Blog : Can’t do right for doing wrong

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Top Gear Pall Mall

Well, it seems the boys from Top Gear managed to redeem themselves in some style on Sunday evening. There I was watching the episode unfold, when the subject turned to the British motor industry. As you can imagine, at the start of the piece, my toes curled as I wondered what fresh hell they were going to foist upon us; what cliches we were going to have to endure in the name of education.

As it transpired, my fears were unjustified. JC, the short one and James May celebrated our fine motor industry, rolling out not just the usual suspects building supercars and trackday weapons, but highlighting the output from the factories churning out cars that you and I actually buy. You know, real world cars such as Nissan Qashqais, Honda Civics, Toyota Aurises and, gasp, MINIs.

As the list of Great Britons was reeled off, you could sense the segment coming to a climax – and, boy, did they do it well, by filling up Pall Mall with Astons, Bentleys, Campers, JCBs, lawn-mowers… you name it. And for all of five minutes, I was proud to be British. And somewhat vindicated in everything I’ve set out to achieve with the grubby little corner of the Internet.

So what a shame that it was the BBC2’s programme controller decided to place its programme, ‘Das Auto: The Germans, their cars, and us‘, by Dominic Sandbrook immediately afterwards. Let’s face it, any car enthusiast who’s offered the chance to watch a motoring documentary after Top Gear is going to take it – because we don’t get enough motoring on the telly and most of us crave any opportunity when it arises. Sadly – and this is a real shame – the programme was part of BBC2’s German Season, and was offered in a package alongside Teutonic-themed cookery and travel programmes.

The irony is that it was pretty much a complete hour of regurgitation about how British Leyland (not the British motor industry as a whole) failed and why we were led kicking and screaming into the bosom of the German manufacturers. My main problem with the programme Das Auto was that it really simplified the whole British love affair with German cars, while turning into the usual ‘let’s knock BL’ diatribe. Okay, we know the failure of BL is something a surprising number of people still care deeply about – but, considering the programme was supposed to be about the German car industry, this BL navel gazing seemed completely out of place.

And did the failure of BL mean we arrived at VWAudiBMWMercedes‘s door in one fell swoop? Of course not! Let’s not forget that the Japanese makers gained the most through the contraction of BL and did so quite rightly on the grounds of value, reliability and availability. The march of the Japanese could only be stemmed by import quotas, something never levelled against EEC manufacturers.

Germany’s rise in the UK really only happened in the mass market in the mid-1990s when UK/European prices equalised due to currency movements – and German products were no longer seriously more expensive than ours. Finance houses made leasing these cars to fleets completely viable (thanks to balloon payment lease deals) – leaving user-chooers with the easy question of what to put on their drive: a 3-Series or a Mondeo. So, the exclusive image of these cars was within the grasp of so many more aspirational Brits, who just wanted a car that looked good and worked well.

Yes, BL failed all by itself, but the Germans weren’t responsible.

And that’s what was so puzzling about this documentary – if it was a programme about the rise of the German car industry, then why so much BL navel-gazing? And if it was about the failure of BL and the success of those who replaced it, then why no analysis of Datsun, Toyota, Renault, Fiat, Vauxhall et al?

But most of all, how disappointing that the most uplifting episode of Top Gear – perhaps ever – celebrating the greatness of the British motor industry, was followed by this ill-considered documentary about how said same industry was one big, fat, failure? I guess BBC2’s programme controller would have had no idea that Top Gear‘s programme was going to be such a patriotic affair (because, let’s face it, JC’s record on that subject is far from exemplary), so it was just a case of bad luck.

It just goes to show that many, many of us out there aren’t just satisfied with learning lessons from the past, but want to continue to parade our inglories at any given opportunity. Still, at least Top Gear was good…

Dominic Sandbrook

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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93 Comments

  1. The flag-waving Top Gear was good. Plenty of JLR stuff with the new Range Rover Sport and F-Type. Were there any new MG’s in the last bit though?

  2. Agreed – as I’ve said elsewhere, the programme failed to acknowledge the debt the Golf’s design owed to Italy, and FIAT in particular, or the struggles VW had to break away from the rear engine layout in the late 60s – before the Golf, they were struggling to gain any ground in the European market with products that were seen as ‘odd-ball’. Also such a shame that Richard Bremner wasn’t used more – he actually worked for ARG in the 80s. And as usual, WTF was Stephen Bayley rattling on about?

  3. The Das Auto programme was a total disappointment I was expecting a good documentary on the German Auto industry not the BL Bashing it became. I also wasn’t happy that he couldn’t get his facts right “MG Rover, owned by the Chinese” MG yes, Rover NO. he also implied that Cowley has always built the mini from classic to MINI (no mention that it was actually Longbridge). Shoddy and yes a total horror after A GREAT finale from Top Gear celebrating our place in the Automotive world.

  4. Das Auto was a letdown with the usual sniggering about Terry and June being the sort of people who would buy a Princess and the same old images of strikes. Also not pointed out was that VW nearly did a Rover in the early seventies with very outdated and undesirable products nearly putting them out of business. However, since the initials VW have a kind of cult worship among some people, criticism is never allowed, even though their nineties produ
    cts like the Vento and Mark 3 and 4 Golfs were awful.
    Also as has been pointed out in the main article, it was the Japanese who were the main threat to the British car industry in the seventies. I’d say it was only in the High Thatcher years in the mid eighties that Volkswagens became desirable due to three initials/

  5. VW was nowhere to be seen in Britain in the 70’s apart from the Beetle and Microbus,Datsun started the demise if anyone.

  6. One point they missed was that the BL unions were run by the trots and very few German Trots made it out of the camps prior to 1939.IMHO the beetle was a horrible car.the new BMW mini is ugly however good it is otherwise and of course Japans cars were right hand drive so we were their natural target initially they rusted worse than our cars did but a combination of price and extras sokd them. Personally I would buy a japannese car now if I had to buy a foreign badge.Currently driving a vaux zafira made by opel

  7. Just imagine turning up at your dads house in 1974 in a brand new 1602 or K70, your father would probably have killed you like he killed SS Stormtroopers thirty years previously…
    The idea of owning a German car never really took off until the Yuppies arrived in the mid 1980s and made them look ‘appealing’. Yes they had some good advertising but BL was not killed by them but by punters going to Ford, GM or the French as they built similarly priced cars of quality and design on par or slightly worse than BL but vitally available to order immediately.

  8. Also congratulations to Top Gear, they actually realised that we should congratulate ourselves as a country with regards to what we make and design here in the UK. Perhaps we will see an end to dropping pianos on Marinas and snide BL bashing that is about as original as a Russ Abbot joke.

