Essay : What if Leyland had bought Jaguar?

What would have happened had Jaguar merged with Leyland instead of being combined with BMC during 1966?

Ingvar Hallström, from Sweden, ponders this very notion and comes up with some interesting thoughts in his excellent counterfactual history piece – a story of how Britain really could have produced the best luxury and sporting cars in the world.

We won’t spoil the ending, but you’re going to like it!


The alternative Jaguar Rover Triumph dimension

In this scenario, Jaguar would have been bought by a Stokes controlled Leyland Group, known as British Standard...
In this scenario, Jaguar would have been bought by a Stokes-controlled Leyland Group, known as British Standard…

Here is an interesting counterfactual what-if story about a possible Triumph/Rover/Jaguar/Daimler-merger. What if William Lyons had sold Jaguar to Leyland in 1965? And what if Leyland had bought Rover as they did in 1967?

And what if the subsequent company had not merged with BMC in 1968? That would leave a very strong PAG-like group in the late 1960s, to handle almost all the needs for the upper class and upper-middle class, without the financial burden of sorting out the mess that was BMC at the time.

So, the story begins…

Donald Stokes

Stokes the merger kingmaker

Donald Stokes (above) had been a very successful Sales Manager for Leyland during the 1950s. As he had made a fortune in sales for Leyland, the Managing Director, Henry Spurrier, invested all his confidence in Stokes by appointing him Managing Director in 1960, while Spurrier retained his role as Chairman.

Stokes was given a carte blanche, and set out for an aggressive shopping spree in the early 1960s. Stokes’ master plan was the insight that success laid in up-engineering the competition. Money accumulated would be invested in purchases, quality improvements and excessive research and development. Improved products would lead to better sales, concentrating on high-margin products would lead to bigger profits. It seemed to be a winning formula.

Contrary to popular belief in the industry at the time, Stokes’ theory was that the competition invested too little of its profit back into the business. With foresight, he saw some harsh times ahead, but convinced the Leyland Board that his initial overspending would make Leyland the most profitable business in Britain within ten years time. The Board approved, and when Spurrier died in 1964, Stokes became the company’s Chairman.

The new British Standard is formed

In 1960, the troubled BSA Company wanted to rid itself of its cars and motorcycle businesses, to further concentrate on arms manufacturing. Thus, Leyland acquired Triumph Motorcycles, Carbodies and Daimler from BSA.

In 1961, with the acquisition of Standard-Triumph, the Triumph cars and motorcycles was finally brought under the same roof after being separated for 25 years. Though the Standard marque was to be discontinued, the name survived as the newly-formed umbrella company was christened British Standard.

Edward Turner was appointed Chief Executive of the motorcycle division and, after extensive market research and frequent visits to Japan, Turner advised Stokes on increased research and development resources, as he saw the Japanese competition as an almost insurmountable threat to the business. And the outcome proved successful, as Triumph to this day is the only remaining major player left besides Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.

Resolving the bodymaking crisis

The purchase of Carbodies made the management at BMC very uneasy and, as a counter-move, they acquired Pressed Steel in 1962. This started the famous ‘War of Parts’, as Pressed Steel was sub-contracted for providing Triumph with bodies.

With George Turnbull appointed Director of Manufacturing, the mess was sorted out during the following four years, as Carbodies had to expand its business and build new factories.

This enabled the company to provide completed bodies for all the needs of British Standard. The final contracts between British Standard and Pressed Steel were ended in 1966 and, since then Britain, has had two competing semi-independent body manufacturers, to the benefit of the entire market.

Making room for Jaguar

Though British Standard was now clearly going up-market, there was a gap between the performance-oriented Triumph marque and the luxurious Daimler. The range had to be filled in between. In 1965, Donald Stokes had talks with Jaguar boss William Lyons. Lyons was mostly concerned that the integrity of Jaguar had to be maintained, and Stokes managed to reassure Lyons on that point.

The plan was to make a fully integrated company of premium cars, where every marque had its place in the hierarchy, while at the same time maintaining and strengthening the individual brands’ integrity and core values. The fact that British Standard already had improved quality over BMC and Pressed Steel, was also a beneficial factor for Lyons.

Thus, in 1965, British Standard bought Jaguar for an undisclosed, but probably very large, sum of money. William Lyons retired from the car making politics, though he stayed on as a consultant for future Jaguar development.

Buying Rover to create a British luxury powerhouse

In 1967, British Standard bought Rover, finally filling in all the blanks in the production line-up. In 1968, the Government approached Stokes about a possible British Standard/BMC-merger. Advised by business analysts with insight into the vast Nuffield empire, Stokes politely declined the offer.

After the Standard-Triumph acquisition, Stokes made some significant changes to the Triumph programme. With Harry Webster appointed as Technical Director, the development of the cars Triumph had in pipeline was fast-tracked in progress. Stokes had plans for pushing Triumph up-market, to form a performance-oriented brand. The Triumph Vitesse was launched in 1962 to much acclaim and was an unexpected success, obviously tapping into an unexplored market sector. Also in 1962, the Herald-based Spitfire roadster was launched.

When Project Barb was launched in 1963 as the Triumph Renown, it came with the 2.0-litre six, complemented by a top of the line 3.0-litre model, with an enlarged version of the small Daimler V8.

Daimler’s new sports car

In 1964, the Daimler SP250 received a new body, designed by David Ogle. The car received the 3.0-litre update of the V8 and was renamed the SX300 (below).

The 1965 Daimler Sports designed by Ogle
The 1965 Daimler Sports SX300 designed by Ogle

It proved to be a strong seller in the United States, above the TR-line in price as a more luxurious competitor to the E-type. When the Vitesse Mk II was launched in 1965, it had been updated to 2.0-litre specification.

The criticised rear suspension set-up was also dealt with. Also in that year saw the revised Spitfire Mk II, complemented by a small coupe, the Spitfire GT. As the Herald had been discontinued at that time, the Spitfire cars received the revised Vitesse Mk II chassis and engines.

The successful Vitesse continued on until 1968, despite the fact that its successor, the Dolomite, was released in 1965. Though rumours were circulating at the time that Triumph had a front wheel-drive car up its sleeve, these rumours proved to be untrue.

The Dolomite was a plush and racy alternative to cars like the small Vanden Plas and Alfa Romeo Giulia. Also in 1965, the TR5 was revealed, with a new chassis and rear suspension set-up. The big four was replaced by a fuel-injected 2.5-litre straight six, though the car kept the body from the old TR4.

A new look for Jaguar

The 1965 Jaguar MkXI was designed by Pininfarina
The 1966 Jaguar MkXI was designed by Pininfarina

In 1966, Pininfarina got two jobs from Jaguar. Firstly, the large Jaguar Mark X received an update and was presented as the Mark XI (above). With small and subtle means Pininfarina made the car look less bulbous, it received more formal and stringent lines combined with some Italian flair. It came with the 4.5-litre Daimler V8 only. With these changes, the car finally made some sales in the important US-market.

The second Pininfarina conversion that year was the task of redesigning the stop-gap solution Jaguar needed before the upcoming XJ6. Keeping the S-Type’s rear end, and with a front end similar to that of the Mark XI, the car emerged in 1966 as the Jaguar Mark III.

