Who killed the British car industry? - Hector Brocklebank
An old topic, perhaps, but it would be interesting to hear backroomers theories on why this country has no home grown car industry to speak of, despite such having such an illustrious history in car manufacturing.

Surely Britain could have had a car industry as strong as those in Germany and Japan (were.......), we had the engineering nous to produce some great designs, so why did it have to die?

Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy
before the war we had old machinery
during the war we made munitions
after the war we didnt reinvest
the British caWho killed r industry? - Ben 10
Who killed it. The British. For not supporting it. Unlike the French, Germans, Italians. They had the same start after the war but their car industry still flourishes.
the British caWho killed r industry? - stunorthants26
I always understood that it was down to bad business. That usually why businesses fail.
Plus, being patriotic is not in the least the British way - we take a far more reasoned approach to spending large sums of money which is why we have such variety on teh roads today.
the British caWho killed r industry? - captain chaos
British car manufacturers didn't do themselves any favours in the seventies. Woeful build quality and reliability, factories striking at the drop of a hat. Along came the japanese with tinted glass, radio and reliability as standard. Derided by the british motoring press at the time for their garish interior trim, recirculating ball steering and sloppy handling, they sold well because they started in damp weather, which is more than could be said of British cars of the same era.
So, sadly, the British car industry went the same way as its motorcycle industry.
Agree with spood, the French, Germans and Italians do seem to favour home grown products.
Who killed the British car industry? - Avant
The Captain is right. Sadly, largely this is due to the shambles that was British Leyland.

In the 1950s Austins were some of the best and most reliable cars you could buy. My parents had an A40 which (with four forward gears, an OHV engine, independent front suspension and an ability to start reliably from cold) was far superior to the equivalent Ford, Vauxhall and (particularly) Hillman.

My first car in 1969 was a 1955 A50 Cambridge - never failed to start nor let me down on the road.

But in the late 60s and 70s it all fell apart. There was no real attempt to rationalise BLMC and Jaguar / Rover / Triumph: the Maxi, Allegro, Marina and Dolomite - none of them as effective as a Cortina - all competed against each other for mid-market buyers. Then militant unions took advantage of weak management and we all know what happened then.

And of course becoming international businesses made all the difference to Ford and Vauxhall: think of the Cortina and Cavalier compared with the Prefect and Victor. The Japanese then filled a vacuum which was already there.

the British caWho killed r industry? - Rattle
Who killed it?

Lots and lots of things as a leading econemy where are far better at designing and inventing than manufacturing. The British seem think they are above working in a factory and as a result spent more time on strike than welding Marinas.

You cannot blame the British public for shunning British cars I mean we have produced some shoddy stuff but had the cheek to charge full price for it. The Rover 100 is a classic example how it ever thought it would compete in the late 90's I don't know.

But really progress simple killed it but we still do have a massive massive car industry remember your Honda, Nissan, BMW, Range Rover, Toyota, Vauxhall etc is likely to built in the UK.

We also design so much stuff to, the Ecotecs in GM products are heavily designed and engineered by Lotus for example.
Who killed the British car industry? - Andrew-T
The British. For not supporting it.


All sorts of reasons. But perhaps the British too easily believe that foreign is better - the French do better food; German cars are better; Italian suits; Japanese cameras; and American almost anything else (except perhaps humour and TV). But the British have to be paid at least as much as any of them for doing the same work.
Who killed the British car industry? - nortones2
Yes, BB. And the Marshall plan to assist post war recovery was diverted, in the UK, into maintaining a pretence of world stage power, at the expense of industrial rebuilding. The Germans, the Japanese and the French were more realistic. Two of them of course had little choice, being stripped of warmaking equipment!

Edited by nortones2 on 23/05/2009 at 00:39

Who killed the British car industry? - Sofa Spud
All the eggs ended up in the British Leyland basket. BL was sunk by bad labour relations, managements who fought rationalisation and increasingly poor quality.
Also I read that BL lost out in some export markets because it was slow in switching to metric measurements for components.

It must be remembered that Volkswagen nearly failed in the 1970's as they soldiered on with their rear-engined air-cooled designs - culminating in the 412 model. Their first front-drive water-cooled car, the K70, a design taken over from NSU, didn't set the world alight. Then along came the Golf and the rest is history.

So, in a nutshell, BL didn't have its saviour model, its Golf.

Who killed the British car industry? - b308
So in a nutshell BL didn't have its saviour model its Golf.

