After registering to use the forum you will receive an automatic acknowledgement followed by another email a few hours later after your application has been approved. Please check your spam box if neither email arrives. If still a problem please write to us via ‘Contact us’ above.

1959 – The big Mini gamble

(i.e. ALL Minis made from 1959 to date)
User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby MAB » 24 Jul 2017, 23:01

AROnline's resident historian, Ian Nicholls, recounts the history of BMC. He follows up his excellent run-down of the British Motor Holdings and British Leyland stories with an eight-part study of the British Motor Corporation, 1959-1966. In the first part, we recount 1959 – the year of the BMC Mini.
He sets the scene with the launch of this vital new car, and the uncertainty its maker had in the months coming up to its arrival…
http://www.aronline.co.uk/facts-and-fig ... -bmc-mini/

The press and public love the Mini
The first public reaction to the new cars appeared to prove the manufacturers’ optimistic forecasts. Dealers who had queues of prospective customers outside their premises before they opened their doors for business on launch day, said that they were unable to quote delivery dates.
The British Motor Corporations head offices at Birmingham received orders and inquiries from all over Europe and Britain for the new Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor cars.
 A company executive said there had been phenomenal response to the ‘twins’.
‘I have never known anything like it “, he said. 
’Despite the success of our other models, this is the biggest thing we have ever known. The telephone has not stopped ringing all day with orders, inquiries and congratulations from distributors, agents and members of the public all over Europe and the British Isles.’
A British Motor Corporation spokesman also said:
 ‘Our distributors are flabbergasted at the reception these cars have had from the public. The demand has gone beyond even our expectations. Orders are flooding in — both at home and abroad.’

Debunking the myths
The traditional Mini story is that demand for the car was slow to pick up because consumers did not understand the new concept in motoring offered by the ADO15 design. Total Mini production for 1959 was 19,749 cars, 7800 were sold in the UK, but the majority went for export. So what is the truth?
Perhaps it was the British motorist that did not understand the Mini, for the car took off in overseas markets and in 1960 production exceeded that of the defunct Austin A35 by a handsome margin. But another factor may have been the industrial dispute at Cowley restricting supplies to dealerships. Inadequate supplies at dealers at launch would be a reoccurring problem for BMC and later British Leyland.
Of course the other cause that contributed to the low Mini production total in 1959 was BMC’s chronic strike record. Cowley alone was strikebound for three weeks because of the Frank Horsman dispute.
Last edited by MAB on 30 Jul 2017, 22:16, edited 1 time in total.



User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: 1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby MAB » 24 Oct 2017, 18:28

Thanks Alan, I have just posted a couple of threads on here (in the non-Mini section) about the ADO16 BMC1100/1300 which I spotted on the new Classics World website, I hope as an ADO16 enthusiast you will be able to confirm if the information in the articles is reasonably accurate! :lol:
My interest in these now quite rare and underated classics has been greatly increased since reading your informative posts both here and on the Mk1 Forum. I have even bought and read the excellent book 'The Story of the BMC 1100' :D

Martin

User avatar
Supersonic
Posts: 314
Joined: 21 Dec 2016, 09:48
County Down
Northern Ireland

Re: 1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby Supersonic » 24 Oct 2017, 17:01

Huge thanks Martin for posting up such significant information. I’ve a fascination with this period and your stuff blows me away all the time. Keep up the good work, thank you :D :D

Alan

User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: 1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby MAB » 22 Oct 2017, 19:20

The BMC story – Part eight : 1966 – A Spanner In The Works
Here, in the final part, we look back at 1966 – the year BMC became British Motor Holdings, and the landscape began to change for good…
"On 13 January 1966, with Mini production at a standstill at both Cowley and Longbridge because of a go-slow at the tractor and transmissions factory at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, it was announced that Union heads and British Motor Corporation senior management were to probe the causes of strikes which had cost the group more than one million man hours in the final six months of 1965. As well as strikes by small numbers of workers having a devastating effect, the gas shortages, there were also the stewards of the Monte Carlo Rally to contend with."
http://www.aronline.co.uk/facts-and-fig ... the-works/

User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: 1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby MAB » 30 Jul 2017, 22:16

The BMC story – Part Two : 1960 – Mini Takes Off
Here, in the second part, we look back at 1960 – the year the BMC Mini really started to find its feet – and the time that its maker really needed trading stability…
http://www.aronline.co.uk/facts-and-fig ... takes-off/

"The real success story for BMC in 1960 had been the Mini. The company produced 116,577 in the year of which around 50,000 went for export. Compare this with the best year for Austin A35 production, which was 1958/58 when 81,930 were churned out of Longbridge, then one can see that customers were lapping up the Mini.
Maybe sales had been slow to start with, perhaps that was really down to inadequate dealer supplies,but the car was a hit by British standards, and this was way before the BMC competitions department had worked its magic with the Mini. The success of the ADO15 soon brought it to the attention of Ford UK’s senior product planner, a native of Walsall, Terry Beckett.
He later commented: ‘We were very frustrated from 1959 onwards with the advent of the Mini. This was in view of the fact that historically, since the mid-’30s and the Ford £100 car, we had pre-eminence in that sector of the market by offering the lowest priced car which we coupled with value for money service. I can remember in one month in 1960, the Mini achieved a 19% market penetration. That was just one model’.
The Mini tear-down explained
One of the legends about the Mini is how Ford bought an example and took it apart down to the spot welds to see how BMC could sell it for such a low price. Although it has never been stated whether the car it took apart was the basic or De Luxe model.
Terry Beckett recalled: ‘We then determined how much it would cost us to build it. On our cost analysis, which we thought was ahead of theirs, we really didn’t see how the car could be produced in this way to make a profit.’
According to Beckett, Ford calculated that BMC was losing £30 on every Mini it made. He added: ‘I could see ways in which we could take cost out of the Mini without in any way reducing its sales appeal… BMC could have priced it at £30 more, and not lost any sales at all. You can track the decline of BMC from that single product: it took up a huge amount of resources, it sterilised cash flow and it was a pretty disastrous venture’.
The notion that the Mini was a loss maker has received widespread currency over the years, but more recently writers such as Chris Cowin have argued that once annual production exceeded 200,000 the Mini made money. In 1960 when Ford dissected a Mini, the notion that a small British car would achieve that kind of volume probably seemed nonsensical, so perhaps in 1960 the Mini was a loss maker."

User avatar
MAB
Posts: 432
Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 22:55
London/Surrey
England

Re: 1959 – The big Mini gamble

Postby MAB » 25 Jul 2017, 19:25

"On 22 July 1959, an ITN film crew at Cowley covering the unfolding dispute got an exclusive, but nobody realised it at the time. A strange-looking small car was filmed leaving the Cowley plant. They were filming a revolution, but it was a motoring one, not a workers uprising. At the same time the paint shop men at Longbridge were also in dispute over plans to increase production."

The 'car' caught in this ITN news footage going past striking workers & out of the Cowley works in late July 1959 is a soon to be launched 1959 Morris Mini-Minor running on trade plates (377 FC).

Shots of Morris Works At Cowley, Oxford: And. Austin Works at Longbride;e, Birmingham:
Morris Works — men outside. MS Strikers standing about. LS Ditto. GTV Strikers breaking away after meeting. LS Car & lorry past strikers & out of Works
T/X 22.7.59 /6.15.p.m. Cowley, Oxordshire: Longbridge, Birmingham:

Video Clip here:-
http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist/IT ... eoPopUpDiv

Stills below taken from the ITN news film clip.

Image

Image


Return to “Chat here about anything to do with ALL Minis”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest