What became of the UK motor industry? Well in answer to that I have a question for you.
Can you remember your first ever car? If you are anything like me, the car in question, for all its temperamental nature, bumps and scrapes (they called it character back then) was your pride and joy. In many ways your first car represents your first real sense of independence, and as such will always be remembered fondly.
My first car was an Austin Allegro, a very mediocre model from a mediocre era in the British motor industry. Yes, it was brown, yes it had a push button MW/LW radio and yes it was a 3 door Estate (can you imagine such an impractical mismatch of a car today (perhaps it was just a flattened out SUV?).
However, the motor industry landscape was very different in the early 1980′s.
The Motor Industry 30 years ago
Back in those early years of the 1980′s, Peugeot had ‘Talbot’ as part of its name, Nissan was still ‘Datsun’ and Skoda was part of a band of poor quality brands from behind the Iron curtain, including Lada and Yugo.
If you were to visit a ‘British Leyland’ showroom in those days, you would see a mode4l range from Austin, Rover MG and more. The Allegro complimented a range that included the Marina, Maxi, Princess, MG Midget, TR7 and MGB GT.
Model upgrades simply mean a renaming process and very little else. The Marina became the Ital, and the Princess the Ambassador, moves that unfortunately did not improve the vehicles.
How the motor industry has changed
The demise of UK vehicle manufacture has not been complete, just the scene has changed. The UK companies have disappeared by and large, however the UK workforce has still manufactured vehicles for Japanese, American and even Indian companies since.
In 2012 you can find vehicles from Korea amongst the most reliable in the market, and one year warranties have become 3, 5, 7 or even lifetime in length.
Can you remember being sold any add on products? Mudflaps and mats maybe, but never paint protection or gap insurance.
Cars do not rust anymore, and paintwork does not fade like it used to. Service intervals are now more like two years instead of 6 months, and a diesel can do more than 70 mph (apparently officer!)
However, if you take a look outside the window, that lovely new car you see, does it really have the character of your first car all those years ago? Has the motor industry changed for the better?