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Thread: Ford, you pay for more

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    It is true about BL dealers re-franchising with Japanese brands. BL was in long-term decline and the small dealerships with the best customer service were inefficient. BL wanted to deal with the large groups, not independents. A few years on when larger BL dealerships began closing as well some re-franchised with Ford or Vauxhall. I can think of 2 large BL dealerships in my area which switched to Ford in the 1980s. It should also be remembered that due to constant industrial strife within BL in the late 1970s/early 1980s, dealers had difficulty in obtaining new cars. Buyers sometimes had to wait months for delivery whereas most Japanese/European brands as well as Ford and Vauxhall could supply immediately. This lost BL customers who never returned.
    Last edited by CrystalBall; 03-11-2018 at 17:37.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalBall View Post
    A few years on when larger BL dealerships began closing as well some re-franchised with Ford or Vauxhall. I can think of 2 large BL dealerships in my area which switched to Ford in the 1980s.
    I was verbally informed that Ford was looking for car dealers with large sites some time in the 1980s because many of their own sites were too small so could have enticed some large BL dealers to switch to Ford. The old Ford dealer would often be closed down but were often bought by other car dealers including BL!

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Quote Originally Posted by Arran View Post
    I was verbally informed that Ford was looking for car dealers with large sites some time in the 1980s because many of their own sites were too small so could have enticed some large BL dealers to switch to Ford. The old Ford dealer would often be closed down but were often bought by other car dealers including BL!
    Maybe, but BL's share of the new car market in the UK more than halved between the early 1970s and mid-1980s. They simply did not need as many dealers and betted on a long-term strategy of lower volumes but higher margins by edging upmarket. This did not work because the brand (everything badged as Rover from the late 1980s) did not have the kudos or investment necessary to take on the Germans who dominated the segment.

    Ultimately BL were squeezed out of the market as they could not compete effectively in either the mid-market or premium sectors. By this time the motor industry was a world of multinational giants and tiny niche manufacturers and it was almost impossible for mid-sized companies with limited resources to survive. Saab is another example - a highly respected brand but a weak business that struggled on for years before the inevitable finally happened.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    That's not strictly true. The Rover 200 / 400 series launched in 1989 partially reversed BL's flagging fortunes and falling market share as they were commercially successful and helped moved the brand upmarket as well as attracting buyers who would not have otherwise bought cars from the company. When British Aerospace sold Rover to BMW in 1994 the company was in quite good shape with a range of cars far more competitive and attractive than during the 1980s.

    Around the time when BL went into partnership with Honda to produce the Triumph Acclaim it was a bigger company than Honda and in 1990 it was a bigger company than BMW.

    SAAB was ruined by General Motors who downgraded the quality of the cars to a Vauxhall Vectra with a different badge at a higher price. They were no longer an exclusive or prestigious make, or any better than a Vauxhall Vectra.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    It is true that the 200/400 series improved Rover's position, but only for a short time. Considerable sleight of hand was employed when BAe sold the company to BMW on the cheap. Rover was in fact not doing as well as BAe pretended and there was much uncertainty about the future. Long-term profitability was in doubt and Rover had little R&D capacity left as they were so reliant upon Honda, which BMW did not appreciate. Many BMW executives argued against the acquisition as they felt that Rover would drag BMW down. VW was approached and could easily have stepped in but was not remotely interested because the management had a much better understanding of Rover's true position and did not wear the rose-tinted spectacles of the head of BMW.

    How 'big' Rover was in comparison to Honda, BMW does or anyone else does not really matter. The company was in a precarious position and poor financial shape - unlike Honda and BMW! By 1994 Rover had just 12% of the new car market in the UK and meagre overseas sales, which says it all. Saab has many similarities with Rover. The former was struggling before GM took over (as was Rover before BMW) and GM in turn did not understand the company or how to turn it around (ditto BMW with Rover). Saab was too small to survive without a partner but GM was not the right partner. Rover was too weak to survive without a partner but again BMW was not the right partner. Had Rover and/or Saab been bought by VW things would probably have turned out differently.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    The real reasons why BMW bought Rover is one of the world's best kept secrets as it was a company that did not easily fit into BMW's business model. The theory it was for the New Mini is a myth as it was a car on the drawing board at the time of the takeover and nobody knew if it would be profitable or not. In fact BMW has not made a penny in profit from the New Mini yet after factoring losses resulting from the takeover of Rover.

