Episode 1 James May's Cars of the People


Episode 1

James May reveals the cars that turned post-war Germany and Japan into motoring powerhouses at the expense of Britain and the US. He also has an encounter with an Austin Allegro.


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Transcript


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The shape of the Boeing B29 Super Fortress is deeply

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etched on the conscience of humankind,

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being the only aircraft ever to have delivered an atomic weapon in anger.

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And it bears little comparison with this -

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a humble, mid-sized Japanese hatchback.

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And yet you could argue that, long term, this has been the more

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destructive weapon, one that lay waste to acres and acres of industry.

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And it gives rise to a curious new maxim for the modern age -

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to win at cars, first you must lose at war.

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Go!

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'This week, how conquered superpowers conquered all...'

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That's amazing!

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'..how British classics...'

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It is perfect!

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'..became British clunkers...'

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-You all right?

-No, I'm a loser.

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'..and how American powerhouses got left in the dust.'

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The Big Three, they were just so arrogant.

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Also, I murder a tradesman.

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Shoot the man in the plumbing van.

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MUSIC: Back In Black by AC/DC

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1945 - Britain had won the war.

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Hip hip hooray!

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We still had our empire, we still had our reputation

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for engineering excellence, we were still the workshop of the world.

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Thank God we won the war.

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Once the war was over, our car factories could stop churning out

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Spitfires and get back to cars.

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Immediately post-war, Britain was the world's second-biggest car-maker,

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and the world's biggest car exporter.

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For many people in Britain, however, the end of the war

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simply meant dusting off whatever was up on bricks in the garage,

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and then going for a first spin in the new broad, sunlit uplands.

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And for thousands of people, that car was this.

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The Austin 7 had launched right back in 1922 and it was Britain's very first people's car.

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It was like our Ford Model T, but a bit more modest,

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and cheaper and easier to run, as you'd expect.

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Was one of them Austin big 7s

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That do 60 on top and no buts

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Developing 25 horsepower

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Not only got looks but got guts.

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The Austin 7 was sold all over the world.

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There were licensed built versions made in Germany, France, America.

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Australia used its chassis. It was copied by Nissan in Japan.

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And an Austin 7 formed the basis of the first car from the company we now know as Jaguar.

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It was also the basis of the first Lotus.

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This was one hell of a car.

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America had also won the war. Victory had left her with

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massive manufacturing capacity, loads of money, a lot of it

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owed to America, in fact, and control of the vanquished nations.

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Their Marshall Plan could dictate to the losers what

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they had to do to get back into the global goodies gang.

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America had not been bombed.

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America could go back to making things like this.

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This, I'm sure you know, is a 1937 Buick Special two-door sedan slope back.

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Ahem.

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This was the cheapest car in Buick's Series 40 range,

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but even so it had a straight-eight engine giving 100 horsepower,

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modern overhead valves, hydraulic brakes, a heater, a defroster

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and even, if you paid a bit extra, a dash mounted radio.

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There was just no stopping Buzz and Chuck and Hank.

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During the war, Buick's factory was given over to making munitions,

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usual sort of thing, but in 1946 the Special went back into production.

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It would do for now.

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Thank God we won the war.

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Now imagine if you'd lived in Germany in that immediate post-war period.

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Everything was bombed to bits, much worse than Britain.

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Millions were dead. The Allies were in control of everything.

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The great dream of the VW Beetle factory -

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that was all smashed up and in the hands of the British.

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But it could have been worse. You could have been Japanese.

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Food was in woefully short supply.

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Roads were largely unmade. There were virtually no materials.

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The occupying powers had been charged with changing the Japanese system

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from a military to an economic one. The Emperor had become a puppet.

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But the production of passenger cars was virtually outlawed.

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If you were lucky, you might get a bicycle.

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If you were very lucky, it might have a small engine on it, but that was it.

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And yet, a lifetime later, we buy more and more of the cars we covet

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from the supposedly defeated nations, Germany and Japan.

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So who really won?

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It took only 30 years or so for Japan to transform itself

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from a knackered nation of powered bicyclists

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into a world-conquering, car-making superpower,

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and that, despite being the world's first, and so far only, victims of atomic war.

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It took only 20 years for Germany to transform itself

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into a maker of great cars, and more to the point

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the roots of this turnaround were happening just as the

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old Allies thought their global position was completely unassailable.

