Essay : Graham Day, the case for the prosecution

Ian Nicholls looks into Sir Graham Day’s period at the helm of the Rover Group and wonders if he could have done more to guarantee the company’s future he’d been drafted in to save…

In preparing the company for privatisation, was he too tight with the purse strings, not allowing for a new wave of models to carry Rover forward confidently into the Nineties?

Sir Graham Day has often been hailed as a hero in the BMC>Rover story. But was he? In the light of MG Rover’s final collapse in 2005, a lot of what he achieved seems to have been for short-term gain to please his political masters; the Thatcher Government. The Iron Lady and her cabinet had been continually frustrated by British Leyland’s inability to wean itself off state aid.

By 1986, the eleventh year of state ownership, the Government’s cash injections had resulted in the underwhelming Austin Maestro and Montego which were meant to take on Ford and GM in the vital fleet market and generate the profits to fund the next generation of BL cars. However, they failed to do so, and the British Government was faced with the dismal prospect of having to find funds to develop another new generation of BL cars in order to keep British car workers in employment.

The Thatcher Government decided to try and offload Austin Rover to Ford and Land Rover to GM, which led to an almighty political furore – and an uncharacteristic U-turn meant the sales were called off at the last moment. Accusations that the Conservative administration was being ruthless, uncaring and unpatriotic were bandied around Westminster. This ignored the fact that Austin Rover’s market share was shrinking. However, while the Government took a lot of flak for this policy, it had to do something. Post 1983, the political consensus moved towards a free market philosophy and whatever party had been in power in 1986 would have been faced with some hard decisions regarding BL’s future.

Quite simply the existing management had not been performing and something had to be done.

The appointment of 52-year-old Graham Day to head British Leyland produced a feeling of foreboding. Formerly the boss of British Shipbuilders, many saw him as one of Thatcher’s hatchet-men, about to inflict another round of mass redundancies on BL.

Day’s plan was, in reality, the only one left to take. At the time, would have been impossible to further rationalise the company – there was no fat left to trim. BL was stuck at a production level of 500,000 per year, so Day decided the survival of Austin Rover lay in taking the company upmarket. Day insisted the Government had given him no directives when he joined BL, only to develop a corporate plan that would lead the company into privatisation.

He also knew some parts of the Rover Group could be offloaded quicker than others: “I am concerned that any deals must make commercial sense. Some units clearly can stand alone, others cannot.” The first fruits of this statement would soon follow. Contradicting Sir Michael Edwardes, Day stated in response to the old “unsaleable rump” argument, “Does it make sense to cross-subsidise something that might be a perpetual loss-maker?”

Day believed the Rover 800 would play an important role in this new chapter of the company’s history, “If that model is well-received through 1987 and 1988, it will take Austin Rover down a more encouraging path. Two or three years back, or even longer, there was, I believe, customer dissatisfaction with the quality and reliability of Austin Rover’s cars. It takes a long time to get people back to a brand with which they once had difficulty – that is true for toothpaste, let alone high price cars. If the Rover 800 is as successful as we think it will be – that message will get out to the UK market. It will have a halo effect. The public will feel the other cars in the range could be just as good.”

Soon after Graham Day’s arrival, Austin Rover boss Harold Musgrove departed.

Musgrove was truly a product of a past era and this was never more apparent than at the press conference to mark the announcement of the Rover 800 when he was asked why it did not come with ABS as standard across the range, like its main rival the Ford Granada. He said: ‘We didn’t fit ABS as standard on the 800 because it isn’t as necessary with transverse engine (sic) front-wheel-drive cars as it is with rear-wheel drive.’

There is no doubt that Musgrove played a part in the development of this car but, at the end of the day, this attitude of, “we know best” didn’t wash in the new regime. Day believed the company should always give the customers what they wanted.

Day also felt that Musgrove had misled him over the company’s newest product – and that did no help the situation one bit: an insider put it like this: “The key cause of the falling out was that Day felt he had been misled by ARG senior managers as to the readiness for launch of the 800. It should ideally have had a few more months of problem-sorting but, then again, an even later launch would have caused other kinds of problems – a no-win situation.”

Within months of his appointment, Day drew up a realistic business plan that centred on the ‘Rover-isation” of the entire range – and that, in the future, all new Rover (or MG) badged cars would be priced at a premium over their mass-market rivals. This marked a significant about-turn in the company’s strategy and certainly made a change from the previous management’s insistence that they were chasing a twenty per cent share of the UK market.