  9. Tyhe problem with Das Auto was the presenter who frankly was just as gormless as Clarkson ( oh that I could be so gormless and rake the money in!!) . Also, as already has been mentioned, we had Stephen Bayley who does know his stuff but no longer seems able to marshal the ideas which he wishes to present. The plain fact is that German cars, which have always been relatively expensive, have become more fashionable in the mass market rather than the prestige market because personal incomes , and affordability of cars, in the UK have risen out of all recognition in real terms compared with the 1960s / 1970s. For example , to buy an upper mid market car such as a Rover 2000TC or Triumph 2.5 PI in the late 1960s cost about 1.75 times average gross annual income , and probably about 2.5 times net after tax income . A similar car today, if there was one would cost no more than 1 year’s gross income and perhaps 1.25 years’ net income

  10. Even in the 1950s my Dad remember seeing plenty of Beetles & Mercedes around & he wasn’t even living in an army town, where you might expect to see some cars brought back by servicemen.

  11. Actually it was the Germans who killed BL – but it wasn’t VW, B** etc, it was the German-built Fords & Vauxhalls that did the greatest damage. Cars that were available when the home-built model was strike-bound. The mass popularity of VW, Audi, B** only really took off when MG Rover was already dead and buried thanks to the Euro holding down the German currency.

    These days the Golf and B** 3 series are Top 10 best seller regulars with even the Merc C Class and B** 1 Series appearing quite often.

    As mentioned earlier, the success of the German cars in this country has as much to do with the self-destruction of the French industry as anything else due to a few very unreliable models and poor image. Plus the inability of the Japanese-owned makers to produce a top seller (Qashcow excepted).

  12. The Germans weren’t responsible for the failure of BL. All they did was make competing cars back then which was their raisin d’être. The failure of British Leyland & it subsequent incarnations is down to the private sector which includes the Germans in the form of BMW.

    BLMC failed to capitalise on the strengths of the former Leyland Motor Corporation & failed to devise a single market range quickly enough. A lot of this was down to bad management experience so a lack of development money can only be partly blamed.

    BAE failed to invest properly in the company. BMW did but then asset stripped it. The Phoenix era was BLMC in reverse; some bad management decisions (MG supercar, V8 Rover/MG ZT260) but fundamentally a lack of cash brought on by not having Land Rover nor MINI revenue coming in.

  13. @Bryan L Comment 4

    The Mini was actually built at Cowley from 1959 as well as Longbridge, in fact various accounts will claim the first ever was built there, even 621 AOK with its Birmingham registration plate.

    I haven’t watched Top Gear yet, but I did watch Das Auto and agree it was very lazy and one-sided. The only excuse I can offer for them focusing on BL is that the start of the programme compared old and new Mini, the classic being described as an icon. Yet, later on he described the Classic as a symbol of how rotten British industry was.

    As well as ignoring VW’s near collapse but for the Golf, they also conveniently forgot about the similar role played by the Isetta bubble car for BMW in the 1950’s.

  14. Another Top Gear where they either slagged off Vauxhall or ignored them entirely.This time it was the latter.They couldn’t resist mentioning the Dagenham plant,where a car hasn’t been built since 2001/02,but the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant that produces the Astra for both the UK and Europe didn’t get a look-in.Well done T.G!

  15. Well Done, Keith for pointing out the skewed approach of the Beeb. T’was ever thus, I’m afraid. Way back in the 1970s, there was a programme fronted by a guy who had once worked at Longbridge – John Reynolds if my memory serves – who made a big deal of comparing assembly times of a classic Mini with the then-new VW Golf. Surprise surprise, the VW, designed a quarter of a century later, was faster to assemble! Would they have compared the Beetle with the Mini? No way ! It might be instructive to dig out the facts and figures about VW’s ‘near collapse’ mentioned by 15. Paul Taylor. I seem to remember a continuous saga of failed models – 1500/1600/411, even a rebadged NSU K70 – and losses even greater than those of BL, plus taxpayer support from Federal and Saxony sources. Even the Golf wasn’t 100% from day one – there were several 1500 and 1600 engine problems plus rear torsion beam failures. The difference was that VW was able to get on and sort things out without being hauled over the coals by their national media…

  16. Why no Astra on Top gear? Why does everyone this day and age think VW products are so reliable. There never that high in reliablity surveys! The Dsg gearbox got VW sued lots. I buy and sell cars and there are a lot of traders that stay away from the newer shape passat as it has no end of electric faults. In my view a Ford or Vauxhall are better. Also when Jaguar launched the X type, everyone said its a Ford with a Jaguar badge. Why does no one say a Audi A3 is just a Golf or a Passat is just a Skoda Octavia!A Jag and Mondeo are miles apart compared to a A3 and Golf!

  17. @16 – so why do TG currently use an Astra as the reasonably priced car which they have repeatedly pointed out is made in Britain and actually rather good?

    @10 – They didn’t have a 6 in the Mall since apparently MG has fallen out with TG after Jeremy Clarkson’s recent MG6 diesel roadtest – see Sniffpetrol’s Twitter pages. BTW, Motorpoint currently has some very cheap secondhand 6’s…

    I thought the TG item was great – wonder the continually what BBC-bashing Daily Mail thought of it or maybe they switched off after the silly Eric Pickles item. It will be seen by automotive decision makers/influencers worldwide (possibly except France…) – they missed quite a few manufacturers, eg Thwaites, Ginetta, most kit cars, many bus and specialist coachbuilders – they could probably have filled the Mall 2/3 times more?

    I haven’t seen the German documentary yet but remember again what a lecturer told a number of us Rover management people on a course in the mid 1990’s – BMW = Bullsh*t Marketing Works. In all fairness we owe a lot to BMW (did TG mention Hams Hall?) but he may have had a point.

  18. How many people watching TG got teary eyed and patriotic at the thought of all the UK made vehicles yet themselves drive a foreign built car? Most I would have thought. They don’t practice what they preach.

  19. There was a glaring chunk of narrative missing from the BLvGermany documentary, the almost halycon years between 1989 and 1994 where Rover was on the rise with the 200/400, the 800 Mk2 and Rover 600 (all with Honda support). You also had the Rover Metro and Land Rover Discovery during this period. The ‘what went wrong’ story of the later nineties would have been more interesting, and what of the almost suicidal launch of the Rover 75 under BMW’s stewardship, and the cherry picking of the Land Rover tech?

  20. In the late 70s and early 80s I drove Hillman (gone but now, I suppose rolled into Peugeot), followed by British Leyland (well Triumph mostly), then had a string of Vauxhalls in the late 80s, all of which were pretty good. In the mid-90s I went German and owned a Mk2 Golf for 7 years and 140k miles then a Mk4 Golf (totally rubbish, broke down a lot) then Saab (until Saab were showing signs of going under) then in the mid-2000s Honda (super reliable and did a brilliant job for nearly 7 years) now I am back to German again (Merc C class estate).

    I would like to buy British, but they don’t make anything I really want or need.

    Mini? Too small, nasty facsimile of the real Mini, go wrong quite a bit
    Squashy? Nope, don’t need/want an SUV
    Civic? Yuk, don’t get me started on how bad the interior is
    Jazz? Wife had one, not enough poke for my long distance travel
    CRV? Too heavy on fuel, don’t need/want an SUV
    Jaguar? Too big, too expensive
    Toyota? Boooooring

    Looked seriously at an Astra estate but the dealer and some potential reliability issues put me off, which was a shame because I quite liked it.

