Austin Federation 2011.

 Members Area:





Summer - June 2011 - Issue 2

For all with an interest in the history, products
and workers of the Austin factory at Longbridge

The new MG6 passing a line-up of Minis at the 6th Pride of Longbridge
in Cofton Park - 16th April 2011




From the Chairman……………………………….............................2
6th Pride of Longbridge - Event Report…….………….…………….3
POL - Unsolicited Testimonials………………….…………….……17
Drive-It-Day 17th April - Victoria Square Birmingham……..………18
Forthcoming Events…………………………………........................21
My Other Car………………………………......................................21
Around The Clubs - Cambridge-Oxford Owners’ Club.….............22
Longbridge Development - Bourneville College………………..…24
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? - Phoenix 4 banned…..25
About Us…..………………………………......................................30
Membership Renewal Form…………………………….……Attached



From The Chairman


Welcome to our June newsletter

Can I first thank all those who helped to make this years Pride of Longbridge
such a great success. Around 850 cars attended the event which was enjoyed by
2,500 visitors. Next years event is on the 14th April 2012 so put it in your diary

If you have any suggestion that would improve next years event please contact
me via my email

The Federation can only survive if we have members, so please renew your
membership using the attached form
. Only paid up members will get the next

John Baker




Pride of Longbridge 2011

16th April 2011

Celebrating the past but looking to the future

The sixth Pride of Longbridge event took place on Saturday the 16th of April; just
two days after the production line at Longbridge restarted to manufacture the
new MG-6 saloon.

The new MG was constantly surrounded by crowds

MG brought two examples of their new car to the event and they received a very
enthusiastic reception. POL has always been about a community celebrating its
achievements and the new cars are already giving employment to some former
MG-Rover workers plus over 300 development engineers so there was an
optimistic feel in the air. The car making machine is coming back to life, it’s still a
viable concern, and whilst the factory is now much smaller than it was its future
as a centre for car production is very positive. That can only be a good thing for
the community and all those surrounding it.




Blessed with a beautiful warm day the charming eclectic nature of POL was, if
anything, even more in evidence this year with cars on the field ranging from
early Austin 7s to a Maxi-based William Towns’ Hustler, Rover 800s (which
seem to be finding their classic status of late), plenty of MGFs and a good turn
out of the wonderful Mustang V8 engined MG ZT260. The Rover 200 BRM forum
chose to use the event to try and gather as many together in one place as
possible and achieved 29 cars, which was impressive, especially when you
consider Daniel and Beatrice Saive had driven from Belgium for the day.

Daniel and Beatrice Saive from Belgium & their BRM with appropriate reg. No.

Access was much improved by the addition of a one way system and second
gate this year and it needed to be as well over 800 cars were in attendance,
even more than last year. In fact the field was so busy that the caterers had to
send out for emergency tea bag replenishment as they had all run out of tea!
Seems Longbridge built car owners like to drink tea as much as the workers who
built the cars in the first place…

With a bouncy castle for the kids and plenty of unusual cars to see the day was a
great success. The Rover Community Action Trust (RCAT) ran a competition for
pupils from local schools to design a logo for the event and it was won by Aimee
Bowden, 15, whose Dad used to work at the plant. The logo features an A40
Sports and a Mini, both of which were parked behind when Aimee was presented
with her award by local MP Richard Burden and Gemma Cartwright MBE, the
Chair of RCAT and the inspiration for The Pride of Longbridge.
John Lakey


L to R - Jan Drinkwater - who had come from Turkey for POL, Richard Burden
MP, Aimee Bowden - winner of the logo competition, Gemma Cartwright - Chair
RCAT, Jan Bowden - Aimee’s mum, and Colin Cork - Austin Federation

POL is a friendly community event



The park has already been booked for next year so it would be great to see even
more cars at POL 2012. Perhaps 1000 vehicles really is possible

Above - Austin Champ shows variety of Longbridge output

Russell Smith in his customised MG ZR 160




Metropolitan Owners Club out in style and with their dogs James and Minnie

Metro passes row of Minis. The Metro name - chosen by the workers - was
already “owned” by BL due to the Metropolitan



Rex Cleaver well known COCC member with his A105 Westminster

Rare and remarkable Austin 3 litre illustrates the skill of BL management




Steve Rain (left) - a former suspension-development engineer at Longbridge -
collects signatures for his “Save the Flight Shed” petition

The biggest Ever gathering of Rover-BRM 200s assembled for POL at Cofton Park.
Any colour you like - as long as it is British Racing Green with Orange lipstick!