>>

It did, but it was a child of BMC, not BL and was therefore ignored for development... the Maxi... it had everything that was needed, but wasn't liked by the senior management because it wasn't "their" car, and therefore left to plough a lonely furrow with no significant changes over its 13 year life... look at modern medium (Focus sized) hatchbacks and note the similarities, it even had the engine the right way round unlike the R16...

I would agree with many others on this thread, poor management, unions and workforce that didn't want to work, poor build quality (though from my extensive experience of BL products I'd say "patchy" rather than "poor" as I've had some really reliable BL cars as well)... And finally seemingly no cohesive future development programme, which led them at the end to be producing outdated cars which very few wanted....
Who killed the British car industry? - jbif
Who killed the British car industry?>>


One of these: Alistair Darling, or Honest Superhans, or Smithsonian, or Hector Brocklebank ;-)

p.s. H.B. : wazup with the frequent change of username?

Who killed the British car industry? - Martin Devon
An old topic perhaps but it would be interesting to hear backroomers theories on why
this country has no home grown car industry to speak of despite such having such
an illustrious history in car manufacturing.

The same reason that the Pubs are going west. Great British couldn't give a stuff attitude to their customers, overpriced product etc etc etc.

Yours generally in despair........Martin.
Who killed the British car industry? - MokkaMan
I think there is a fair argument that the Trade Unions got too powerful in the 1960's and 1970's and indulged in political strikes. The motivation of the Government to support the car industry and modernise it as a point of national prestige (as happened in France), waned and it was left to drift and die.

The more general legacy of this is the disproportionately low level of manufacturing industry that we have in this country, compared say to France and Germany and high level of service industries, like banking. Hence why recent events seem have exacted quite a heavy toll.

I think it is a tremendous pity. All these great marques, now gone or in foreign ownership. Whilst we have a number of niche marques, it seems highly unlikely that we can now organically grow a mass producing car industry
Who killed the British car industry? - brum
It was a case of assisted suicide, after suffering a number of coronaries brought about by a high fat diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Who killed the British car industry? - Westpig
There were some right cracking British cars built in the 60's and 70's (for their day)...e.g.Mini; Rover P5,P6; Triumph 2000, Jaguar E Type, Jaguar XJ6, but they were let down by the fact that BL had become too big and cumbersome, quality went down the pan and the Unions became too powerful, which meant extravagant wage claims not backed up by the product.. and likely sales.

Constrast that with today's Honda workers who have just voted for a 3% wage cut to safeguard jobs. I salute them and their forward thinking and sincerely hope that their sacrifice works. Shame the 'sheep' of the past didn't see what Red Robbo was up to.
Who killed the British car industry? - Andrew-T
Unions became too powerful, which meant extravagant wage claims not backed up by the product.. and likely sales.


All true, but the fact remains that even the Mini, which sold in millions, was allegedly unprofitable because the costings were not done correctly.
Who killed the British car industry? - Robin Reliant
In the early eighties I worked for a London borough who used BL vans for the bulk of their fleet. The most striking thing about them was how identical vehicles (Marinas and Itals mainly) were completely different from one and other to drive. Swapping from one van to another, produced at the same time and with similar milages was like you were going to a different make entirely. Some were quick, others were dog slow, one gearbox would be sweet as a nut and another a bag of nails, one would have a heater that could fry a steak, another could barely defrost the screen. They all had wildly differing fuel consumptions while some would go from the oil dropping from top to bottom of the dipstick in a week while another would not use a drop between services. This was in addition to trying to remember which ones you dared not take throught the car wash if you didn't want to get soaked.

Quality control was simply awful.


Who killed the British car industry? - 659FBE
Hmm - Marina. Hardly cutting edge technology and probably a fair indicator as to what was wrong with the mindset of BL mangement at the time.

I wonder if the story of them producing a Marina with a disk brake on one side and a drum on the other is true...

659.
Who killed the British car industry? - captain chaos
Honda workers taking a 3% cut is admirable and shows forward thinking. I hope they fare better than Chrysler workers when Lee Iacocca took over.
Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy
I hope they
fare better than Chrysler workers when Lee Iacocca took over.

>>.
>>>> have you read his book?
i highly recommend it
Who killed the British car industry? - Blue {P}
Hmm - Marina. Hardly cutting edge technology and probably a fair indicator as to what
was wrong with the mindset of BL mangement at the time.
I wonder if the story of them producing a Marina with a disk brake on
one side and a drum on the other is true...
659.


