Advert of the Week : Move over to Austin Rover

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Move over to Austin Rover

Move over to Austin Rover

Austin Rover had a fair bit of new metal to crow about back in 1982. The post-launch euphoria of the Metro had yet to die off and ‘Move over to Austin Rover’ seemed like a good way of promoting the newly-introduced follow-on models. The actor, and former Cowley Apprentice, Patrick Mower was drafted in to sell the Mini-E models, Ambassador, Ital, Acclaim and revised Rover SD1 in an advert that managed to sell the facelifted cars’ best assets.

However, with the Maestro and Montego on their way, it was as much about keeping the interest up during some very hard times and, to give the cars their due, they did manage to sustain sales during a very tough few months of selling. Was it the right kind of advertising campaign? To sell cars seriously, probably not. But to rally the troops, get customers in to dealers, and keep BL’s model range in the public eye… it could have been worse.

Ian Elliott, former Public Relations Officer for Austin Rover and BL, said: ‘ARG Advertising wasn’t subjective. We had some pretty heavyweight research activities going on (e.g. CATS – Continuous Advertising Tracking Survey, a collaborative scheme involving other manufacturers) which analysed the effect of advertising on public opinion, sales rates etc. The consensus in those days was that we had a bigger problem with corporate image (strikes and so on) than we had with individual model images, so some ‘range advertising’ was considered desirable and indeed effective. We also had research that proved that if we got people to take test drives, then we got good sales conversion rates – another reason for ads aimed at getting people into dealerships rather than promoting individual models.’

And let’s face it, this makes a great tagline for the site!

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

54 Comments

  1. Keith
    ARG Advertising wasn’t quite as subjective as you might think. We had some pretty heavyweight research activities going on (e.g. CATS – Continuous Advertising Tracking Survey, a collaborative scheme involving other manufacturers) which analysed the effect of advertising on public opinion, sales rates etc.
    The consensus in those days was that we had a bigger problem with corporate image (Strikes and so on) than we had with individual model images, so some ‘range advertising’ was considered desirable and indeed effective. We also had research that proved that if we got people to take test drives, then we got good sales conversion rates – another reason for ads aimed at getting people into dealerships rather than promoting individual models. BTW – Patrick Mower was a Cowley Apprentice !

  2. Must say, I’m surprised at just how many AR car’s were still available in 1982.
    Despite all the enthusiasm in the advert, it was clear that some models were outdated even then.

    Such a shame that Triumph didn’t survive as a car manufacturer.
    I notice “Triumph” motobikes are something of a success story. But I wonder in terms of Car manufacturing, who actually own’s the Triumph name now?

  3. I vaguely remember this advert (a young Patrick M!). Certainly recall the tagline. The most appealing cars to me here, are the SD1 & Acclaim. The Ital looks rather unappealing in the showroom shot. I have to say I never considered – and never would buy an Ital! No wonder Vauxhall & Ford had more market share back then…

  4. @4 BMW owns the rights to Triumph Cars. They kept the marque, along with Mini and Riley after the breakup of Rover Group.

  5. @4 dzt103. In 1992 I worked on a video programme for Triumph Motorbikes built at Hinckley. Not sure who the owner of them is now. I agree it’s a shame Triumph cars also don’t exist these days. When they were on their game they were really desirable vehicles.

  6. @6 H.Jones

    Thanks for that.
    I just wondered if there was ever a chance of seeing the name Triumph again.
    I suppose that is at least possible, albeit under BMW.
    Maybe when BMW get tired of the MINI brand, they may turn their attention to another respected British marque.

  7. The 1981-82 Itals’s possessed those awful thick door decals.
    The improved SL/SLX models for 1983 thankfully returned to sanity.

  8. @12 Francis… I agree the ITAL looks a poor design next to the Acclaim (albeit Honda). In retrospect, the Acclaim was a good car for BL to build back in those days and much more appealing in the showroom.

    • I cannot agree ; in my view the Acclaim was just a typical symptom of a company on the skids. It was probably the most horrible contraption ever produced by the British Leyland ( as I still think of it ) group, and was fit only for the crusher from the moment it left the factory. It had no interior space, rotted away as you looked at it, was noisy and uncomfortable and typically was a Honda failure which was foisted on BL , whose management lacked the judgement to can it before it could make their reputation even worse

      • To me, it was the car that saved / prolonged the death of BL.

        It was reliable, the UK motorist could buy a domestic product and not worry.

        Yes it was small (based on the Civic supermini) and not as comfortable as British cars tended to be, but it heralded a new era of co-operation which was needed in the modern car market. The SD3 then led to the R8, which arguably was Rover’s high point, when they really were competing with the likes of VW for the sub-premium car market.

