The Man Who Broke BMC? (Part One)

Did a brilliant but uncompromising engineer sow the seeds of BMC’s downfall?

Sir Alec Issigonis with the result of the XC9000 programme. (c) BMIHT

Sir Alec Issigonis was undoubtedly a brilliant and visionary engineer. He was also, allegedly, imperious and autocratic, and highly intolerant of what he perceived to be interference or compromise. Latterly, it has been suggested that BMC’s failure to manage Issigonis effectively and channel his engineering talents to produce motor vehicles that were both desirable and profitable was a significant factor in the company’s ultimate commercial failure. This is the hypothesis we will examine in this series of articles.

Issigonis was born in 1906 in the Greek port city of Smyrna, (now called Izmir and part of Turkey). Greek by birth, he also enjoyed British citizenship because of his father’s naturalization while studying in London in the closing years of the 19th Century. Following his father’s death, Issigonis and his mother moved to London in 1923, where he studied engineering. He initially worked as an engineer at Humber, in his spare time competing in motorsport. His first racing car was a supercharged Austin 7 Ulster with a heavily modified front suspension of his own design.

Issigonis’ success in racing brought him to the attention of the Austin Motor Company, and he was invited to Continue reading “The Man Who Broke BMC? (Part One)”

Sommer’s Automobile Museum, Part 2

In Part 1, I made it as far as the Lancia Flaminia and not much further. In this instalment I will kick and jostle myself so I can cover more ground in fewer words.

1956 Lancia Appia
1956 Lancia Appia

This is the 1965 Lancia Appia with its impressive door closures and very lovely form. And if we continue to the other side of the car we are greeted by this flowing highlight over the front wing. The 1996 VW Passat did something conceptually similar. The later Fulvia and Flavia saloons had every bit the same thoroughgoing solidity. Continue reading “Sommer’s Automobile Museum, Part 2”