    MG? No dealer, no estate, no diesel when I looked, massive depreciation. Unimpressed with the ones I looked at.

    My present car is a conventional estate which seat me, wife, 2x kids plus enough luggage for a week and will average a real 57 mpg fully laden driven at 70mph on the motorway. There is a reason that the Germans are king in this sector — they make cars that people want to buy!

    Having lived in Liverpool through the 70s, I can recall the endless strikes at Halewood and Speke, the dreadful build quality and unreliability of late 70s BL products. IMHO there was a combination of outdated management practices and the crypto-communist (sometimes blatantly communist) union leaders setting an agenda to take control of the industry.

    The French motor industry is ailing because of a combination of poor working practices, shoddy build quality, poor reliability and some unattractive cars. E.g. almost anything built by Peugeot with the exception of the 508. I can see the French motor industry going the way of the British ultimately.

  21. The reason surely the car industry in terms of BL died here was because it was an ancient behemoth thanks to Ryder and loony left Benn,the rest of the world caught up as well.

    The car unions in Germany are all powerful yet there is industrial harmony and the workers are very well paid.
    Then you haf the stick in the mud commitee men,killing a car before it was born- the Marina with Minor front suspension and one piece prop,the Allegro with marina heater box so it raised the window and scuttle and took it from sleek as Mann intended to a cost and production engineered catastrophe by design. The strikes were just a part of the jigsaw.

    You have to doff your cap to the Germans, they bestow reverance upon even blue collar engineers like you would on the countries top heart surgeon,how they must shake their heads with a wry smile with that defeatist british desease we have, always doing something down-like Longbridge or even Top Gear.

    I have to admit, i welled up with pride when they did the last 15 minutes of TG, it was superb and the videography of the F Type was without equal,it was Top Gear at its absolute best.

  22. @21. The Marina was never sold with a one piece prop, Webster gave it a costly two piece unit with the Dolomite centre bearing.

    Shame he never gave it a gearbox upto the task of handling twin carb B Series power….

  23. Yes,I thoroughly enjoyed TG, even the Pickles part. It was heart stirring that they filled the Mall and a credit to British industry.Sorry to read MG weren’t there, a missed opportunity to showcase the MG3 with the union jack on the roof. Hopefully Guy Jones won’t let too many more
    opportunities slip through his fingers.
    Das Auto was indeed interesting, but a real disappointment following TG and it left us depressed. In fact my wife Sarah was really incensed. We’ve renamed Dominic Sandbrook as Das Sandboot.
    I’ve never bought German,save that my 1979 Cavalier Centaur convertible was originally assembled in Belgium from Opel parts before having its’ roof cut off in the UK.

  24. Quote: “As it transpired, my fears were unjustified. JC, the short one and James May celebrated our fine motor industry, rolling out not just the usual suspects building supercars and trackday weapons, but highlighting the output from the factories churning out cars that you and I actually buy. You know, real world cars such as Nissan Qashqais, Honda Civics, Toyota Aurises and, gasp, MINIs.”

    Was I the only one who shook their head in disbelief at Richard Hammond showing such ignorance over the origins of the original Range Rover Sport’s underpinnings in his roadtest?

    The platform that underpinned the original Range Rover Sport (RRS) and Land Rover Discovery Series 3 was conceived from Day One to be utilised for both vehicles and their respective dynamic needs, even though the Discovery did reach the showroom almost a year before the RRS. Instead he implied the Discovery to be almost an inferior donor vehicle for underpinning something he perceives to be “more desirable”, in the form of the RRS.

    Clearly he did not recall that the basic origins of the original Range Rover were heavily used for the very first Discovery. Nor did he recognise the engineering excellence of the platform used for the Discovery Series 3 and RRS, not to mention cost saving benefits and reduced gestation period from utilising a very flexible platform design meant there was a commercial viability for producing a smaller Range Rover.

    Platform-sharing in an inevitable reality of the automotive industry and I really struggle to see why he implied that the link between a Land Rover marketed vehicle is not good enough for one bearing a Range Rover label. Let’s hope he does not get offered an honoury doctorate in Engineering or Business Studies!

    Apart from this rather questionable roadtest of the Range Rover Sport, I genuinely enjoyed the rest of the programme.

  25. @26, Thank god the RRS has a new chassis,with the old one its a body off job to do the clutch,accident repairs to chassis? Not easy. At least the L322 had a subframe.

  26. I’m sure I’ve seen a still photo of the cars and there is an Astra (possibly the RPC) in the background. MG had no chance, their cars aren’t actually made here, although a nod to the Design and Technical Centre would have been nice, especially as this side of the business has grown tremendously.

    It is typical of Clarkson to beat his chest and expect instant gratification for this excellent piece, however it is 10 years late. Why was he not supporting UK PLC when Dagenham binned off car production or when Luton shut down? Why was he not imploring people to see past the negative rep and drive a 75?

    He has a very selective memory, there is taped evidence out there of him liking the 800 and the MGF cars.

    Das Auto was a terrible programme and typical of the lazy attitude we’re seeing in the media these days. Someone spends 10 minutes on Google and Wikipedia and declare themselves to be an expert. What was his editor doing? Probably playing Candy Crush….

  27. “highlighting the output from the factories churning out cars that you and I actually buy. You know, real world cars such as Nissan Qashqais, Honda Civics, Toyota Aurises and, gasp, MINIs….”

    Er, no, wouldn’t buy any of them. Would consider a Mini is it was less silly and effeminate.

    Das Auto, where do I start with that one?

    The 2001 Mini was mainly Rover designed was it not?

    The early 90’s (before B*W then) Rover was a success, R8, relaunched 800 (killed off the Ford Granada), Rover Metro, K series, Perkins diesel engines, 600.

    JLR is NOT Indian, true they pay for it but don’t design or make the cars.

    How many “German” cars bought on the isles by herd followers were made in South Africa, Mexico and Eastern Europe?

    Why does every German car supporter bang on about the Allegro? It was over 40 years ago. Get over it! VW did plenty of dogs too and without the government holding a gun to their heads.

    Idea: I work in the media. Why don’t we get our heads together and write a coherent repost to this programme entitled “The Truth about the British Car Industry” and pitch it to the Factual Commissioner BBC Two or FOUR even? All the knowledge is right here. Even if the beeb don’t go for it, there’s other broadcasters and websites etc.

    There’s a story here that needs telling, properly and accurately!

  28. The range of cars that were shown on TV did not reflect everything that was on the mall. See this video that shows most of the vehicles there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjZ8rdUfhs4 note the Astra police car. TG probably thought they had exposed the Astra enough by using one as a Reasonably Priced car. There was also an Astra shown as the F1 cars drove through MK. It even had Vauxhall PR plates (VX or something like that) indicating it was probably filmed on a closed street with borrowed cars making up the traffic.

