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British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978 Kindle Edition

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Length: 201 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris Cowin has extensive experience of the European motor industry, having worked for Lex Automotive and Volvo in the United Kingdom, and later for General Motors Europe. During his time at General Motors, Chris was involved in European marketing strategy and the planning of new products. Like most "car guys" with an interest in British Leyland, Chris has been a proud (if sometimes frustrated) owner of several of their products over the years, including a Mini Clubman, Riley Kestrel, Triumph Spitfire 1500 and MGB. His qualifications include an MBA from London Business School and BA in Geography from the University of Oxford (Mansfield College).

Product Details

  • File Size: 2884 KB
  • Print Length: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Christopher Cowin; 2 edition (February 27, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 27, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EQKECW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,760 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Chris Cowin has extensive experience of the European motor industry, having worked for Lex Automotive and Volvo in the United Kingdom, and later for General Motors Europe.

During his time at General Motors, Chris was involved in European marketing strategy and the planning of new products.

Like most "car guys" with an interest in British Leyland, Chris has been a proud (if sometimes frustrated) owner of several of their products over the years, including a Mini Clubman, Riley Kestrel, Triumph Spitfire 1500 and MGB.

His qualifications include an MBA from London Business School and BA in Geography from the University of Oxford (Mansfield College).

Chris lives in Paris and can be contacted via e-mail at chrisbastille@hotmail.com.



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan Wilson on October 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many years ago as an executive at Ford South Africa, I met a counterpart working for Leyland South Africa. We got chatting as car guys do and I asked him why his employer's cars were sold devoid of rust proofing when at Ford we took this very seriously as cars on the coast of South Africa could almost literally rust overnight. His answer shook me at the time and sparked a life-long interest in this tragic company: "We know about that problem but can't afford to fix it." I was thus delighted to encounter this book and devoured it avidly.

The author traces the Via Dolorosa taken by this one-time giant of British manufacturing whose products could be once found on streets from San Francisco around the world to Auckland. As a ex-car executive, the author conducts a 360-degree dissection of the causes of this company's demise and since these factors cut across organisational functions and span varying time periods means no easy chronological sequencing is possible. This did not bother me as I've spent many years as a business doctor and could follow the themes and integrate them without difficulty.

What I liked:
1. The interplay of cause and effect was very well developed. The story is filled with facepalm moments [e.g. the Marina - a great car for 1966 to take on the Mk 2 Cortina, but not in 1972] and "What were they thinking?" inept decision making [e.g. putting into production the truly awful Maxi and abjectly failing to rationalize the ridiculous over-lapping, sales-cannibalizing product ranges]. This is indeed a key work in the field of economic history and management - and I loved it for that.
2. The book provides an on-going series of leadership, general management, design engineering, business strategy and marketing case studies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Robbins on August 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Having been born and raised around Solihull and, could be said, within the shadow of the car plant there, this book was a must read for me.

The plus points of this book are clear. The author is very knowledgeable of the car industry and this time in history. He describes well the perfect storm that engulfed British Leyland during this period. Many people would blame the unions, others the incompetence of the management (Yes, Mr Clarkson, I mean you.), which are easy targets. Far more impressively, the author looks at the government's involvement and also the prevailing climate of swinging currency rates, the effects of joining the EEC and not protecting the home industry from Japanese imports.

The negative points are that he repeats himself continually. I appreciate that he looks at the business from various perspectives: timescale, each constituent company, overseas factories and markets, and so forth. However, because of the way that the book is structured, repetition is inevitable. And this, I believe, is where the book fails. Had the author took a strictly chronological order and interwoven the events and divisions into that, the repetition would have been considerably reduced and the book would have been eminently more readable by a wider audience. As it is, many people would be deterred from completing this book, which is a great pity, as it describes the history of BL accurately and deserves a wider audience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Tillet on May 13, 2013
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A very, very interesting read, and a must-have for fans of the ARonline website or car enthusiasts at large.

The summary of the book speaks for itself if you need to know the period covered and the author's process, but I can tell you it is definitely very well and clearly written, with an adequate use of pictures for those not entirely familiar with the different models.

Car enthusiasts need more books like this one, that go beyond a manufacturer's official publications while going enough into details to keep even the specialists interested. Actually, lots of brands deserve the kind of care and attention the author gave British-Leyland for this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LAO on January 1, 2013
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This is a good read for anyone who enjoys the history behind large corporations and why and how they made it big or how they came to fail. For many people it would be a rather boring read, however, I enjoy knowing the history of great or once-great car companies. This is a very well documented factual book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nick reeves on March 3, 2012
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A fascinating read with much more detail about cars than in most business books about the car industry. I found the later chapters discussing what happened in America and Australia especially interesting. Pictures are good but it would be better if there were more of them ...
It's a sad story but this book tells it in an informative and entertaining way - definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronan on March 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It could do with a good editor to sort out the chronology. But it is a very engaging book about the implosion of an industry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy on February 3, 2014
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The details are much better than the organization. Some of the chapters seem to flit from one subject to another. Difficult for a non-Brit, even one generally familiar with cars and England, to grasp.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very well researched and structured account of a long and complex tragedy, the collapse over many years of the main actor in the UK automotive industry. The author has gone to an immense amount of trouble to document what happened, who were the key players in the drama, what were the factors and motivations that influenced their decisions. It's a fine piece of sectoral analysis, including the interplay between British Leyland and successive British governments, with their failure to take the emergence of the European Common Market seriously. The lack of vision belongs not only to BL itself, with its grotesque failures in market and competitive analysis,and in product planning and execution, but also to left-wing dreams of public control over the economy and national autarchy, and to the short-sighted and disruptive role of unions and the company's labour force. So it's also a fascinating piece of socio-political history. The structure of the book is very effective, alternating chapters on the events of particular years with those which describe the history of BL's individual car models - good products are absolutely critical to the success and survival of car companies. For me it brought back many things about an era that disturbed me and an industry that I became involved in from 1977.
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