The car was available with the 3.4 and 4.2-litre engines. At its launch, The Mark II and S-Type was discontinued. Although seen publicly as an obvious stop-gap solution, the Mark III remained a reasonably good seller and just shy of 30 000 cars were produced.

Taking on Rolls-Royce

Also in 1966, the old Daimler-developed Majestic was replaced by a car spun off the Mark XI platform. The new Daimler Majestic was presented as an alternative to the somewhat more expensive Rolls-Royces, while the Mark XI had set its sights on Bentley.

In 1967, a facelifted MkII version of the Triumph Renown was presented. With subtle modification, it had received a new front- and rear end that significantly improved the looks of the car. Along with it came the option of the 2.5-litre engine, with or without fuel injection. A highly stylized estate version was also presented, where the entire rear end of the car comprised of an enormous glass-back. It proved to be an industry first.

In 1967, and with the Rover purchase, the entire range of cars were, at Triumph; the newly-developed Dolomite, the older Vitesse and its off-springs Spitfire and Spitfire GT, the Renown, and the TR5.

Rover had the P5, P6 and Land-Rover.
Jaguar had the E-type, the Mark III, and the large Mk XI.
Daimler had the Majestic and the SX300.

Fighting into the 1970s

In the pipeline where the Stag, the TR6, and, at Rover, the Range Rover, the P8 and P9. At Jaguar, the XJ6 was right around the corner. Immediately after British Standard acquired Rover, the P8, P9 and Range Rover had been approved for production.

The Turner-developed V8 from Daimler was a very good engine, though it proved to be too heavy for the broad range of cars British Standard now had in mind. Thus, the new V8 that Rover brought into the company provided a good opportunity to refresh the entire engine line-up. The Turner-engine was eventually phased out, though it stayed on until 1972 due to delivery problems with the Rover engine.

The Zagato TCZ made it into production as the Rover 3500 Coupe, and 352 were built...
The Zagato TCZ made it into production as the Rover 3500 Coupe, and 352 were built…

Replacing the SX300, although in 2+2-seater form, the Triumph Stag was released in 1968 with the 3.0-litre Daimler V8. It received an absolutely stunning Michelotti designed body, with a fully retractable soft-top. An updated Rover V8-version arrived in 1972.

More small sports cars

Alongside the Stag, an updated Spitfire and Spitfire GT Mk III arrived. Michelotti had used some clever skills to make them appear more in line with the newly-developed design language from the Stag.

Complementing the Stag was a special-bodied Rover 3500 Coupe, made in very small numbers between 1968 and 1970. Based on the Zagato Show Car from the 1967 Turin Motor Show, unclothed Rover chassis were flown to Italy to receive their handmade bodies at Zagato before being flown back again for final completion. Almost double the price of the standard saloon, some 352 cars are supposed to be made. In 1968, the TR5 got an updated body refresh by Michelotti. The car, which was re-named as the TR6, proved to be a great success.

Rover P6 refreshed

The P6 received an extensive refresh in 1968 by the new Chief of Design, David Bache. The much needed six-cylinder version was released on an extended platform, codenamed P7B. The looks improved significantly with the longer nose, slightly reminiscent of the earlier turbine-prototypes.

As Rover proved unsuccessful in developing a new six on its own, it tried out 2.0- and 2.5-litre from Triumph, and these were used instead as an intermediate step. But the big surprise that year was the high-end 3500, delivered with the new Rover V8. For productivity and aesthetic reasons, the longer nose was used across the entire range, including the V8 model.

Longer Rover P7-style front end (to accommodate a straight-six) was adopted across the Rover P6 range...
Longer Rover P7-style front end (to accommodate a straight-six) was adopted across the Rover P6 range…

In 1968, The Jaguar XJ6 was launched to much acclaim, and the Mark III was discontinued at the same time. 1968 also saw the first major update of the E-type, the Series II.

Daimler Empress launches

1970 Daimler Empress limousine
1970 Daimler Empress limousine

The same year saw the launch of the Daimler Empress, alongside the limousine version, the Daimler Regency. The Empress was based on the Mark XI platform, though it had a new body with formal coachwork. It looked like a modern interpretation of the razor-edged designs from Hooper.

The Regency was a limousine based off the Empress, but with a 21-inch extension, partitions and jump seats. Both cars were powered by the big Daimler V8. This proved to be a good strategy, as when the Queen Elizabeth got hold of an Empress for her personal use, she declared it the best car she’d had since her beloved Rover P4.

Courtesy of the dying English coachwork industry, some spectacular one-offs was made based upon the Empress, among them a slightly vulgar two-door Dockers’ Special convertible. The Empress and Regency line continued to be the absolute top of the line models at British Standard, until the late 1970s and the new Daimler Conquest.

British Standard defines its new strategy

In 1968, a new and long-term strategy was laid out for British Standard. It included a complete revision of in-house platforms, making for few overlaps but much collaboration between the departments.

The plan was laid out by Spen King and Gordon Bashford, and consisted of a system of flexible platforms, called the A, B, C and D-cars. The A-car was supposed to replace the Dolomite in the mid-1970s, also providing the underpinnings for the replacement to the Spitfire and GT.

The B-car was planned as a bigger car, replacing the Renown, Stag, P6, and in shortened form, the TR6 and E-type. The C-car was to replace the XJ6 and P8. And finally, the D-car was to replace the top-of-the-line Daimler models. The point was to make the platforms flexible, with easy access to shortening or lengthening the cars as needed for different purposes and different specials.

Triumph becomes Britain’s BMW

The brand strategy that was implemented meant that Triumph was to be marketed as the junior performance brand, with Rover on top of it, providing gentleman expresses for the old money.

Jaguar was to be a far more graceful and racy, more performance-oriented almost extrovert choice.

And lastly, Daimler, the absolute top-of-the-line, with Rolls-Royce in the line of sight. Thus, because the cars were marketed to different people who wouldn’t cross-shop the brands, British Standard could survive on essentially only four different platforms, sharing much of the invisible parts without losing brand integrity.

A new engine strategy

Instead of seeing it as brand dilution and diversion of resources, the thought was that the cars would complement each other, the different brands combined would sell more in this way, than if the brands were phased out and the divisions compartmentalized.

A new engine policy was also decided upon. Triumph made small fours and small sixes. Rover made big fours and small V8s. Jaguar made big sixes, with a V12 in development, and Daimler made big V8s.

With so much in-house engineering knowledge of refined sixes, it thus came to be that British Standard did as BMW, and concentrated its resources on developing a new range of small and big sixes, based upon the same architecture and with some interchangeable parts.

New six-cylinder engine range launches

In 1974, the new family of in-line sixes was presented, ranging in size between 2.0- and 4.0-litres. The old XK-engine was thus discontinued, after being in use since 1948. The big Daimler V8 was phased out in 1972, as it was replaced by a Jaguar-developed V12.

In hindsight, it proved a stroke of luck that Rover had acquired its V8 from Buick, as there seemed to be no end to all the ways it could be configured.

The Rover four was phased out, though Triumph continued developing its slant-four, now in collaboration with Saab who had done some tinkering with turbo-charging. All other needs and cars for the mid-1970s and beyond would be provided for by the new family of sixes.

Dolomite facelifted for the 1970s

Dolomite restyle for 1969 kept things fresh...
Dolomite restyle for 1969 kept things fresh…

In 1969, the Dolomite received a minor refresh, with a longer boot and a new rear- and front-end. With updated styling, it looked more in line with the recently developed Triumph styling theme.

