2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the creation of BL. Considering that’s now ancient history in the fast-paced automotive world, it’s amazing to see just how much love – some of it ironic – that there is out there for the products which the company produced between 1968 and 1986 (when the initials BL disappeared, and were replaced by the Rover Group).
Here we are, though, half a century later. On the morning of 17 January 1968, after much discussion, many false starts, and with considerable cajoling from the Government, the creation of British Leyland Motor Corporation became a reality. Donald Stokes and George Harriman made their way to the offices of Cooper Brothers in London, and it has here that the BMH and Leyland men signed a document called ‘Heads of Agreement and Principles of Management Structure’.
At 1.45pm the Stock Exchange is informed of the merger and at 1.55pm the media was let in on the secret. The following day, the newspapers were full of the ramifications of how the world’s fourth-largest car-making combine was going to compete with the opposition, as well as internally. This was going to be an amazing opportunity for Britain to re-join the Premier League for car manufacturers. We all know how it ended.
BL50: Celebrating British Leyland, 50 years on
Clearly, AROnline has detailed much of what BL did, the cars it built and the crises it endured during its all-too-brief existence. So, BL50 will run during 2018, focusing on the legacy of the company, offering a fresh perspective, as well as new interviews and features. Throughout 2018, we’ll also be running regular updates of the stories that were making the news 50 years ago…
The first new story will detail the run-up to the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings, and the immediate press reaction to news of the announcement of the creation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in January 1968. Stay tuned for that one.
You can follow the official BL50 account on Twitter for daily updates, and half century-old news stories.
For now, here are a few links to get you going:
- Read the full story of 1968 here
- The Road to Perdition – Part Three (1968)
- Read the Whole Story on the formation of British Leyland