Day stated the opposite, by saying that it was not market share that mattered, so much as profit – indeed, Day was not concerned in the slightest at the contraction of the company’s market share. He said that he would be quite happy with a ten per cent slice of the UK market, as long as he could choose what ten per cent. The reasons for this downfall were down to the fact that Austin Rover made a conscious decision to stop competing with Ford and GM by buying into their market share (this practice had been widespread since the early Eighties).

Was this where it all started going wrong?
Was this where it all started going wrong?

The strategy of going upmarket looked risky in light of the fact that the Metro, Maestro and Montego could not comfortably wear a Rover badge – and that market research now showed that the Austin name carried all kinds of unfortunate connotations with the past. Also, the marketing of the brand needed to be given “more punch” because the company was losing sales due to lack of product awareness. Day put this down to the Engineers taking control of the company’s marketing – strange until one recalls that Austin Rover’s Chief Executive, Harold Musgrove, took a leading role in the development of the company’s cars since the Metro.

The position in which Musgrove had placed himself was certainly strange, as it is received wisdom that the Chairman should let his staff get on with the day-to-day development of any new product. Be that as it may, Day was quick to point out that the “Edwardes era” had produced new facilities, a modern range of cars and stable industrial relations. However, what it had also done was to, “ignore the fact that the company was selling consumer goods and needed to satisfy the consumer.”

Somehow Day’s management team began to get results. The newly-named Rover Group made £27.9 million before tax in 1987, with the newly-launched Rover 800 now on stream. This was enough to encourage British Aerospace to take Rover off the Government’s hands in a controversial deal. By 1989, Day was in the process of disentangling himself from the Rover Group, with control passing to George Simpson and then John Towers, but the Rover-risation policy he had instigated was well underway.

In the short term it would pay dividends, but it would eventually result in the devaluing of the Rover brand.

In 1986, the Rover brand was epitomised by the SD1 and, although the smaller 213/216 had been on sale for a couple of years, the large car still symbolised the marque. One couldn’t drive anywhere without seeing David Bache’s finest creation; it exuded a road presence that the 800 couldn’t match. If you drove an SD1 as a company car, it meant you were making progress up the career ladder. The Rover SD1 was an automotive styling icon and, although the car was dogged by poor reliability, it didn’t stop rival manufacturers taking styling cues from it.

One of them was the Mk 3 Ford Granada/Scorpio of 1987. BL’s obsession with beating the Granada in the sales charts led to a serious error. The company’s product planners decided the all-alloy Rover V8 had no place in its range, and the 800 was sold with 2- and 2.5-litre engines; a similar range to the Granada. Although as a Granada rival, the 800 was excellent, and much more competent than the Rover SD1 in smaller-engined forms, it meant Rover had no car to compete with BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz in the three-litre-and-over class.

This was an arena where the P4, P5, P5B, P6B and SD1 had competed and had embellished the status of the brand. The Germans would gradually provide most competition to the Rover 800, as public enthusiasm for Ford-badged executive cars began to wane. Perhaps the solution would have been for Rover to have continued manufacturing the V8 SD1 in low volumes, in the same way RSP produced the MG RV8 in later years. An SD1 with a 3.9- or 4.6-litre engine would have made a very appealing car!

When Margaret Thatcher arrived at 10 Downing Street in May 1979, it was in a P5B, a car deemed suitable for Government and Royalty. The Auntie Rovers of the Fifties and Sixties were the choice of middle-class professionals, but the original Rover company decided to break the mould with the P6 in 1963 – it defined the modern day executive car. The smooth 3-Litre P5 ditched its engine in favour of the ex-Buick 3528cc V8 in 1967 – the beginning of something very special.

Spen King, Gordon Bashford, David Bache and all the Solihull design team could do no wrong, and the Range Rover, launched in 1970, introduced a new type of vehicle to the world. In the eyes of the public, the Rover was an executive car of not less than 2-litres. Where did it all go wrong?

Perhaps the rot began in October 1989 with the launch of the Rover R8. It was a great car and deservedly a best seller. 950,000 were sold in six years, but should it have been badged a Rover? Graham Day is quoted as saying that market research indicated that:

“Young people do not want to drive an Austin.”

Not a big enough leap over the R8 and too expensive for what it was
Not a big enough leap over the R8 and too expensive for what it was

That was certainly true, but they probably didn’t want to drive a Ford either, and they were market leaders. The same could be said for drivers of other mass market cars such as Vauxhall, Renault, Peugeot. Graham Day’s solution was to use his company’s prestige brand, Rover, on some of its most basic sub 2-litre products. He quite literally cheapened the Rover brand to bring it within the price range of Ford and Vauxhall buyers. Yes, perhaps the Austin marque had to go, but the Rover Group had a more suitable brand for sub-2-litre cars – and one that had been very successful – Triumph.

