Blog : 2011 – A pain in the Annus Horribilis?

Mike Humble says good riddance to 2011 and embraces the new year with both hands

Big Ben explodes the remains of 2011 - Here's to 2012!

2011 has left the building, its official. As a rule, I am often in bed long before the first strike of Big Ben come New Year’s Eve, but this last one, I made sure I was there to throw the old year out with the discarded wrapping paper, chicken carcass and old socks replaced by new ones. Last year for me anyway, will be marked down as the most traumatic in the whole of my 39 years, and I was so glad to see the back of it.

Personal reasons including being effectively made redundant for the second time in six months really dented my self confidence and placed an incredible strain on the old ‘Swiss’ bank account – my policy of running an ’emergency’ car along with a company one being put to the test twice!

The gearbox on my old 25 exploded with no warning, the lucky find Rover 420iL slipped through my fingers to be replaced by a Saab 9-3 Turbo which threatened to be a money pit, and staying with Saab – they finally admitted defeat and invited the receivers over for a brew. In automotive terms, it truly was an annus horribilis. It looks like there is more to come too, with Renault struggling like crazy and slashing the dealer network and product lines – I can see more motoring misery and dealer closures in this new year – survival of the fittest for sure.

As Keith stated in a recent blog, now is the best time ever for buying a new car – so if you can… do it!

Though it was not all doom and gloom, 2011 also marked some important times. The Pride of Longbridge gathering in Birmingham brought the biggest ever number of cars and visitors no doubt due to the passing of five seemingly short years since man’s best friend – Rover – was finally put down. Last year also marked the 10 years since the creation of this web site, and all of us involved were touched and chuffed to bits to see so many people at the Gaydon celebrations, despite the clouds above Warwickshire doing their best impression of an Indian Monsoon. Readership and participation of AROnline has now almost reached fever pitch – and it’s all YOUR doing!

I am looking forward to this new year however, not only because surely things seemingly cant get any worse, but also for plans afoot. My fingers are crossed for a possible up coming venture in the motor trade with much involvement with MG Rover products and aftercare, and I am also looking forward to spending more quality time getting to know the new love in my life – the project 75, which for the record continues to look great, drive fine and still make me have one final glance of her shapely curves from around the curtain before turning in for the night. After all these years working and driving these cars with trauma and tears along the way – I still relax with a Rover!

It’s a few months away yet, but we are considering a stand or pitch if you like for the up coming 2012 Longbridge gathering. It kind of makes sense really, owing to this website being the biggest and most in depth of its kind. So many of you out there are simply just names or IP addresses and owing to the vast information, trivia and stats coming from all walks of life mainly from the guys and gals like YOU who read and contribute no matter how big or small, it seems only fitting that like minded people who share the dreams and nightmares of all things British motor related can meet, greet and press flesh.

Though its a real shame that MG Rover are not with us to launch some 2012 Olympic special editions!

Your Ideas and thoughts for the 2012 Longbridge gathering are gladly appreciated – get in touch and tell us!

AROnline is considering a stand at the 2012 gathering - any thoughts?
Mike Humble


  1. A stand or pitch is an excellent idea.

    I’d love to come and meet the AROline crew and view their cars!!

    I’ll do some thinking and be back in touch…

  2. Same here, Mike, 2011’s been a nasty year for me as well, glad to see the back of it.

    It would be nice to meet everyone for real, hopefully I’ll be the proud owner of a 75 diesel by then. If I can make it, I’d love to come along!

  3. With you on this – I, along with quite a few others have had a crappy 2011 and very glad to see the back of it!

    Hope your business venture takes off Mike – working for yourself seems to be the best way forward these days (it’s certainly what I’m considering, that’s for sure).

    The stand is an excellent idea – would be great to put faces to the names (and I won’t discuss politics I promise – I know what happened the last time I did 😉 )

    All the best for 2012 to everyone on AROnline whether behind the scenes, front of house or customers – it’s by far the best car website out there!

  4. It was the year MG made a reappearance and at times sold fewer cars than Lamborghini. I think MG in 2012 should get the MG3 out, get a turbodiesel for the MG6 and promote their cars like mad. Avis buying some for their rental fleet is at least a start.

  5. I shall start saving for the petrol now! OK I know a Triumph has little to do with Longbridge but there is a connection.

  6. Mike, I note with interest your comments regarding redundancy and thoughts of a venture in the motor trade dealing much with MG Rover products.

    Five years ago now, I opted to take voluntary redundancy. It seemed like the best bet at the time – (i)Would my employer even continue in business if I chose to stay and (ii) Hopefully, I could secure a better job and still have some redundancy pay intact.
    Unfortunately, my money ran out and I held a host of crumby jobs before getting myself back on course. Anyway, my point is this – Whilst searching for new jobs I often considered the option of a new career involved in some way with Rover, MG Rover cars. Even very recently, before realising sales of the MG6 were so poor, I contacted the MG dealer in Chester, Graham Walker. Not surprisingly he never replied.
    When MG Rover went under I actually wrote to Jon Moulton of Alchemy Partners expressing my interest in being involved in his proposals for MG. He replied in six days saying simply “Noted! Odds against.”

    My interest in working for a business dealing with MGR cars is still very keen. Whilst my career is largely back on track I have still not achieved the progression I hoped for when taking voluntary redundancy.

    Anyone’s thoughts, reply would be of interest.

  7. Thats hope the MG Motors push their cars more onto the market place this year, and what’s already said that Mg needs a diesel on the MG6 and get MG3 made available.Thats hope other car rental companies follows the Avis example. Regards Mark.

