The British Leyland group was difficult to be managed because there were many companies under its marque. Also, there were competitions between these companies due to duplicated products. These, and some other reasons, led to the financial difficulties of British Leyland. In December 1974, British Leyland had to receive a guarantee from the British government.
In 1975, after the publication of Ryder Report, the British Leyland group was nationalised and split into 4 divisions. The division of British Leyland’s bus and truck production became Leyland Truck & Bus.
Leyland Truck & Bus was spilt into Leyland Bus and Leyland Trucks in 1981.
Leyland Name post-British Leyland
The Leyland Bus operations was divested as a management buy-out (sold to its management) and subsequently bought by Volvo Buses in 1988, which discontinued most of its product range.
Leyland Trucks merged with DAF and Leyland-DAF was formed. In 1993, Leyland-DAF went bankrupt. Its UK division was bought through management buyout and named Leyland Trucks again. The Leyland-DAF van interests was also bought through management buyout and became LDV Limited.
In 1998, Leyland Trucks was taken over to become a subsidiary of the US truck manufacturer PACCAR Ltd. It operates from the Leyland Assembly Plant in North West England manufacturing around 14,000 trucks per year of which about a third are sold in the EU.
Leyland Motors also had an Australian subsidiary, Leyland Australia. It produced the Morris Marina, badged as a Leyland Marina, and the large P76 car, as well as the Mini.
Historically, Leyland Motors was a major manufacturer of buses used in the United Kingdom and world-wide, being probably most famous for the trend-setting Atlantean rear-engined double decker design produced between 1956 and 1986.
A SBS Transit 3-axle Leyland Olympian (air-conditioned) in Singapore. It is the last order of buses to be built under the Leyland name.
* Titan – 1927-1970
* Tiger (front-engined)
* Atlantean – 1956-1986
* Leopard – 1959-1982
* National/National 2 – 1969-1985
* Fleetline – 1973-1980, from Daimler
* Titan (B15) – 1974-1984
* Victory Mk 2 – 1978-1981, built in Guy factory at Wolverhampton
* Olympian – 1979-1993, replaced by Volvo Olympian
* Tiger (mid-engined) – 1979-1992, replaced by Volvo B10M
* Royal Tiger (B50/B54) 1982-1987
* Lynx – 1984-1992, replaced by Volvo B10B
* Lion – 1985-1988, replaced by Volvo Citybus
* Swift – 1987-1991
The car firms (and car brands) which eventually merged to form the company are as follows.
The dates given are those of the first car of each name, but these are often debatable as each car may be several years in development.
* 1895 Wolseley Motor Company
* 1896 Lanchester Motor Company
* 1896 Leyland Motors (commercial vehicles)
* 1896 Daimler
* 1898 Riley
* 1903 Standard
* 1904 Rover
* 1905 Austin
* 1912 Morris
* 1913 Vanden Plas
* 1919 Alvis
* 1923 MG created by Morris
* 1923 Triumph Motor Company
* 1924 BSA used as a car brand
* 1935 Jaguar
* 1947 Land Rover created by Rover
* 1952 Austin-Healey created by Austin division of BMC (see below)
* 1959 Mini created by Austin division of BMC (although the name was first used on a variant with Morris badges)
Other Merger Events
Several of these names (including Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini) are now in other hands. The history of the mergers and other key events is as follows:
* 1910 Daimler purchased by the armaments-and-motorbikes engineering company BSA
* 1931 Lanchester purchased by BSA (last Lanchester 1956)
* 1938 Morris incorporates Wolseley and Riley forming the Nuffield Organisation
* 1944 Standard acquire Triumph, forming Standard Triumph
* 1946 Austin acquire Vanden Plas
* 1952 The Nuffield Organisation and Austin merge to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC)
* 1960 Jaguar buy the car-making interests of BSA, including Daimler
* 1961 Leyland Motors acquire Standard Triumph
* 1963 Jaguar acquire the engine and fork lift truck manufacturing company Coventry Climax
* 1965 Rover acquire Alvis
* 1966 BMC merge with Jaguar to form British Motor Holdings (BMH)
* 1967 Leyland absorb Rover
* 1968 Leyland merge with British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation
* 1975 Publication of the Ryder Report, British Leyland effectively nationalised due to financial difficulties, company changes its name to BL Ltd.
* 1977 Michael Edwardes appointed as Chairman by Labour Government. Begins massive cull of excess BL assets.
History of Divestments
* 1978 Land Rover separated from Rover to form a separate company, still part of BL
* 1979 Collaboration with Honda begins, sacking of Derek Robinson (“Red Robbo”)
* 1978 Closure of Triumph assembly plant in Speke – production moved to Canley
* 1980 Closure of MG and Triumph assembly plants in Abingdon and Canley
* 1981 Closure of Rover-Triumph plant in Solihull
* 1981 Alvis sold to United Scientific Holdings
* 1982 Michael Edwardes steps down as Chairman, British Leyland renamed Austin Rover Group (ARG)
* 1984 Morris Ital goes out of production, signalling the end of the Morris badge
* 1984 Jaguar floated off (including Daimler and the US rights to Vanden Plas); bought by Ford in 1989
* 1986 Austin Rover renamed Rover Group, Austin badges disappear the following year
* 1986 Leyland Trucks & Vans sold to DAF. Vans became independent LDV in 1993, and Trucks became Leyland Trucks. Leyland Trucks was taken over by US giant PACCAR in 1998 and integrated with Foden.
* 1986 Leyland Bus floated off; bought by Volvo in 1988
* 1987 Unipart, BL’s spare parts division acquired by management buy-out
* 1988 Rover Group privatised; sold to British Aerospace
* 1994 Rover Group sold to BMW; collaboration with Honda ends
* 2000 BMW decides to break up and sell the Rover empire; Land Rover sold to Ford
* 2000 Mini, Triumph, and Riley trademarks retained by BMW, but BMW’s other interests sold off
* 2000 Remainder of company became independent as the MG Rover Group
* 2005 MG Rover goes into administration with huge debts, and production of all vehicles at the Longbridge plant is suspended.
MG Rover Group
MG Rover was the last independent mass-production producer of the British motor industry. The company was formed by the de-merger of MG and Rover from BMW in 2000, with Government support being given to the Phoenix Venture Holdings bid over an Alchemy Partners bid, due to proposed job losses by Alchemy. The company went into administration in April, 2005, with Phoenix handing over responsibility to PricewaterhouseCoopers (the administrator). After much speculation about possible buyers (with around 100 proposed bidders) a list of three bidders was produced in July, 2005. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), Project Kimber (a British group led by David James), and Nanjing Automobile Group. The Nanjing bid was accepted on 22 July 2005. The future of the Longbridge plant in Birmingham, which has been in operation since the Austin company was founded in 1905, remains unclear, though Nanjing has proposed using it as an engineering site and possibly for the production of MG-brand sportscars and saloon cars, produced both in-house and from parts kits imported from China. Nanjing is also attempting to acquire the rights to the Rover brand. Currently, MG Rover Group Ltd. still exists as a non-trading subsidiary of Phoenix Venture Holdings, administered by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The assets of MG Rover are now owned by Nanjing Automobile Corporation (UK) Ltd. Nanjing Automobile is working with a British consortium – the GB Sports Car Company Ltd. – to reopen Longbridge and revive the MG, and possibly Rover brands. GB Sports Car will eventually receive a significant stake in the reformed British operation, and is rumored to be bidding for MG Sport and Racing Ltd. (still trading under administration).