In 1970, Rover launched its biggest line of cars, the Rover P8, actually named after its internal codename. At the same launch came the mid-engined Alvis TG 21.

The cars were delivered with the Rover V8 in 3.5 and 4.5-litre versions. But the biggest surprise that year was the launch of the Range Rover, a luxury off-road station-wagon. Also that year saw Spen King replacing Harry Webster as Technical Director.

Rover P8 and P9 go on sale

How the Rover P8 looked just before production was cancelled in 1971.

Though the V8-powered P5B was launched immediately after the takeover, it was destined to have a very short life, axed at the arrival of the P8. In that short time, it became an instant classic.

The aged Alvis TF21 was discontinued at the launch of the TG21. Up until then, it had been more or less hand-made in very small numbers, in the end not more than a couple of dozens a year.

Rover P9 was released as the Alvis TG21...
Rover P9 was released as the Alvis TG21…

Meanwhile, over at Jaguar…

The only news for 1971 were a couple of updates. First, the Spitfire and GT MkIV appeared, with refreshed looks. The second update was the arrival of the XJ6 Series II. Thirdly, was the introduction of the Series III Jaguar E-type.

With it came the introduction of the entirely new V12, on the 2+2 chassis in open or closed form. As the E-type had been criticised for gaining weight with age and becoming more of a boulevardier, a stripped and cheaper E-type roadster emerged.

It was based on the SWB chassis and came with manual only. The 4.2-litre had been sent away to Cosworth Engineering, who made a highly sought after revision of the engine, with a new head and fuel injection.

A lighter E-type is born

The loyalist crowd was very pleased as the car was maintaining the E-type spirit, and became an instant classic. In 1972, the Mark XI-cars saw another revision, this time maintaining only the chassis, while every other body panel was changed.

It was styled in the contemporary angular theme that Pininfarina had developed for the Fiat 130 Coupe. It was named the Jaguar Mark XII and Daimler Double Six respectively. Engines provided was the 3.5-litre V8 and the new V12, though the Daimler came with the V12 only.

Also in 1972, two years after its debut, the Range Rover became available as a four-door. With it came the option of the P8’s bigger 4.5-litre V8.

Saloon car advances

In 1972, a re-bodied Triumph Dolomite debuted with an angular and contemporary design by Michelotti, as a stop-gap measure until a replacement could be made. In the meantime, the upcoming A-car was developed, slightly smaller than the stillborn SD2-project, but with better packaging and style.

In 1974, the Triumph and Rover medium-sized cars were replaced by the new B-car, named the Triumph Renown and Rover Sterling respectively. The Renown was given an angular, racy and somewhat provocative design, styled by William Towns, though he succeeded in giving the estate version a remarkably beautiful look.

It came to be regarded as the most elegant estate car in the market. The Sterling was an in-house design by David Bache, similar to the stillborn P10 and SD1-projects, but somewhat smaller in size, with a fastback, slightly reminiscent of the Ferrari Daytona. For the Rover, a new five-link rear suspension was developed, giving the car unprecedented ride and comfort. The cars were powered by the new range of sixes and the Rover V8.

Rover proposal
Rover Sterling proposal for the 1970s

Land Rover expansion

In the 1960s, Land Rover had almost single-handedly cornered the word market for off-road vehicles, though with time, it had met some fierce competition from other makers, most notably Toyota with its Land Cruiser.

In 1973, Land Rover revealed their third line of cars, the Land Rover Discovery, placed in between the Land Rover Series III and the Range Rover.

Based on the architecture from the Range Rover, but simplified and with more sturdy looks, it was available in two- and four-door form. With that move, Land Rover closed the gap and retained market share and world dominance.

Land Rover SD5 Discovery

A final chapter for Lyons

Also, in 1973, William Lyons made his final mark on history when the new V12-powered XJ-S was presented. It was considered an abomination and was soon forgotten, more or less left to wither on the vine.

In 1975, the new 2+2-seater coupe Triumph Lynx and convertible Triumph Stag was presented, based on the B-car.

Complementing the range, the Triumph TR7 emerged in open or closed form on a shortened platform. It received Michelotti’s last design for Triumph, with an angular and wedge-shaped profile. Though, as it was done by an Italian, it actually had some flair.

Jaguar F-type, penned by Pininfarina hit the streets in 1975...
Jaguar F-type, penned by Pininfarina hit the streets in 1975…

The E-type is finally replaced

1975 seemed to be a good year for Jaguar, when it finally revealed the E-type replacement, called the F-Type. Equipped with a stunning and very curvaceous body, penned by Pininfarina, it was hailed around the world as the thing to have, from Bristol to Beijing.

Based on the new TR7 chassis, but with Jaguar’s independent rear suspension and tweaked handling, it was unilaterally deemed a true and worthy successor.

It was powered by the newly developed straight sixes, though for weight-reasons and handling, the V12 never made it into the F-Type. At the same time, the XJ6 Series III arrived, refreshed by Pininfarina. A two-door coupe was considered, but never made it into production due to some problems with sealing the frameless windows.

Triumph’s new saloon range rolls out

The new A-car arrived in 1976 as the Triumph Vitesse. Powered by the slant four and the new line of small sixes, it proved to be a tough contender to the new BMW 3 Series. A highly regarded special was the 1.8-litre 16 valve turbo-version, aptly called the Turbo Triumph.

On a side-note, enlarged to 2.3-litre specification, that engine was chosen by Colin Chapman when the Turbo Esprit was launched in 1979.

In 1977, the old Vitesse-based Spitfire and GT were finally put to an end. On a shortened A-car platform, the new Spitfire two-seater roadster was presented, alongside its fastback stable mate, the Triumph Firefly.

British Standard completes its sports car range

Bertone style

Both cars received Italian designs, the Spitfire a rounded form by ItalDesign, the Firefly was provided a more angular design by Bertone (above). In 1978, both the Renown and Sterling received a minor face-lift, to be completely replaced in the early 1980s.

With the virtual assault of the Spitfire, Firefly, Lynx, Stag, TR7 and F-Type, British Standard now had completely reworked its entire sports-car line in just a couple of years. At Abingdon, few people mourned the loss of the poorly updated Midget and MGB, when BMC killed off its sports car line and left that sector entirely.

Because of British Standard’s recent successes in the Seventies, there was plenty of money at hand for future product development. A considerable amount was spent on quality improvements, updated production processes, facilities and factories.

Stokes’ lasting legacy

The workers at British Standard were the best paid in the industry, and that made for some very happy people. Considering that the rest of the industry was plagued by strikes and unrest, British Standard came through the decade without any significant troubles, actually coming out of it a better and stronger company than before.

When Donald Stokes retired as Managing Director in 1979, he thanked the workforce, praising their sense of loyalty and craftsmanship. ‘I can now leave at peace, knowing that British Standard really is on par with the best of them. Our joint efforts have finally proved that we are the Standard of the world’.

And time seemed to prove him right. Contemporary road tests revealed that British Standard actually surpassed the quality ratings of Mercedes-Benz. A test between the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 and the Jaguar XJ12 6.0 HE dethroned the Mercedes-Benz and declared the Jaguar ‘The Best Car in the World.’

