1978 mem­o­ries Strikes and the Rootes of a takeover

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

The 1970s is re­mem­bered as a dis­as­trous decade for UK ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing, but while Bri­tish Ley­land was the me­dia’s (and Basil Fawlty’s) favourite whip­ping boy, other com­pa­nies had it just as bad. Dur­ing Septem­ber 1978, for ex­am­ple, 26 Ford fac­to­ries were closed by strikes. Things weren’t much bet­ter in the mo­tor­cy­cle world – Nor­ton Vil­liers Tri­umph, a sort of two-wheeled Bri­tish Ley­land formed by the Govern­ment in 1972 to try and save what was left of the na­tion’s mo­tor­bike her­itage, went into liq­ui­da­tion in 1978.

The big story was Rootes Group. US firm Chrysler had taken Rootes over in 1967, but strug­gled to make it pay, along with its ac­qui­si­tion of Simca in France and Bar­reiros in Spain. The old Rootes mar­ques were grad­u­ally phased out, un­til only Hill­man re­mained by 1977. Chrysler fi­nally ad­mit­ted de­feat with its trou­bled Euro­pean arm in 1978 and sold it to Peu­geot. Which at least brought back the Tal­bot name for a few years.

The Hill­man Avenger was also badged as a (deep breath) Chrysler, Tal­bot, Sun­beam, Dodge, Ply­mouth

and even a Volk­swa­gen in Ar­gentina! Con­fused yet?

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