Well considering that there have been Escorts built which were 3 door on one side and 5 door on the other I'm not really surprised if it is true!

Mis-builds still occur today, I saw a couple when I worked in the dealership although sadly the most interesting one was a Fiesta Ghia which had a heated front screen but no switch anywhere to turn it on.
Who killed the British car industry? - Robin Reliant
Mis-builds still occur today I saw a couple when I worked in the dealership although
sadly the most interesting one was a Fiesta Ghia which had a heated front screen
but no switch anywhere to turn it on.

I had a Fiesta Mk3 in about 1990 where the heated rear screen hadn't been wired up.
Who killed the British car industry? - Pugugly
Triumph Acclaim and the 89 Rover 200 series were BL's Golf. If only they'd capitalized in them.
Who killed the British car industry? - gordonbennet
Now we're getting somewhere PU (have to wait for the union bashing to run it's inevitable course here first though).

Rovers became as good as anyone's cars once Honda was the willing partner.
200/400/600/800 in the case of the all though it was the Honda engined variants that were the good ones.
Rust was still a killer on early models though, but we tend to forget just how bad other marque's were in that respect.

Unfotunately, the Honda love affair was over too soon, and the rest is history.

It must be the fault of unions therefore..;)
Who killed the British car industry? - DP
Rovers became as good as anyone's cars once Honda was the willing partner.
200/400/600/800 in the case of the all though it was the Honda engined variants that
were the good ones.


I was actually only saying to my brother in law yesterday what a good looking car that R8 200 still is as we passed one for sale. An N registration 214 SEi, it looked used, but very tidy for its 120,000 miles. Easily up to the standards of the competition in quality terms, and a decent enough steer from memory, too. Interior light, airy and well trimmed (half leather in this one), no visible rust anywhere. A smart looking car, and far better than an Astra or Escort of the same age.

There are those who say that, if Rover had stayed with Honda and got "MINI" launched before BMW came along, it would have succeeded. Remember, MINI was about 80% complete before BMW got involved.
Who killed the British car industry? - gordonbennet
. A smart looking car and far better than an Astra or Escort of
the same age.


Agreed and in convertible form a very good looking car..definitely one for the fair maidens.
I quite hankered after a 220 at the time, instead i had a 827 si manual, one of the best and most reliable cars i've owned and easily a licence loser.
Who killed the British car industry? - Andrew-T
..

Edited by Andrew-T on 23/05/2009 at 22:10

Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy

I had a Fiesta Mk3 in about 1990 where the heated rear screen hadn't been
wired up.
it will have had a plain glass fitted and been broken so the replacement would have had the wires in it as it was easier to source

bet it didnt have a rear wiper either ;-)
Who killed the British car industry? - retgwte
Regardless of anything else the UK cannot compete with countries like India producing cars, and parts such as engines

The labour is so much cheaper, neither the employers nor the employees pay as much tax, and there is no welfare state system for either to support

Countries like us are going to find it increasingly hard to compete with 3rd world countries where there is no need to spend on health and safety in the factory, no national insurance or similar

India produces the diesel engine in fiat panda and so many other cars now, including the KA and corsa I think, and they are producing the i10 I think?

We cannot compete

It's even worse when you think of the thousands of Indian nationals here on work visas similarly unburdened by much of the tax regime and overheads UK nationals are, I can see why the BNP will win votes (and my wife and most of my friends are foreign so no way would I support them)

And its not just India of course, I just pick it as an easy example

So not sure

Free market within Europe is one thing, free market with 3rd world I'm not so sure about

Touch one, not sure we have the balance right

India is and will ever more churn out ever better grads by the tens of thousands, quite what countries like the UK are going to end up doing to earn our keep Im not sure



Who killed the British car industry? - captain chaos
Therein lies the problem
We cannot compete with third world countries when it comes to manufacturing because, unlike them, we care about quality of life for our fellow human beings.
The boss of a UK cycle manufacturer went over to the far east with a view to having frames manufactured over there to cut costs. He toured the factory and learned that the children (some as young as eight years old) were locked in compounds overnight on site.
He saw children squatting on an earth floor welding cycle frames with a piece of cardboard taped to their heads as a visor.
They didn't get any orders, to his credit
We can't compete with that. Frankly, I wouldn't want to.
Who killed the British car industry? - Number_Cruncher
>>We can't compete with that. Frankly, I wouldn't want to.

Yes, I fully agree, at the moment, we can't compete.

