Triumph’s far-East hybrid-swansong receives the Longer Read treatment.
It is possible to argue that despite a track record of producing frequently ground-breaking, if sometimes ill-judged and inadequately realised car designs, the various iterative companies that eventually became the Austin Rover Group enjoyed greater commercial success (and profit) from producing vehicles of a more conservative technical composition.
Equally debatable is the notion that successful carmakers rarely fall prey to over-estimating the intelligence or discernment of their customer base, and certainly in BMC/BLMC/BL/ARG’s case, a case could be made that in doing just that, they were in fact acting against their own best interests.
But that is not to suggest that the subject of today’s reconsideration was necessarily a regressive design. In fact, its technical basis was more closely aligned with Austin Rover’s more rationalist mindset. Nevertheless, if indeed the Acclaim could be said to have offered anything by way of surprise, it was in the arena of finish, performance and durability; the Triumph being somewhat unique in costing Austin Rover the least in warranty claims of any ARG car programme.
British Leyland had entered the 1980s with hopes pinned upon a slimmer, less technically dense range of model lines, targeted squarely at the centre of their relative markets – a move which was in no small way informed by a Conservative UK government ideologically opposed to underwriting the huge costs of investing in car manufacture and design. The upshot being that a little had to be stretched an awfully long way.
Today’s subject was one outcome of this state of contraction and would prove to be perhaps its most far-reaching, not simply for UK car manufacture, but for the wider European industry. And while the Acclaim was a vehicle of considerably more merit than the Morris Ital it partially supplanted in the BL range, like its antediluvian predecessor, it proved a solid commercial success, earning the troubled carmaker profits their more expensively in-house developed siblings proved unable to deliver.
But in addition to its significance to the narrative of UK car manufacture, the Bounty’s backstory remains a fascinating document of a car business in the throes of fundamental, irreversible change. First published on Driven to Write in 2018, SV Robinson’s Acclaimed magnum opus is now available to read in its entirety as part of our Longer Read portfolio.