As part of our Rover SD1 at 40 special, here’s what Leyland Cars boss, Derek Whittaker had to say on the subject. This article is taken from the British Leyland Mirror, 30 June 1976.
In common with his senior executives Derek Whittaker, Managing Director of Leyland Cars, is filled with enthusiasm for the new Rover. He feels the car and the new plant which builds it are proof to the rest of the world that the group has the strength, the ability and the will to succeed.
The new Solihull plant has the most up-to-date paint technology and a vast assembly hall embodying the very latest equipment for trim and final assembly operations. All this, says Derek Whittaker, should inspire confidence in Leyland Cars inside and outside the group. He told the Mirror:
‘Too many people dwell only on our problems. I have never tried to minimise their seriousness or the grave consequences if we cannot pull together to overcome them, but nevertheless we must not ignore our very considerable successes. Leyland Cars has existed in its present form for only eight months. During that time, all of it spent under close public scrutiny, we have announced many improvements to our product range.
‘We have launched the Jaguar XJ-S, Allegro 2, Marina 2 and improved the Mini range. The Princess and Dolomite ranges have been improved and rationalised and we have introduced the TR7 to the UK. We have also launched Supercover to give our customers unrivalled after-sales service.
‘Neither should we forget employee participation. Our employees now have an unprecedented opportunity for close involvement in the affairs of the group. Our initial success in implementing such a massive change in the way we plan to work together is a credit to unions, management and the workforce. Nothing now should prevent us from making real progress. We have the right new products, we have some quite excellent new production facilities and we have the involvement and the commitment of our senior employees involved with the participation system.
‘What we lack, and we all freely admit it, is a way of communicating and involving every employee in the really exciting prospects for Leyland Cars in employment and profitability terms. I cannot over stress the key importance of continuity of production every hour of every day, every day of every working week in the year.
‘This new Rover embodies so much of our strategy for the future. It has beautiful styling and excellence of engineering, superb road holding and exceptional fuel economy. It is a car very much in time with the requirements of the market now and in the future. It is also worthy of note that, in putting together this £95 million investment in this new model and new production facilities, we have for the first time in the history of our specialist car marques planned the project from the start in an aggressive manner.
‘We were and are convinced that this product can sell worldwide in exceptionally high volumes so all of our planning capacity, product derivatives, marketing and home and overseas selling was, and is, designed to ensure that this is a reality.’