British Standard bails out Aston Martin

To save British heritage and get some insight in true craftsmanship, British Standard bought the debt-ridden Aston Martin company in 1974.

In 1977, Daimler revealed the new D-car, replacing its Empress-line. Called the Daimler Conquest, it was a spectacularly slab-sided, angular and brick-like car, penned by William Towns. It proved to be the car of choice for dictators and rock stars alike, in the same league as the Mercedes 600.

It was made in small numbers at Newport Pagnell, continuing the Aston Martin tradition of hand-made bespoke vehicles. In 1979, and with the help of Aston Martin, the Alvis TH21 was revealed to an unknowing and very surprised public. Featuring the trademarked folded-paper design of William Towns, it was powered by a mid-mounted Aston Martin twin-turbo V8. With 600bhp, it virtually crushed the contemporary Ferrari and Lamborghini competition.

The 1979 Alvis TJ21 combined Aston Martin turbocharged power with William Towns styling.
The 1979 Alvis TH21 combined Aston Martin turbocharged power with William Towns styling

Taking the fight to Mercedes-Benz

In 1979, just in time for the Mercedes W126 launch, Jaguar and Rover presented their new range of C-cars, replacing the XJ6 and P8 respectively. Codenamed CJ40, the new Jaguar XJ6 was styled in-house, with some consulting done by Pininfarina.

The cars were offered with the sixes and V12s, with the 4.5-litre Rover V8 in between. The Rover Sovereign continued the brutal-looking style of its predecessor the P8, now penned by the new Chief of Design Martin Smith. Smith actually made a sort of fashion-statement with the new Sovereign, making its trademarked creases a household item around the industry.

As the new Alvis had moved upmarket, and mid-engined cars had no direct place in the Rover line-up, the Alvis TG21 was replaced in 1981 by the conventionally engineered Rover Sportsman, based off the C-car platform. It was a very sleek and elegant two-door hardtop coupe with frameless windows. A full four-seater, the Sportsman seemed to be forever benchmarked in the magazines against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe.

Into the 1980s and more prosperity

Alongside the Sportsman, a wedge-shaped four-seater convertible emerged with a highly original retractable hardtop. It was based off Chris Humberstone’s show car design, the Rapport Forté. Productionised and based on the C-car, it entered the market in 1981 as the Jaguar X-Type, thus ending the eight year tenure of the unlucky XJ-S.

As Mercedes-Benz now clearly was the main arch-rival to the British Standard portfolio, from the launch of the CJ40 and onwards, British Standard now managed to synchronize every subsequent launch with the Mercedes line-up, not letting the competition get ahead.

In 1981, after more than a decade of decline, British Standard finally bought out the Quandt family and acquired the more or less bankrupt BMW. As it happened, British Standard had replaced BMW in the market, and thus the powers at be felt more or less obliged to take the responsibility and try to save the failing company. There were also some hopes of reviving BMW’s dormant line of motorcycles, to complement the Triumph marque around the world.

The new Chairman and Managing Director of British Standard John Egan stated: ‘We are feeling a responsibility to the fatherland. After all, the car is a German invention.’

Jaguar X-type was 1981's replacement for the XJ-S.
Jaguar X-type was 1981’s replacement for the XJ-S

44 Comments

  1. The presence of Rover IMHO complicates an otherwise complimentary pairing of Leyland/Triumph and Jaguar.

    Would have been interesting to see whether Jaguar would have persisted with the V12-based 60-degree V8 or explored other options ranging from developing a 90-degree V8 that carries over many elements of the Jaguar V12 or made use of a slightly upscaled 4.2-5.0-litre+ version of the Triumph V8 (via a pair of Saab-like large displacement 4-cylinder).

    Also fascinated as to how Jaguar-Triumph would approach 6-cylinder developments since Triumph is likely to find a 60-degree V6 derived from the Jaguar V12 very useful on the one hand, yet would it have been enough to persuade Triumph to drop development of the PE166 engine (whose unbuilt 4-cylinder was later considered a potential replacement for the Slant-4)?

    Then there is the Jaguar XK6 engine that was apparently planned to spawn 2.6-3.0-litre variants possibly featuring all-alloy and short-stroke layout (and the prospect of a sweet-revving XK-based 2-litre 4-cylinder), with history potentially coming full circle with Triumph using Jaguar engines after the latter started out using Standard(-Triumph) engines.

  2. Nate, I think you’re right. I always thought history should have frozen before the BMH/LMC merger as another counterfactual on here has suggested. But Jaguar and Triumph would have fitted well with each other in marketing and engineering terms. Maybe Leyland would’ve used its own name on a range of cheaper family cars on Triumph mechanicals, to take the place of the old Standard? Rover/Land Rover would have fitted in well in the BMC empire with Austin and MG, taking the place of Wolseley/Riley/Vanden Plas. So I guess it would have been JLT (Jaguar Leyland Triumph) and AMR (Austin MG Rover)?!

    • Leyland fulfilling its ambitions to produce under its own name with a range of Triumph-based cars is one idea.

      A potential case though can be made with Leyland (rather than Chrysler) acquiring the Rootes Group, provided the latter avoided the bad decisions that caused its financial problems and stunted its expansion period (no Singer or Linwood plant as well as no 1959-1961 Acton strikes at Rootes-owned British light Steel Pressings).

      In practice envision Leyland (aka former Rootes) filling the role of Hillman and possibly Sunbeam (given Triumph would likely to be moving upmarket from the Spitfire, etc), if the Swallow is produced alongside the Imp then that means Leyland would have a range of Coventry Climax-based engines (from 800/875-1150cc Imp to 1250-1750cc+ Swallow) as well as already owning Coventry Climax itself via Jaguar (that along with the V12 also planned an XJ Junior replacement for the S-Type to feature 1.8-2.5 Coventry Climax CFF/CFA V8s).

      It is possible that the Imp would be replaced by some form of SWB Avenger (as planned in real-life with the Avenger itself allegedly capable of being converted to FWD via Rootes own Chrysler Alpine proposal) though it is also likely to be replaced by a Harry Webster designed Supermini akin to ADO74, potentially with similar packaging issues. An outside chance is Issigonis jumping ship in the event BMC opt for evolutionary replacement for the Mini and ADO16 instead of his advanced 9X/10X prototypes, with the designers of both the Mini and Imp being in the same company to produce a new generation of Superminis.

      The Avenger would still be likely to appear since the 1300/1500/Dolomite platform was an aging design from the 1960s that was to be replaced by some form of Bobcat / SD2, which would have likely been larger.

      It is possible though that the alternate Rootes C-Car (aka real-life Chrysler 180) would feature significantly more Triumph content, the Rootes V6 (allegedly copied from the Ford Essex V6) is possibly butterflied away unless the Jaguar V12-based V6 falls short in comparison tests during development.

      Not sure where this scenario would have left the Avenger engine, its potential capacity was said to range from 1100cc to 2-litres and drew inspiration from Fiat Twin-Cam (before apparently being costed away). The Slant-4 was itself capable of displacing around 1200-2000cc (not including related V8 and experimental 3-cylinder variants), yet Triumph themselves ended up looking into developing a 4-cylinder derived from the PE166 6-cylinder (itself with scope for dieselization) to replace the Slant-4.