I think that the current economic problems are going to force us to rethink what burdens we can afford. As ever, there will be a long period of denial, where we imagine that we can continue as before, but, this will make the re-adjustment worse when it happens.

Yes, as we are today, we probably can't rebuild our industry - we as a society don't want it enough. We are all too ready to complain about the noise from a factory rather than being grateful for the jobs it provides. Eventually, when we *need* it, we will find that it was possible all along the way.

>>Frankly, I wouldn't want to.

If the recession deepens, you might change your view.



Who killed the British car industry? - oilrag
The production line worker who suspended a nut on a string, inside a cars sill, probably didn`t help.

Or is that an urban myth?
Who killed the British car industry? - Robin Reliant
The production line worker who suspended a nut on a string inside a cars sill
probably didn`t help.
Or is that an urban myth?

Having served an engineering apprenticeship in the late sixties, probably not.
Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy
SQ
Having served an engineering apprenticeship in the late sixties probably not.

>>>>>>>>> having taken a ball bearing out of a friends sill about 8 years ago probably yes

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 23/05/2009 at 21:01

Who killed the British car industry? - Bilboman
Jeremy Clarkson asked this very question in an excellent, very detailed and balanced documentary (look for "Who killed the British motor industry?" on YouTube) and came to the inevitable conclusion as to where the blame lay: "Politicians, trade unions, foreign ownership? - IT WAS ALL OF THEM"
Who killed the British car industry? - barney100
Not killed, it was suicide! we can't have made all our cars badly but the perception was of poor quality and reliability. Just like the motorbike industry, taken over by the Japanese and friends.
Who killed the British car industry? - oilrag
SWMBO would have preferred a Japanese car - back in 91. Oriental cars being reliable in her opinion and of course she knew them as she is from the Orient herself.

But I persuaded her we should have a new Maestro - attracted to the engine and the internal space.
(As mentioned) we were down in Dorset camping a week later and for the first time she touched the window winder at her side. Instantly the glass just dropped straight into the door bottom - as though it were set up as a joke.

(You can guess how that went down if you had been used to a Toyota.)

I must have told a few people too - as did she. That can`t have helped either - though I suppose the maker was a gonner anyway by then.

Edited by oilrag on 23/05/2009 at 22:08

Who killed the British car industry? - Martin Devon
India is and will ever more churn out ever better grads by the tens of thousands, quite what countries like the UK are going to end up doing to earn our keep Im not sure.

This comment has saved me a Thousand words. Read it again and again, cos Boy is it true. frightening really, truly frightening.

MD
Who killed the British car industry? - Sofa Spud
Quote:>> ""So in a nutshell BL didn't have its saviour model its Golf."
""It did, but it was a child of BMC, not BL and was therefore ignored for development... the Maxi... it had everything that was needed, but wasn't liked by the senior management"".

The Maxi was quite successful but it was a car people bought with their heads, not their hearts. The VW Golf Mk 1 had perfect looks in its day, everything about its appearance was right. The Maxi, which had been around for a few years when the Golf arrived, looked ungainly partly because it used the doors from the Austin 1800, so one had to get past it looking like an 1800 'gone wrong'.

I'll vouch for the fact that the Maxi was quite a good car - may parents had two of them.
They were nice to drive but they were not very reliable and they rusted badly.
Of course, the VW Golf has lived on and is now on the Mark 6 model, plust there are lots of other cars based on the Golf. There was never a Mark 2 Maxi, unless you count the mechanical update (plus new grille) they had to do because the original version was so poor.
Who killed the British car industry? - DP
Contrast that with an F plate MG Montego Turbo that a friend owned. I have never known anyone drive a car so hard so consistently for so long. If it had dropped its guts in disgust after six months, you wouldn't have blamed it, but it was 100% mechanically reliable in the five years he had it. Minor niggles only, and well over 100k when he eventually destroyed it using a bus shelter and a concrete post. Still a quick car, even by today's standards (0-60 in 7.2 secs).

I guess it was the inconsistency that caused the problems. My dad did a brief stint as a spot welder at Cowley in the early 70's and reckons its a wonder anything that came off the production line worked at all, such was the lackadaisical attitude of both workers and management. It all sounded like an "On The Buses" style game of work avoidance, skiving and pulling the wool over management's eyes. Oh, and the unions would have them out on strike at least once a month. He actually left because he couldn't earn enough money to get by because of the constant walkouts.