Allegro Estate a practical hatchback

This Rover 800 trailer combo created interest - the builders are
Chris Ellis (left) and Richard Clements (right)



Magnificent Maxi gets the cold shoulder

But MG6 attracts the crowds - Ian Pogson (centre) pulls in potential punters



Keith and Hilda Sharp had come from Nottingham with their Maxi- based Hustler

POL attracts the younger generation of petrol-heads - here with Metros and 200s



Light 12 Open Road tourer changed to front-hinged rear doors from new in 1936

But late model 2004/05 Rover 45 has been custom fitted with rear “suicide doors”



Jumping Jack Flash is a Gas

Picnics  in the Rally Field



Leather seats even in the dickey for the old-fashioned-when-new 1933 Austin 10

Old style luxury - wood and leather too - in the Van den Plas 1100-1300



Cool interior - Metropolitan

“The Austin” built 1938 New Ascot and “MG Birmingham” assembled 2011 MG6





Some of the kind words received since the event

Just a short email to congratulate the team who excelled themselves with this
years event. Once again we had a fantastic day & I hope you all did too. The
marshals did well to deal with the amount of vehicles that arrived, we have heard
there were around1100 cars on the field and that takes some sorting. So once
again thank you & I look forward to doing it all again next year.

Well, what a fantastic day - I really do take my hat of to all you who are involved
in this superb event. What an amazing array of models and just the best way to
celebrate Longbridge. Well done for getting the two MG6s along, people were
very interested in them and I sincerely hope they do well. We have the brochure
and will be following them with interest.

Hi John, I have just returned from the midlands after having a caravan holiday in
the area which had to include the POL meet, and that's just what I wish to thank
you and your team for making it a great successes everyone were so polite and
helpful so on behalf of the 75 and MGZT owners club we wish you all the very
best in your future events

Yes good day and nice weather, plenty of R8s was mine the only twin cam
Honda engine car there? nice original 216GTi single cam same colour as mine
many with ‘T’ series engines. I’ll be going to the next one, I came down from
Yorkshire met the guy from Middlesbrough area and some of the Essex guys
some people travelled a few hours to get there well done all who attended some
interesting models quite well represented Maestro, Montego, Ambassador,
Princess, Maxi, Austin 1800, Princess, VDP and many more

Superb FREE TO ENTER/VISIT event and with great weather and atmosphere.
Great range of about 1000 (estimate!) British vehicles, enough to keep everyone
busy for the whole time. What was different about this event was the amount of
locals I spoke to that used to work at Longbridge. I got to sit in a few vehicles
both new and old. ...even the bogs were well placed! ... with the queue getting to
watch the car arrivals!

Lots of Mini's and Metros and a good range of everything else.





Drive-It-Day - Birmingham Victoria Square

17 April 2011

Celebrating Car Manufacture in Birmingham

Drive-It-Day. Originated by Robin Lawton as “Austins-In-Action-Day” - a day when
Austin clubs got their members to flood the roads with Austins - the idea was taken up
by the Federation of British Historic Vehicles to emphasise the size, scope and
economic value of the old-vehicle movement in Britain - and became “Drive-It-Day“.

            Drive-It-day in Victoria Square is the first gathering of pre-war cars made in
            Birmingham to be held in the centre of the city in which they were made.

So - six years on from the Centenary Cavalcade of 100 Longbridge products from
Victoria Square to Cofton Park - pre-war cars gathered in Victoria Square in order to
celebrate car manufacturing in The Second City.

Austin Sevens in Victoria Square for Drive-It-Day

With the attendance of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and the giant video screen
showing off the cars in action there was plenty for everyone to see and do.



Vintage Austin Sixteen - the 16/6 is regarded by owners as “the best” Austin

30s style - but bumpers and semaphore indicators reveal increasing traffic on the roads!