    May I congratulate Keith on a blog that is absolutely spot on. It is a disappointment I had not seen it sooner as I’ve just spent an hour ranting on about the documentary in question to a friend in a pub. One point I’d add is the insinuation made by the presenter that our automotive manufacturing is owned by the Germans. The input of the Japanese and the Indians is impossible to ignore. The Nissan Qashqai, designed in London, engineered in Bedford and made in Washington in hundreds of thousands is a more significant player in British manufacturing than any German firm. There are claims that Britain will produce the highest number of cars it has since 1972 this year and our manufacturing industry is much more healthy now than that of the French or Italians to the eyes of this commenter.

    The Top Gear display covered this side of things. It is something often neglected and a far more worthy subject for a documentary than yet another regurgitation of the reasons for the collapse of BL. A subject covered far more insightfully by people far more knowledgeable – about that subject – than Mr. Sandbrook. It is a tremendous disappointment to me that much of the new ground covered by the documentary was so misleading. My impression is that the conclusion of the documentary was reached before the research was conducted.

  29. I watched the programme Das Auto and while good in places I felt yet again that it was way too simplistic and focused on a short period in the 1970’s which did not represent the reality of Britain’s volume car manufacturing demise.
    Firstly Jaguar Rover Triumph were very profitable and Leyland Truck an Bus likewise. BMC’s problems stemmed from mistakes in the 60’s, namely BMC 1800 and Maxi/ 3 Litre. Mini and ADO16 were not sufficiently updated and productivity was very poor due to lack of modernisation in the 60’s and 70’s.
    VW nearly went bankrupt in 1973/4 and had a huge bailout just before Golf, Sciroco and Passatt were launched in 1974.
    Yes the Allegro was a big mistake due to design, quality, and engine in sump gearbox. VW Golf was much better but was very expensive in the 1970’s hence the low sales of VW.
    ARG cocked up again with Maestro and to a lesser extent Montego and lost valuable ground when they should have been the turnaround cars. Rover R8 on the other hand was better than the Golf of 1990 (quite a poor car as was the BMW 3 series of that era).
    No what the Germans have shown is consistency linked to good marketing and image. That has paid dividends. The constant ownership changes and changes to models, design direction and branding did for British cars including Roots Group, and Triumph. It is no coincidence that JLR are doing so well as their branding and products have been more consistent over the years. Having said that getting out of the volume game was probably what BLMC should have done in the 1970’s and become the worlds best premium branded company with Jaguar, Rover, Land Rover, Triumph and MG. Austin Morris was all but finished by 1974. The recession finally exposed all the weaknesses of BLMC and we have seen the rest. Difficult for MG to claw back from the depths it has sunk but time will tell…

  30. Rovers R8 troubled Ford in the sales chart more than any 3 Series or Golf.
    The improvements from the Escort to Focus was a direct result of the quality of the 200/400 range and the impact it made in the sales charts.
    For a brief moment in the early ’90s the 200/400 range were regarded as the best car money could buy in its segment and sold accordingly.

    Of course Sandbrook has selective memory regarding this whole period.

  31. I seem to remember BMW being taken to the cleaners in the States due to their cars bursting into flames after a front end collision.

  32. I have been to Germany several times and what was surprising was their cars ‘owned’ by Germans.

    I would have expected loads of BMW’s and Mercedes but this was not the case.
    If a German had a BMW on his drive it was because it’s a company car.
    I spoke to a few Germans and like us they do indeed like their cars but they think BMW’s are overrated.
    Most prefer a Focus (I saw a lot out there) or a Golf.
    They see Mercedes as taxis (in cream colour) regardless of which type or it’s colour.
    I did see a few Astra’s and Vectras as well.

    Driving on the Autobahn was good fun though and no arrogance either.

    In this country the marketing ploy has worked very well. people aspire to own a Golf or a BMW. god knows why though.
    Any of my friends that have owned BMW’s have always ended up with eye watering bills !

  33. Last time I was in Germany was the late 90s, as diddy said, Mercs were taxis (C and E classes in cream).

    I remember seeing a few XMs in front of nice houses, as if big French cars were seen as luxury items compared to domestic saloons.

  34. @ Marinast – Comment 32:

    Quote: “Rovers R8 troubled Ford in the sales chart more than any 3 Series or Golf.
    The improvements from the Escort to Focus was a direct result of the quality of the 200/400 range and the impact it made in the sales charts.
    For a brief moment in the early ’90s the 200/400 range were regarded as the best car money could buy in its segment and sold accordingly.”

    Some good points here and when you think about it the R8 had many of the ‘characteristics’ of some German cars. For example, in the early days of R8 the entry level to mid trim levels did not have power assisted steering as standard, with roadtesters being quick to point this out and suggest the steering was actually quite heavy without it. But it did not matter to the majority of R8 buyers, as the product was so well liked that they were prepared to pay for it as an extra cost optional extra. There were probably other features too that were options which, on rival makes, were fitted as standard.

    It was a clever strategy for Rover Cars based on how good the R8 was in terms of build quality, engineering, reliability, residual values, perceived sense of wellbeing and the aspirational nature of the Rover image. Add to this some clever marketing which focused on the aspirational elements of the product itself and its whole ethos could almost have been written by Volkswagen today for its current range.

  35. I still remember the advertising billboards for the gorgeous R8 Tomcat.

    It had a dark photograph of the curvy bodywork, underneath was the line:

    “No. It’s a Rover.”

    Almost what VW group did with Skoda (or indeed their own VW brand when it went aspirational with the mid 90s Passat).

  36. That Top Gear feature was very good, the fact that they didn’t highlight every factory shows the variety of products we produce.

    Yes, Germany has a very strong, even dominant, car industry, but the UK one is in good shape. It’s France and Italy that are struggling to keep up, and countries like Belgium that have been really decimated, as one by one manufacturers shut their plants there.

    Oh, and that new RR Sport is suberb.

  37. Whilst I admire German industrial success (the UK should learn from them) Das Auto made no mention of the fact that post war Germany received a huge amount of overseas aid.

    This was in stark contrast to the situation in the UK which found itself utterly spent after the war but received no assistance from anyone. In fact the UK didn’t finish repaying it’s war debts to the USA until the 21st century!

    ps Top Gear should have mentioned Lotus Cars in Norfolk, especially given the fact that it does R&D for companies from all over the world.

  38. Most of this is just sour grapes. “Das Auto” was spot on, with some simplifications. The big, big point was branding. Why else would every former Cavalier driver now be driving a 3-Series? It’s expensive and has a terrible ride, but people buy the BMW brand. Having decided in the end that they couldn’t compete with Ford and Vauxhall in the mainstream, the Austin Maestro was replaced by the Rover 200. The plan worked for a bit. The question is how to persuade people to buy a small 5 door hatchback for £20,000. The answer is the brand. Rover became a weak brand. If you could badge such a car as a Range Rover, on the other hand, you might be able to sell a small 5 door hatchback for £20,000. Oh look, they did exactly that and they can get away with £30-40,000! That’s what a strong brand does for you.

