1999 Rover 75

1999 Rover 75

Forgive me for having been on a bit of a Rover binge lately, but for those who don’t know on 15th April 2005, exactly 10 years ago, the Rover Group finally ran out of money and Britain’s last volume car manufacturer disappeared forever. I remember well the BBC news reports showing workers being turned back at the gates of the Longbridge Plant in south Birmingham, their jobs finished and their cars ceased. In all, nearly 6,000 people in the Midlands were sacked upon the closure of Longbridge, and whilst Rover, a brand that had dated back to 1904 and had once been a symbol of pedigree British Motoring, finally died after a long and painful spell under British Leyland and ownership by BMW, MG was able to claw away from darkness thanks to Chinese investors, rescuing one of the most renowned and hallowed names in Motorsport history.

This however was truly the last great Rover, and one that was a succulent blend of style and substance. Reliable, well priced, smooth riding and sweet, the Rover 75 was the embodiment of everything that was to be found in the everyman’s British motor car. But nowadays most people remember it as a prime example of how even though this car, as reliable, well performing and beautifully styled as it is, can be completely compromised by that all important part of the human psyche known as image…

The Rover 75 was unveiled in 1998 after 4 years of development, and was the first car to be launched by the company since the Rover 600 in 1993. In fact the car was built to replace both the Rover 600 and 800 to become the company’s flagship motor. The car was the last to be styled by world renowned coachbuilder Vanden Plas, famous for its distinguished chrome nose and luxurious internal styling. I remember well the style and profile of this mighty car, filled to the brim with soft leather seats and sublime wooden trim, built to emulate the mighty Rover P5 of the 1960’s, but with a fiery 4.6 Rover V8 under the hood for some extra grunt. It was perfect…

…trouble was nobody wanted it.

The main problem that killed the Rover 75 was its image. The car was designed to emulate grand old England, with that chrome and wooden trim making it look and feel very nostalgic. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, in fact I very much enjoy a look into the heritage of Britain and the Rover 75 strikes a chord with me, it’s very pretty, well styled and has a lovely feel to it, and many foreign buyers agree, with the 75 winning awards in Germany and France, as well as being dubbed the best car in the world by Italian stylists. The nostalgia of old England is something that foreigners love, they come to Britain in their droves to see old Castles and tour the quaint streets of our ancient cities. However, the only people who don’t like the …

SE Lansing MI AUTOMOBILE HISTORY 1917 REO Motors & Diamond REO AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY Engineer Owner Olds Motor Works & REO & Father of General Motors Corp Oldsmobile Division5

SE Lansing MI AUTOMOBILE HISTORY 1917 REO Motors & Diamond REO AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY Engineer Owner Olds Motor Works & REO & Father of General Motors Corp Oldsmobile Division5

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1969 MG MGB

1969 MG MGB

Oh the MGB, the last great British Sports car?

A motor that refused to die even though British Leyland simply couldn’t stop messing around with it. The MGB is an example of a car that went from one of the most loved and lovable cars in British motoring, to what many describe as an empty husk broken and bent for legislation purposes. But the MGB would have its way in the end!

The story behind the MGB begins in 1962, when the car was designed to incorporate an innovative, modern style utilizing a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series. However components such as brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA with the B-Series engine having its origins in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength. Wind-up windows were standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. A parcel shelf was fitted behind the seats.

The car was powered by a BMC B-Series engine, producing 95hp and giving the car a 0-60 of 11 seconds, perhaps not the briskest acceleration, but of course this car was more a comfy little cruiser, ambling about the countryside in sedate fashion admiring the views. The MGB was also one of the first cars to feature controlled crumple zones designed to protect the driver and passenger in a 30 mph impact with an immovable barrier (200 ton).

The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. Wheel diameter dropped from 15 to 14 inches.

Upon its launch the MGB was given almost unanimous acclaim, largely due to its advanced and innovative design combined with its beautifully and sleek styling. Previous sports cars of the same calibre had always been levied with a reputation for their ropey nature, with a majority of previous models being simply remodelled versions of the MG’s and Triumphs that dated back to the end of and in some cases even before World War II. But the MG was different, and if I’m honest, a large part of its appeal is due to its small, low body, and it’s poky round headlights that make it look rather cute. It’s the kind of car you could give a name, preferably a girl’s one. Either way, the MGB sold in hundreds, disappearing off to all corners of the globe, touring the South of France, storming across the deserts …

1971 MG MGB GT

1971 MG MGB GT

Oh the MGB, the last great British Sports car?

