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  • The Prequel/Sequel to John Z, the DeLorean & Me

    45+ Years without John DeLorean...

    and a little more with

    by Barrie Wills Foreword by John Griffiths

  • Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Foreword by John Griffiths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

    Book 1 - The Learning Years 1 How It All Started . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 2 Jaguar Cars Limited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 3 Kirkstall Forge & Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 4 Back to BLMC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 5 Reliant Motor Company Limited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 6 Between Jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

    Book 2 - Implementation 7 DeLorean Motor Cars Limited - the little more . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 8 The Sinclair Vehicle Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 9 Malcolm Bricklin & Proton of Malaysia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 10 Taiwan: Island of Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253 11 Adventures in India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 12 Indonesia: The Big Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275 13 The New Lotus Elan - Managing M100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309 14 China’s Tianjin Automotive Industry Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325 15 The USSR and CIS Countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 16 Eastern Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339 17 Promoting de Montfort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343

    Book 3 - Investing, More Travelling & Risk Taking 18 Fresnel Lenses & All That . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353 19 Miscellaneous Other Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 371 20 The DTI Automotive Division . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 383 21 Chapman Arup: MG Rover & Iran Khodro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387 22 India’s 1-lakh Car . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397 23 Project Kimber: MG & AC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 403 24 The Aftermath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 445

    Postscript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 457 Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 465 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 467

    Contents

  • Through the Railings

    It was Saturday 16 February 1957. I was just fifteen years old and had ridden my trusted Smethwick-made Phillips Kingfisher bicycle the two miles or so from my parents’ rented semi-detached home in Radford, one mile northwest of the city centre of Coventry, to Browns Lane, outside the village of Allesley to the city’s closest western extremity. Four days before, a serious fire, which started in the tyre storage area, had torn through the Jaguar car plant there, causing serious disruption and much damage to finished cars and work in progress. I peered through the railings, hoping to see some sign of the damaged cars.

    Following Jaguar’s withdrawal from racing at the end of the 1956 motor racing season, a number of completed and partially completed D-types were left unsold. In an attempt to recover some of the investment made in developing the Le Mans winner, and to exploit the lucrative American market for high-performance European sports cars, Jaguar’s founder and chairman, Sir William Lyons, had decided to convert a number to a road-going specification. The resultant model was the XKSS. It incorporated only minor changes to the D-type structure: the addition of a passenger side door, the removal of the aerodynamic fin behind the driver and of the divider between passenger and driver seats. Changes were also made for cosmetic, comfort and legal reasons: a full-width windscreen was specified; as were side screens for both driver and passenger doors; a rudimentary, folding, fabric soft top was incorporated for

    weather protection; chromed bumpers were added front and rear; XK140 rear light clusters were mounted higher on the rear wings; and thin chrome strips enhanced the edge of the front light fairings.

    Through the local newspaper, The Coventry Evening Telegraph, I had already learned that Bill Cassidy of the experimental department had spotted the outbreak in the tyre store and had set off the alarm. Without his prompt action considerably greater damage might have occurred and - much worse - lives might have been lost. As it was, there were no casualties. A number of the XKSSs were saved from the blaze by the prompt action of the workforce, including a number of young apprentices - one called Michael Kimberley, later to become a work colleague and a lifelong business contact - who pushed them out of the blazing building. However, many cars including Mark VIIs and Mark Ones were destroyed along with the assembly lines on which they were assembled.

    I was hoping to catch a glance of one of the rare XKSS models in the car park in front of the head office block. Sadly, none were to be seen. Only one or two of the directors’ cars were visible - parked in line alongside the grass ‘island’ in front of the main entrance, in the centre of which was a flagpole but no flag flying. It was a real disappointment for me not to see at least one XKSS but at least I had secured my first glimpse of the place in which I was to commence my automotive industry education two and a half years later.

    How It All Started

    The Jaguar front entrance and main gates - Browns Lane, Coventry

    Sir William Lyons - the founder, chairman and managing director of Jaguar, photographed in 1966

  • Jaguar’s Origins: Blackpool

    On 4 September 1922, two young men registered a new company with a capital of £1,000, a sizeable sum in those days. They were both motor cycle enthusiasts with the first name William. Walmsley was the elder of the two, the younger man had the surname Lyons. They called their business the Swallow Sidecar Company Limited. Located in Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, it was a near neighbour of the town’s then illustrious football club.

    Of the two, William Lyons had the greater design flair and business acumen and very soon his aesthetic, somewhat racy designs of sidecar were being fitted to chassis built by Montgomery’s of Coventry. Within a year the fledgling business was exhibiting at the Motor Cycle Show in

    London, alongside the great British motor cycle brands of the day, Rudge, Clyno, BSA, Norton, AJS, Brough, Sunbeam and Triumph. By mid-1926, the company had grown out of its original factory and moved into larger premises in Cocker Street. One of the original thirty workers who assisted the move was a young storekeeper

    by the name of Harry Teather. More of him later.

    Later in 1926, Lyons developed a sporting body onto the redoubtable Austin 7. The two-seater Austin Swallow was an immediate success and paved the way for car bodybuilding to become the dominant part of the business. In 1927, the company was renamed Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company Limited. The first

    Swallow four-seater soon followed, again based upon an Austin chassis. Fiat Swallows, Standard Swallows, Morris Cowley Swallows and Wolseley Hornet Swallows were to follow the success of the Austin-based cars.

    Jaguar’s Origins: Foleshill, Coventry

    By 1928, Cocker Street was bursting at the seams and Lyons and Walmsley made the decision to relocate the business to the British motor industry’s heartland of the Midlands and on 7 November 1928, Swallow moved into premises at Holbrook Lane, Foleshill, Coventry. Then in 1931 the sidecar reference was dropped from the company name and the Swallow Coachbuilding Company

    Jaguar Cars Limited

    Austin Swallow

    A Swallow sidecar motorcycle combination

    The more mature Harry Teather with body draughtsman Tom Morson (left) and wages clerk Denton Salisbury (right)

  • UK’s Oldest Forge

    It is reckoned the first forge on the Horsforth site to the north of the city of Leeds, straddling the river Aire as it runs towards The Dales, was founded by the Cistercian monks of the nearby Kirkstall Abbey in the early twelfth century. That made its successor, Kirkstall Forge & Engineering,

    the oldest forge in the United Kingdom. An early hammer and the water mill that drove it, using the River Aire for its power, was located within what was a site of 57-acres, straddling the river by a foot