I’d never seen anything like it in my life the garage door opener zero clearance was awash with aluminium slurry and on the end of the transfer line was the tub of an Alvis scout car just propped up. ” “When I went to BMW in ’79,” adds Greenhill, “I asked how test cars were prepared, and they said: ‘We just de-wax and run them in. ’ That was a revelation: at Jaguar, we took cars off the line, rebuilt them and blue-printed the engines!” The Allegro was quite well received in Spain in 1973, although Zafer recalled a Fleet Street writer breaking his thumb on the Quartic wheel as it self-centred: “So we sent off for a batch of circular wheels; that just resulted in journalists cutting their hands to shreds because they hadn’t been properly finished off on the outside edge. ” To add insult to injury, an air traffic control strike over French air space meant that Leyland had to rent a Pan Am 747 to get the hacks back home.
One garage door opener zero clearance perhaps not widely understood is that chronic under-investment meant that many major components were being built on pre-war tooling, whereas the Germans, for example, had all the latest kit. “When we were given more money to buy, say, new transfer lines,” says Seth Smith, “we were restricted by government rules to buying sometimes inferior local tooling. ” Then there was the way that the cars were produced. “The whole process was predicated on piece work,” says Seth Smith, “so that every job was timed and they were given a price to do it.
The idea was that they should be able to make triple time: do each job in a third of the time allowed which meant that by half garage door opener zero clearance two everyone would pack up and bugger off home!” And you can’t discuss BL without including ‘Red Robbo’ Derek Robinson, the shop steward. “He was a lovely guy,” recalls Greenhill, “when you weren’t in a meeting with him. ” Was he a communist infiltrator? “I couldn’t say,” says Seth Smith, “but there was a lot of left-wing ideology about, and he was a smart and quite powerful individual, a natural leader. ” Talking of leaders, history has not been kind to Lord Stokes, but all here recall him as a capable boss who had simply been handed one of the most thankless tasks imaginable. Says Pearson: “We had quite regular contact with DGS as he was known internally.