  39. Some first class posts on here-great reading most of them!

    I always find it strange that people go on about “German” quality but what they mean is BMW/Merc/VAG-not (some) vauxhall’s etc that were also made in Germany.

    Then if you go to the surveys you find the German arent as good as there reputation.

    People seem to buy on image nowadays.

  40. I too have yet to watch TG, but saw Das Auto live. I thought the forum would see and agree with a number of points so I find it surprising that most are so up in arms.

    I think it highlighted the arrogance of management, engineers, workers that there was one way – the British way – from the 50s on without looking left or right or listening to what the market wanted. It also pointed out that market was not (and should never have been) just domestic but global, with Europe (and the EEC after ’74) in your doorstep. BL had the world presence and reach.

    We could have shown the way, but got complacent. How many blogs have there been on “missed opportunities” or “the one that got away”. We didn’t listen – and BL was notorious for it. Transverse engine, gearbox in sump, hydrolastic suspension – all examples of incredible genius at work, but ultimately under developed and flawed. No 5 speed gearbox ever on the mini as a result – in fact the only 5 speed through the 70s was a cable operated disaster in the maxi and allegro. BL knew best.

    BMW did turn things around really – and as he pointed out, took the Mini brand and put it front and centre. Could BL not have done this in the 70s, 80s or 90s? No – they celebrated it was a 50 year old design and kept it going! What if the metro had been retro styled and updated like the current incarnation 30 years ago?

    I love BL cars, and all things British. But for the Germans to lose two world wars, re-unify AND end the century owning a large part of the British motor industry speaks volumes to their communal sense of working together for a common purpose, rather than being out for only what the individual can get (longer tea breaks for example). The programme last night “make me a German” showed this work and domestic ethic working very well. They also seemed to have a distinct sense of pride on everything they do, with no pay rises over inflation for years. Respect for others seems much higher up the list than in other places.

    Sorry – ended up a bit long that!

  41. I agree 100% Angus.
    Been numerous times to Germany and the longest I spent there was 14 weeks.
    I loved it.

    There is no class feeling in terms of jobs that people do or using public transport.
    The attitude is that someone has to serve at supermarkets, flip burgers or even make pencils (as in last nights program). there is great pride in what they do.

    The Germans give an impression of wanting the best and most recent technology which is only partly true.

  42. @Adrian

    Agree with that, the worst car I’ve owned was a Ford Orion which was built in Germany. Yet people I knew who had UK built Fords swore by (and not at!) them.

    @Angus

    By the time the Metro was out, ‘Retro’ for 20 or 30 years ago wasn’t really in fashion. The post-modern 80s were about futurism, not nostalgia.
    Too soon too, a bit like having a Retro Nova.
    The MINI is the right product at the right time, as vintage is in fashion, in terms of clothing, hipsters, instagram mimicking old photos etc.

  43. @Will M I agree with that to a point. Retro wasn’t the right word, building on the style and image during the 70s (really, a more mini-esque 9X I guess) was obviously the way forward. I loved the clubman, but just a nose job was not enough. Retro was back in the early 90s with the 600 and it’s P5 nods back and front.

    We never seemed to look up from ploughing the field we had done for years and others capitalised on it. Apple is doing the same with the iPhone, because it once was so innovative and spawned all the imitators. It relies on build quality and design, but ios 4 to 7 hasn’t changed much at all really, while samsung have improved and innovated. If apple isn’t careful it will lose the advantage it had, because it just feels it’s way is the right and only way.

  44. Congrats to Top Gear, nice to see something that isnt just negative on the BBC.

    The Daz Auto missed so much, being a classic BBC documentry which starts with a conclusion and then cherry picks the facts to reach it.

    It overlooked the following points amongst others

    1: Failed to recognise that VW went bust building rear engined cars and had to be bailed out before building the Golf, Passat etc in the mid 70’s. Also overlooked Porsches financial troubles of the 90’s.

    2: Failed to recognise that the Japanese industry made big inroads into the German market in the 70’s.

    3: Failed to recognise that BMW bought Rover as part of a defence against take over.

    4: Failed to recognise that BMW and Mercedes attempts take over of Rover and Chrysler both failed. Yet Ford / Tata have since had success and Fiat also is making progress with Chrysler.

    5: Overlooked that “German” quality is an advertising myth as German manufacturers have suffered quality issues, and their products are trending downwards across the globe in consumer quality assessment.

    6: Overlooked that the French in particular Peugeot successfully made cars in UK and shifted a hell of a lot of metal since the 70’s to the UK.

    7: That moost German car industry expansion has been in factories in Eastern Europe, that many of the German cars we buy will come from Hungary, Mexico etc. The reality being that German workers are matched in quality and priced out by their Polish, Hungarian and Cecz peers.

    8: Understated the success of the Japanese factories in the UK and that this was done well before BMW started with the Mini.

    9: Overlooked the fact that Mercedes F1 operation, be it cars or engines is a British enterprise.

  45. He also failed to mention that 85% of new German cars bought here are owned for three years or so as their ‘attractive’ finance deals mean low deposit and monthly repayments with a very large end payment. The end result is that most hand the keys back and the car is not actually paid off until it is sond on the second hand market.

    If the second hand market demand for German cars would collapse they would be buggered.

  46. Yeah Yeah Yeah “German cars perceived quality a triumph of marketing over engineering” Yawn

    Over a 30 year timeframe my 3 stand out worst cars have been made in…… I was about to say Britain but I will change that to ENGLAND! My stand out best have been made in German. In both cases all different decades, manufacturers and plants.

    The one that really put the icing on the cake was TopGear’s praise of Honda. My 2008 FN2 Civic was not only a P.O.S but an expensive one at that.

    You guys go spend your money on what you want. I will be running a mile from anything assembled or substantially designed in the UK in future.

  47. Sorry Angus, you have got your facts a bit wrong. The Maxi had a rod gear change after October 1970 and the Allegro 1500/ 1750 was always rod change. The roll pin that connected the gear change to the gear box had a habit of coming out part way and you were unable to select half of the gears, then a big sigh of relief when you pushed it back in and you had all the gears again ! Although better than the cable change it was still a pretty crap gear change. Funny how a lot of modern cars/ vans have a cable change and they are no problem

  48. Well I think Das Auto nailed it right at the beginning. The British car industry failed because of structural problems dating from the 50s and even earlier. Basically, we had too many small firms chasing a small market, which got much smaller as countries in the British Empire gained independence. I too lament the fact that I and hundreds of thousands of others don’t drive to work in a much prized Rover P13s (though I sometimes drive to work in an SD1…) but it doesn’t get away from the basic problem that none of the UK’s many companies really made anything like enough profit to sustain themselves in the long term. So they couldn’t afford to invest in new plant, develop really competitive new models or, arguably, maintain good labour relations. The writing was on the wall for the 60s and though the flame gutterred a bit before it finally went out in 2005, it was basically a case of needing a miracle for it to survive. It’s amazing it kept going as long as it did when you think about it. As Keith Adams has always said, it’s a great story…

    What I think is a really interesting question, which was not addressed, was why we ended up like this. If you wanted a large, prestigious German car in, say, 1960, you could buy a Merc, one of those odd v8 BMWs or a large Opel. In Britain you could have a Rover, Jaguar, Humber, Wolseley/ Riley/ VdP/ Austin Westminster, Standard Vanguard, Ford Zephyr or Vauxhall Cresta. In global terms none of these sold very many, but all were developed separately, had their own dealers, marketing expenses etc etc. How did we end up in this position? Was it because British industrial finance favoured creation of many small firms rather than a small number of big ones? Was it something about the British entrepreneurial character wanting to retain independence? Was takeover and consolidation more difficult in the UK than elsewhere? Is there an innate distrust of big companies in the UK? is there even something in the class system that encourages diversity in product (eg all the cars named above are basically quite similar, but have different images and perceptions of who would buy them)?