Edited by DP on 23/05/2009 at 23:31

Who killed the British car industry? - Alby Back
Still goes on now. I have a brother in law who "works" in a well known transport related production facility in the UK. I won't say who or where to spare his and their blushes but he often volunteers for nightshifts if he feels like a rest. They do very little and get paid an unsociable hours rate for it. He openly admits that all they do if they fancy a night off is log a fault with a vital piece of equipment and everything stops until the daytime maintenance crew come to inspect it. Often a "loose connection" apparently but of course health and thingy prevents them from touching the workings of the machinery so they have no alternative but to play cards, have a brew or go for a kip.

I have tried to explain the effect of this attitude but neither he nor his colleagues appear to give two hoots. They think it is funny in fact.

Irritates me quite a lot but it does still seem to be the way of things in such places.

Who killed the British car industry? - Sofa Spud
What gets me is that back when Rover was bought by BMW, leaving Britain with no home-owned motor indudtry to speak of, politicians and economists were keen to point out the Britain could no longer compete as a car manufacturing nation as it wasn't economic.
And yet Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW (Mini and Rolls-Royce) have set up new factories here, while Ford and Vauxhall continued to build cars here although Vauxhall might soon be gone and I think Ford only make engines here now - is that right?

Edited by Sofa Spud on 23/05/2009 at 23:57

Who killed the British car industry? - stunorthants26
Ive found its amazing how efficient and willing to work ive become since I only get paid if I actually work. Two sick days off in 7 years.
I wouldnt want to be an employer these days, let alone 30 years ago, getting people to work to the best of their ability is most likely illegal.
Who killed the British car industry? - Alby Back
With you there Stu. I have had a total of five days sick leave in 30 + years. Two days when I had Chicken Pox and three when a woman in a VW Golf decided to drive over the top of my car at 60 mph. Woke up in hospital after that one.

Anything which merely involves handkerchiefs and Lemsip can be lived with if there is no one else paying.
Who killed the British car industry? - Pugugly
Me too - 5 days in ten years (serious case of Man flu last July)
Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy
whats time off?
though this last 5 years ive taken to going on those modern things
ah yes holidays
nice too they are
Who killed the British car industry? - stunorthants26
Now Im self-employed, I have one week in Devon off a year and I still spend the week fielding calls and taking bookings. I have the holiday more for my other half than for myself

I wonder how sick days claimed would be affected if everyone was self-employed?
Who killed the British car industry? - bell boy
i turn mine off
lifes too short when you get to my age
another death in the family yesterday

Edited by Pugugly on 24/05/2009 at 01:19

Who killed the British car industry? - gordonbennet
I wonder how sick days claimed would be affected if everyone was self-employed?


It's not just the self employed that have a sense of responsibility or work ethic.

I've not had sick day or other skive off in 30 years...must be bonkers.
(Did take 2 lots of bereavement leave though if thats a crime)

Never quite understood the idea of companies paying people not to work and then wondering why they're going bust..;)

Edited by gordonbennet on 24/05/2009 at 01:23

Who killed the British car industry? - stunorthants26
You definately cant be an MP then GB otherwise you would be cruising in the med on some businessmans boat and charging us the expense of polishing the chrome on your imposing constituancy vehicle :-)

We do seem to have an ingrained culture in much of this country of doing as little as possible for the maximum wage and should anyone question ones motivation, go for a tumble over a paving slab and at work and sue them. In all honesty, I dont think many companies have a chance and Im suprised we still have any industry at all.
Who killed the British car industry? - b308
Never quite understood the idea of companies paying people not to work and then wondering
why they're going bust..;)


Or why Unions cannot accept that there have to be procedures in place for those who can't or don't want to work for a living and put the pressure of all their work on their colleagues by taking time off sick all the time... You can sack someone for high levels of sickness, but where i work it can take the best part of 18 months to go through the procedures, yet the Union still want it torn up, I do wonder who they think they think they are protecting...

Just to keep it on a motoring theme, I'd heard that back in the 60s and 70s some car firms (and others - BAE?) had "unwritten agreements" that people would take a week or two "sick" each year to top up their holidays - is that actually true?
Who killed the British car industry? - gordonbennet
"unwritten agreements" that people would
take a week or two "sick" each year to top up their holidays


Where a mate supervises in 'public service' there's a culture of sick time being somehow owed to the employee and needing to be used up (he doesn't)...you really couldn't make it up.

