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Government Motors 1975
City Journal ^ | Autumn, 2009 | CLAIRE BERLINSKI

Posted on 11/26/2009 5:40:27 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster

CLAIRE BERLINSKI

Government Motors 1975

America should learn from Britain’s disastrous takeover of its biggest auto company.


PETER MARLOW/MAGNUM PHOTOS
Striking became a way of life for British Leyland autoworkers during the seventies.

After the Second World War, the United Kingdom’s newly elected Labour government resolved to build of Britain a New Jerusalem. It nationalized the commanding heights of the economy and inaugurated the cradle-to-grave welfare state. By the 1970s, the UK faced an economic crisis unrivaled since the Great Depression. Shabby and hopeless, Britain had become, in Henry Kissinger’s words, a “tragedy” of a nation, reduced to “begging, borrowing, stealing.”

British Leyland, Britain’s largest automaker, faced bankruptcy in 1975. Fearing that its collapse would leave a million workers unemployed, the Labour government nationalized it. The company remained a ward of the state for 13 years. During that time, the British taxpayers invested 11 billion pounds—the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $22 billion today—in a company whose only sign of life was a willingness to spend that money. Though the British economy recovered, British Leyland did not.

If this story sounds troublingly familiar to you, you appear to be nearly alone. Few of the policymakers currently nationalizing the American auto industry seem to remember the British experience, and fewer still seem to have learned anything from it.

(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: automakers; britain; claireberlinski; generalmotors; gm; leyland; nationalization

1 posted on 11/26/2009 5:40:28 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
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To: TigerLikesRooster; PAR35; AndyJackson; Thane_Banquo; nicksaunt; MadLibDisease; happygrl; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 11/26/2009 5:41:11 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster (LUV DIC -- L,U,V-shaped recession, Depression, Inflation, Collapse)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
1975?

That's, like, history dude!

Obama has no interest in history, particular English history!

3 posted on 11/26/2009 6:14:37 AM PST by SonOfDarkSkies
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Anyone else see that episode of Top Gear where the presenters drive some of the “best of the worst” of British Leyland’s offerings?


4 posted on 11/26/2009 6:22:41 AM PST by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: SonOfDarkSkies
Right. He does not care. But we should.:-)
5 posted on 11/26/2009 6:23:04 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster (LUV DIC -- L,U,V-shaped recession, Depression, Inflation, Collapse)
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To: pnh102

They also had one on Top Gear where they tested Russian and eastern European commie era cars. The showdown had Jeremy in a commie BL Austin Marina versus a Russian accented James in a Lada to see which commie car would win.

Clarkson, who I generally do not like because of the fat American and bush cracks to make his BBC bosses happy, ripped commie workers at BL. He said they spent more time on strike than making cars.


6 posted on 11/26/2009 6:50:05 AM PST by Frantzie (Judge David Carter - democrat & dishonorable Marine like John Murtha.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

I owned a 76 MG. Every part that fell off of that car was of the finest British craftsmanship.


7 posted on 11/26/2009 6:52:16 AM PST by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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To: Richard Kimball

Throw in the electrical components from Lucas, Prince of Darkness.

The three positions on a Lucas headlamp switch:
Dim
Flicker
Dark


8 posted on 11/26/2009 6:58:25 AM PST by Fred Hayek (From this point forward the Democratic Party will be referred to as the Communist Party)
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To: Frantzie

yes the cars were crap, but in fairness most of them were designed pre-nationalization. the allegro, marina and the princess being the biggest turds. The montego which was designed during nationalization was actually a pretty good car and I had a couple of them as pool cars when I worked for Jaguar. And don’t get me started about how bad those cars were during the 80s


9 posted on 11/26/2009 7:01:15 AM PST by henry_reardon
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To: Richard Kimball
I owned a 76 MG. Every part that fell off of that car was of the finest British craftsmanship.

Hey, that's not funny, I have a Jaguar... my parts are much more expensive...

10 posted on 11/26/2009 7:04:13 AM PST by Sir Francis Dashwood (Arjuna, why have you have dropped your bow???)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Great Read.