    Thoughts…?

  49. @53, Julian Robinson, regarding your second paragraph I’d argue (as a hastily constructed theory) that rather than being a quirk of Britain it is a characteristic of all maturing car markets. In China today, for example, there are hundreds and hundreds of indigenous manufacturers that have sprung up as demand for cars has increased. As a market matures the number of players will reduce. In the UK firms ended up going defunct or getting bundled together in monoliths like the various incarnations of the firm. Even in Germany, for all the successful players still left there are firms like Bogward and NSU who didn’t last the distance for various reasons and a lot of marques who started small but ended up growing into massive corporations.

  50. Steve Donelly- “You guys go spend your money on what you want. I will be running a mile from anything assembled or substantially designed in the UK in future….”

    Yadder yadder….you’re on the wrong forum then.

  51. From what I saw all the major bus manufacturers were there….the New Bus for London (NBfL) was there obviously ( it’s referred to in the film by James May) and that would represent Wrightbus. There is also an Alexander Dennis (ADL) Enviro 400 double-decker, Plaxton coaches and Optare Solo SR and Versa. That covers off most of the manufacturers with the only exception being MCV who are a bodybuilder not a chasis builder. They build on ADL, Volvo, MAN and VDL bus chasis but its a similar sort of set up to MG where the bus is built up to a point (in Egypt) and finished in the UK. So it may be the case they didn’t qualify.

    Weirdly, I could have sworn I saw a Dennis Fire Engine (not sure if it was Sabre or a Rapier) in the line up despite these not being built since 2008. Of course that could have been there representing John Dennis Coachbuilders, who build actual fire engines on various truck chasis.

    Also good to see Dennis Eagle being represented as well. This used to be part of what is now ADL building refuse collection vehicles. I’m glad that companies like that which don’t maybe build glamorous vehicles still getting recognised…..

  52. @50 unfortunately most German cars are merely an exercise in good marketing. I assume that they often sponsor the results of car tests through advertising in said magazines. Otherwise how can one explain Audi’s wonderful interiors even though generally a desert of hard plastics and other bits painted in metallic silver. Concerning quality and reliability my German colleagues who do drive German cars appear to have plenty of problems and large bills to match.

  53. There was one thing that was menationed in Das Auto that has been overlooked in other places. We in the UK do not value engineers, elsewhere engineers have a lot more status, yet here are very much looked down on. The germans allow engineering concerns to overide finacial when it coems to product, yet here maximising shareholders profits is king.
    The result is in the UK very little gets spent on R&D

  54. @57 As I said earlier you buy what you want and I will buy what I want

    My recent cars

    01 Mk IV Golf

    no issues in 4 years (know they guy who owned it next and all that failed in 12 years was a clutch cable)

    05 Mk V Golf a dimming rearview mirror otherwise no issues

    08 Honda Civic AA out twice, on a low loader once, 3 batteries, 2 ECU’s,
    after 3 years paint work that looked like it had been hit with a shotgun blast, dashboard plastics that would scratch if you rubbed it with your finger

    12 Ford Focus (Saarlouis) No issues so far in 18 months.

  55. I feel that people have lost sight of the title of the programme. it was called “Das Auto: The Germans, their cars and US.” – it was a comparative look at what was going on at the time and the British attitude and relationship to German cars, and not about the German automotive industry specifically.

    I think that the angle that the subject was approached from was pretty valid. Some details missed and minor mistakes made but generally I thought it was a fair point made… tough pills to swallow but at the end of the day, we are where we are.

  56. @58 yes that is part of it I would agree. Law or finance seems to have much greater kudos as a career path. I didn’t used to be before WWI

    This is subjective but overhearing conversations in pubs in the evening all over the country. Guys (and gals) laughing about the poor job they do and how little work they can get away with. Also find it amusing the crap their firm ships out.

    I have never seen anywhere in the rest of Europe where people take pride in their lack of professionalism in public

  57. Surely the root cause of BL’s failure was that it continually tried to defend the status quo of how things “used to be” rather than looking forward to how things could be. Marques limped on for unfeasibly long times before they were killed off, and BL was a master of competing with itself.

    But, yes.. I didn’t know we made quite so much stuff still in the UK. 🙂

  58. @Steve Donnelly

    I believe it starts at school.

    It is a badge of honour to not do well, to not be a ‘teachers pet’, to remain ignorant.

    No wonder this carries on to the workplace, where this sense of ignorant entitlement of some manifests itself in their work ethic or end product.

    The Nordic countries have a great quality of life and free tertiary education with a living allowance. UK government seems happy to put the prices of education up such that only the middle/upper class have the chance to go to university. Those that do start life with a mountain of student debt, crippling rents (no chance of a mortgage without a huge deposit) etc.

    UK society needs a kick up the arse.

  59. @60, Eezee,

    “it was a comparative look at what was going on at the time and the British attitude and relationship to German cars, and not about the German automotive industry specifically.”

    And this was where it completely fell apart. While nobody would dispute some of the problems raised about British cars and the British car industry, the stuff about our attitude and relationship to German cars was full of holes and downright lies. The claim that it was the Germans who profited from poor quality indigenous products and that cars like early Golfs had some kind of mass appeal and popularity. They didn’t. It was French cars, Japanese cars, Italian cars they bought when they wanted what was perceived as a superior foreign car at this time. At one point there was a complete non sequitur where the Princess advert ‘not the car for Mr. Average’ was shown and the presenter made the statement that ‘and this was the problem, the Golf was the car for Mr. Average’ which must be why at the time hardly anybody in Britain bought Princesses and early Golfs sold in tens of thousands…

  60. @59 ” As I said earlier you buy what you want and I will buy what I want”

    My not so recent cars:

    Porsche 924, 50k miles from new and pampered, leaky fuel system, electrics, cooling system

    Mercedes E Class estate, constant fuel supply problems when warm leading to stalling, rear suspension, oil pressure dropped requiring engine replacement, return of the fuel system problem when warm.

    Without doubt the most unreliable cars I’ve ever owned in 25 years of motoring. After this debacle I went back to Rover. Guess what? NO PROBLEMS.

    Das Auto: Das marketing over reality rip off, and you’ve fallen for it.

