About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct 8: What went wrong?

Nothing spectacular, but this 1956 Austin Cambridge was my family's first new car, bought at Starr Motors in Saint John, New Brunswick. Black with a white top and a red leather interior. I was thrilled that it had a large under dash package shelf, so when we went to pick it up, I brought along a few Dinky Toys to play with on that shelf. I doubt that pleased my Dad.

Fast forward to 1960 and this A99 Westminster, again in black with a white top, a red leather interior and whitewall tires. It was a beautiful car, styled by the Italian design house Pininfarina. An automatic this time, with the same 6 cylinder as found in the Austin Healey. We thought we were the cat's ass in this ride (although why we'd want to feel like that part of the cat's anatomy is beyond me).

The point of today's blog? Way back then, when one was looking for a smaller car or a foreign car, there was no other choice but to look at what the British manufacturers were shipping to our shores. Forget about VW at this time, as they were a one trick pony or in their case, bug. Limited to one country, the choice was still quite broad and in a variety of styles from sedans to wagons to sports cars to luxury cars.

Just looking at the "popular" and mid-priced cars, these were some of those that were available to the average person.......

1960 Humber Super Snipe
So what happened in those intervening years? What happened to an entire industry, once a power house that sold their cars around the world? Was it shoddy workmanship, the unions, failure to keep up with the competition, complacency? Probably a little bit of all of those and some other things as well, but to lose an entire industry. Yes, they still make Rolls-Royce (owned by BMW), Bentley (owned by VW), Jaguar (owned by Tata) and Land Rover (also owned by Tata). So even those super luxury brands couldn't stand on their own.

1960 Vauxhall Cresta
Although Vauxhall still exists selling rebadged Opels, back then they had their own distinct products, from the really small to a mid-sized sedan like this Cresta. My Mum and Dad also considered this model, before staying true to Austin and that great looking A99.

Sad to think that an entire industry in a relatively short time went from glory days to dust. A lesson for any other country to learn from. And it might have happened in North America a few short years ago, had not the government stepped in to help out with their controversial loans.

One last casualty. The Rover, a very well respected brand, which was on life support for years and eventually ended up dying in China.

What went wrong? There has to be a book in there somewhere.

Until next time.......

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