From the Herald to the Dolomite, the Triumph badge had adorned a series of cars with sporting pretensions – indeed, the 16-valve technology used by the R8 had an antecedent in the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. To badge the Metro with its Mini heritage as a Rover was, perhaps, an act of long-term marketing insanity. Although these sub-2-litre Rovers sold well, the sight of these vehicles decaying, unloved and uncared for on Britain’s roads today has led to the gradual decline of Rover as a prestige brand.

The Rover 620 was a car that deserved the badge, but the cars that followed did not. Perhaps the car that put the nail in the coffin was the HHR. By the time it was launched, the 16-valve technology that made the R8 so exceptional had been adopted by rival manufacturers. The HHR was overpriced at a time when Ford had upped its game with the Mondeo and, if some consumer reports are to be believed, appallingly unreliable. The decision to enlarge the K-Series engine to 1.6- and 1.8-litres led to the much-publicised head gasket failures and a serious loss of consumer confidence. To many, Rover was now simply an anagram for Austin – in code! The brand had become a Ford/Vauxhall rival for which buyers were expected to pay a premium for an inferior and less reliable car – and most people knew they were the cars formerly known as Austin.

The Rover 75 was the kind of car that deserved its badge, but relied heavily on retro styling, which the original Rover company had abandoned in 1963. The 75 was too small and cramped for a prestige car, appearing to have little more internal room than Alec Issigonis’ Mini!

It could be argued that Sir Graham Day had departed the scene by then and had nothing much to do with Rover. However, one biography states: “From 1983 to 1986, Sir Graham was Chairman and CEO of British Shipbuilders and from 1986 until 1991, Chairman and CEO of the Rover Group, a specialist automotive manufacturer. Appointed to these positions by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his task was to restructure and privatise these companies which have been owned by the Government. Also, in the early 1990s, including during the Gulf War, he was Chairman of British Aerospace during a period of management and strategic realignment.”

Hence, it appears that, after British Aerospace purchased the Rover Group, Graham Day was promoted to run the parent company. The Whole Story section of this site states:

“The replacement for the R8 Rover 200/400 came up for discussion in 1991 and, right from the beginning, it was clear that BAe would not allow Rover enough money to build their own car, and capitalise on the position of strength that the R8 had been establishing for itself and the company on the marketplace. Basically management issued an ultimatum that the new car would be heavily based on a Honda model – as the Rover 600 had been – and, if that could not be made to work, management threatened, the company would be closed! So under these conditions, the Rover design team set about working on a replacement for the R8. As detailed in the next chapter, Honda also ensured that the new Rover (codenamed HHR) would be so heavily based on the Honda version of the car (HHH) that there would be little room to make the cars stand apart from each other.”

There, the reader can also discover BAe’s attitude towards replacing the top of the range Rover 800, where the greatest profit margin was. “R17/R18 (launched 1991): This was the replacement for the 1986 Rover 800 but, instead of being the new car that the company needed, cost constraints meant that it would end up being a fairly comprehensive facelift of the original car. This proved to be a short-sighted policy, given the way it was outclassed towards the end of its life in 1998.”


“BAe also made a considerable amount of money by closing two-thirds of the Cowley factory (all Rovers built at the site now were actually products of the old Pressed Steel Fisher site) and selling it to land developers, whilst also doing the same at Canley. This policy also flew in the face of Professor Sir Roland Smith’s proclamation back in 1988 that Rover was safe in the company’s hands. It had, of course, become perfectly clear by this time that BAe was merely acting as a steward for Rover – and any long term ambitions of ownership had been washed away when Professor Smith had been replaced at the top of BAe and the company ceased making the large profits they had enjoyed during the 1980s.”

The demolition of the original Morris Motors factory at Cowley and subsequent sale of the land was handled by a BAe subsidiary called Arlington Securities. Some people might use a more simplistic description of these goings on – asset-stripping. So how involved in the under-investment and asset-stripping of Rover was Sir Graham Day? Certainly, he was in charge of BAe for some, if not all, of this period.

So, Sir Graham Day’s master plan came unstuck. It worked long enough to enable the Rover Group to be sold successively to British Aerospace and then BMW. However, Rover skimped on the investment required for cars in the 2-litre-and-above sector, surrendering sales to the Germans, where the profit was – and, in the sub 2-litre sector, produced uncompetitive cars that dragged the emblem of the Viking longship through the mire.