  9. Great ad, and very much a ‘rallying the troops’ bit of marketing.

    I think we can possibly be a bit over-critical of BL cars, probably because we know them TOO well. Over the years I have owned mostly cars from the BL/AR/MGR stable, with a couple of Fords and a Vauxhall in between. I have to say that none of the other marques hold any lasting appeal, and am still pround of the fact that I own 2 classic Minis, a Hornet and MG Midget. I can’t think of any other marque that can lay claim to a car that stands up to any of these. The simplicity of working on them and parts avalability will mean I can keeo them on the road for years to come, not so sure there are many Fords or Vauxhalls of similar age that can say the same

  10. I can remember that advert and finding it quite believable. At that stage of course the Maestro and Montego had yet to be launched. Two years later and it was business as usual. The company was doomed!

  11. For all those who are pedantic about German plates on the German BINI:

    The motorway sign is for LHD countries, with the fork to the right.
    British (and Irish/Cyprus etc.) motorway signs have the fork to the left. (I guess the exception may be Glasgow, with the outside lane junction near Charing Cross!)

  12. ARG had a series of these adverts in the pre Graham Day days, in which the adverts were for the company, rather than for the product.

    It’s a wide range of cars, as much of the 70s product line (Marina, Princess, TR7) was still around (in facelifted form). A crying shame that the TR7 was allowed to die, as with the loss of the MG, TR7 and Dolomite, ARG lost much of the premium product, and ceded market share to the likes of BMW, Audit, Volvo and SAAB (RIP).

  13. @4: Triumph motorcycles are of course unrelated to Triumph Cars. I do wonder whether BMW will ever do anything with the brands they still have – I actually suspect not.

    Meanwhile, much as I loved (most) Rover/BL products, surely the best bits of the wider group were saved and still exist?

    Leyland Trucks are now the PACCAR/DAF facility and turning out more trucks than they ever did.

    Mini – likewise, no-one could argue against the success and strength of that brand.

    Jaguar – The best range they have had since 1974 with the sales to show for it.

    Land Rover – As per Jaguar but with higher production than ever.

    Let’s face it, the other ‘mainstream’ brands were dead in the water long before MGRover’s eventual collapse….

  14. I actually met Patrick Mower around that time when they had a motorshow in Leeds at the newly built Aireside park. Ken Dodd was also there! Didn’t he present some form of motoring show on Channel 4 in the early years too?

  15. From Wikipaedo…. note he was once an ‘engineering draughtsman at the BMC Cowley plant’….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Mower

    Mower was born in Oxford to a Welsh father and English mother.

    In his 2007 autobiography, Mower states that having believed for years that his year of birth was 1940, but later discovered that his birth was not registered and he was born on 12 September 1938 (On the IMDb it says “1940”).[1] In addition, several reference books on film and television, including Who’s Who On the Screen (1983) and Who’s Who on Television (1996), give Mower’s town of birth as Pontypridd, South Wales, instead of Oxford. In 2007 Mower took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about his Welsh family history.

    He attended Southfield Grammar School in Oxford,[2] and after first training as an engineering draughtsman at the BMC Cowley plant, he graduated from RADA. He first came to prominence as an actor in the spy series Callan in the early 1970s. He went on to appear as DCI Tom Haggerty in Special Branch alongside George Sewell, and DS Steve Hackett in the police series Target, and featured in one of the last Carry On films, Carry On England. Many television roles have included guest appearances in Jason King, Space 1999, UFO, Minder, and The Sweeney. He was a regular panelist on the murder mystery programme Whodunnit?. He currently stars as Rodney Blackstock in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale.

    For seven years Mower was the partner of the actress Suzanne Danielle.[3][4]

  16. I’ve viewed this advert a few times recently on You-Tube and remember it from when it originally appeared on TV.

    Features some quite old cars, designs. At the time, however, all were gaining revisions of some kind and benefitting from the ‘Metro Halo’ effect. As I remember, it was quite an encouraging, upbeat commercial – you could sense that BL was finally stirring and moving in the right direction.

    The Ital did look awful with those side graghics though. An HLS in the right colour could look quite appealing, however.

  17. Interesting to see that again. Interesting too to read comments about Triumph Motorcycles which are indeed being made by the truckload in Hinckley Leicestershire. (About 7 miles away from Mallory Park where that advert was filmed!)

  18. HiltonD:

    ” In 1992 I worked on a video programme for Triumph Motorbikes built at Hinckley. Not sure who the owner of them is now.”

    It’s owned (and has been since the Meriden workers co-op failed in 1983) in it’s entirety by John Bloor, of “Bloor Homes” fame.

  19. A Solihul built TR7 in silver, must be filmed in early 81?

    I don’t recall seeing this ad at the time, the range (excepting the Mini and the Ital) look very much of their time.

    Sad to think that all that remains now from that ad is MINI and I suppose what is marketed (or not as the case may be) as MG.

    Austin, Morris, Rover & Triumph all gone 🙁

  20. “Sad to think that all that remains now from that ad is MINI and I suppose what is marketed (or not as the case may be) as MG.”
    Yes, though being a pedant, the successors to the Triumph Acclaim are still being made… by Honda.

  21. I have owned most of the cars in that ad,i dont remember having much trouble with them,or,did i just look after them better?

