Archive : Driving ahead

Over 200 of the British motor industry’s top engineers have applied to join George Turnbull, the ex-managing director of British Leyland in setting up a South Korean motor industry, Business Diary hears.

It isn’t surprising, considering the attractive salaries, reckoned to be around £20,000 a year, tax free Turnbull is offering. But it is symptomatic of the growing frustration felt by the bright young technical experts in the United Kingdom’s highly geared car industry who now see a more exciting future in helping to organize a whole new industry from the grass roots. Turnbull, who is said to have negotiated a £30,000 salary as head of Hyundai Motors, interviewed a short list of 12 for the first five jobs and the lucky ones include three British Leyland engineers.

They are Kenneth Barnett, BLMC’s top body design engineer, who is to have a similar role in Korea; John Simpson, chief engineer, at Dunstable Tool and Die, a BLMC subsidiary; and Edward Chapman, the 61-year-old chief engineer at Triumph’s Liverpool factory. The others are John Crosthwaite, former chief engineer at Reliant, who has been appointed chief chassis engineer and Peter Slater, chief development engineer for Girling who is to become Hyundai’s chief development and test engineer.

Turnbull’s United Kingdom spokesman hinted yesterday that further appointments are still to be made. The new men are understood to have accepted 3 to 5 year contracts by which time the plan to have 250,000 Korean cars rolling off the track a year should have been fulfilled.

Turnbull, who is highly optimistic about the Korean venture said at his now headquarters in Seoul yesterday that the English engineers would complement the “very high calibre” of the university-trained Korean engineers.

Keith Adams

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