Blog: Made in England

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

I’ve often thought that the UK car industry is still up there with the best in the world. Why say that, when we have no large indigenous companies left, and although MG Rover is still as British as Elizabeth Windsor (OK, bad example…), it can no longer be considered large.

In fact, with an output of just over 100,000 units a year, it only just constitutes a medium-sized company… in global terms, a real minnow, then.

As a country, though, the UK still produces a healthy number of cars. In Swindon, we have Honda; in Washington, we have Nissan; and in Burnaston, we have Toyota. Let’s not also forget, that we also have two ex-Rover Group amputees: MINI in (what was) Cowley and Land Rover in Solihull.

So, we still have a thriving motor industry, employing thousands of Britons.

MG Rover isn’t in the same league
as the multi-nationals, but is way
too big to count as specialist…

There’s also the specialist sector, and although it is slowly slipping into foreign ownership, the talent behind companies such as Lotus and TVR is still very much British. So where does MG Rover fit into this? It isn’t in the same league as the multi-nationals, but is way too big to count as specialist…

Maybe so, but in the way it operates, MG Rover is much nearer being the latter rather than the former. Look at the development of the RD/X60 and the X12 (MG ZT V8)… because BMW left Rover with an almost negligible development resources, it needed to tap into the rich seam of talent within the specialist industry. It is a strategy that the Rover Group employed in the past, notably during the development of the MGF, but that was a project not destined to be part of the volume sector.

Now that RD/X60 is firmly back on track, the ill-fated tie-up with TWR Engineering is a thing of the past, and the project continues as an in-house effort. Or does it? There are rumours that Pininfarina could be involved – but right now, at this point in time, that is all they are: rumours.

However, history could be repeating itself: it seems that MG Rover is now working on the replacement for the TF and although it still sells well, its age is becoming more of a factor with buyers. And where better to obtain the best development resources than from the specialist sector? In this case, it seems that the company drafted in to assist with that car’s development is Menard Engineering Limited. And which company did MEL buy-out last year? TWR Engineering…

The plot thickens.

Still, this strategy defintely seems to be the way forward. We have the talent in the UK, so let’s go and use it.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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