11 posted on 11/26/2009 7:04:46 AM PST by rose
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To: henry_reardon

I had a bright orange Allegro. I actually drove it to a local inspection garage and when it surprisingly passed I asked the owner how much he would give me for it.

300 quid and a long walk home. One of the best decisions I made in my life.


12 posted on 11/26/2009 7:07:43 AM PST by PJammers (I can't help it... It's my idiom!)
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To: pnh102

Yeah, I’ve seen the “British Leyland Challenge”. I think my favorite part was on the rough-surface test track, where the entire door fell off Jeremy’s Rover. The part where they filled the cars with water and then drove them while breathing through snorkels was quite entertaining, too.


13 posted on 11/26/2009 7:10:16 AM PST by Charles Martel ("Endeavor to persevere...")
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To: PJammers

the all-agro was based on the austin 1100/1300 series. in redesigning it they made the car heavier and with less interior room. truly a lose-lose, it’s only claim to fame was a 5 speed transmission on the 1500 and 1750 engines.


14 posted on 11/26/2009 7:12:21 AM PST by henry_reardon
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To: TigerLikesRooster
Claire Berlinski is dead on the money with this article. However there are another couple of points she missed, at least in the motorcycle industry. 1) Old & obsolete parts were not thrown out or melted down, they kept using them until they exhausted their supply, then change to newer more efficients components. For example Brit bikes had magnetos well into the 60s when the rest of the world had already converted to battery & coil. 2) Tradition. The British parallel twin was over 20 years out of date when they finally folded up.
15 posted on 11/26/2009 7:13:25 AM PST by Tupelo
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To: Frantzie
Clarkson, who I generally do not like because of the fat American and bush cracks ...

To be honest, these types of things coming from foreigners do not really bother me... in fact, I wish that all those who feel the same way but live in the USA do the same as Clarkson... and live abroad. :)

16 posted on 11/26/2009 7:24:27 AM PST by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
Britain had become, in Henry Kissinger’s words, a “tragedy” of a nation, reduced to “begging, borrowing, stealing.”

In Britain's past, see America's future.

17 posted on 11/26/2009 7:42:09 AM PST by IronJack (=)
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To: Richard Kimball
I owned a 76 MG. Every part that fell off of that car was of the finest British craftsmanship.

Mom and dad bought a BL Triumph Spitfire in the mid-'70's, and it was a handsome but unloveable blend of tradition and unreliability. The fuel pump went out almost immediately, and was from then on replaced at alarmingly short intervals (by an OEM part of finest British craftsmanship) until one day a Japanese-made pump was installed... that one worked perfectly and was on the car until they found a sucker sold it. The electrical problems alone made dad and I wonder how in the world the RAF managed to fly anything across the Channel, let alone do it at night.

I will admit that it was most convenient to be able to tilt the hood up and sit on a front tire to work on the engine- a very considerate feature on a vehicle that needed so much work on the engine.

Mr.niteowl77

18 posted on 11/26/2009 7:47:47 AM PST by niteowl77 (You wanted him, and now you have got him. I say, "Good day to you," America.)
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To: henry_reardon

I had the 1100. I also remember having to re-gap the points every 300 miles. If you happen to forget the car would definitely remind you!

Didn’t it also take 50 weight oil. I can remember changing the oil once and put 10 w 30 in it. Every morning when I started it up it would fog the entire estate.

I think I still have a Chilton’s manual. A must if you own any British Leyland automobile.


19 posted on 11/26/2009 7:53:44 AM PST by PJammers (I can't help it... It's my idiom!)
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To: Richard Kimball

I bought a new MGB in 1977. Fun car for drivng the backroads of Kentucky and W.Va. Between the Vapor locks, incomplete wiring harness (no left rear turn signal) bad stereo, and other defects it was a trade off.

I didn’t have it long enough to totally fall apart as I dozed off diving it one night. The cops woke me up with a tailgate emblazoned with CHEVROLET a few inches from my face.


