Blog : Go to another site… but please come back

Keith Adams

Austin Memories - an amazing website.
Austin Memories - an amazing website.

I hope I’m not shy in giving credit where it’s due – and will always point you in the right direction, even if it mean (gasp) visiting another website. And here’s a case of me doing just that, even if it’s long overdue. AROnline is a huge and sprawling website that celebrates British cars – and driving here – but it has been known to paint in broad brushstrokes. Consider it a UK car encyclopaedia, and you’re not far off the mark. One that’s growing, of course.

But I do like the more specialist single-subject websites. The real  labour of love efforts. And one of those is – a site, as you can guess, completely dedicated to not only to Austin, but also The Austin. Or Longbridge as anyone who comes from outside of Birmingham likes to call it. It’s been put together over the past five years by John Baker, and is packed full of page after wonderful page of facts and figures, and little-known stuff that us car enthusiasts love to take in.

I have spent plenty of time on this site, and particularly enjoyed the section listing all the factory gates (I used to arrive at P Gate after parking my Peugeot 406 company car over the road – no foreign cars on site you see – when I worked there in 1999), as well as the sheer wealth of pictures of buildings and locations now long since gone. There are some fascinating inside stories, such as the development of Moulton’s Minky, as well as the Nissan-Austin collaboration.

Anyway, do take a long look, and enjoy yourself there. It’s well worth the effort.

Then come back. Please!

Lots more like this at Austinmemories...
Lots more like this at Austinmemories...
Keith Adams


  1. “no foreign cars on site you see – when I worked there in 1999”

    I’d read somewhere it was the opposite at Ford’s. It stopped staff leaving their brand new Escort at home and bringing the number plates with them on foot the following day….

  2. Big kudos to you Keith for this piece.

    I have followed Austin Memories for a number of years now, and apart from the aprons have probably bought most of teh items in the shop, certainly the DVDs, polo shirt and the coins! I always felt the site sat nicely alongside AR-Online, and never competed with each other. As you say, “Memories” is a veritable organic mine of information about Austin & Longbridge, and John’s self-made DVD’s are more than worth the money he charges for them. Readers could do a lot worse that buying the Austin Centenary DVD with the Longbridge demolition bonus disc included, I found them both fscinating and well produced. The IMM/Mini 50 is excellent too but may not appeal to everyone.

  3. “no foreign cars on site you see – when I worked there in 1999″

    Reminds me of the time I worked for a Mitsubishi franchise and drove to a traing course at the importers ‘Colt Car Company’in Cirencester. I used my own car,Porsche 924 (5 years old)and was told my security to park away from main entrance area as the chairman objected to non-Mitsubishi cars on site. Lo and behold his holiness,the hypocrite,turned up for work at 10 am in a chauffeur driven new S-class Mercedes with his own personal plate CCC1 if I remember!!

  4. Not just Longbridge – I remember seeing an old Suzuki 4wd completely boxed in by Discoveries fresh off the line in an otherwise virtually empty employee car park at Solihull one evening.

    The problem at Longbridge was that everyone in non Rover cars had to park on the road/pavements around the factory perimeter, showing the World that many employees possibly had little faith in their own product. If non-Rover cars had been allowed on site then the engineers, etc, could have had a better opportunity to see how good the opposition actually was.

  5. @Richard – Perhaps he was negotiating the NedCar Colt/Smart ForFour deal with DaimlerBenz extremely early? 😉

    I would have thought that car plant employees would get a significant discount on their products?
    And the anecdotes of cars allegedly being allocated to employees on the assembly line, priced as base model, but find themselves specced with all spare options along the line? 😉

  6. The “no foreign cars on site” made me smile.

    Back in the 1980s the owner and then chairman of Axminster Carpets, Harry Dutfield, met our then canvassing Conservative MP for East Devon who turned up in a Citroen. Mr Dutfield promptly told this MP to leave based on him driving a foreign made car – Mr Dutfield himself always drove a Jaguar and insisted that all his company vehicles ranging from cars to lorries were British in both origin and badge on the bonnet. He was a staunch supporter of British industry and clearly believed that this MP wasn’t.

    Mr Dutfield passed away a number of years ago although the mention of this in his obituary always struck a patriotic cord with me.

  7. Peugeot 406 company car? Did you work at Longbridge and, if so, why a non-Longbridge company car? I don’t understand the logic unless it was a different company.
    I had my own bloody-minded attitude to management and the company when I was a shop steward in a multi-national (not car related). But I’m older now and know that employees need to support the hand that feeds them…up to a point anyway.
    We had a German manager for a few years and he insisted that all company vehicles be British made – because that’s the way Germans think: you support your own!
    As soon as he left the scramble to buy foreign amongst our British born management was a sight to see – because that’s the way we think: we don’t, or at least don’t think long-term. I don’t believe that attitudes have changed very much.
    The French are/were similarly chauvinistic and the Italians and the Swedes. While those stereotypes might be breaking down, I don’t know, it could be one major reason why they still have manufacturing industries where ours have dwindled, failed or become foreign owned.
    Tory MP not driving British…surprise, surprise, surprise.

  8. Chris C:

    My dad bought ex-staff BL cars in the ’70s. I can imagine that if any of those employees were remotely long term enough to remember the discounted deals and the cars they got, they’re thoroughly justified in driving other things.

    Of course, had the employees been encouraged (nay, FORCED) to drive the vehicles they made, then perhaps the doors and gearlever wouldn’t have fallen off the 1.3 Marina and the power steering and suspension on the Ambassador might have retained their fluids a little longer…

  9. My dad worked for Ford most of his working life in the Belfast plant, which started as Autolite, then Ford, then became Visteon which then went bust taking their pensions with it and causing the workers to stage a sit in the factory that lasted weeks. But that’s another story.

    They didn’t have a no foreign cars on site rule, indeed in the 70’s he drove a Mini, followed by a Simca 1000 (very cool car I thought) then a Datsun 160B which rusted to bits after about 6 years from new. Then he started buying Fords, as did most of the workers as you got a very generous 25% discount back then, although I think it’s only about 10% now.

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