Crowds wandering among the pre-war cars in Victoria Square

As the major car manufacturer in Birmingham before the war was Austin it is not
surprising that the marque dominated the gathering in Victoria Square on 17th April.

The 10hp class was the most popular size of car in the 1930s - the Austin Ten even outsold the Seven in that decade

Next year - 22nd April 2012 for the Birmingham Drive-It-Day -



Forthcoming Events

Date Event Contact
2nd 3RD July

North Norfolk Railway - HOLT Norfolk

5th July QUADROFARINA 2 - Madeira Drive - Brighton COOC11
9th-16th July


Steve Turner Tel. or
10th July BRISTOL & BATH CLASSIC CAR RUN Bill & Jenny Phillips
22nd-24th July

10-28hp 1931-1939
22nd-24th July

The Attwell-Wilson Motor Museum - CALNE Wilts
7th August

BMC-BL SPARES DAY 2011 - Ferry Meadows

14th August

Nigel MANSELL - Walk of The Stars Induction
Centennial Square Birmingham

Birmingham City Council
Entries via

15th August Final Copy Date for SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER
1st October


Celebrating - 20th Anniversary of the Meeting
50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E Type

Keith and Mary Wynn
Reto Defrancesco
Swiss Classic British Car Meeting
Tel.: +41 21 825 4531
Mobile: +41 79 446 2748
Web site:

14th April 2012 PRIDE OF LONGBRIDGE RALLY presented jointly by Austin-Longbridge Federation and RCAT RCAT and the Austin Federation
22nd Apr 2012

Lord Mayor of Birmingham -

Clubs call Alan Billington
Indivs call Tom Griffiths






Cut Out and use as Bumper Sticker




Around The Clubs - The Cambridge-Oxford Owners Club

As with many clubs the name only tells part of the story - because it welcomes more
than just owners of Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford models. It also includes larger
BMC models of the period and “badge-engineered” variants.

The full list is as follows:-

                 Austin Cambridge A40, A50, A55, A55 Mk 2 and A60
                 Austin Westminster A90, A95, A99, A105, and A110 Mk I and Mk II
                 Austin Freeway Mk I and Mk II, and Austin Cambrian
                 Morris Oxford Series V and VI
                MG Magnette Mk III and Mk IV
                Riley 4/68, 4/72, Riviera, and Silhouette
                Vanden Plas Princess 3 litre Mk I and Mk II, and 4 litre R
                Wolseley 15/60, 16/60, 24/80 Mk I and Mk II, 6/99 and 6/110 Mk I
                and Mk II
                Austin and Morris A55 and !60 Half Ton Van, Pick-Up, and Sun Tor Caravanette
                Di Tella Sedan,. Station Wagon, Utility and Magnette
                And all variants Estates, Hearses, Commercials, and Specials/Custom

The objectives of the Cambridge Oxford Owners’ Club (CO-OC) is to encourage and
assist members with the enjoyment, preservation and restoration of the above range of
vehicles regardless of the condition of their car.

The COOC offers a range of services to members including:-

             Quarterly Magazine - The Rosette Recorder
                Spares Service
                    Discounts from specialist traders
                    Insurance schemes
                   National Rally
                   Other rallies around the country
                    Local Meetings
                    Attendance at Car Shows.

The oldest cars in the COOC range are nearly 57 years old and the CO-OC itself is
about half that age. Like so many heritage car clubs CO-OC arose from the realisation
of enthusiasts that what had once been a popular range of cars frequently seen on the
road were becoming rare and endangered species.

The Farina style cars were popular in the 1970s and early 80s with Banger Racers
because of their inherent strength and ability to carry on going while losing oil and water.
Some have accused banger racers of being responsible for the mass destruction of
these cars. But most of them would have gone to the crusher anyway - they just had the
opportunity for a final moment of fame and glory on the track before their end. Ironically
some of those now responsible for the care and restoration of these cars are former
banger racers who came to appreciate and respect them through banger racing.



The predecessors of the Farina cars were the A40/A50/55 Cambridge and the larger
A90-A105 Westminster which replaced the Austin Counties in 1954 and continued to the end of 1958 and were replaced by the Farina models. Except for the van and pick up which survived in production until 1967. The A55 introduced the option of two-tone paint finishes and exists in both pre-Farina and Farina versions (A55 Mk II) - which can cause some confusion - not helped by the next Farina version being designated A60.

