Effect of Streamlining B.M.C. Design Forces
MOTORS AND MOTORING
From Our Motoring Correspondent
News of the launching at Longbridge of the British Motor Corporation’s new £550,000 design building prompts a closer look at the effect that this particular streamlining-bringing the group’s main design forces under one roof-will have on its products.
Primarily it will mean greater concentration on unified design, further standardization of parts and faster development of new models. And through their policy of standardization the corporation are planning big production economies. This is another example of tightening up of design and production technique by the British motor industry in the face of intensifying Common Market competition. By centralizing their designing force, previously scattered around different plants -B.M.C. will also be able to operate for the first time a single engineering system for their overseas subsidiaries.
But Mr Alec Issigonis, technical director of B.M.C., assures us that there is no question of this move blurring the distinction between the corporation’s different marques. In the 10 years since the Austin- Nuffield merger, B.M.C.’s “simplification” policy has reduced the 14 body shells which were in production in 1952 to five, and the number of engines from 12 to three. Today they produce only two types of four-speed gearbox, one three-speed type with proprietary overdrive, and two optional automatic boxes, while three axle designs cover the whole range of cars.
In the new Longbridge office block, passenger car engineering is divided into sections.
Group A concentrate on developing and extending the ADO 15 design in small cars of less than 1,100 c.c. engine capacity.
Group B, working on medium-sized 1,100 to 1,500 c.c. cars-which are in greatest demand throughout the world-will be the key to assessing the future strength of the whole corporation.
Groups C and D are concerned with large cars and sports cars, while Group F deal with engines. Of the ADO15 engine and transmission, B.M.C. say that although the last has not been seen of this layout, it will not of necessity be followed in future models powered by a second generation of B.M.C. engines which are now being designed and are in some cases under development.
But the ADO 15 Mini, introduced three years ago, with its transverse engine and front wheel drive, has been so successful that the principle can be expected to appear soon in other B.M.C. models that will have an even more remarkable performance. And Mr Issigonis is not necessarily confining his ideas to the small and medium- sized cars. In the meantime, the corporation do not intend to abandon their existing conventional designs, which they plan, “to perfect and refine within their own limits “.