Most young people can’t remember when Rover was a prestige brand, it is a badge that belongs on hack, runabout Metros and banger R8s while the streets are littered with BMWs – everyone seems to have one. However, this writer remembers the days when Rover SD1s were everywhere to be seen and the TWR Group A SD1 Vitesses showed Europe’s finest who was boss…

Ian Nicholls
Latest posts by Ian Nicholls (see all)



    • I’m sorry to say but WRITING IN CAPITALS IS THE WRITTEN EQUIVALENT TO SHOUTING. However I agree with you that hope lies in the Rover name returning on a future TATA/JLR product.

  2. Sir Graham Day had some good ideas and brought in some useful individuals to give Austin Rover Group’s products a much needed overhaul in terms of image and creative marketing. But he was ultimately answerable to a Government that had no interests in maintaining interests in car manufacturing.

    The then Government clearly had no long term interests in Austin Rover Group, only severing its links when the time was right. The expectation on the Rover name was ultimately too much in such a short period, and when it ultimately would not be with all-new products such as a replacement for the Metro.

    As Jon quite rightly says, the Rover marque was the purveyor of upmarket, prestigious cars, not superminis or mass market offerings. Sadly the Government did not care about this and Graham Day’s role was to ultimately ‘fatten up the pig’ and make it ripe for selling to an interested party. He was, therefore, carrying out the remit set by the Government, thus suggesting that he was not the underlying cause of what impact this would have on the company and the Rover marque itself in future years.

    I, for one, am pleased that Jaguar Land Rover owns the Rover marque and do hope that we will one day see it adorning a range of high quality, stylish and aspirational cars that are pitched in the right sector/s of the market that are right for the brand.

  3. The only time BMC/BL/Rover etal had anything approaching a coherent model range was under Graham Day. He understood that Austin Rover didnt have a hope in hell of developing decent cars itself and was a cottage industry compared to the likes of Ford, GM and Japanese/European multi-nationals. It was absolutely the right decision to move the company toward a premium market position using Honda technology. The results speak for themselves. The R8 was the companies best car in decades and despite a premium price sold in large volumes making it very profitable. Combine 200 and 400 sales in the early 90s and it was the UK’s best selling car by some margin. The fact that his succesful strategy allowed the government to sell the company is not something you cant criticise him for. Using that logic makes that nutter Musgrove – the man who honestly believed the Maestro/Montego where “world beaters” a success!

  4. to be honest the push of rover down market really begun back in the dark days of bl when they were developing the sd1 because they didn’t want internal competition with jaguar so in came the bean counters got every penny of profit out of the sd1 and sent it packing as a ford rival

  5. I remember 1986 onwards as a very exciting time for Austin rover/Rover group. It was out with the old guard and in with new thinking on the brand. There seemed to be a future for the whole group where as before it was like a giant sleepwalking into crisis after crisis. The perioed from 1989 when they launched the R8, 1990 when the Rover metro was launched, the revised 800 with the grille in 1991 and the Rover 600 launch in 1993 made Rover very attractive with great cars. Added to this the 1992 Rover cabriolet and tomcat, they seemed to have an excellent product plan indeed. Graham Day should be applauded for steering the brand to good times. Rover sold bucket loads of cars and charged a premium over boring fords and vauxhall s. The sting in the tail came when BMW took over and didn’t have a clue how Rover produce so much with so little. Then of course came k series Hgf which killed them with warranties and an unreliable tag. If they had sorted tha k out then, Rover might be around today. No one will buy an unreliable car and the sales dropped off big time.

  6. I for one still recall Rover as a prestige British brand even with Rover badges on Metro, Montego etc. The MG badge was and still is very adaptable to different classes of cars. MG Maestro Turbo was very appealing.

    It’s only a hunch but I think lack of estate models may have been a problem under Musgrove and before. I know this was rectified with later 400 Touring, 75 Touring and MG ZT-T models but it was too late. Where was the 600 and 800 Touring estate models? Ford Granada estate, Vauxhall Carlton/Omega estates and Mercedes 300 estate were all big sellers.

    A 600 couple and convertible would have been a big seller to in my eyes like gen-1 Volvo C70 was. I don’t agree that Triumph or Austin are names people aspire to with cars. I believe BMW owns Triumph name along with Riley.

    The Rover Streetwise was inspired marketing.

