenger vehicle GM produce in the UK but the company has promoted the facility to be the lead plant for all Astra assembly. More than 25 per cent of the vehicle content and over 60 per cent of global production for Astra is UK-sourced, too – and it’s received some very favourable reviews.

Leyland Trucks continues to break records despite a notable slowdown of truck registrations and engine maker Cummins, with its two UK plants in Darlington and Daventry, commenced production of an all-new, four-cylinder Euro6 engine aimed at the light commercial and PSV sector. 2016 also marks the 120th anniversary of vehicle manufacturing in the town of the same name.

But it’s good news for site fans, too. The coming year will see some interviews with key, top-level people who worked at the sharp end of the British motor industry and we’ll also be adding more information about some almost forgotten BL-related glory – so be sure to keep dipping in regularly!

The present and the future are looking very good for our manufacturing base, but it’s also a time to look back and reflect on past motoring milestones – some good, some bad and some just plain heart-breaking. Below is a list of events over time, see how many you remember.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane, drink responsibly, drive safely and most importantly…

Happy 2016 from all us of at AROnline!

45 years ago, back in 1970, car launches included:

  • Bond Bug
  • Range Rover
  • Triumph Toledo

40 years ago, back in 1975:

  • Ford Escort MkII
  • Jaguar XJ-S
  • Austin-Morris 18/22 Series (Princess)
  • Reliant Kitten
  • Rolls Royce Camargue
  • Vauxhall Cavalier and Chevette
  • The bankruptcy and state takeover of British Leyland

35 years ago, back in 1980:

  • Austin Morris A-Plus engine
  • Austin Mini Metro
  • Ford Escort Mk3
  • Leyland T45 Roadtrain
  • Leyland Olympian
  • Morris Ital

30 years ago, back in 1985:

  • Ford Granada MkIII
  • MG Metro 6R4
  • MG Montego Turbo
  • Vauxhall Belmont

25 years ago, back in 1990:

  • Rover Metro
  • Rover 400

20 years ago, back in 1995:

  • Rover 200 and 400
  • MGF
  • Vauxhall Cavalier discontinued

15 years ago, back in 2000 events included:

  • BMW sell the Rover Group and MG brand to the Phoenix Consortium for £10
  • Cowley works remain under BMW ownership
  • Ford Escort discontinued after 33 years of UK production
  • Land Rover sold to Ford’s Premier Automotive Group
  • Mini production ceases at Longbridge after 41 years

10 years ago, back in 2005, the biggest story was:

  • MG Rover Group collapses and enters administration


Mike Humble


  1. The last Mini off the line is a sad shot – not just because it was the final Mini but also because it was a time of hope for Longbridge and MGR.

  2. Agree with David. Ironically, the original Mini still outlived the Metro. I still remember vividly, most of the events that Mike has listed here.

    On a positive note, my Brother is about to take delivery of a new Jag XF with Ingenium engine. A show of confidence in UK car manufacturing.

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