I’ve just returned from a wonderful week offline. After what has been a crazy eight months of 2012, travelling all over the world (and I am certainly not complaining!) it was good to head up to a remote loch in Scotland, climb into a ill-equipped log-cabin, and enjoy life without wi-fi, 3G or mobile signal for seven days…
Before I left, I made sure I had plenty of reading material. But this time, I simply bought and downloaded some books and installed them onto my Kindle and iPad the night before I left, having decided I needed to join the 21st century. I won’t bore you with the selection of titles I took with me (you’d never believe me), other than one book that I seriously recommend you all buy if you get the chance. ‘British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash‘ is a brilliant book that concentrates on the period in time when our nationally owned car producer ‘enjoyed’ almost consistent decline.
From its creation in 1968 ’til its re-naming to ‘BL Ltd’ in 1978, our ‘Leyland’ was a matter of national concern. We’ve been through the heartbreaking decline of an industry plenty of times on this site – it’s detailed in The Whole Story, as well as contained in its entirety in our archive section, but what makes this book so good is that it’s chronologically arranged, and weaves the multiple facets of our story into a single, and very readable, whole.
As well as the product story, ‘Car Crash’ goes into great detail about the industrial strife, political intrigue and managerial upheavals that make this whole soap opera so complex – and so damned impossible to make any one person, event or car totally culpable.
One nice touch is that as well as the UK story, there’s a pair of detailed chapters devoted to the parallel tales of Australia and the USA, detailing the development and ultimate destruction of the marque in those territories.
The book really is capable of standing alongside Leyland Papers or The Truth About The Cars and fills an all-important gap in the BL-aficionado’s bookshelf. If there’s one criticism you’d level at it – and there is just one – and that there’s no first-hand recollection from any of the players who were there. It’s all from contemporary accounts. But as that leaves the author, Chris Cowin, to plough on with the story as it happened – no additional colour required.