    Hope lies with TATA/JLR in the resurrection of the Rover marque/badge/brand. I do hope I see a new Rover car in my lifetime.

    I still look through car ads for Rover 75 and MG ZT models. I still love the design if not the packaging and space. As for used Rover 800 models they are rare these days. The Honda Legend has certainly aged better. As has the Rover SD1 we all love.

    PS. Great article and website. Keep up great work.

    • ‘Rover’ is dead and gone. It was only in the UK that the name was held in any regard. Outside of the UK, the name was a by-word for junk by and large. The brand was so poorly regarded that in the US, the Stirling brand had to be invented for the 800.

  7. I was lucky enough to have Sir Graham as my professor and advisor in the MBA program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, in 1977/78. At that point he had just departed Cammell Laird shipyards and was taking a break back in his native Canada before returning to run British Shipbuilding and then, later on, Austin Rover. I have only good things to say about him in my experience, though of course I was only at risk of not graduating as opposed to being sacked from my job. He was brilliant in the lecture hall, a very smart person quite obviously, and although I held him in some degree of awe he was very patient and approachable for us young, mostly dumb, students. The education I received from him was a sound foundation for my work career. While not all of his decisions may have been totally correct with the benefit of hindsight, I do not think he could have done much different than what he ultimately did given the circumstances. He is still with us, living in semi-retirement about an hour’s drive from where I am sitting.

  8. Thinking about it – why didn’t Rover build a 2.2 v8 – two K series 1100 blocks – would have fitted in the 25/45 and probably the R8, and a 2.8 v8 from the K series 1.4 in GTa tune – commonality of parts, good smooth performance, under the 3 litre tax band for the 2.8. Even a 2 litre v8 by reducing the bore on the 1100 block.. They’d have flown out of the showrooms.
    Cheap to develop, cheap to make, good reliablity (bar head gaskets) and the v8 smug git factor for the company rep market..

  9. I imagine they would have been rejected as too complex when most engines that size are 6 cyclinders at the most, there’s not that many V8s that small in road going cars.

      • Nowadays yes, 1986 not so much I think. My father had an A reg Cavalier SRi – which went like a scalded cheetah but since we towed with it and a 2 litre v8 has more torque than a 4… I wouldn’t be at all surprised if people like him at the time would have jumped for it (not dad, he hated BL with a vengeance after a certain Allegro ate 3 transmissions in 15,000 miles).
        Nor are v8 engines that complex – at their simplest they’re just two of everything you already have and either an 8 way dizzy or a new ecu. And you save on developing several different classes of engine independently. So instead of A,B,C,3.5 (4.2,4.6,5.0),4.0 RR.. You could have K series 3/4/6/8 and even a 3.6 v8 and 5 litre v12 for Jaguar. All off one design, one type of manufacturing equipment, and once the HGF was fixed (or properly designed out) – happy days.

  10. Because of how the original K-Series was designed. Such an engine family have entailed a larger 1.6-2.0-litre half-relation to the K-Series being developed (as was said to have been the case with Rover’s unrealised K-Series collaboration with Kia) instead of Rover stretching out the existing K-Series above 1.4-litres.

    Even then doubt Jaguar would be keen using a 90-degree V12, especially since they were said to have developed their own modular engine family of which only the V8 was further developed to become the AJ-V8 upon being bought by Ford.

    • Why would it have to be a 90 degree v12? Surely that’d be set by the angle of the crankcase joint to the bottom of the block? From what I remember of looking at K engines under the bonnet they aren’t particularly tall.. And the 1.1 size bore/stroke would give a 3.0 v12 – which would suit the Jaguar quite nicely in size, power & refinement.
      And again people love the smug factor of more cylinders – more power – efi – supercharging etc..
      Based on the MPI tune the 3 litre would have made 225hp (a 6 cylinder version of the Volvo 2.5/5 would have made 204hp) and a 4.2 litre, 309hp which are both pretty competitive..
      It also solves the “myriad of engines” issue BL/AR/ROVER etc suffered from for decades. The problem would be forcing the different sections of the company to use a single base group of engines.

      • Was thinking in terms of such an engine likely being a doubled-up KV6, with the K-Series already having a bad reputation partly due to being enlarged beyond its initial 1.4-litre capacity and soon featuring extra cylinders. Additionally the displacements of such an engine family would not be in line with market expectations.

        Also seem to recall that while the 3.6-litre KV8 was said to have put out decent power, it was allegedly lacking low down torque where it mattered which it why Land Rover stuck with the Rover V8.