20 posted on 11/26/2009 8:15:31 AM PST by bleach (Sarah, Wake me in 2012)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

bfl


21 posted on 11/26/2009 8:19:39 AM PST by Yardstick
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To: TheOldLady

BritCar ping.


22 posted on 11/26/2009 9:39:40 AM PST by Slings and Arrows ("When France chides you for appeasement, you know you're scraping bottom." --Charles Krauthammer)
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To: Slings and Arrows; TigerLikesRooster

Thanks for the ping, Slings.

Hubby had a 67 Sunbeam when I met him. He sold it to a friend of mine, and he has regretted it ever since.

It was a neat little toodler, but it used to break down every time he loaned it to his younger brother. Of course, not many cars could survive being loaned to his brother in those days.


23 posted on 11/26/2009 10:41:34 AM PST by TheOldLady
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To: PJammers

I think pretty much everything over there used 20/50 during that time. not so sure about now, I haven’t lived there for 20 years and I guess a lot has changed. the worst car I ever owned there was an alfa romeo guilietta, the oil control rings had failed and it was blowing vast quantities oil out of the crankcase dip stick hole. I rigged a piece of hose to it and routed it to a catchment bottle in the engine bay. after every journey I would pour the contents of the bottle back into the engine. I used to refer to it as a “semi-dry sump” engine.


24 posted on 11/26/2009 10:58:10 AM PST by henry_reardon
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To: TigerLikesRooster
After the Second World War, the United Kingdom’s newly elected Labour government resolved to build of Britain a New Jerusalem. It nationalized the commanding heights of the economy and inaugurated the cradle-to-grave welfare state. By the 1970s, the UK faced an economic crisis unrivaled since the Great Depression.

Somewhat misleading, snce it fails to mention that between the end of the War and 1975 Britain had spent more years under a Conservative than a Labour government. And Attlee's Labour government of 1945-51 didn't create an impoverished nation - it inherited a nation utterly bankrupt by the War. Its failure (and that of its immediate Conservative successors) was not to create a template for economic recovery, as German governments, from an equally dire beginning, were successfully doing at the time.

25 posted on 11/26/2009 12:31:49 PM PST by Winniesboy (61 years a NHS patient; 7 years a Freeper)
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To: TheOldLady

You’re welcome. My father had an MG for a while; he spent far more time working on it than driving it.


26 posted on 11/26/2009 2:33:15 PM PST by Slings and Arrows ("When France chides you for appeasement, you know you're scraping bottom." --Charles Krauthammer)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Yes, MGs. Another bf had one. He was 6’6” and weighed 250, so it was a riot to watch him unfold himself from that tiny car. Bf just before him was 5’4” and weighed 135. He had a huge GTX.

Oh. Sorry I brought an American car into the thread. Don’t throw me out, K?


27 posted on 11/27/2009 4:16:13 AM PST by TheOldLady
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To: Frantzie; Richard Kimball; Fred Hayek; PJammers; niteowl77; Slings and Arrows; TheOldLady

Britain still made some good cars in the 70’s, some very good cars. Jensen’s, the Mini, Lotus, Triumphs....

My favourites?.

The Jensen Interceptor:

http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-1970-1979/1974-Jensen-Interceptor-Mk-III-Saloon-maroon-fa-lr.jpg

http://www.saint.org/blog/uploaded_images/jensen-interceptor-790128.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Jensen_Interceptor_Convertible_1974.jpg

Triumph GT6:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/1973.triumph.gt6.red.arp.jpg

Triumph Spitfire 1500:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8f/Spitfire1500.jpg

Triumph Stag:

http://www.biocrawler.com/w/images/a/a6/1975.triumph.stag.red.arp.jpg


28 posted on 11/28/2009 4:16:03 AM PST by the scotsman
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To: Frantzie

Clarkson, who I generally do not like because of the fat American and bush cracks to make his BBC bosses happy..

UNTRUE. Clarkson is a loose cannon, he certainly does NOT say and do things to make anyone happy.
He’s an equal opportunity insulter too :)


29 posted on 11/28/2009 5:21:32 PM PST by Vanders9
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