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So how did that happen?

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Britain will launch a ship a day,

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more than the rest of the world put together.

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Britain now leads the world in aviation.

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The problem wasn't that Britain and America didn't innovate.

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Post-war, they led the world in aviation, electronics, machinery.

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We had Nobel Prize winners.

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We'd invented modern computer science and discovered DNA.

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The slumps of pre-war years must never return.

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I mean, cripes, by 1952 we had a new Queen, and America

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still had its dream, which we could all see on the silver screen.

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More to the point, it had Detroit which was a Mecca,

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a city built on the automobile and the desire to possess it.

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By the late '40s, Britain had moved on from the Austin 7 and was building new stuff.

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Cars like Ford of Britain's V8 Pilot.

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And Ford were so confident of it,

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it was given its own cinema sing-along.

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This was pre pah-pah-pah-pah, obviously.

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And anyway, it was another hit from the late '40s that we remember today.

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You will have spotted that this is a Morris Minor.

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The Minor, though modest, was very middle class

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and it's interesting to know that in this golden era of 1950s Britain,

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any car worth its salt would be named after an establishment figure.

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There was never a Ford Flatcap or an Armstrong Sydney Jobcentre.

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No, no, no. Things were called the Austin Cambridge,

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the Austin Westminster.

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The Ford Consul, the Ford Squire, the Viceroy,

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the Standard Ensign, the Ford Prefect, the Princess,

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the Cambridge, the Austin Cambridge, the Daimler Regency...

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I think you get the idea here.

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Bill Anderson tells me the Minor's the best car he ever had.

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-Marvellous on corners.

-Gosh! Everyone's got a Minor.

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But don't just take Bill Anderson's word for it.

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Here's a woman's view.

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Style and value interest me most.

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That's why I like the new Morris car.

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Rather in the way that the 2CV symbolises

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everything about the condition of being French,

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the Morris Minor has come to be regarded as everything that's good and proper about being British.

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Let's imagine for a moment that overnight the Morris Minor

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suddenly disappeared from the British conscience, would it matter?

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I think we would struggle with it.

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If you did a survey - should we get rid of the Morris Minor?

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No! But actually, would we really notice?

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Would it in fact give us a chance to move on?

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It might be a little bit...

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As if a very popular and very well-liked television programme

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suddenly came to an end,

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everybody would think it was a disaster but after a while,

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well, they'd get over it,

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probably find something else.

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There must have been something good about the Minor as this was

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the first British car to sell more than a million.

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In the end, 1.6 million were made

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right here at the Cowley factory near Oxford.

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But the Morris Minor was not perfect.

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In fact, it's something of a lasting monument to the sort

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of timorousness and disorganisation

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that would come to characterise so much of our motor industry.

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When the designer Alec Issigonis had finished his prototype design,

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he realised he'd made it a bit too narrow.

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Now we have a model of it here.

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This is an original one from the time and if you have a look at it

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you can see he was dead right, he'd cocked it up a bit.

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It was a bit too narrow.

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So he took the full size prototype design

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and he sawed it in half lengthways like that

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and then he experimented adding different size strips

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to see what would make it look right and, in the end,

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he decided it needed an extra four inches down the middle.

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Great! But the press shop, the people designing the tooling for this thing

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had already made some of the tooling for the original narrow versions.

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So in the final car they had to come up with this -

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this strip that runs down the bonnet to there and then spreads out

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nicely along there.

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That is a fudge and I know we like to think of it as

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an interesting Morris Minor design feature but I'm afraid it is, and

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I know this is a bit like burping in the Queen's face, it's a bodge.

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We will have to learn to live with that. OK?

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And it gets worse under the bonnet.

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THEME TUNE PLAYS: Open All Hours

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The Minor was supposed to have a brand-new flat four engine

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driving the front wheels.

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But penny-pinching meant it was lumped with wheezy inline jobs,

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driving the rear wheels.

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A pity, isn't it?

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Let's shut the bonnet on this travesty

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and pretend it never happened.

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Morris put quality first.

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Look, I'm not being down on it, the Morris Minor was brilliant,

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despite a bit of management myopia.

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And let's not forget that because he couldn't realise

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his front wheel dream of a Minor, Issigonis went on to design the Mini,

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one of the most significant small cars ever.

