British Motor Holdings

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British Motor Holdings Limited
Industry Car industry
Fate Merged in 1968 with Leyland Motor Corporation
Predecessors Morris Motors Limited
Austin Motor Company Limited
Pressed Steel Company Ltd
Jaguar Cars Limited
Successors British Leyland Motor Corporation
Founded 14 December 1966
Defunct 17 January 1968
Headquarters Longbridge, Birmingham, England, UK
Key people Sir George Harriman (Chairman)

British Motor Holdings Limited (BMH) was a British vehicle manufacturing company known until 14 December 1966 as British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC).[1]

Thirteen months later on 17 January 1968 under direct pressure from its national government BMH merged with Leyland Motor Corporation (Standard-Triumph, Rover and Alvis cars, Leyland trucks and buses, Alvis fighting vehicles) to form British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC).[2]

History[edit]

1964 The Wilson government takes control[edit]

The Wilson Labour Government (1964–1970) came to power at a time when British manufacturing industry was in decline and decided that the remedy was to promote more mergers, particularly in the motor industry. Chrysler was already buying into the Rootes Group, Leyland Motors had acquired Standard Triumph in 1961 (and would buy Rover in 1967) and had become a major automotive force. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) was suffering a dramatic drop in its share of the home market. Tony Benn, appointed Minister of Technology in July 1966, brought pressure to bear on the industry and one result was BMH's merger with Leyland to form British Leyland.

Pressed Steel[edit]

In 1965 BMC had purchased Pressed Steel, Britain's major car body manufacturer, and in the third quarter of 1966 it purchased Jaguar Cars. Three months later, to recognise the changed nature of their business, the company name was changed to British Motor Holdings on 14 December 1966.[3]

Jaguar[edit]

From the perspective of Jaguar, the sale to BMC which became firm in September 1966[4] (when BMC took control of Jaguar) came about because Sir William Lyons, the managing director and founder of Jaguar Cars Ltd, was nearing retirement, and did not have a viable succession plan for his company. His only son John Lyons had been killed in a car accident in 1955, and his other board members were of a similar age to himself. Another factor was that bodyshells for Jaguar production were fabricated by Pressed Steel, a supplier critical to Jaguar and now controlled by BMC. From the perspective of the BMC, a merger with Jaguar was attractive because it had had success in the US market, and was thereby profitable at a time when BMC lacked the funds to invest sufficiently in modern production facilities or new models.

At the annual statement to shareholders for 1967, BMH chairman Sir George Harriman reported on Group Overseas Operations that the company had delivered to world markets (i.e. exported) 313,790 cars, commercial vehicles and tractors, including 72,049 manufactured overseas.[5]

The marques[edit]

British Motor Holdings inherited a plethora of British automotive marques but by now they were the (famously) badge-engineered unified range of one manufacturer incorporating three sports cars, MGB, MG Midget / Austin-Healey Sprite, Austin Healey 3000 plus

Jaguar saloons and sports car and its badge-engineered Daimlers, Coventry Climax industrial engines and Guy trucks :

Estimated production of cars and commercial vehicles in the UK 1965[edit]

Brand Quantity Share
BMC 890,000 40%
Jaguar 30,000 2%
BMH 920,000 42%
Standard-Triumph 125,000 6%
Rover 25,000 1%
Leyland 150,000 7%
Ford 590,000 26%
Vauxhall 333,000 15%
Rootes 220,000 10%
Rolls-Royce 1,200 0%
Total 2,214,200 100%


In 1965, the year prior to the merger, BMC and Leyland's annual production had reached one million vehicles per annum.[6] By contrast, Jaguar's total production in 1966 was 15,690 vehicles.[7]

Merger with Leyland[edit]

On 17 January 1968 BMH merged with the smaller prosperous Leyland Motor Corporation to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) on a one-for-one share exchange, valuing BMH at £201 million. BMH had reported a £3.4 million loss for 1966/7.

Sources and further reading[edit]

  1. ^ British Motor Takes That New Label The Times, 15 December 1966; pg. 17 Issue 56815
  2. ^ Martin, Robert (18 January 1968). "Leyland and British Motor in £420m merger". The Glasgow Herald. p. 3. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "What is BMH?". Autocar. 127 nbr 3730: page 1. 10 August 1967. 
  4. ^ 90PC OF JAGUAR TAKE BMC The Times, Wednesday, 14 September 1966; pg. 18; Issue 56736
  5. ^ "British Motor Holdings". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 December 1967. p. 64. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Karel Williams, John L. Williams, Dennis Thomas, Why Are the British Bad at Manufacturing, page 54, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983, ISBN 0-7100-9561-9
  7. ^ Simply the best, www.aronline.co.uk Retrieved on 6 June 2013