Tell me about British Leyland

Tell me about British Leyland

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AW111

6,550 posts

98 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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2xChevrons said:
That's not quite fair. The Metro's A+ engines were almost wholly re-engineered from the original A-Series, with much finer tolerances and a significantly higher standard of metallurgy throughout. They also had more accurate and durable SU-HIF carburettors, spark plugs and breakers with long-life electrodes (and then electronic ignition on the 1275cc engines from 1985), a larger-capacity oil filter (although interchangeable with the Mini spin-on unit) and 10W-40 oil rather than 20W-50. The proof of the pudding is that an A+ engine generally lasts about 50% more miles than a standard A.
How would you compare the A+ with the Datsun A12 / A15 versions?

lee_erm

1,030 posts

158 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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My only experience of anything from Longbridge aside from 60s stuff is an old MG ZR I bought for £500. The engine in it was an utter peach. The gearshift was perfect, all the controls were nicely weighted, the seats were good. It was a better car than a Polo/Fiesta/Saxo from the early 90s to early 2000's.

Imagine if things at Rover had gone diffently and Rover had had a reasonable sum to spend on development of the 25/ZR.

2xChevrons

1,325 posts

45 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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AW111 said:
How would you compare the A+ with the Datsun A12 / A15 versions?
Having never worked on a Datsun 'A' I can't really say what the engineering is like in comparison, but in terms of the smoothness of the drive (and anecdotal evidence as to how long the Datsun 'A' engine lasts) it seems that BL, in the 1980s with the A+, just about reached the standard that Datsun reached in the 1960s. The Datsun 'A' had an aluminium alloy head with eight valve ports. But the siamese-port Weslake head on the BMC engine is remarkably efficient, and the A+ had very well-designed manifolds (including a 4-2-1 exhaust).

A 1275cc A-Series is a rather grumbly, coarse old thing, especially in its lower states of tune, and is the source of the fact that a lot of writers add the word 'wheezy' before the word 'A-Series' without really thinking. An A+ in good condition is a very smooth, willing unit with good mid-range punch and a nice zing at the top end, especially in the 73hp MG/Cooper form with the big valves. The 998cc version in my experience has to be worked hard but is a pleasure to do so, so long as the carburettor is in good condition. I found the A12 in the Datsun 120Y I drove to be very similar in its smoothness, quick respone and 'pep' to the 28,000-mile 1275 A+ that was in the Metro I had at the time (this was in 2013).

Of course the A+ wasn't released until well after the 120Y and the Datsun 'A' Engine had long been replaced, and must have been an absolute revelation to anyone coming from a Marina or Allegro 1.3. Which is really a damning indictment of how BMC/BL never managed to conjour up a decent replacement for the A-Series, or even bothered to ask Datsun if they could incorporate the improvements they carried for their E and A engines. They were saved by the fact that the A-Series is an inherently excellent power unit and that when modernised into the A+ it was just about good enough for the 1980s.

lee_erm said:
My only experience of anything from Longbridge aside from 60s stuff is an old MG ZR I bought for £500. The engine in it was an utter peach. The gearshift was perfect, all the controls were nicely weighted, the seats were good. It was a better car than a Polo/Fiesta/Saxo from the early 90s to early 2000's.

Imagine if things at Rover had gone diffently and Rover had had a reasonable sum to spend on development of the 25/ZR.
My Dad and I have run a large number of the R3 'bubble' 200s over the years (the family had some new) and they're great little cars. All the K-Series ones had HGF problems (of course) but once you've done a few you can apply the fix-kits on a pleasant Sunday afternoon for little time or effort. A good K-Series in good nick is lovely, especially in the lightweight R3 - the problem is that you can get 'bad' K-Series that, even if they are reliable feel really rough and rumbly to drive. K-Series problems aside the only thing that kills them is rust once they get to 15-20 years old and in the meantime they can be such good fun to drive, even without going up to a 218 or a ZR. I ran a 1.1-litre two-door when I was at uni, bought for £75 from an old lady who had been told by her garage that it wasn't worth fixing its HGF problem (which was probably true). Fixed up the engine and then that little car spent five years taking us all over the place, and I've had less fun in much more powerful and sporting cars than I did punting that mediocre Rover around the Welsh mountains, wringing all the 60hp out of it.