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And with the Minor and the Mini,

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he is responsible for a sizeable slice

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of our British sense of automotive identity.

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That's not bad for a Greek.

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-NEWSREEL:

-£100 million worth of cars

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exported since the war ended.

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So despite a slapdash motor here and a bodged bonnet there,

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the UK motor industry post-war was booming.

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And America's was too.

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Before the war had even finished,

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US car-makers, encouraged by the government and working in secret,

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had already started creating a new era of cars.

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By the 1950s, the American car was a gobsmacking monument

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to the new culture of ownership.

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Goodbye, three-speed manual transmissions and Art Deco fixings,

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hello, the jet age, neon lights and the automatic.

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Nothing could go wrong.

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Could it?

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Well...not yet.

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The first Japanese raiding party to the UK barely registered.

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This is the 1964 Daihatsu Compagno.

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It was overpriced, it was breathtakingly slow,

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it was surely nothing to worry about.

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This car, however, not just this model

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but this actual car you're looking at now

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was the very first Japanese import to the UK.

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I was only one year old when the Compagno arrived

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so I couldn't reach the pedals to try it out.

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But even ten years later, I remember that we as British schoolboys

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still thought that Japanese cars were a bit of a joke.

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I have here the actual Top Trumps sports cars pack that

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I was given for my 11th birthday back in 1974

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and there is only two Japanese cars in the pack

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and one of them is this.

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It's the Toyota Celica GT.

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Now you didn't want this card in a game of Top Trumps

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because it's only got a 1600cc engine,

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only makes 92 horsepower,

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it's the second cheapest car in the pack.

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And as 11-year-olds we weren't interested in or

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worried by Japanese cars with their silly names.

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We'd already been told by our elders and betters that the Japanese

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would make cheap runabouts for people who weren't really interested in cars

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but the British would continue to make the sort of stuff

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that really mattered.

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We were basically car racists.

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On the other hand, if you wanted to win a game of Top Trumps,

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the car you needed...

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was this one -

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the Jaguar E-Type.

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Look at it!

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No lesser man than Enzo Ferrari himself

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said that this was the most beautiful car ever made.

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In fact, there is nothing new for me to say about the E-Type Jaguar,

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it's like trying to have an opinion on the weather

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that you've never heard before.

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So let's just... Well, I'll tell you what, I'll shut up

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and you can just look at it for a bit.

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# Tell me all the things that I wanna hear

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# Cos that's true

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# That's what I like about you

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# What I like about you... #

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Over half a century has passed

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but I still think that is the best down the bonnet view

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that the motor car has ever provided for us,

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it has that lovely bulge in the middle, that's very feminine,

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the wings rise very slightly, at each side,

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but it's those louvres that really do it for me.

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Look at that, that is the machine aesthetic

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and it comes with a reflection of heaven.

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It is perfect!

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Perfect!

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# That's what I like about you... #

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The E-Type being long, lascivious and affordable

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became the perfect statement of the British male machismo

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and it remains it.

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Doesn't it?

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This, by the way, is a Series 1, 4.2 Jaguar E-Type.

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The trouble is within ten years of its launch in 1961,

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the E-Type had been...

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well, improved into...

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this -

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the Series 3.

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The Jaguar Series 3 E-Type has become a bit of a fatty.

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It's 20% heavier than the original car,

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it's a bit bigger all round, the styling has become fussier

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and it's actually slightly slower,

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especially in the case of this one which was

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a three-speed automatic.

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It isn't the pure, lissom sports car it once was,

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it's become a bit middle-aged.

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It has become, heaven forefend,

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a GT.

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Meanwhile there was a second Japanese car in my Top Trumps deck.

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And here it is -

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the Datsun 260Z.

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And here it is for real.

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Definitely not a cheap economical runabout for people who don't

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really care, very definitely and obviously a sports car.

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Another clue we blissfully ignored.

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The Datsun had done a better job than

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the E-Type of maintaining its figure through the years.

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It arrived in 1969 and by the time I was Trumping in the school cloakroom

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in 1974 the engine had grown a bit

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but its weight had hardly increased.

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But how does the Datsun compare with the Jag in the real world,

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rather than in a subversive card-swapping exercise

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in a schoolboys' lavatory in Rotherham?