It drives him up the wall as do many of the people there who don't appreciate what cushy little numbers they have...maybe not the highest salary paid but bearing in mind an average week will be 25 easy hours makes their hourly rate one of the highest.
Who killed the British car industry? - Andrew-T
Neither he nor his colleagues appear to give two hoots. They think it is funny in fact.


Oh dear, HB - you have seriously depressed me. I had believed those attitudes were largely a thing of the past. Since the 80s I have considered myself lucky to have reached retirement without a constant despairing worry about depending on 'British workers' to balance our payments, since those wonderful financial whiz-kids have kept us afloat instead. And then we found they had feet (and maybe brains) of clay too.

As has been asked above, who will be the next saviours of our economy?
Who killed the British car industry? - jase1
People won't agree, but I'll make my point once again on this issue.

It isn't really fair to blame BL in the 1970s for the state of the British car industry. It is true that they had their problems, but it must be remembered that, in the UK at least, Rover was still a major player as late as 1995.

The real reason the British car industry died was misplaced patriotism, as opposed to non-patriotism.

The Germans continued to buy VW, Audi and Mercedes. France persevered with Peugeot, Citroen and Renault. The brands that failed due to largely quality related concerns -- NSU, Simca etc, didn't damage the overall industry. Buyers kept the faith, and abandoned the brands with the issues.

In the UK a similar phenomenon occurred. Austin, Morris and Hillman(/Chrysler) were slowly forgotten about, as patriotic Brits turned to the safe and reassuring arms of... Ford and Vauxhall. Because of the common language, and ancient British links (even though both brands had ceased to be truly British subsidiaries in the 1970s), the people who wanted to keep on supporting the British industry turned to these American brands (and their German subsidiaries in all but name) in droves.

So, slowly but surely the proper British companies were strangled.

It's still seen today -- Vauxhall, a producer of a fairly nominal number of cars in this country, and Ford, a producer of none, remain installed as the "British" brands of choice.

Well done Uncle Sam, you did us over good and proper.

If these two had never existed, I firmly believe that some of the British companies would still be around today.
Who killed the British car industry? - oilrag
There is the wider background of the country being brought to it`s knees by the Unions too in the 70`s.
I had a friend who worked in industry at the time- everything shut down repeatedly by those rolling power cuts - workers in dark areas using torches to fumble around.

Unions giving workers no say in whether there would be a strike or not and generally behaving as though the car plant was behind the Iron Curtain - with no competition for the product.
I`m not `anti Union` either - but living through those times was just unbelievable in retrospect.

Didn`t many of the Union leaders and line workers actually buy a Toyota, or Honda themselves?

Edited by oilrag on 24/05/2009 at 09:37

Who killed the British car industry? - ForumNeedsModerating
I don't accept the premise.

The argument I've so far seen boils down to what might be likened to discussions about angels on pinheads.

By any measure, car making in this country (bar the current crisis & universal turmoil all car makers globally are experiencing..) has never been as profitable, advanced & successful - unless you count pre-war days of the commonwealth where British cars had virtual monopolies & the immedaite post-war period where there was no effective capacity outside America & the UK anyway.

You might say 'But, they're all foreign owned! A MINI is no more British than bratwurst.. '
- I might say - when they were British owned - what did that really mean? That British capitalists owned the shares rather than insurance companies or pension funds - what difference did (or does) that ever make to Honda workers in Swindom, Nissan makers in Sunderland or MINI workers in Abingdon? Nought really.

You might say 'Oh, we don't have the expertise any more, the creative engineering, the design input...' - don't we? Aren't those 'foriegn' car makers still employing British workers,
engineers, designers. Isn't the creative centre of F1 still based primarily within these shores?

What golden age do the lamentists hark back to? Was it 1930 or 1950 or 1970- just how many car makers then had world beating designs or export successes? Maybe an hounourable exception might be the Lyons Jaguar era - maybe also Bentley - other icons are few & far between though. The original Mini was a great success, you could also point to classic British sports cars & roadsters, notably MG & latterly the MGB. Tastes & markets move though - today, the latest MINI, Lotus & Caterham carry on that tradition successfully.

The only real difference I see is that the names on the share cetificates may need a bit more effort to pronounce & companies might not have a Lord or Sir as the chairman anymore.

No, the British car industry is alive & kicking.
Who killed the British car industry? - mattbod
Simple really: more reliable and better built foreign competition. That James Ruppert guy wrote a "bestselling" book on this subject: news to me as i have never seen it on the shelves but may buy it it I see it.
 

Value my car