      Perhaps Leyland are able to capitalize on the Imp-based Rootes Asp and possibly a similar Swallow-based sportscar, until the rear-engined cars both are derived from are replaced.

    • An interesting aspect is that this scenario would have also meant Reliant after acquiring Bond, potentially becoming increasingly tied to Leyland via a production version of the mk3 Bond Equipe and Competition 875 prototypes.

      That is on top of the Imp engines used in the Bond 875, the Triumph mechanicals used in Relaints/Bonds and the Standard-Triumph SC-derived all-alloy 598-848cc Reliant OHV engine.

      A major factor behind Reliant’s interest in Bond being its association with Triumph which was well established with access to Triumph’s dealerships and servicing facilities worldwide, until the BMC-Leyland merger to form BL undermined Reliant’s plans.

      It is possible that Reliant is eventually acquired by Leyland (possibly around the 1980s) and pitched below Leyland as a Skoda-like quirky budget brand, perhaps even merged with a revived Standard to create a Standard-Reliant marque.

      Rover / Land Rover would have better off at BMC at the expense of Wolseley/Riley, since Rover were basically what BMC was trying and failing to achieve in the luxury sector with the Princess / Vanden Plas luxury saloons. BMC could have done a better job of differentiating Austin and Morris with former producing Issigonis designed FWD hatchbacks, while the latter produces conventional RWD saloons.

      While MG could straddle from Austin and Morris based models, MG would be better off pitched below Rover in the same way Triumph slots below Jaguar. Vanden Plas could be made into more of a Radford and Wood & Pickett like experimental luxury marque for regular BMC models below Rover.

    • Without the presence of Harris Mann at Leyland/Jaguar-Triumph perhaps the alternate Triumph TR7 resembles the later Michelotti styled replacement proposals, which was said to have been partly recycled (and unfinished due to Michelotti’s passing) for the Reliant Scimitar SS1.

      At the same time going back to the notion of Leyland producing cars under its own name whether via Triumph-based cars or from acquiring a successful Rootes Group, there is the prospect of Triumph Puma proposal by William Towns ending being the styling theme for Leyland’s Triumph-based cars in the case of the former with Michelotti being reversed for Triumphs.

      While the latter scenario involves a Leyland acquisition of a successful Rootes Group with William Towns potentially being pitted against Roy Axe in putting forward styling proposals for Leyland cars, with one of them eventually succeeding Michelotti in styling Triumphs from the late-70s to early-80s.

  3. Having active Triumph, Rover, Jaguar, Daimler and Alvis brands all running at the same time seems excessive. You either end up with duplicated models, with insufficient volumes to be economical, badge engineering or lots of brands with just a single product

    In reality the gap between Triumph and Rover for the exec cars, and between Jaguar and Rover for the luxury cars is too small to justify separate brands or duplicated models. I’m trying to imagine a Rover sister car to say the XJ40, and how any extra sales would be generated. Or 2 separate Triumph and Rover cars in the SD1 sector.

    As other have said, maybe Rover would have worked better with BMC. Or rather the car side, as I imagine Leyland would have wanted the Land Rover side to fit in with their truck ranges, especially in Africa and Asia.

    • If they could get economies of scale, and platform sharing, they could have a VW group setup years before VW group.

      Triumph – VW (imagine a Triumph hatchback GTi)
      Rover – Skoda (Skoda grilles look a little Roverish)
      Jaguar – Audi (but with a comfort bias)
      Daimler – Bentley
      Alvis – SEAT (sporty? but with more sports cars and less people carrier SUVs)

      • No Triumph would be SEAT in comparison, as they are the sporty version of the VW Group. ALvis would be the Bentley version of the GT and GTC with Daimler the Saloon equivalent, As for Rover as Skoda, thats taking the Michael – The group as imagined is perfect, there was NO Skoda version in that British Standard group, ROver were upper middle class, with Jaguar above them, and Daimler above that, with Triumph below Rover as the sporty brand.

        the VW group is not really a great comparison but the PSA group is.

        we can all say “If Only” but it has to be remembered, that in the 80’s sports cars took a massive nose dive in sales, so having so many of them across the Triumph, Rover, Jaguar, Alvis etc brands could be very hurtful to the company.

        • Japanese sports cars were big business in the States from the 70s on. BMW and Porsche were mainstream, US Corvette sales exploded at the end of the 70s. The only damper on sports car sales in the US market was the 1980–82 recession; it killed demand for all specialty and luxury cars. Sports cars bounced back in the States in the 80s. The problem for Brit sports cars in the States, like Italian sports cars, became their dire reputation for reliability. They weren’t just poorly assembled, they were known to be unfixable, badly designed junk heaps.

  4. Wasn’t Triumph experimenting with 4WD at this time? Maybe Leyland could’ve used that expertise to complement their trucks and set up a (Leyland badged?) rival to Land Rover. And 50 years later, this counterfactual Land Rover rival would’ve donated a platform for the counterfactual Jaguar F-Pace…

    • I feel that at that point 4WD was still seen as a little agricultural. Range Rover was the obvious exception, but it wasn’t until the 21st century that SUVs became mainstream.

      • At that point, yes – 4WD was seen as the preserve of Farmer Giles. But if such a ‘JLT’ group was set up, and survived into the 21st century, then we might have had not just one but two British marques well placed to take advantage of the SUV boom: Land Rover and Leyland.

  5. It does beg the question of what would happen to BMC, as the company would have continued in its pre 1966 form without Jaguar. I’d imagine that the future might not have been very good, with the Maxi, Marina and Allegro likely making it into production, although the huge success of the Mini could have seen a hatchback Mini with bigger engines and modernised styling introduced around 1972 to take on the Renault 5. It’s likely nationalisation, or part nationalisation, would have occured in 1974 as the company was falling behind British Standard and Ford and losses were mounting as buyers, new Mini excepted, moved away from the corporation.

    • BMC gets bought out by Chrysler who are seeking a European operation?

      They’re funded to build the Mini in Linwood to regenerate an industrial area. The Maxi is also built there.

      Chrysler have issues in the US market, they sell BMC to Peugeot who utilise the unused Riley brand to rebadge all models. The forthcoming Riley Maestro gets rebadged as the Peugeot 309, the proposed Maestro based saloon is dropped. It is seen as a success for Peugeot, the later Citroen ZX is a very similar design and is seen as the successor, and Peugeot has been popular in the mid-size (306,307,308) since.

      One anomaly of this was that the Morris/Riley Marina in Argentina later became the Dodge Marina, then the VW 1500.

      (A similar concern, Rootes group, went to the wall in the late 60s).

    • I imagine BMC would have struggled on, maybe the Labour government of the late 60s would have partially bailed them out or bought a stake?

      The Marina as it became was very much a British Leyland product rather than a BMC one, so it would have been interesting what BMC would have done. I imagine the saloon version of the Maxi would have made it to market, though I doubt it would have sold well

  6. I think Rover/Land Rover could’ve given BMC something of a boost. Perhaps the P8 and P9 would’ve been built (with the P9 badged as Healey instead of an Alvis?), with that Buick V8, Rover badged version of the Austin 3 litre being sold as a stop gap before P8 came to market. Maybe, there might actually have been some coordination of platforms so the SD1 and Princess would’ve sat on the same rear drive platform (one a hatch and one a saloon).