Edited by 2xChevrons on Saturday 24th March 21:55


Edited by 2xChevrons on Saturday 24th March 21:56

Chris1255

203 posts

76 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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Had an A+ in my first mini which I took to 120k. Still felt smooth, pulled well & didn't use too much oil. Gear change was far smoother than many more modern cars I've driven since. Only problem was all the bodywork had disintegrated by then.

And best MPG I got was 58, not bad for an ancient relic!

Mr2Mike

20,143 posts

220 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
AW111 said:
How would you compare the A+ with the Datsun A12 / A15 versions?
Having never worked on a Datsun 'A' I can't really say what the engineering is like in comparison, but in terms of the smoothness of the drive (and anecdotal evidence as to how long the Datsun 'A' engine lasts) it seems that BL, in the 1980s with the A+, just about reached the standard that Datsun reached in the 1960s. The Datsun 'A' had an aluminium alloy head with eight valve ports. But the siamese-port Weslake head on the BMC engine is remarkably efficient, and the A+ had very well-designed manifolds (including a 4-2-1 exhaust).
3-2-1 exhaust smile

aw51 121565

4,770 posts

198 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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iSore said:
The R8 was indeed a great Honda!

And that's all it was, the Austin Rover Group (AAAAAARG!) adding oil leaks and other issues. Seriously, it was a good car and demonstrated that the only way BL could make a good car was to let the Japs do the spadework. The Maestro/Montego proved that they couldn't do it although the late Montego diesel Estates were actually pretty good....right at the very end. The Rover 100 was a curates egg, good in parts only but not as a whole. The Clio showed how small cars were done in 1992.



The early seventies political/unions situation was the result of management/unions still thinking that the world owed us a living/we won the war etc etc. Truly a fascinating era in politics.
"Design to build", it started with the Triumph Acclaim which was a Honda (Ballade?) built at Cowley (from memory) as a CKD. The Japanese design cars to be built easily, something the British never did at this stage. "Design to build" makes it easy to have consistent tight panel gaps (giving an impression of quality), rather than inconsistent panel gaps which the outside world can sometimes be seen through (and can create wind noise). But the Japanese weren't so good at maximising interior space - it was two way traffic. BL were very good at some things, less good at others.

The Triumph Acclaim had historically the lowest warranty costs of any BL/BMC/Austin Morris model in the early '80s. It also had front seats based on Ford Cortina seat frames (because they were larger than the Honda ones, and what with Westerners being bigger than their Japanese brethren)...

Now if BL had planned the Maestro & Montego on a "design to build" basis, things would have been very different. But they didn't and they weren't frown .

saaby93

28,114 posts

143 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
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I am fed up with this thread smash
This evening I've been into X9s A-series, Nissan Micra K21s back to Minis and off to Hamms Hall
Where's this thread taken anyone else?

AW111

6,550 posts

98 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
Which is really a damning indictment of how BMC/BL never managed to conjour up a decent replacement for the A-Series, or even bothered to ask Datsun if they could incorporate the improvements they carried for their E and A engines.
It would have been amusing if BL ended up licencing a Nissan derivative of a BMC engine.
It would have given them an 80 hp 1500 cc fuel injected version - what would that have fitted in?

It may have been cheaper to license than do their own redesign, but I don't think the management culture at BL could have accepted the idea, no matter how cheap.