        Could be wrong though the Fiat 128 SOHC and Fiat 130 V6 engine family seems to be one of the few (if not the only) examples of where a 4-cylinder was developed into a 60-degree V6.

        Agree with the notion of a large engine family replacing many engines at BL/AR/Rover, though in practice with the K-Series there would still likely be two engine families that are otherwise still partly related to each other if one were to include the half-relation project co-developed with Kia. Yet in better circumstances perhaps BL/AR/Rover would have been able to initiate an upscaled engine derived from the original K-Series without having to wait for a partner to collaborate with.

  11. You cant blame Graham Day for the eventual downfall of Rover – many decisions made subsequently by amongst others BMW and The Phoenix 4 years after Graham Day resulted in that. No matter what he did with purse strings at the time wouldn’t have made a damn of difference as he was handed a purse with nothing in it! By the way this article is making the same assertion that Rover “collapsed” – Lets remember Rover in the mid 80s included Landrover and Mini. These both represent the powerhouses of the UK auto industry today and have grown massively in the intervening years, easily absorbing any loss of output associated with the parts of the business that used to knock out old Honda clones that nobody wanted to buy

    • Graham Day knew that the Austin badge had an awful reputation due to the M cars and the Allegro and had to go, and his idea for a smaller and more upmarket company seemed attractive. Also he finally buried the lingering them and us mentality in the company and encouraged his workers to take pride in what they did, and not a single day was lost to strike action under Day. Then, of course, were some highly desirable new products that had waiting lists at dealers, something that would have been unthinkable in British Leyland era. We knew it wouldn’t last, but at least when he left Rover, Graham Day had turned the company into something people no longer laughed at.

  12. Well, hindsight…. what a great weapon for the “what if” theory and I love it. So, here’s my take on “what should have been done”>>>
    SD3 ought to be a Triumph, a Toledo (213) or Dolomite(216), I’ve always thought it was a more suitable badge than the Longship’s it was difficult to carry in 213 and 213S…
    This would have paved the way for R8 to become the new Dolomite in the “bread & butter” versions, I easily can see the Tomcat & cabrio being Vitesse & (why not, Stag) whilst the LC8 could have held its Metro moniker as a stand alone model and brand, this would have paved the way for the 600 to be the Triumph 1800 to 2300 and in 1995, given the success of R8(190K+ sold in 94 and 115K until HHR took over approx mid-year) HHR could have been unveiled as Dolomite MK3 in Saloon only in 96, all R8 saloons (400) being deleted instantly, this would have allowed the 1996 range as follows>>>
    R3 superseding the LC8 as the “New Metro 1,1 & 1,4” the 1,4/1,6L-16V versions being only GTI and VDP models. It was the right way forward, the R3 being at THE top of the supermini offerings at the time.
    R8 keeping on in 1.4 with both outpouts and 218d/td with only 5door hatch/tourer.
    R8 Tomcat “Vitesse” keeping 1,6-2,0L engines and Cabrios “Stag” 1,4/1,6L AND 2L.
    HHR saloon would be made available in 1,4(103bhp) 1,6 and 2,0L plus 2L TD with 80 and 105 bhp, thus being above R8 but below the 600…
    The latter sold as it was and the same for 800.
    Came 1997/98, R8 could have been replaced by HHR hatch and a tourer…
    Assuming that the price list was realistic (say £500-1000 less than the stupid overpricing R3 and HHR suffered from) these 3 ranges would have easily reached 350-450K sold per annum, allowing for a new, “home-made” range of small-medium cars for 21st century including the Mini…
    Ideally, 600-800 series would have become the “75” but upper versions would get the 4″ lwb and a bigger KV6 if not KV8 of around 3,5L to re-create the Rover 3500S…
    Obviously, the tourer, coupé AND a cabriolet (my Gravatar should be a nice photoshop of this car… Keith???) would have added halo effect at the top of this range….
    I’m not sure small capacity V8 would have worked, the 2L KV6 was criticised for its lack of low-down torque…
    Hummmm, hindsight, sigh…..

  13. Graham Day kept the Rover brand alive for another 19 years as the old guard and their seventies style belief that Austin Rover should be state run and subsidised for everything it did would have killed the company a lot earlier. His emphasis on quality, expanding Land Rover into the smaller SUV market( which ultimately led to its survival post Rover) and getting the unions onside have to be praised. No more apologies for poor quality, running to a hostile Mrs Thatcher for more taxpayers money and making cars people wanted to buy that at last were well made are what I remember Mr Day for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.