    • Land Rover would have been open to using BMC mechanicals as was said to have originally been the case after the formation of BL, not sure whether that was have extended to Land Rover adopting the Austin Ant prototype as its own however though perhaps they are involved at an early stage for them to consider the Land Rover Ant.

      Perhaps Rover under BMC decides to dust off the abandoned Duncan Stuart narrow-angle V4/V6 engines towards developing a 5-6-litre W12 engine (essentially two narrow-angle V6s like the later Volkswagen W12) at the very top of the Rover P8 range to better compete against the Jaguar V12, above the Rover V8 (including planned 32-valve Quad-Cams, fuel-injection developments).

      With the P10 / SD1 it is possible the latter’s Daytona-inspired styling ends up being adopted by another BMC division such as Austin (in line with the Pininfarina concepts) or MG, the P10 / SD1’s engines ranging from the planned 2.2-litre 16-valve fuel-injected DOHC 4-cylinder (likely including a 2-litre version) and a 2.5-2.8-litre 5-cylinder derivative (with both spawning petrols and diesels) as well as V8-based Rover V6s and Rover V8 engines.

      Perhaps both the P10 / SD1 plus smaller SD2 analogue would have formed the basis for new Morris and MG models, along with related sportscars aka TR7 analogue in the case of the latter (since the TR7’s styling itself was inspired by the MG ADO21 prototype).

      The Healeys continued association with BMC depends on how they go about replacing the Big Healey, whether via a more unique Healey-imprinted MGC-based replacement than permitted by BMC higher-ups in real-life or a production version of the Austin-Healey 4000 prototype, etc.

    • Here’s an interesting one. Take a Land lobster & fit the fwd v8 powerpack from the Austin 4200 (v8 landcrab prototype). Properly tuned up it’d go like a scalded cat, actually out perform the 2200 ‘crabs & sell. Can you imagine a fwd 3 litre with 150-160hp? Would there be any competition? And if they had done a larger version of the aerodynamica concept..

    • It seems Land Rover were open to using BMC mechanicals as was said to have originally been the case after the formation of BL, not sure whether that was have extended to Land Rover adopting the Austin Ant prototype as its own however though perhaps they are involved at an early stage for them to consider as such?

      Perhaps Rover under BMC decides to dust off the abandoned Duncan Stuart narrow-angle V4/V6 engines towards developing a 5-6-litre W12 engine (essentially two narrow-angle V6s like the later Volkswagen W12) at the very top of the Rover P8 range to better compete against the Jaguar V12, above the Rover V8 (which included planned 32-valve Quad-Cams, fuel-injection developments).

      With the P10 / SD1 it is possible the latter’s Daytona-inspired styling ends up being adopted by another BMC division such as Austin (in line with the Pininfarina concepts) or MG, the P10 / SD1’s engines ranging from the planned 2.2-litre 16-valve fuel-injected DOHC 4-cylinder (likely including a 2-litre version) and a 2.5-2.8-litre 5-cylinder derivative (with both spawning petrols and diesels) as well as V8-based Rover V6s and Rover V8 engines.

      Maybe both the P10 / SD1 plus smaller SD2 analogue would have formed the basis for new Morris and MG models, along with related sportscars aka TR7 analogue in the case of the latter (since the TR7’s styling itself was inspired by the MG ADO21 prototype).

      As for the Healeys. Their continued association with BMC depends on how they go about replacing the Big Healey, whether via a more unique Healey-imprinted MGC-based replacement than permitted by BMC higher-ups in real-life or a production version of the Austin-Healey 4000 prototype, etc.

  7. Rover should have been dropped as a brand for luxury cars and instead been the 4×4 brand – Range Rover sales had proved that a hit while the Land Rover should have been reengineered to take on the Toyota Land Cruiser. Triumph should have been positioned in the same place as it had been before – grander than Austin and Morris, while Austin and Morris should have been brought together as one brand (using the mini, 1100 and Maxi rebodied to take the fight in the 70s). Jag would have sat at the top and MG could have been the budget sports car brand. Riley, Wolsely, Alvis, Daimler and VP would be put to bed. the whole group should have pulled resources and used the slant 4 to create V8 and the V12 to create a V6, which could then be used by jag, Rover and Triumph while the slant 4 could be used in smaller Triumphs and be adapted for the Austin Morris range.

  8. Possibly British Standard, seeing duplication and internal rivalries between Rover and Triumph, could have sold Rover to BMC in 1969, giving BMC a more prestigious brand than Wolseley to top their range of cars. BMC would have been delighted to acquire an upmarket brand with a reputation for engineering excellence and would be keen to get their hands on the upcoming Range Rover. This would then leave British Standard to develop Triumph as a British answer to BMW and Jaguar to take on Mercedes.

    • Indeed, worth mentioning as well that even the fully hydraulic suspension system planned for the Rover P8 was said to have some similarities to Hydragas.

  9. Ooh, a 600hp car that looks like one of those trailer campers knocked down by Basil Fawlty.. Although imagine how popular it would have been with 4×4.. A supercar that didn’t try to kill you on every bend, bump & pothole, what’s not to like?
    Then there’s the 4.2 litre Landcrab automatic (yes you heard that right). A flat plane crank version of the 3.5 wedged into a landcrab driving an automatic box.. Or even a small baby v8 made by putting together 2 850cc A series (with a judicious bit of Coopering) .. 95-100hp and smooth as silk.
    The problem I see here is the NDH dragon rearing it’s ugly head. Just as Triumph wouldn’t use the Rover engine (half availability, half whining because it wasn’t theirs) I can see it happening in this situation.
    I do have one suggestion though – the B60 engine – overbuilt to the point of ridiculousness – but add a supercharger…? Or how about a Sprint based v6 & v8 in na and supercharged. Those would have really knocked the spots off the competition. A 3 litre supercharged 6 SD1? I wouldn’t say no.

  10. Who knows what would have happened in the intervening years along the way, but I guess we would have ended up with what we have now, the 2 strongest brands – Jaguar and Landrover surviving and expanding their model ranges to take up the Triumph and Rover slack. When the doom mongers bemoan the “loss” of the British Motor industry becauase we no longer make mainstream dross like Marinas and Allegros, or knock offs based on obsolete Hondas they seem to forget that the Jewels in Leylands crown have thrived and are building more cars than ever. Bring MINI into the equation and we have a far more comprehensive model range, spanning the contemporary car market then BL ever did.

    • “Jewels in Leylands crown”……it’s funny, at the time they were viewed in the company as absolute liabilities. Land Rover’s warranty bill alone was enough to make eyes water. We were only to happy to wave goodbye to Jaguar, and were trying to off load Land Rover to GM or Ford for years.

  11. Paul that’s a little misleading, the “Jewel” in the crown was MINI and that is doing as well as the leyland rump. The key to both success stories is foreigin ownership and management which lead to proper investment, marketing and design stratagies (to use that word from football, an “identity”) and good worker relationships. The dross like the Allegro and Marina were hardly worse than offering of other companies

  12. I agree with Paul, the best bits of British Leyland- Mini, Jaguar and Land Rover- have survived by making products people want to buy and have the badge snobbery that seems essential these days. No one would ever consider reviving Austin as this means broken down Montegos and weird looking Allegros to a lot of people, while Triumph’s glory days were in in the dim and distant past, and Morris is mostly remembered for the Marina.