Buster73

4,372 posts

118 months

Saturday 24th March 2018
quotequote all
2xChevrons said:
That's not quite fair. The Metro's A+ engines were almost wholly re-engineered from the original A-Series, with much finer tolerances and a significantly higher standard of metallurgy throughout. They also had more accurate and durable SU-HIF carburettors, spark plugs and breakers with long-life electrodes (and then electronic ignition on the 1275cc engines from 1985), a larger-capacity oil filter (although interchangeable with the Mini spin-on unit) and 10W-40 oil rather than 20W-50. The proof of the pudding is that an A+ engine generally lasts about 50% more miles than a standard A.
Thanks for that insight , FYI the BL garage I worked at definitely used 20/50 for all BL oil changes and as far as i can remember the code number for the oil filter didn't change either .

Still remember looking at the magnetic sump plug to see how much swarm was stuck on the magnet every time we did an oil change.

Change of tack ,I saw a Allegro 1500 ohc engine run for a few minutes at tick over with no oil in what so ever as the young apprentice was checking the exhaust after draining the o&f.


rallycross

11,164 posts

202 months

Sunday 25th March 2018
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All this talk of BL made me go and buy an old Rover 600ti turbo saloon, saved it from being scapped with 3 months MOT, if anyone needs some bits off it let me know.

2xChevrons

1,325 posts

45 months

Sunday 25th March 2018
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Mr2Mike said:
3-2-1 exhaust smile
Of course! Force of habit, despite having just talked about the A-Series' siamesed valve ports!

Buster73 said:
Thanks for that insight , FYI the BL garage I worked at definitely used 20/50 for all BL oil changes and as far as i can remember the code number for the oil filter didn't change either .

Still remember looking at the magnetic sump plug to see how much swarm was stuck on the magnet every time we did an oil change.

Change of tack ,I saw a Allegro 1500 ohc engine run for a few minutes at tick over with no oil in what so ever as the young apprentice was checking the exhaust after draining the o&f.
This is clearly where theory and reality clash. I'm in no position to say what actually happened on the 'shop floor', but as far as BL was concerned there was very much substance to the A+'s 12,000-mile service intervals - it wasn't just a marketing ploy.

The Metro Owners' Club has a lot of official documentation online, including some Product Insight Manuals (the in-house training documents to teach dealers what the Metro was all about and how to sell it), which list the changes between the A and the A+ and how those extended service intervals were acheived:

This is the relevant bit: http://metroownersclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016...


swanny200

110 posts

103 months

Monday 26th March 2018
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I only really had a couple of experiences with BL stuff, my old boss had a few when I started working for him (99-00) he has a rover 827 which was one of the later ones and drove beautifully but my favourite was his Maestro.

I used to work for a computer company and a lot of my time was spent going from Kent to... well anywhere really, one of my regular trips though was from head office in Kent to Redhill and then Banstead/Sutton. The first time I got in the car, I was a bit disappointed, didn't look up to much and had seen better days, it was powder blue with a clubman badge on the back, so technically I think poverty spec E reg I think it was.

Got to the garage, filled up and pulling out, got to a set of traffic lights and there was some boy racer in a Saxo giving it the whole rev up treatment, as the lights turned green I put my foot down and lo and behold this thing took off like a rocket leaving the saxo for dead.

I couldn't open the bonnet to look at what the hell was powering the thing as the bonnet pull was broke, so I waited till I got back and asked my boss what the hell had been done to it, he said it had had a new engine about 2 months before but didn't know much else about it, until we finally got the bonnet open.

Transpires that the garage replaced the engine with the 2.0Efi lump out of an MG Maestro as that was all they could get, he also had a Mazda 323 Gtx which was fun too, but I always wanted the Maestro keys

coppice

6,622 posts

109 months

Monday 26th March 2018
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After clever stuff like the Mini , Rover 2000 ,XJ6 , Austin 1800 and Range Rover. , stuff you might want to buy like the TR5 or MGB GT and fun little cars like the Spridget , the firms which eventually comprised BL either made crap cars badly (Maxi, Allegro, SD 1 , Marina etc ) or made potentially nice cars badly ( 18/22 wedge , Dolomite etc).

