By CLIFFORD WEBB, Midland Industrial Correspondent
Lord Stokes, chairman of British Leyland, gave an assurance yesterday that the new Austin 1500, which makes its debut on Thursday, will be immediately available in quantity production. Speaking at a press day for the new car at Shenington Airfield. near Banbury, he said: ” We have made certain that ample supplies are available in our distributors’ and dealers’ showrooms.
In fact, almost 5,000 are in their hands at this moment, and with a production rate now running at 2,000 a week, the car will quickly become a very familiar sight on our roads so that customers won’t have to wait too long to get one. We are passing the starting line at a gallop as far as production of this car is concerned.”
He said this progress was a tribute to Harrv Webster, chief engineer of Austin Morris. who had ‘ honed to perfection ” the original design of Alec Issigonis and George Turnbull, managing director of Austin Morris. who had insisted on the right production level before announcement. For the first six months it would be sold only in the home market, to satisfy the first flush of demand there instead of trying to spread the available supplies thinly over the whole world,which satisfied nobody.
It would be introduced in Europe in the autumn. He described the car as ” the most thoroughly tested and proved model the motor industry has ever produced. We have done over a million miles of intensive testing with it up and down the motorways of Europe. in the hot summer of Portugal. and even inside the Arctic Circle in Lapland last winter.”