A motor that refused to die even though British Leyland simply couldn’t stop messing around with it. The MGB is an example of a car that went from one of the most loved and lovable cars in British motoring, to what many describe as an empty husk broken and bent for legislation purposes. But the MGB would have its way in the end!

The story behind the MGB begins in 1962, when the car was designed to incorporate an innovative, modern style utilizing a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series. However components such as brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA with the B-Series engine having its origins in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength. Wind-up windows were standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. A parcel shelf was fitted behind the seats.

The car was powered by a BMC B-Series engine, producing 95hp and giving the car a 0-60 of 11 seconds, perhaps not the briskest acceleration, but of course this car was more a comfy little cruiser, ambling about the countryside in sedate fashion admiring the views. The MGB was also one of the first cars to feature controlled crumple zones designed to protect the driver and passenger in a 30 mph impact with an immovable barrier (200 ton).

The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. Wheel diameter dropped from 15 to 14 inches.

Upon its launch the MGB was given almost unanimous acclaim, largely due to its advanced and innovative design combined with its beautifully and sleek styling. Previous sports cars of the same calibre had always been levied with a reputation for their ropey nature, with a majority of previous models being simply remodelled versions of the MG’s and Triumphs that dated back to the end of and in some cases even before World War II. But the MG was different, and if I’m honest, a large part of its appeal is due to its small, low body, and it’s poky round headlights that make it look rather cute. It’s the kind of car you could give a name, preferably a girl’s one. Either way, the MGB sold in hundreds, disappearing off to all corners of the globe, touring the South of France, storming across the deserts …

Austin Metropolitan

Austin Metropolitan

1957 Austin Metropolitan at the 2011 Cromford Steam Fair.

A brief history of the Metropolitan

In 1950, the Nash Motor Corporation, one of the leading independent US auto manufacturers, decided to test public reaction to a new small car they were considering putting into production. This was a revolutionary concept in those days of big gas guzzlers.

They issued a questionnaire pamphlet called a "surview" showing pictures of a prototype concept car, based on a design by independent auto designer William Flajole, with a reply-paid envelope for people to return their opinion on the car. Quite an innovative strategy for the time.

The reaction to the surview convinced Nash that there was a market for a new small car. Since no US auto factory had the tooling or experience to build cars of this size, it was decided to produce the car in Europe. The Austin Motor Company was at that time the largest car manufacturer outside the US, and was an obvious choice, in view of their reputation for quality build and engineering.

Following various design modifications, the first Metropolitans rolled off the Longbridge production line in October 1953, and went on sale in the US in the spring of 1954. Early versions were fitted with the 1200cc Austin Somerset engines and are now easily recognisable by a "floating bar" grille, and monotone body colours for body and roof. None of these early cars were released on the home (UK) market – the entire production until 1957 was for export only.

By the time the first Metropolitans arrived in America, Nash had merged with another independent auto maker, Hudson. Metropolitans were badged as either Nashes or Hudsons, depending upon which dealer sold them.

When the Metropolitan was released on the home UK market, in 1957, it had already earned millions of vital dollars for the British car industry, and was reputed to be second only to the Volkswagen Beetle in terms of volume car imports to the States at that time. The engine had been upgraded to the proven BMC "B" series 1500cc unit used in a wide variety of other BMC cars, which had a power output of around 55bhp, giving quite a lively performance in such a light-bodied car. The car was not known as a Nash in the UK though it is sometimes wrongly referred to as such. UK-supplied cars are correctly described as Austin Metropolitans, though they join the ranks of a minute number of cars produced in the world which do not bear a manufacturer’s badge.

From 1957 on, all cars were duo-toned with white, with the main body colour ( red, green, yellow and later black) separated by a stepped stainless steel moulding. The Metropolitan was to stay in production until 1961 with only minor changes in 1959 to accommodate an opening boot lid, one-piece rear window and quarter lights in the doors.

Today the Metropolitan is a rare sight on British roads, although they continue to be plentiful in North America, the …