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

Christopher Cowin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Written by a "car guy" with a motor industry background, this book traces the history of Britain's ill-fated car manufacturing giant, concentrating on the decade 1968 to 1978. The focus is on the products of British Leyland, but the story makes reference to the political and economic context of Britain in the seventies and asks "Why did British Leyland crash?" and "Could this have been avoided?".

Events are described chronologically, with specific sections devoted to six of the cars introduced by the company during the period, to the international aspects of British Leyland's rapid contraction, and to external issues such as EEC entry and Japanese competition. 100,000 words. Illustrated.


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. He also spent a period in Rome responsible for the marketing of Opel cars in Italy, and later worked on the launch of the Chevrolet brand in Europe, following GM's acquisition of Daewoo. 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: 752 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Christopher Cowin; 1 edition (February 27, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EQKECW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,443 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
(24)
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not too big to fail. 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiasts need more books like this one! May 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good history of British Leyland January 1, 2013
By LAO
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The sadness of the 70's 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling and informative March 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on UK car industry hari kari March 27, 2014
By Ronan
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
4.0 out of 5 stars lots of details but somewhat confusing February 3, 2014
By Andy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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
As a car enthusiast an owner of a british sportscar buying this book was a necessity. I am hoping this book continues onwards from another book from Graham Robson which told the story about the collapse of the largest Motorcar Company in the UK and the mismanagement and malfeasance of Lord Stokes who destroyed the famous makes like the Austin Healey MG and Austin etc to favor his favorite Marque Triumph. He never allowed new models to be created for the Austin Healey & MG and drove them into ruination while spending millions on the TR7 which was a fiasco. I wanted to see how Jaguar was drawn into this mess. Looking forward to reading it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A tedious read.
A sometimes tedious read. This book is written for UK readers who are already familiar with many of the personalities and auto makes that were never imported to the USA. Read more
Published 5 days ago by David Baxa
4.0 out of 5 stars British Leyland history
I've been a British car owner since the mid-60s. Owned a lot of MGs and Triumphs. Work on these cars as a living. I always wondered why the company closed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by James Trunzler
4.0 out of 5 stars Pedantic
Not exactly enthralling, but it does have a lot of good information in it. I was expecting to read that BL was another casualty to Margaret Thatcher's policies, but recognized... Read more
Published 4 months ago by W. Frame
2.0 out of 5 stars A sad overview of a once proud British Car Industry
This was an interesting read, the book charts the course that the British motor industry took from the aftermath of world war 2 until the final sad demise of a once proud industry... Read more
Published 4 months ago by glenstarrover
4.0 out of 5 stars Little wonder they went broke
Good insight into the failure of one of the main car makers in the 1970s
A catalogue of disasters with the inevitable results
Worth reading
Published 4 months ago by Peter Dunn
1.0 out of 5 stars Whew... good story, but not written from someone with inside info
I know far more of this story than the book tells, as my father was in for 30 yrs! Not enough photos, and slow going at time, but History all the same. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael GreenWest Coast British
4.0 out of 5 stars Down the same Road.
I did enjoy the book. How did the British Motor Industry ever survive as long as it did?

The Management was appalling, the Governments of the day were absolute meddlers,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by David P.
2.0 out of 5 stars I tried to like this book.
I was initially excited to read this book, but quickly found out it was more about industry and less about the cars it produced. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Thomas Lhamon
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent specialty interest book
This is a well researched and concisely written book about the history of the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. M. Fitzpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Crash
Well written and a balance view of an interesting time in British Automotove Industry, recommended for all laylan fanciers and historians
Published 15 months ago by Eric North
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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.




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