(credit: British Motor Corporation rosette logo, drawn using Xarax software, Author; Emoscopes)
BMC was the largest British car company of its day, with (in 1952) 39 percent of British output, producing a wide range of cars under brand names including Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Wolseley as well as commercial vehicles and agricultural tractors. The first chairman was Lord Nuffield (William Morris) but he was replaced in August 1952 by Austin's Leonard Lord who continued in that role until his 65th birthday in 1961 but handing over, in theory at least, the managing director responsibilities to his deputy George Harriman in 1956.
BMC's headquarters were at the Austin plant at Longbridge, near Birmingham and Austin was the dominant partner in the group mainly because of the chairman. The use of Morris engine designs was dropped within 3 years and all new car designs were coded ADO from "Austin Drawing Office". The Longbridge plant was up to date, having been thoroughly modernised in 1951, and compared very favourably with Nuffield's 16 different and often old fashioned factories scattered over the English Midlands. Austin's management systems however, especially cost control and marketing were not as good as Nuffield's and as the market changed from a shortage of cars to competition this was to tell.
The biggest selling car, the Mini, was famously analysed by Ford Motor Company who concluded that BMC were losing £30 on every one sold. The result was that although volumes held up well throughout the BMC era, market share fell as did profitability and hence investment in new models, resulting eventually in the merger with Leyland Motor Corporation.
At the time of the mergers, there was a well established dealership network for each of the marques. Among the car-buying British public there was a tendency of loyalty to a particular marque and marques appealed to different market segments. This meant that marques competed against each other in some areas, though some marques had a larger range than others. The Riley and Wolseley models were selling in very small numbers. Styling was also getting distinctly old fashioned and this caused Leonard Lord, in an unusual move for him, to call upon the services of an external stylist.
In 1958, BMC hired Pinin Farina to redesign its entire car line. This resulted in the creation of three "Farina" saloons, each of which was badge-engineered to fit the various BMC car lines: The compact Farina model bowed in 1958 with the Austin A40 Farina. This was the first hatchback car ever produced. A Mark II A40 Farina appeared in 1961 and was produced through 1967. These small cars used the A-Series engine.
The mid-sized Farinas were launched in 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. Other members of the group included the Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mk. II, MG Magnette Mk. III, and Morris Oxford V. Later, the design was licensed in Argentina and produced as the Di Tella 1500/Traveller/Argenta. The mid-size cars used the B-Series straight-4 engine.
Most of these cars lasted only through to 1961, though the Di Tellas remained for four more years. They were replaced with a new Farina body style and most were renamed. These were the Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mk. IV, Morris Oxford VI, Riley 4/72, and Wolseley 16/60. These mostly remained in production through 1968, with no rear wheel drive replacement produced.
Farina also designed a large car. Launched in 1959 as the Austin A99 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre, and Wolseley 6/99, it used the large C-Series straight-6 engine. The large Farinas were updated in 1961 as the Austin A110 Westminster, Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre Mk. II, and Wolseley 6/110. These remained in production through 1971.
The end of BMC.
In 1966 BMC and Pressed Steel merged with Jaguar Cars to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). In 1968 there was a further wave of mergers in the British car industry, and BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), the original BMC mass-production, and MG sports car products being brought together into the Austin Morris division of the new organization.
In 1975 BLMC was nationalised and became British Leyland Limited.
(text source: Wikipedia)
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