  61. My current vehicle collection is as follows: 2x Austin Allegros (1 saloon, 1 estate), a 1300 Triumph Dolomite, a Range Rover P38 and a 2004 Freelander Sport.
    I like to think I have the cream of “made in England” on my drive! 😉

  62. Whether the German automotive industry/VAG had truckloads of money thrown at it matters not one bit.

    The UK government did that too. So whom managed the money best?

  63. @65 I’ve had 3 VW’s over the last 10 years.

    2004 Mk5 Golf 1.6FSI – no problems
    2006 Mk5 Golf 2.0TDI – cruise control failed, replaced under warranty, no problems otherwise
    2008 Tiguan 2.0TDI – no problems in 5 years since new

    Before them, I had a 2000 Focus 1.8 that leaked oil from the cam cover due to bad design (plastic cam cover warped between bolts causing oil to leak and run onto exhaust manifold). Driveshaft bearing failed just before the warranty ran out. Plus the dealer was a joke.

    Just how has @59 fallen for “Das Marketing” when he was describing the reliabilty (or otherwise) of his various cars?

  64. @68 I have had alsorts of parcels to drive (and still own a few) and i have refused a company car-tax etc.

    I miss my 1J MK4 Golf GTI even now, in 204k miles all i did was replace the shocks,and all the other wear and tear items,even the clutch lasted to 163k! Completely reliable, still on original wheel bearings.

    My current 1K MK5 GT TDI is fine, i had to remove turbo and strip and clean the VNT, replace brake light switch and it needs A/C fans and a DMF/clutch. Its got a Torque box fitted and i have removed the oxidation catalyst- 100 mph @2320 RPM and 55mpg.

    Vectra VXR,Insignia or Astra J next i think.

  65. I enjoyed both Top Gear and Das Auto. I can’t say that what was presented on Das Auto was factually correct, but from my own limited experience it feels true!

    The only car I’ve ever bought new was a 2003 MG TF 160 in Le Mans Green. It was absolutely the car I wanted most in the world. My friends and family told me not to buy British but I wouldn’t listen. It was the second most expensive mistake I’ve ever made. It was delivered with cracks in the paint, the wrong colour centre console and (I discovered later) the front suspension wasn’t straight, causing it to eat the inside of the passenger side tyre. It leaked (not a little bit, the carpets were soaked), the window regulators gave up, it went rusty in the front wheel arches and the head gasket went twice. Oh, and the water pump. And the alternator belt. None of the dealers (when there still were some!) I dealt with were interested and in the end I was wondering how much every slight noise I heard from the car was about to cost me.

    I’ve now got a second hand BMW Z4 from 2006. It works. It feels better screwed together now than the TF did when I picked it up. Yes, it cost more new than the TF did and the servicing’s expensive, but it doesn’t feel like it was built to the nearest foot like the TF.

    It’s a shame because the TF was more fun and, honestly, I’d love to have it back. But only if someone else was paying my repair bills.

  66. I have to say, I’ve not found german cars much better than british ones, although I’ve only had 12 ‘german’ cars in all,

    3 BMWs, now those were utter overated JUNK
    3 Mercs, all W123s, all utterly utterly bomb proof if thirsty in the case of the 280CE
    4 VWs relaibly boring, very little trouble. Can’t say they had character, unless you count the homicidal handling of the beetle in the wet or on ice.
    2 Audis, the 20v Quattro was fun, the 80GLS was a like the VWs, boring, dull, just worked

    Pretty sure my senator was also german, but that does not count.. again boringly relaible..

    BUT
    for the most part my ARG/Rover Group products have also been utterly problem free, but only after all the bodges and neglect have been undone. The cars are perfectly well designed, and normally screwed toghether (I have found issues that must have been there from new on some of them). I have found the so called service history many came with to be of more use as paper plane material than anything else whihc has lead me to have a very very low opinion of the UKs ‘mechanics’ and this of course has fed the ‘myth’ that british cars were rubbish, they were nothing of the sort

  67. I finally got to see Das Auto and err… Its basically a program for non Petrol Heads, so viewers like “The Ball n Chain” can watch it without getting too bored whilst glossing over the main facts but concentrating on “The Germans Did it this way, Whilst the British did it the other way” And how it is almost an aspiring to own something German along with the truthful fact that there is a German car in every street.

    We have two Golfs, my Better half has no interest in cars but knows what a Golf looks like, perhaps this is part of the marketing as all Golfs look similar over the years so you know where you are with a Golf. There is also some similarity with Audi’s, B”Ws Mercedes.

    But are we happy with our latest Golf… err NO. After years with Fords (last one was the last of the Escorts which never put a foot wrong apart from scary rust appearing) then jumped to Citroens (ZX’s) and Peugeot which again were ok, only later in life did we have problems with Brakes and suspension parts which were all Fixable but parts from the Stealers were Scary, Then a move to a mk4 Golf.

    Somehow Arrogance comes to mind at the showroom, “We are the Greatest” take it or leave it, So we did as we bought from Motorpoint (avoid their warranties !!) This was in 2001, We soon wondered what the Hell all the Hysteria was about then found ourselves at the mercy of the Stealers as it blew a Core plug located behind the flywheel..(common fault apparently?) Then in 2007 a fault with the ABS meant back to the Stealers who then sent the car out with no brakes! However in later life it has turned into a Gem..

    So we bought another taking advantage of the Scrappage Scheme we sent our Rover 220 D mechanically sound but terminally rusty old faithful into a cube, Sadly the owner experience has been anything but nice and in 3 half years we still haven’t bonded with the car, Infact we F”cking Hate it.

    Have lost count how many times the Stealers have had it (Have been to 4) but is well over 15 times, (have had 11 courtesy Golf with the same engine but not a BM type and all have been quirky and slightly odd) The last time it went in was for a complete re program, a compatibility issue and a re map of a re map? (WTF…) The Dealers could not explain what all this was as they only do the work.

    As I understand with all computers programs sometimes don’t work with each other which (I am guessing) is due to the Injectors made by one company, Common Rail by another, ECU yet another, Clock instruments which also controls the immobiliser, again another then the Wiring Harness by… and anything else I have missed.

    Is this the Parts Manufacturer’s fault? was it VW for forcing pricing to be low meaning quality suffers? Or VW not testing items enough? And yet if this was a British Car then What was I expecting?? However because its German err Its just a Friday Car.

    Thing is I cant help thinking that in my case VW are taking the P”ss out of its customers as it lives on a past reputation, However resale values alone will mean buyers will choose German and to be fair I cant blame them (Though not as high as you would think) Whilst I am going to put my neck on the line and say would VW is still better in places than most but dam right shoddy in others And could be much much better, But why should they when the world is at their feet.

  68. At least Das Auto avoided the cliche of showing that stock footage of a BL production line worker tapping a piece of Maxi bodywork with a hammer, which always seems to crop up on these types of programme.