  13. One fascinating counterfactual scenario would be Williams Lyons and Edward Turner establishing a new venture by forming a motorcycle business as soon as WW2 ended, apparently in the former’s autobiography Lyons was very close to sending off a letter he drafted in 1942 agreeing to such a partnership where Edward Turner was be Managing Director to this newly formed motorcycle business.

    Depending on how long the partnership between Lyons and Turner lasts (since in real-life both men did not have a good working relationship after Jaguar acquired Daimler) this would have potentially resulted in Jack Sangster selling Triumph motorcycles to Jaguar instead of BSA, it would have also potentially meant a Turner-designed V8 being considered a Jaguar engine (albeit displacing around 3.5/4.0-5-litres and putting out around 200-300 hp) though otherwise unsure whether this alternate Daimler V8 would have featured DOHCs thereby butterflying away the need for the 3.4/3.8-4.2-litre XK6s.

    The “Jaguar V8” would have allowed the XK6 to switch over to an alloy-block and short-stroke layout of up to 3-litres, with Jaguar eventually becoming part of Leyland in the 1960s (while Rover ends up joining BMC) with reuniting Triumph’s car and motorcycle divisions.

    As for Daimler a parallel divergence minus Nora Docker along with the Docker Daimlers (and other expenses) would have probably helps matters significantly, along with BSA resuming production of the BSA Scout (in place of Lanchester) prior to replacing it with either a version of the Panhard Dyna as was looked at prior to the ill-fated Lanchester Sprite or a war reparations-sourced DKW car like the DKW F9 prototype (the latter being the UK-built car equivalent of the DKW-based BSA Bantam).

  14. While the Triumph car brand is a distant memory now, the once ill fated motorcycle business has now become a major player in the motorcycle industry and is highly respected for its well made and good looking and powerful bikes, so something of the Triumph legacy lives

  15. Repeating what I said 5 years ago (!), I really like the Leyland/Triumph/Jaguar and the BMC/Rover combinations.

    There’s a nice progression between a Triumph 2500 and a small Jaguar (Mk2 or 2.8 XJ), and Rover fits in nicely above the BMC range. Even geographically it seems fitting, seeing that both Triumph and Jaguar are from Coventry, while Austin and Rover are from Birmingham/Solihull.

    Two rival British companies, both with a wide range of products, and with fewer of the clashes that marred British Leyland, where Rover cramped Triumph, and was in turn cramped by Jaguar.

  16. The name Triumph will probably mean motorcycles to anyone under 50, and only if they’re bikers, but in the early seventies, it meant a manufacturer of sports cars and upmarket saloons that were seen as a British version of BMW. For a time in the sixties and seventies, owning a car like a Triumph 2000 meant you were doing well and wanted a car that was both well equipped and sporting.

  17. Without the presence of Rover within this British Standard combine, rather than sticking to producing all commercials as Leyland or Standard. Could the Triumph brand have instead further diversified outside of cars and motorcycles into other segments playing a similar role as Land & Range Rover, Freight Rover (as the Atlas van was badged a Triumph in the US) and maybe even Leyland/DAF itself in the long term to emulate Volvo or Mercedes-Benz?

    As mentioned Triumph did experiment with 4WD, could they jump-start development into producing off-roaders on their own or start out with a rebadged model a la original Honda Crossroad (if not use Range Rover or another off-roader e.g. Isuzu Trooper to speed up development)?

    If British Standard acquired Rootes* (notwithstanding the baggage – even better if Hillman-linked Alick Dick is at the helm), they could crafted a Sherpa equivalent from Standard Atlas / Commer FC parts before entering into real-life GM’s Bedford World Van project that BL was part of and maybe even acquire Bedford from Vauxhall (in which case Triumph’s first foray into off-roaders is likely based on Isuzu Trooper).

    The DAF part is down to when and how Leyland / British Standard would be able to acquire the former, drawing upon both Leyland’s past ties to DAF as well as Standard-Triumph’s ties to Michelotti. Benefits include presence on European continent, Variomatic CVT transmission and the motorsport kudos Leyland/Triumph would unintentionally receive from DAF’s Dakar campaigns with the X1.

    The takeover of Rootes by British Standard gives them the Avenger project to slot under Bobcat as a new small Triumph (including Sunbeam size hatchback model with provision for later conversion to FWD), Rootes I4/V6 that could be merged with the Jaguar V12 (and say Jaguar only slant six) to improve economies of scale and other advanced elements of the Rootes C Car (aka 180) project that could be merged with Bobcat/Puma/Lynx/Bullet family (e.g. 5-speed gearbox, De Dion tube rear suspension, potential for enlarged D Car on stretched platform, etc).

    There is also the idea that Triumph would give the Imp an Ajax-inspired (e.g. 1300-to-Toledo/Dolomite) rear-to-front engine or even a rear/rwd to front/fwd conversion, which together with properly-developed tall-block Imp engines displacing up to 1150-1300cc replacing the Triumph SC units and in rwd form featuring CVT transmission would provide British Standard with what can only be described as a Triumph-badged Imp-based yet still Michelotti styled alternative to the DAF 55.

    Imagine as well a Rootes Asp (said to curiously be front-engined rwd rather than rear-engined) with a body not unlike the DAF 40 GT concept by Michelotti, which could have succeeded either the mk3 or mk4 Spitfire.

    British Standard also gains from having Roy Axe available to eventually succeed Giovanni Michelotti, whose work on styling the Talbot Samba would have an uncanny resemblance to Harry Webster’s earlier 1300 based Triumph supermini project.

    An alternative to a Rootes takeover (and inheriting of the Avenger project) or addition to the above would be British Standard maintaining ties with Saab later Saab Scania, for further work on the Slant-Four/V8 engine and possible Anglo-Swedish joint-venture for an Ajax-derived 900-1600cc FWD B/C-Segment family of cars to directly replace the Triumph 1300/1500, Saab 96, Hillman Imp and DAF 55 (plus smaller P300 prototype) to slot beneath the Triumph Bobcat and Saab 99.

    *- Even better if ideally the 1953 Rootes-Isuzu Technical Agreement was expanded beforehand, with British Standard opting to continue the agreement post-takeover of Rootes with the alternate Sherpa becoming an Isuzu-badged precursor to the Isuzu Fargo (e.g. real-life Bedford / Vauxhall Midi). Plus a collaboration between Triumph and Isuzu for a 4×4 incorporating design elements from the Triumph Pony and Isuzu Unicab.

    It would have also given British Standard another diesel option to choose from, one likely to be distantly linked to the Minx engine in place of the old Standard-Ferguson based and Perkins diesels used in the Atlas and Commer FC respectively.

    To be preceded by Super Minx and New Minx being twinned with Bellet and Florian/117 Coupe, Isuzu producing a version of the Imp below the Bellet to challenge other Japanese National Cars like the Publica, Sunny, Familia 800 and original Contessa PC.

    **- Something to consider in this scenario would be Reliant, their Reliant Bond Equipe prototype used a shortened Triumph 2000 platform and being drawn into British Standard’s orbit opens up more possibilities.

    Like a 2000/2500-based Reliant Scimitar GT/GTE and even new Reliant Sabre that would basically be in essence a Triumph Fury in all but name or resembling a dusted-off and touched-up Daimler SP252.