The Cambridge name was a revival of a popular pre-war Austin model name and - with
the introduction of the Farina styled badge-engineered cars - made a logical pairing with
its near twin the Morris Oxford Series V and VI.

Centre spread of handbook for A40, A50 and A55 pre-Farina Austin Cambridge
Showing - A50 dashboard, bodies entering the rotodip, Half-Ton pick-up




Longbridge Development - Bourneville College

Topping Out

23 May 2011

On 23 May 2011 a topping out ceremony was held at Bourneville College with
representatives from the College, Shepherd Construction, and St Modwen. A significant
moment in the development of the new centre of Longbridge.

The college will have on campus the latest in facilities for today’s students.

Learning Resource Centre
Located in the very heart of the College, this fantastic facility will offer over 300
computers with the latest software, thousands of books on all subjects, e-learning
materials, journals and magazines, internet access and expert staff to help students with
their research, assignments and coursework.

Sports Facilities
Will accommodate up to 70 fitness stations and will be equipped with a sauna and a
steam room. The extensive sports hall will have basketball, netball and badminton
courts as well as facilities for 5-a-Side football.

A healthy body for a healthy mind is clearly the message here .

Conference Centre
This golden-clad part of the campus makes a bold statement. The Conference Centr
will offer outstanding resources in order to provide an excellent platform for any event.

Hair and Beauty Salons
Spreading over two floors, the salons will feature all the latest industry standard
equipment and provide enjoy relaxing therapies, makeovers or hair styling.

Photographs can be seen on the Austin Memories website.





On 10th May, more than six years after the collapse of MG-Rover, the
newspapers were reporting that the Phoenix Four - John Towers, Peter Beale,
Nick Stephenson and John Edwards - had been banned from serving as directors. The Insolvency Service said it found that the overall conduct of the members of the Phoenix Consortium made them unfit to be company directors.


A statement by the Business Department said the four had each undertaken not to act
in the management of limited companies for varying periods of between three and six
years. The statement added:-

                   The disqualification undertakings conclude the enforcement action by The
                   Insolvency Service on behalf of the government.

                   The service particularly highlighted the report's findings in respect of the 
                    way the directors manipulated the assets and income streams through the
                   use of companies in which they, rather than the creditors of MG Rover, had
                  an interest,

As reported by Insolvency News:-

                   Former directors of MG Rover, who were dubbed “the Phoenix Four,” have
                   been banned after netting millions of pounds while the company collapsed
                   around them.    

                  John Towers, Peter Beale, Nick Stephenson and John Edwards, who were also
                   directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings, siphoned off around £42m in pay and
                   pensions for themselves as MG Rover was heading for administration

                  Beale was disqualified from acting in the management of companies for six
                 years; Towers and Stephenson were disqualified for five years and Edwards for
                 three years.

Edward Davey, minister with responsibility for corporate governance and company law,
said: -
                 These disqualification undertakings represent a successful conclusion to a
                 lengthy and complex investigation into the collapse of MG Rover.

The disqualification undertakings came into effect on 17 May.




MG Rover Group went into administration on 8 April 2005 owing £1.289M. The Financial
Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) produced a confidential report on 26 May 2005 which
summarised its findings as:-

             Raising questions rather than providing answers.

To seek out answers to these questions on 31 May 2005 the Secretary of State for
Trade and Industry appointed Gervase MacGregor FCA and Guy Newey QC as
inspectors to investigate the affairs of Phoenix Venture Holdings, MG Rover Group and
32 other companies in the Group.


Over the next four years the inspectors laboured to obtain documentary evidence, where
it had not been destroyed, and conducted interviews with witnesses. The first interview
was in July 2005 and the last in October 2008. Their report was competed on 11
th June
2009 - at a cost estimated to be £14.8M. This report was not immediately released while
the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) considered if there was a case to be investigated. The
SFO decided to take no action and, after much speculation in the press as to the likely
content, the report was published in September 2009.