    Presumably Top Gear will have to start dropping pianos on Rover 75s now that Marinas are getting quite scarce?;)

  69. @ 50

    Then why do you bother coming to a website dedicated to the things you so obviously loathe and how wrong you are.

    I have owned

    1 x Vauxhall Viva UK CAR
    2 x Austin Maestro UK CARS
    2 x Rover 100 UK CARS
    1 x Rover Mini 45 UK CAR
    1 x Rover 200 Tomcat UK CAR
    2 x MG ZS’s UK CARS
    1 x Jaguar X-Type UK CAR
    1 x Vauxhall Meriva GERMAN CAR
    1 x MINI Countryman AUSTRIA/GERMAN CAR

    Out of those cars teh worst two are the last two the Meriva designed and built in Germany and the MINI designed in Germany/UK and Built in Austria, and I hate them, and am currently trying to find something that would better suit my needs, like a UK built CashCow, or maybe the UK built Astra, and I might even be tempted by either a TOTR MG3 or mid MG6, again designed and assembled in the UK.

    So you can keep your Germanic rep mobiles and there awful reliability, I will keep to the UK cars that have served me very well over the years with little to no issues.

  70. My “worst” car is my best; the ’75 has been excellent, the brand new VW i bought once was terrible; gearbox mount,cooling fan failure, A/C electrical fault, trim fault; at less than six months old! Not to mention absolutely terrible customer service from the service manager at that dealership…

    Just saying like!

  71. If I recall the VW first attempt at water cooled engines were a huge failure…The K70 I think. No talk about the collapse of NSU or Borgward. Both excellent brands, in their own right, but failed to make it.

  72. An BTW for those who asked about why there was no Astra in the line. Do you realise that every week, when Vauxhall have sponsored the reasonably priced car TG says it is built in Britain.

  73. I haven’t watched the programme yet, but remember it is just television. Why should anyone get so worked up just because the BBC has made an apparently awful programme about British cars? It is not as if the programme will ever go down as the definite account of the British car industry. It will be forgotten all too soon. This site is the resource that truly knowledgeable people will always come back to.

  74. Perhaps they should do a show about Nissan UK,a company when known as Datsun were criticised for trying to destroy our car industry, but now ironically is our biggest car manufacturer. Also like car factories in Japan, industrial action is unknown, quality is very high and they make cars people want to buy.

  75. Russel G: Just how has @59 fallen for “Das Marketing” when he was describing the reliabilty (or otherwise) of his various cars?

    Perhaps because he bought them in the first place?

  76. I have just watched the programme on iplayer. What a load of doggies doo-doos. I wanted to shove a pogo stick up that presenter’s arse. Oh and if Rover was so bloody awful, as was made out, why on earth did BMW buy them. Total shite.

  77. I think a lot of people are seriously missing the point here. I wish I had not posted my experiences now as as its going off the general topic.

    Most of what Top Gear lined up on the mall were niche vehicles with specialist cutting edge engineering skills such as race and rally cars,

    Also most would agree the JLR products, Nissan Crossovers with their high tax bands ect are also niche vehicles and to a certain extent that is what British Engineering has always done best at and this indeed is where its future if any lies.

    However there is simply nothing mainstream from these shores I would even think about.

    I did just that in 2008 and got seriously “bitten in the …a”

  78. Hypothetical question; what would happen, if the Germans decide to produce all their cars in the UK instead, with every single part coming from UK sub-suppliers?
    Or better: what would have happened, if the Germans decided in the 90’s to produce all their cars in the UK instead, with every single part coming from UK sub-suppliers? Let just leave it with cars we all can afford.
    And for argument sake, I’ll refrain from making the question rhetorical (zip).
    Objectively, so please keep away from the IMHO’s, following by a personal rant.
    No; Facts.
    Give it a try.
    At least then it’s back on topic again.

    @31:
    “Idea: I work in the media. Why don’t we get our heads together and write a coherent repost to this programme entitled “The Truth about the British Car Industry” and pitch it to the Factual Commissioner BBC Two or FOUR even? All the knowledge is right here. Even if the beeb don’t go for it, there’s other broadcasters and websites etc. There’s a story here that needs telling, properly and accurately!”

    Hear-Hear! In a way the same thing, but seen from another angle.
    With this many capable people and even insiders blogging and posting on this site, this would be easily possible.
    If all else fails, it could always just be posted here. And fx Wikipedia.

    It’s a shame not to give it a go.

  79. May or may not be on topic, but I’ll say it anyway.

    Had a bit of an Alan Partridge-style James Bond marathon recently, and I wondered…

    BMW took over in 1994, Goldeneye was released in 1995 and much controversy was made over Bond in a Z3 rather than an Aston.

    Would it not have helped to have had a few Rovers in there too?

    The Rover 75 was released just in time for Tomorrow Never Dies, yet they chose to promote the 1994 7 series.

    The Z8 in The World is Not Enough, which came out just before BMW divested itself of MGRover.

    Ford in ‘Die Another Day’ gave a masterclass in product placement – the main bond car (Aston Martin Vanquish) is present, but the main protagonist had a Jag XK, Jinx the Bond Girl had a Ford Thunderbird, and other supporting cars were from the Ford/Jag/LR-RR stable.

    Heck, Casino Royale had Bond in a Mondeo, and Quantum of Solace saw him in a Ka.

    Brosnan in a 75, even for a brief shot, would’ve been a nice bit of advertising (assuming BMW cared about sales and not about asset stripping…)

  80. @84
    The “Bond” Z3 wasn’t even a BMW, but a Corvette with a fibreglass Z3 shell.
    At the time the car only existed as a flock of hand-build mules and they were in no shape to appear in the movie.

    Yes, not on topic, but when –as said- is the combination of James Bond and AR ever a real topic…?

  81. @Paul the Van

    I thought it was the Z8 was the Corvette mockup?
    Still BMW product placement for an upcoming car.
    The Mondeo in Casino Royale was a pre-production version too, handbuilt and apparently more valuable than all of the Astons put together!

    Imagine a 75 with the 7 series gadgets etc. (Though would the standard wheelbase have given room to drive it from the back seats on a Nokia Communicator?)
    Surely if BMW were serious about reinvigorating Rover, this exposure would’ve been golddust?
    The 7 series was always a bit of a niche vehicle, their S-class, how many people would’ve decided to buy a 7 series after watching ?

  82. Didn’t notice the 75. There was something far more stunning in V for Vendetta, or in Thor, or Star Wars… 😉

  83. I think your missing the key message of Das Auto. It wasnt that the Germans single handedly finished off the British Car industry, but more about the attitudes and approach that lead to Britains indiginous car industry failing, whilst Germanys flurished. The arrogant out of touch management that treated workers like scum and where then surprised they went on strike, lack of development, poor commercialisation of products and a complete misunderstanding of customers wants and the implications of the the UK joining the common market. This mirrors the UK generally. After the war we did nothing except fly the flag and bang the drum of victory, spending a fortune trying to prop up the declining Empire. By the time we had got onto the second verse of Land of Hope and Glory, the Germans had churned out another dozen Volkswagens.

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