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British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978 by [Cowin, Christopher]
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British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978 Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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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 LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EQKECW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,049 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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 and a major exporter of motor vehicles. This early export drives after the war pushed the "buy British" and bring in much needed cash that England desparately needed as the country was almost broke as the war drained the country of funds.
The large number of makes and models were huge for the size of the home market so it was "export or bust" Some brands like Jaguar were strong in the USA but others were quite week and could not survive post war. The book follows what decisions were taken buy sucessive managements both good and terrible.
During all of the post ww2 adjustments the trade unions were getting stronger and very demanding with strikes holding up production worth millions of pounds in mainly export earnings. The book also charts the other players ie; Ford, Vauxhall (GM) Opel, Hillman/Chrysler not to forget the European makes ie Renault (a big player) BMW, Mercedes, Fiat etc
The industrial climate forced Vauxhall and Ford to set up shop in europe where they could make cars at a profit with no shop floor strikes and stoppages.
In the middle of all this enter the Japanese invasion, these companies set up early joint ventures is Rover and Honda to get a foothold in england and europe
This book also listed the building of vehicles in other commonwealth countries and the demise of these operations.
This book is well worth reading for a car person to read, a really well written piece of history, take the time to read
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