From the archives : New car news 1-7 January

Compiled by Keith Adams, taken from AROnline‘s vast archive

50 years ago this week:
Looks like snow was stopping play!

Workmen digging to free a train which was trapped in deep drifts on Dava Moor between Forres and Grantown on Spey in Scotland.
Winter 1962/’63 was severe in the UK. And it had a predictably bad effect on BMC production.

The Times, 2 January 1963: On a day of snow showers and freezing rain. supplies of car bodies to motor manufacturers in the Midlands were again seriously reduced. The Pressed Steel Company said today that the supply of car bodies from their factory at Swindon had been reduced to ‘a trickle’. Supplies from the company’s Cowley factory have also been reduced.

At Swindon 700 men in the assembly department were sent home during the day, and at Cowley another 850 were laid off in the afternoon. Because of the shortage of car bodies from Swindon, production of the Morris 1100 at Oxford stopped at midday. Seven hundred workers were sent home. In Birmingham production of the Austin A60 was resumed again this morning, but stopped at lunchtime. Five hundred workers were laid off.

40 years ago this week:
Strikes, strikes, strikes…

The Times, 5 January 1973: SU Carburetter, of Birmingham, the British Leyland subsidiary which supplies all the group’s car factories with carburetters and fuel pumps, was closed last night by a strike over a works Christmas party. One hundred women pump assemblers walked out during the day in protest at the management’s decision to withhold two days’ holiday pay. Management said they stopped work to hold a party at 10.45am instead of 12.30pm on the last working day before Christmas. About 600 of the remaining 730 employees either walked out in sympathy or were laid off. The company had told the union they were prepared to negotiate on the amount of holiday pay to be docked, but there must be some loss of pay There was no immediate threat to car production because SU normally maintain sufficient stocks for a month.

The Times, 6 January 1973: Production was disrupted at dozens of factories in Wales yesterday as engineering workers staged a one-day strike in protest against the Industrial Relations Act and the £55,000 fine on the engineering union over the case of Mr James Goad. Local union leaders said most of the 13,500 engineering workers in west Wales and Swansea supported the strike call but some factories reported a normal turn-out. The Pressed Steel Fisher car components factory at Felinfoel, Llanelli, which employs 2000, was closed. The adjoining British Leyland components factory said 400 men stayed away.

25 years ago this week:
Record sales in boom-time Britain

Ford Escort was Britain’s best-selling car in 1987…

Glasgow Herald, 7 January 1988: Sales of new cars in Britain broke through the two million barrier last year, with Ford dominating a buoyant market, their cars holding the top three positions. Demand has been sustained since the record E-registration August period, with the highest number of registrations in December for 16 years. British manufacturers increased their annual share of the market from 44% to 48%, largely due to the number of Ford, General Motors, and Peugeot cars being built in UK plants. Companies and private buyers together bought 2,013,693 cars last year, adding nearly 131,000 units, 7%, to the 1986 record figure. While Ford remained the unchallenged leader, General Motors and Austin Rover had mixed fortunes.

GM lost 13,739 sales and dropped to 13.4% of the market, falling farther behind Austin Rover which, despite dropping nearly one percentage point, added 4345 cars. One feature of the figures was a continuing recovery by European companies, particularly the French and Italians. Austin Rover, which recently forecast a profitable 1987, also announced export earnings of £700m, representing 140,000 cars sold in 50 countries. Ford took the first three places in British car sales last year, with the Escort top seller, followed by the Fiesta and Sierra.

Keith Adams

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