1978 memories Strikes and the Rootes of a takeover
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?