  8. I too, am glad that 2011 is over and done with. I’m 40 in February, and can see a bright future ahead – after 3 years of redundancies (2), relationship break-down, ill-health, a money-pit SAAB 9-3 (some parallels there Mike!) and almost constant disappointment, I’ve finally turned a corner! Enjoy 2012, make the most of it, and good luck in your new venture!

  9. I’m with all on the end of 2011.

    I lost my mother in the summer, right after coming home from a trip to Canada. I also started up a business after being amde redundant in 2010, and this was supposed to top up the income from the part-time job at a US wholesale warehouse and to say it has been hard going is an understatement.

    Still it looks like things might pick up in 2012 so here’s to a new year and I hope everything works out for everyone and that your aspirations are realised.

    All the best

  10. It’s a pet services business, walking, sitting, microchipping etc. Had to sell my TF to buy the van I needed.

    Was out of work for 5 months before I got the part-time job, which was longer than I had hoped to be ‘relaxing’.

    My main regret was not doing it sooner, would have been a bit further down the line by now and perhaps built up a steady portfolio of clients. I know from otehrs who have done the same that business is slow to pick up and most of it comes via word of mouth. Hopefully by March we might have turned a wee bit of a corner..

  11. Firstly let mw wish all readers of this site a successful and prosperous 2012; the outgoing year wasn’t by any means a vintage year for me, nor it sounds many of you too, but as it’s confined to the history books now it can be reviewed and I defined 20111 as at best a fairly middling one at best.

    From my expectations, it is looking like 2012 will be an ‘interesting’ year. Without getting into the dreaded area of politics I think it is far to say that here (in the US) we are still in decline and the general feeling that we are all waiting to see what happens in our General Election in November, in the UK I see progress albeit slight and in the EU nothing but impending doom.
    For the general world economy, the Chinese will see 2012 as a crunch year as their economic starts to unwind – generally, people fail to see the government currency manipulation, that China has issues with actual balance of trade being a net importer of raw materials, food etc and perhaps the most damaging construction/property bubble. If you start to include the ongoing and unresolved Euro crisis you can see that realistically there is little chance of 2012 being a bumper year, (possibly the year it all bottoms out, with 2013 being the start of the upswing) however on the balance I can see the UK being in a generally better place than many other near neighbours.

    So for the motor industry what could happen? I see JLR going from strength to strength and if the buzz I hear is true then a further addition or significant tie up for our mates at Gaydon is in the works.
    With the end of MGR in 2005 and MG becoming in essence being a minor cog in the SAIC empire and one that they can well do without I, maybe foolishly predict that with the events I see upcoming in the global economy and the fact that the central government recent policy change to stop foreign investment in their automotive sector to focus on indigenous manufactures will see the MG brand sold in 2012/3.
    Longbridge’s facilities and the MG brand might change hands with SAIC keeping all the old IP – which is really what they wanted in the first place – SAIC may just offer a supply of existing models for the UK market for a period of time to get some value out of the UK outpost… oh and all the engineering/design group will be shipped to the mothership in mid 2012…

    Predictions are always foolhardy but maybe…but ladies and gentlemen might not be a bad time start saving your money for a down payment on a few share…

  12. with a bit of luck the demise of chinese mgs [ SAIC ]then sold on to someone or other motor manufacturer that takes the brand seriously AND GIVES IT THE CHANCE IT DESERVES ,

  13. I know what you mean Mike, regards redundancy and loss of confidence – It is hard. It took me 12mths to get back on track when it happened to me.
    Let’s hope the New year brings new opportunity’s 🙂

  14. Michael – comment 14

    That’s a bl**dy gloomy prediction – SAIC, like so many others, just taking the bits they want and then selling, disposing of, the rest. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly an unlikely outcome…

  15. Mike,

    Best wishes for a great 2012 – hope its good for you and everyone else here.

    I too am glad 2011 is over – having been very close to not seeing 2012 at all. However I have ended the year as a better person than I was when it began. And thats no just because I now drive a Jag!

    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help at all.


  16. Great pic! I’ll be bringing along my Biomorphic ZT-T in April, but not sure my mates Rover, and the white MG Metro is for sale…. Good times though 😉

  17. All the best to everyone for 2012 🙂

    Like many others 2011 was very crappy (all long stories)lets hope 2012 is a good ‘un!

  18. Mine was up and down. Up because I met my New Year’s resolution to get AROnline on to a new web platform, even if my hand was forced a little. I also managed to temper my car buying to a more realistic level.

    Down because the last three months were spent far less mobile, thanks to the breakages… but on the plus side, I kept my job up and running – so very important these days.

    Mike, I have a feeling 2012 will be good for you. See you at the Pride of Longbridge.

  19. Best wishes for 2012 everyone.

    I came within three weeks of redundancy in 2011, but found a post to transfer into on a contract that now lasts to January 2013. Not bad at the moment, I suppose. Looking for a permanent contract in 2012, which would mean I can invest in a new motor to replace the ’04 Fiesta. Am looking longingly at R75s on e-bay!

  20. Hope 2012 is a better year for you Mike. By the way, my Rover 45 was called a 1.6 Olympic S (yr2000) in Platinum silver with 15″ Fission alloys & spoiler. I always thought it looked a classy car, despite what others thought of the 45/ZS.

  21. How are things coming along regarding the 2012 Longbridge gathering? I’d still love to come and meet all those connected with AROnline.

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