    Also with British Standard’s takeover of DAF and Reliant within its orbit, it leaves room for a Reliant FW11 prototype that possibly resembles Michelotti’s proposal for the DAF P900 aka Volvo 300.

  18. Reading all these comments, one wonders whether Rover might have been better looking beyond these shores for partnerships rather than potentially being saddled within BMC (as many commenters have suggested) and facing internal competition from marques such as Riley, Vanden Plas and Wolseley. In the 1960s Rover still had full autonomy in developing their own cars from the wheels up and choosing which engines to use. Imagine A Rover P6 with the BMC C Series 6-cylinder engine or the B Series 4-cylinder unit under its bonnet. No thank you.

    Personally I would have thought the more forwarding thinking approach of the Rover Company – a company that in the 1960s brought us the innovative P6 2000, a bought-in lightweight V8 engine which had multiple applications, a smooth 2-litre 4 cylinder engine and imaginative projects such as the 100-inch Station Wagon and stillborn P9 and Alvis GTS – would have been better trying to work with another manufacturer such as Volvo. The parallels between both companies and some of their market sectors was very similar.

  19. The premise of Rover being part of BMC is predicated on the latter throwing Wolseley and Riley under the bus with Vanden Plas being reduced to a trim-level at best, their low sales relative to MG mean the previous two are surplus to requirements.

    That leaves the door open for Rover to realise BMC’s ambition in having a renowned luxury marque, thus allowing BMC to retreat from that sector for Rover to fill and benefiting from Spen King’s influence (could he have repurposed the Austin Ant 4×4 into a Land Rover?).

    The only potential internal threat for Rover would be MG and they could play a similar complimentary role to Rover as Triumph would to Jaguar in this scenario, or how Triumph to a limited degree did with Rover in real-life with the TR7/TR8/Lynx, SD2 and SD1 followed by integration attempts with Broadside/Bravo as seen in the stillborn Rover-Triumph plan.

    Basically an earlier integrated Rover-MG specialist division instead of Rover-Triumph, with Morris getting the short end of the stick in favour of Austin leaving a BMC combine composed of Austin (FWD), MG (FWD/RWD) and Rover (RWD/4WD).

    – The Healeys see the writing on the wall and decide a degree of autonomy if not independence (a better conceived Jensen-Healey?) is preferable to Austin-Healey continue to be further reduced to badge-engineering, whose sales are not a patch on MG.

    – The addition of Rover to BMC in place of Jaguar salvages the MGC project by providing another alternative to the underdeveloped revised C-Series, meaning the MGC effectively becomes an earlier MGB V8.

    Whereas Jaguar joining BMC left the company with hardly anything useful as far as engine options go, with Rover at least looking at acquiring a licence for the Buick V6 if not opting to develop their own from the Rover V8 as well as the P6 OHC along with 5/6-cylinder developments.

    Land Rover being said to have looked at the 1.8 B-Series at one time, on top of their own attempts at trying to fit the P6 OHC into the Land Rover.

    – The P8 article mentions there were elements like the anti-roll suspension that had similarities with Hydragas, perhaps the presence of Joe Edwards (and absence of Stokes and Turnbull) would temper David Bache’s desire to make it too big for Spen King’s liking and make the P8 a dual replacement for both the P6 and P5.

    – It also resolves a potential sticking point for the P9 project, since it would likely be cheaper for BMC-Rover for them to badge it as an MG. Based on brand recognition alone in export markets and gain a better ROI rather than trying in vain to establish Rover or ill-logically revive Alvis as makers of sports cars (as opposed to being to Rover what Daimler were to Jaguar).

  20. Jaguar falling into bed with British Leyland was a fatal and costly mistake, it was an industrial muck-up on a colossal scale, when (a) you’ve got a manufacturer consistantly cutting costs at every level, (b) issues with quality / durability, reliability and fit’n’finish problems etc,and (c) having to endure the strikes of Red Robbo calling and dictating the shots at every level.

  21. Jaguar V-12 suffers from a poor cylinder head design. The heads would have needed to be replaced with a better set-up as a matter of urgency. Even the May Fireball design was far from ideal. The obvious choices are a pair of double-overhead cam four-valve heads and/or a pair single-cam two-valve heads (with semi-hemi/crescent or wedge shaped combustion chambers). The all vertical valve sohc cams are far too compromised. Their continued use would have doomed any engine employing them, certainly after the late ’80s they were untenable.

    • Not sure how on point the following is though read some being of the view the V12 would have benefited from featuring Honda-like SOHC with rockers as it simplifies the cam drive, greatly simplifies valve lash adjustment, and by using rockers with a gain you can attain much greater lift without huge base circles. And you can put rollers on the rockers rather than dealing with flat tappets, also making it a simple matter of upgrading it to three if not even four valves per cylinder later on.

  22. There is the myth that everything at Jaguar was wonderful until beastly BMC and British Leyland took over. While there is some truth in this argument, as Jaguar became part of the morass that was Jaguar Rover Triumph in the seventies, the models Jaguar was selling before the takeover were becoming old fashioned and there were issues with heavy oil consumption and cooling on some cars. The money from BMC enabled them to replace the ageing Mark 2 and S Type models, whose sales were falling in the late sixties, with the far superior XJ6, which was such a big success there were waiting lists not long after it was introduced. This model, in spite of some dark years in the mid and late seventies. remained in production for 17 years and the series 3 version was a massive success in America.

    • Especially in light of the fact Jaguar made use of old or discarded tooling from the likes of Standard-Triumph, yet for the XJ6, V12 and other future projects (e.g. Baby XJ, etc) was said to have had ambitions of expanding from 30k to 100k+ units per annum.

      Despite hearing ideas that Lyons could have maybe taken out a loan towards such a goal and remained successfully independent from either Leyland or BMC in the process (if not possibly acquire the likes of Lotus and Maserati along the way), find that notion very difficult to believe and the cost would probably not be worthwhile.

  23. Something to consider, even though in term mass market terms a Alt-Leyland (+Jaguar -Rover) takeover of Rootes would have not likely allowed them to directly challenge BMC.

    Could an Alt-Marina have been created from a combination of Arrow and Ajax?

    Could an Alt-4/6-cylinder PE166 have been developed from both the Standard SC / Triumph I6 and Minx engines?

    On top of the ability to be converted to diesel the Triumph I6-based PE166 had potential to grow up to 2928cc equating to a 4-cylinder of around 1952cc. The Minx-rooted Isuzu G petrol and Isuzu C diesel 4-cylinder meanwhile displaced around 1949-1951cc as the G200/G201 and C190, before being developed into the Isuzu Z petrol and Isuzu F diesel respectively (albeit not the engines over 2-litres).

  24. Rootes had been badly damaged by having to produce the Imp in a new factory in Scotland and the early models suffering from reliability issues( mostly fixed after three years). Otherwise, the Arrow range of cars, which incorporated a range of Sunbeam sports coupes from 1967 onwards, were well regarded at the time and ran from everything to the bog standard 1500cc Hunter to a potent Sumbeam Rapier H120. This was a successful badge engineered range of family cars that sold well in the late sixties and early seventies and while conservatively designed and none too thrilling in base Hillman form, the Humber Sceptre and Sunbeam Alpine/ Rapier combined luxury with good performance, the H120 models being capable of 108 mph.

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