  22. British Leyland was undergoing a bit of a revival in 1982 thank to the Metro, Acclaim, Jaguar XJ and Rover SD1. Market share was up a bit, strikes seemed to be on the way out, quality was improving and the Triumph Acclaim, Jaguar XJ and improved Rover SD1 were seriously good cars.
    Remember, at the time, imports were taking 57 per cent of the market, many Fords, Vauxhalls and Talbots were imports, so British Leyland was the only purely British car manufacturer left and its success was vital.

  23. Just to add, Noel Edmonds at the height of his Late Late Breakfast Fame hosted the Austin Rover adverts in late 1982, driving a Rover SD1.

    • He also did one or two of these Austin Rover adverts in late 1984/early 1985 which featured the new 2-litre MG Maestro EFi.

  24. When the Acclaim was launched, it was in HL, HLS & CD trim. Obviously the later L entry version was aimed to provide the same good car basics at a cheaper price and deflect it being seen as expensive. At £4621, to me it looked more worthwhile than that £3999 Ital

  25. @ Hilton D, the Ital was everything the Acclaim wasn’t, elderly, only being sold on price, not very refined and seriously outclassed. The main reason for buying one was it provided a cheaper alternative to a Cavalier, was completely British( which still mattered to many motorists in 1982), and was cheap to own.

    • Good points Glenn. As you say, the Acclaim was obviously a newer, more advanced car than the Marina based Ital. Had I wanted to buy a BL car back then, I would have plumped for the Acclaim… even if L or HL trim.

      Of course, Japanese cars hadn’t really made inroads on the UK market when the Marina was launched. Just reminds us of how quickly they caught on with British buyers.

      • While that is true. The Ital was bigger. I always felt the Acclaim was a bit cramped. I also felt the engine was bit to buzzy but I’m in a minority on that. Having said that would I have bought an Allegro or an Ital over an acclaim?

  26. @ Hilton D, the Acclaim soon developed a reputation for quality and reliability and came at the right time, as the Maestro was over a year away and the Ital and Allegro were on their last legs. People wanted to buy British, as sales of the Acclaim proved, but they wanted quality as well and the Acclaim gave them this.
    Back in 1971, Japanese cars were lucky to take one per cent of the market. They were seen as eccentric, many people remembered the war and stayed away from them. However, by the middle of the decade, word got out that Datsuns and the like were very reliable, excellent value for money and cheap to run and sales rocketed, at one stage Datsun almost overtaking Vauxhall.

  27. Well said Glenn. I agree, the Acclaim was a good British built car, with reliable Japanese technology and with the “all important” Triumph name, at the right time for Austin Rover.

    I also owned three Datsun’s between 1979 and 89. My first was a Cherry N10. The reason being as you have stated. If I hadn’t bought a Datsun first, I might have been attracted towards the Acclaim, though it was a tad more pricey.

    I wonder what less trim, the Acclaim L got compared to the HL – headrests for starters?

    • I cannot agree ; in my view the Acclaim was just a typical symptom of a company on the skids. It was probably the most horrible contraption ever produced by the British Leyland ( as I still think of it ) group, and was fit only for the crusher from the moment it left the factory. It had no interior space, rotted away as you looked at it, was noisy and uncomfortable and typically was a Honda failure which was foisted on BL , whose management lacked the judgement to can it before it could make their reputation even worse

      • copy paste

        To me, it was the car that saved / prolonged the death of BL.

        It was reliable, the UK motorist could buy a domestic product and not worry.

        Yes it was small (based on the Civic supermini) and not as comfortable as British cars tended to be, but it heralded a new era of co-operation which was needed in the modern car market. The SD3 then led to the R8, which arguably was Rover’s high point, when they really were competing with the likes of VW for the sub-premium car market.

        • In a funny way, the best long term result of the Acclaim was that it showed that British car workers could put together a well built car, and that the unreliability of most British cars couldn’t be just blamed on lazy/incompetent etc assembly line workers.

          I doubt Nissan would have risked a plant in the UK if the Acclaim had been shoddily built, it gave them the confidence that British Nissan cars wouldn’t blot their reputation.

          • And yet they decided to build the plant in the North East well away from anyone that screwed an acclaim to gether

  28. @drae, probably government incentives as Sunderland had a far higher unemployment rate than Oxford and had a pool of skilled workers from the shipyards.

    • @drae and Glenn, the Government did offer NISSAN incentives to locate at Sunderland. It should be noted that Nissan also looked at other areas such as Humberside, Derbyshire to name but two.

  29. I owned a Sunderland built Primera. Rattled like nothing I’ve ever owned before or after. Every screw that it undid was on the wrong thread.

    Not surprising that at the time the plant was the most productive in Europe if they were throwing cars together & the only one to rattle less once the dash had been taken apart & put back together again!

  30. @ Phil Simpson, must have been a rogue Primera as most people I know who owned the first two generations of Primeras were generally impressed and bought another one. Also they became very popular as taxis due to their ability to take very high mileages well.
    These days most taxis I see locally are Skodas as something like a Nissan Juke is a bit impractical as a taxi. Like the Primera, the Skoda Octavias and Rapids that are favoured by taxi drivers have huge boots, are bulletproof if serviced correctly and are cheap to run.

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