Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 16:35 GMT
Longbridge classics in pictures

The Austin Allegro is synonymous with the 1970s
Long before BMW bosses set foot in the West Midlands, Britain had a car industry that was all its own.

Longbridge, the Rover plant that, on Thursday, was sold to a firm of venture capitalists called Alchemy, played a pivotal role in that history.

Since it opened in 1905, under the direction of Herbert Austin, many classic models have rolled off its production lines.


One of the all time classics, the Austin 7



Sportier than an MG, the Austin Healy 100 first rolled off the production line in 1952



Not the prettiest of the lot, but the Farina was a 50s and 60s favourite all the same



Despite its celebrated charm, even the Mini could run into parking trouble



Nicknamed the Landcrab, the Morris 1800 was a Longbridge staple between the mid-60 and mid-70s



The Mini Metro - gave a new boost to British car making at the start of the 80s





Patriotic principle

The plant's heyday was arguably 1939-1960, when Austin held a steel-like grip on the UK market and car ownership was a point of patriotism.

Other old Longbridge models
The Hampshire (1948-51)
The Atlantic (1948-53)
The Riley (1957-65)
The Lancer (1957-1959)
The Ital (1982 to late 80s)
That urge to be identified with Britain was reflected in the naming of the cars. The Devon, the Somerset, the Hereford, the Cambridge and the Westminster were all models that bore the Austin badge.

The 1960s was the decade of the Mini, the revolutionary front-wheel drive car that captured the vibe of Swinging London and won legions of devotees around the world.

But by the 1970s, things had begun to turn sour. Longbridge, by then in the hands of British Leyland, had become a byword for union militancy and restrictive work practices.

Yet many of the cars turned out in those troubled times are remembered with fawning enthusiasm today.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

16 Mar 00 | Business
BMW splits up Rover
15 Mar 00 | Business
The Rover breakdown
15 Mar 00 | Business
Rover's troubles
15 Mar 00 | Business
Rover's options
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories