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More on Rover, BMW and future moves?

To: "Friends of Triumph" <fot@autox.team.net>
Subject: More on Rover, BMW and future moves?
From: "jonmac" <jonmac@ndirect.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 17:35:36 +0100
There was quite a lot of speculation a week or so back on the triumphs list
about Rover/BMW 
plans and the possible resurrection of the old manufacturer names. Maybe
some of you saw it?
I'm only raising this thread again because IMHO, I think even BMW have now
got Rover's earlier 
image out of sync with what it used to be. 
Why do I say this?
Yesterday, I had the opportunity of spending some time looking in yet more
detail at the new Rover
75 - code-named R40. As some of you may know, it was released this week at
the UK Motor Show.
On the face of things, I'd be delighted to see the Globe on a new Triumph,
two or four seater, but
now ?
I'm not so sure.
Why do I say this?
For me, first impressions were less than startling.
It looks like any other low-drag co-eff EuroJap product and I doubt there's
anything to visually
distinguish it from the offerings of many other of today's automakers
except the grille.
Technically, it might be quite interesting and very competent - but
aesthetically?
Yuk! Too much walnut, an excess of leather and they've gone overboard for
oval instruments with
white faces. Thank you Ford Europe.
I crawled round two cars for about 30 minutes, unable to formulate a
picture in my mind of whether
I would buy one - and if so, why. 
I came to the conclusion I wouldn't - even if I could afford it. Equally, I
can't get into the rear
seat behind the driver, when that seat is set for a comfortable driving
posture, so that 'knocks the car on the
head.' Why should my hypothetical passengers sit in a posture they last
enjoyed while in the womb?
This car is supposed to be a four seater and I'm only 6 feet tall.
I stood looking at these cars for some time (in total solitude) wondering
what it was that made me
dislike them so much. 
Eventually, it was a story of an alleged event many decades ago at the
London Motor Show between
the then King, Edward VII and Mr. George Lanchester - that was the clincher
for me.
Now, I have the highest regard for Lanchester as an engineer because, if
nothing else, he invented
his own rules on auto design, paying little or no heed to the conventions
of those times. For
example, he made extensive use of a wick carburetter, at least one of his
engines had two
crankshafts and I believe he knew a great deal about the positioning of
controls and essential
ergonomics.
Anyway, on this particular occasion, the King was invited to sit in the
company's latest product. 
As he hauled himself into the spacious rear seat area, he was asked by
George Lanchester to later
comment on his first impressions.
The King spent some time behind closed doors in the large rear passenger
saloon, looking about him
at the sumptuous leather, acres of walnut, expensive fittings et al - and
smoking a large cigar.
Eventually, he emerged and looking straight into George Lanchester's eyes
is alleged to have said,
"A fine motor car, Mr. Lanchester - but perhaps more suited to a prostitute
than a Prince, don't
you think?"
And with sincere advance apologies to anyone aspiring to or actually having
ordered a new Rover,
that's exactly how I would describe it.
Technical aspects entirely to one side, it's a good "Tart's Motor." 
Looking back more than thirty years to my years at Triumph's London
Showroom, I met so many
examples of homo sapiens in its vast posturing array of personality hues
and character traits, that
I now have an exact mental picture of the typical R40 buyer. 
It's the sort of person who favours 'naff' - and who could reveal
everything about their innermost
self if you just sat down with them to share a meal in their own home.
Yes, perhaps I do sound a snob - but in truth, I'm not. I just enjoy
watching body language 
and listening to what people say in (sometimes forlorn) attempts to tell
you what they think
they are in comparison to what you see them to be in reality. 
So, in summary, if BMW do ever authorise the resurrection of Triumph, I
just hope they try to
imitate an earlier style - placing emphasis on practicality and a degree of
simplicity.
I don't know whether R40 was designed wholly by a team of British engineers
or how much of a
teutonic influence has been allowed to prevail, but one thing overwhelms me
- and I look to the MGF
as an example.
If Berndt Pischetsrieder of BMW really has promised the Riley enthusiasts a
new car bearing that
illustrious name, thank heavens he didn't spring a surprise on the world by
calling the R40 a
Triumph 2000 or a Two point Five!
In my humble opinion, the R40 is so very clearly an upmarket AustinMorris -
but then, I feel this
is what Rover is today anyway.
Just BMC, 'in a cloak of respectability,' which has raped an earlier and
illustrious British name that really
faded into history, so many years ago.
I'm sorry Rover, I don't like the R40 - and if this is the best you can do,
leave Standard and
Triumph well alone and let them rest in peace.

Thanks for the 'rant' opportunity - I'm now going back to sit on my stool
in the corner.

John Mac


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