    According to Cabinet Papers from the 1980s the government (which owned BL) wanted to sell it to Ford but ended up selling it to BAe. I think that the longer term future of Rover would have been a partner or the British / European division of Honda, rather than owned by Ford, BMW, or VW.

    Remember that Rover made Land Rovers as well as cars which were admired products and in demand by government departments, farmers, and suburbanites to take their kids to school. BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford because it was a segment that they weren't strong in but Ford had no interest in the Rover 75.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Ford cars in the 1980s were very conventional when it came to technology. In some respects a bit old fashioned. The most radical product from Ford before the Mk3 Escort was the Fiesta as it was a FWD small car. Ford had previously stuck with RWD and did not attempt to produce anything smaller than the Escort because they believed that small cars equalled small profits. There was anecdotal evidence that the Mini only just broke even despite being one of the best selling cars. The philosophy of Ford was "we don't make cars we make money". The Mk3 Escort was actually an enlarged Fiesta sharing the same technology and some components. This would later be replicated in the Tempo in the US and the Mondeo. Volkswagen and most Japanese manufacturers were also conventional when it came to technology.

    In contrast some mainstream BL cars had unconventional technical features including hydraulic suspension and cogs in the sump gearboxes. These were not always appreciated by Mr and Mrs Average and were offputting in some export markets as mechanics were unfamiliar with them or they required special equipment to service. The Maestro and Montego which replaced them were deliberately designed to be conventional using the same technology - like McPherson strut suspension - as other leading cars in their class.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    Quote Originally Posted by Arran View Post
    Ford cars in the 1980s were very conventional when it came to technology. In some respects a bit old fashioned. The most radical product from Ford before the Mk3 Escort was the Fiesta as it was a FWD small car. Ford had previously stuck with RWD and did not attempt to produce anything smaller than the Escort because they believed that small cars equalled small profits. There was anecdotal evidence that the Mini only just broke even despite being one of the best selling cars. The philosophy of Ford was "we don't make cars we make money". The Mk3 Escort was actually an enlarged Fiesta sharing the same technology and some components. This would later be replicated in the Tempo in the US and the Mondeo. Volkswagen and most Japanese manufacturers were also conventional when it came to technology.

    In contrast some mainstream BL cars had unconventional technical features including hydraulic suspension and cogs in the sump gearboxes. These were not always appreciated by Mr and Mrs Average and were offputting in some export markets as mechanics were unfamiliar with them or they required special equipment to service. The Maestro and Montego which replaced them were deliberately designed to be conventional using the same technology - like McPherson strut suspension - as other leading cars in their class.
    I dont know if this is strictly true Arran about what you say about Ford's beinh conventional in the 80s - yeh I agree they was miles in front of most rivals, but as much as I admire "the Box Escort" some models of that have been utter rubbish from articles/books I have read

    Escorts certainly got better on the Mk 2, though it really really was duplicated a 2nd time by the Orion as this was box shaped in the 80s too and both was near on indentical - with the Orion a slight drop in class from what I have read and can gather/gleam

    The Sierra was full of convention and class no doubts indeed, as was the Granada from re-collection - though I'm not up on them too well, but I know thy had a mixed response. Personally I'm more a fan of the "high shaped Granada's" than the Cortina style flat roofed ones

    80sChav

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Ford, you pay for more

    The rumour goes that Ford created the Orion so that Cortina owners could buy a three-box saloon and didn't have to buy the jellymould Sierra. When the Sierra was facelifted in 1987 the Sierra Sapphire saloon was launched. Originally the Orion was only available in GL and Ghia spec but a few years later a plainer L spec was produced in response to consumer demand.

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