In nearly every case . post early 70s, Ford , Vauxhall let alone the Germans, made far better cars and made them better .The Italians made wonderful cars badly and the Japanese made bad cars wonderfully.

I speak as a victim of how unbelievably crap BL became - their demise was long overdue

AW111

6,550 posts

98 months

Monday 26th March 2018
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coppice said:
The Italians made wonderful cars badly and the Japanese made bad cars wonderfully.
biggrin

MattHall91

1,256 posts

89 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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LandRoverManiac said:
Probably best summarised as occasional flashes of brilliance utterly drowned by a combination of labour issues and the sheer bureaucratic inertia of a big inefficient company made up of lots of smaller inefficient companies run by people who had real idea how to navigate a toy duck in a bath - much less a car company.

Exceptions of course did apply to this rule - otherwise the whole thing would have imploded long before it actually did.

See also - British Aerospace Industry
This.

Hugely disappointing and not at all surprising.

djohnson

3,068 posts

188 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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I remember growing up the business my Dad worked for had a policy that all the company cars had to be Austin Rover. They’d done a deal with them which meant each company car was changed every 11 months (for some reason). We had a massive number of the cars on this basis. To be fair some we’re good and managed the whole 11 months without a single issue. Others were horrendous from day 1. I think there was a big element of luck in terms of whether the car was well screwed together or not. I remember a Rover SD1 around 1985 which the list of issues we found with the car on delivery filled two A4 pages. It’d presumably passed all the pre-delivery checks but for example it was a 6 cylinder car and definitely was running very badly, turned out it was delivered only running on 4 cylinders. How something like that is missed I don’t know since you only had to start it to know something was very wrong.

Dr Jekyll

21,290 posts

226 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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I was recently reading a 1986 edition of Car magazine and it has a comparison test of three slightly sporty cars. The Sierra 2.0is, the Mazda 626 20.i and the MG Montego 2.0 Efi.

The MG comes out as the best, which as the article says, may be a surprise. But the last paragraph asks what the outcome would be if the cars tested were 2 years old with 40,000 miles each. "About that, Austin Rover should worry'.

So even when they accepted AR had produced a good car, it was still assumed the build quality would turn out poor. Must have been very frustrating for Austin Rover to see that last sentence

blueg33

26,333 posts

189 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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Dr Jekyll said:
I was recently reading a 1986 edition of Car magazine and it has a comparison test of three slightly sporty cars. The Sierra 2.0is, the Mazda 626 20.i and the MG Montego 2.0 Efi.

The MG comes out as the best, which as the article says, may be a surprise. But the last paragraph asks what the outcome would be if the cars tested were 2 years old with 40,000 miles each. "About that, Austin Rover should worry'.

So even when they accepted AR had produced a good car, it was still assumed the build quality would turn out poor. Must have been very frustrating for Austin Rover to see that last sentence
My dad had 3 MG Montego's a company cars, they were unreliable. One would never start in the morning, we had to push start it, another failed at traffic lights as the engine earthed through the throttle cable and melted it so it was fixed at 3000rpm. I was driving as a new driver, it was an interesting experience.

We also had Rover's, Ambassadors, Acclaims etc (my dad had to change his company car every 3 months as per British Leyland company car policy, so we had just about every model they produced)

alabbasi

1,359 posts

52 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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I always found it strange that they never painted behind the bumpers to cut costs. I would often see Rover 200 and 800 series cars rusting at the seams around the front and rear bumpers and then saw one with the bumper removed. There was just primer behind it. BL, AR and Rover Group had some great designs. So did Jaguar. Their execution was somewhat a disaster.

//j17

3,685 posts

188 months

Monday 19th October 2020
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djohnson said:
They’d done a deal with them which meant each company car was changed every 11 months (for some reason).
Because the car only came with a 12 month warranty, so you made sure to get shot of it before that ran out! 11 months gave you time to get the car back from the 'owner' and passed in to the second hand trade, with room to cover people being ill/on holiday/etc.