When the report was published almost the sole interest of the press - even the financial
papers - was in the relationship between Nick Stevenson and Dr Qu Li - who had been
paid £1.7M for her part in the negotiations with SIAC. A point of such little consequence
in the overall chain of events that you have to hunt for it in the detail of the report.


The report comprises 830 pages plus a copy of the previously confidential FRRP
Report. There are no recommendations and the conclusion stretches over 20 pages. As
you would expect as a product of an accountant and a lawyer who were given a narrow
remit for their investigation the report is:-
            Large and comprehensive - 830 pages over 2 volumes with six Appendices plus a
            copy of the 26 page FRRP Report

            Detailed - much of it technical, legal and accounting jargon

           Packed with witness statements and evidence - all sifted, balanced and heavy with

           Without any short summary of findings

           Lacking in specific recommendations.

Here is a flavour - just one paragraph from the CONCLUSION:-
               Aside, however, from any legal issues. We consider that the financial rewards
               which the members of the Phoenix Consortium and Mr Howe obtained from the
               Group (and which they essentially set for themselves) were unreasonably large.
               When BMW was disposing of MGRG, the members of the Phoenix Consortium
              enjoyed a “wave of employee and public support” on the basis, in part at least,
              that they were perceived to be acting for the public good. In the event, as already




             noted, they were able to acquire MGRG for a nominal sum and with the benefit
             of a large BMW “dowry”. Further, the expenditure and risks that the members of
             the Phoenix Consortium had to bear in connection with MGRG’s acquisition was
             relatively insubstantial, and the members of the Phoenix Consortium did not
             subsequently invest any money in the Group. There could nonetheless have
             been little objection, either legally or morally, to the members of the Phoenix
             Consortium (who, after all, were PVH’s controlling shareholders) deriving
             benefits commensurate with the Group’s performance had they succeeded in
             making it profitable. However, MGRG, from whose acquisition all PVH’s receipts
             were ultimately derived, was in fact very unprofitable and eventually went into
             administration. The members of the Phoenix Consortium and Mr Howe still
             chose to give themselves rewards out of all proportion to the incomes which they
             had previously commanded, which were also large when compared with
             remuneration paid in other companies and which were not obviously demanded
            by their qualifications and experience.
(ChXXV para32)


The inspectors looked at::-
             How MGRG failed - with a timeline for the crash
             Group Structure & Board changes - the complexities of the 34 companies
             Financial Rewards - how the Phoenix Four and others associated with them
             managed to profit despite the losses of MGRG
             Aspects of Corporate Governance - including notification of Board Meetings to
             Financial Statements and Audit
             Use of Evidence Eliminator software by Mr Beale after the inspectors had been

These issues are linked:-
      The complicated group structure enabled the financial rewards to individuals, but not
      necessarily in the best interest of MGRG, including exploitation of tax losses agreed
      by the Revenue.
      Inadequate corporate governance permitted the complex group structure to be set
      up - and the transfer of assets from MGRG to other Group companies - but not
      necessarily in the best interest of the Group
      Financial statements of the group structure became increasingly complex
      Use of Evidence Eliminator implied something hidden relevant to the enquiry and of
     interest to the inspectors - but Mr Beale said only personal data was removed.

Audit was investigated because of concern that the large fees (more than £25M) earned
by Deloitte for non-audit work undertaken on behalf of the Group might have influenced
their approach to the Group’s audit (Ch XXIII para 3) and Deloitte’s audit work in respect
of “going concern” in the light of MGRG going into administration less than six months
after the audit reports on the financial statements for the year ending 2003 were signed
by Deloitte. (Ch XXIII para 6).





This, as far as I can make out, is a summary of the main conclusions of the inspectors:-
           The Phoenix Consortium paid themselves excessive rewards for their abilities and
           Corporate Governance of MG Rover Group was unsatisfactory
           Auditors followed the rules
           Government ministers were not to blame for the final failure of MGRG.


The Phoenix Consortium buyers of MGRG knew, like everyone else, that a car
manufacturer the size of MGRG was too large to be a specialist like Morgan and too
small to survive alone as a mass producer.

Hence their business strategy, as outlined in the report, was to:-
            Exploit the technology of the Rover 75 - the most modern and advanced design in
            the range
           Seek a Joint Venture Partner (JVP) to develop a medium-size car
           Target sales of 200,000 per year (less in the first year).

All this had to be achieved before the “dowry” funding from BMW was used up.

With hindsight it can be seen that this strategy failed because:-
Exploiting the 75 required finding a partner willing to buy and share the technology
and so not an existing rival - which in practice meant one in a developing country or
emerging market. Negotiations were entered into with many candidates in several
countries - sometimes with more than one at the same time.
The medium-sized car is the most competitive area of the market - Focus/Astra/Golf
- with the shortest model-update cycle - and so requires enormous capital input and
yet offers only small profit margins
The target of 200,000 production was readily achievable on the Longbridge line - but
sales were hampered by the increasing obsolescence of the range. According to the
report the highest sales were 170,000 in 2001.
The Rover brand had become tainted and was no longer regarded as a high quality
product meriting a high price - so using and promoting the MG brand was logical
both for attracting sales and a JVP.

BMW anticipated that Rover at Longbridge could not survive more than a couple of
years and calculated the amount of their “dowry” - including the transfer of the R75 line
from Cowley - based on the likely cost to them of closing the plant.

In the event, under the Phoenix Consortium, MGRG continued in business a further 5
years selling 808,000 vehicles. The financial loss was added to every year - but the
annual loss did go down from £917M in 1999 to £70M in 2002 giving hope for future
success, before starting to climb again. The Rover 75 Tourer was launched, as were
MG versions across the range. Over time the whole range was face lifted and value engineered - removing features to pare down costs - but was becoming increasingly outdated and uncompetitive in a difficult market. The longer that MGRG struggled on alone the more difficult it became to attract a suitable JVP - as time went by it became less likely that any partner would want to buy into increasing losses and obsolescence.





In 2008 the world’s banking system collapsed. Since then the world economy in general,
and the motor industry in particular, have gone through difficult times. There has been
recession in Europe and the USA, and China’s growth has slowed.

General Motors went into liquidation and reconstruction. Toyota suffered loss of
reputation and market share. Ford sold off valuable assets to remain afloat and now has
a pricing structure out of line with the rest of the industry, risking loss of market share.
VW is offering discounts and deals - unprecedented for this brand. Five-year guarantees
are becoming normal. Car use has declined with soaring oil prices. The European car
industry still has excess capacity and sales of Korean cars are increasing.

MG Rover Group could not have survived the recession.


A local success in the midlands has been Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) which reported £1B
profit last year. The major reasons for this success are:-
                      Ford invested money in JLR and sold it as a going concern
                     The new owners - Tata - invested a further £5B over 5 years - borrowed from
                     Indian banks
                     New model range and premium brands enabling bigger profit margins
                     Export success based on new designs and premium brands.

MG Rover at Birmingham



Tailpeice - Austin Cambridge

About Us - The Federation of Austin Clubs, Registers and Associations

Aims and Objectives
The primary objective of the Austin Federation is to bring together clubs, organisations and associations, throughout the world, which have an interest in preserving and maintaining the Heritage, Name and Products of the Austin Motor Company and of the Longbridge Plant. The Federation also welcomes individual members who share these interests.

Products include all brands associated with Longbridge - Austin, BMC, BL, MG-Rover - cars and commercials.

The aims are to:-
                         Publicise and promote Austin and its heritage
                         Facilitate the sharing of historical and social information
                        Collate events information allowing member organisations to manage
                        their events diary
                        Promote recognition of major milestones and anniversaries in the history
                       of Austin and the Longbridge works.

Opinions expressed in the Newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the management Committee of the Austin Federation

The electronic newsletter is distributed to all member clubs, organisations and associations, to individual members, and to others who have a continuing interest in Austin or Longbridge.

Please send information about your Club and its activities for publication in the Federation Newsletter.
Copy date for September edition - 15 August 2011.

This Newsletter is copyright of the Austin Federation, except where extracts of others work is quoted in fair comment. In submitting content for publication you agree to share your copyright with us. Sources will be acknowledged. Other than for commercial gain the content of this Newsletter may be copied in whole or in part by members, member clubs, registers and associations, provided this newsletter is acknowledged as the source. If you consider that any copyright of yours has been infringed by the content of this newsletter please contact the Editor - Peter Winney.