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Time to find out. I mean, I quite fancy the Datsun myself

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but maybe I should ask someone who knows better.

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This man's lineage has almost as much E-Type provenance as the car itself.

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His dad was the first man ever to race an E-Type

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right here at Oulton Park in 1961.

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That man was Graham Hill,

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so this must be...

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Damon Hill, and here he is. Good morning.

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-James, how are you?

-Very, very well, thank you.

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E-Type Jags, does it resonate?

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Well, I think they just mean speed, don't they?

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E-Type - there was all these kind of jokes about E-Type

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this, that and the other. E-Type bananas and things like that.

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When we were growing up it meant fast, didn't it? E-Type.

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I'd forgotten the E-Type banana joke. What's yellow?

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-What's fast and yellow?

-Fast and yellow, that's it.

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-An E-Type banana.

-And what's white and wears tartan trousers,

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-No, that was Rupert the fridge.

-Yeah. I don't know that one.

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But the E-Type, this is svelte, this is curvaceous and it was our...

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It was like suddenly this was a Ferrari and we didn't have a Ferrari,

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we had English cars and then suddenly this thing arrived and

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I think it gave everyone a bit of a sense that, hey, we can be sexy too.

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Come and have a look at, erm,

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this, which is what it became.

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So this is a decade later -

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that's all it took for it to become...

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..just not as nice

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but it's got a V12 now.

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It's a bit swollen here, there's some bigger bits,

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some of this is to do with American legislation.

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I mean, the grille is totally different. What a swizz.

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Yeah, total. If I could just turn your attention to the

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Datsun 260Z which is...

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Now this is the second generation of this car so the engine has become

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bigger but it's otherwise pretty much unchanged

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and, yeah, we were a bit dismissive of this when I was a teenager

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because we thought, "Well, it's Japanese they can't...

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"The E-Type is brilliant, it's the best thing in the world.

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£The Japanese can't possibly know," but it's a got straight six,

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it's light, it's simple, it's sort of...it's like the E-Type philosophy

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was and that had happened to the E-Type and this was still like this.

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This has definitely got the '70s lines to it and that -

0:19:240:19:26

that is almost starting to look old-fashioned now.

0:19:260:19:29

'So after a quick Trump to decide who drove what...'

0:19:290:19:33

240 kilometres an hour.

0:19:330:19:36

Oh!

0:19:360:19:38

'..we decide to have a race.

0:19:380:19:41

'The classic Series 3 E-Type versus the Japanese upstart Datsun.

0:19:410:19:45

'I'd drive the Datsun and then Damon the E-Type for one lap

0:19:450:19:49

'and then we'd swap to cancel out his advantage from,

0:19:490:19:52

'um, knowing the track.'

0:19:520:19:54

ENGINES REV

0:19:540:19:56

And they're off.

0:19:580:19:59

Well, we left him behind.

0:20:000:20:02

He's buggered off already.

0:20:020:20:04

The Datsun has 150 horsepower against 272 for the Jag.

0:20:040:20:09

Bit of a slow acceleration there.

0:20:090:20:11

But the Jag weighs 450-something kilograms more.

0:20:110:20:16

Oh, it's very soft, it's a very soft, floaty feel to the handling.

0:20:160:20:21

Lovely.

0:20:230:20:24

And it's almost like I'm on a flying mattress.

0:20:260:20:28

I can't feel any bumps at all.

0:20:310:20:32

Going over the start and finish line now,

0:20:380:20:40

I'm looking in my mirror and I can't see James at all.

0:20:400:20:44

Brake, you bastard.

0:20:450:20:47

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

0:20:470:20:50

Let's just edit that bit out.

0:20:500:20:52

Time to swap.

0:20:520:20:54

This time I would have the upper hand.

0:20:550:20:58

Spoiler alert. Damon Hill is a faster driver than me.

0:21:040:21:08

But what we now need to do now is add the pro Damon Hill lap

0:21:080:21:11

for each car to my average doddering man on the street lap

0:21:110:21:14

to find out which car was truly better.

0:21:140:21:18

Thank you.

0:21:180:21:19

Do you want to know the lap times?

0:21:210:21:23

Erm, go on.

0:21:230:21:25

In the Jag...

0:21:250:21:27

Damon Hill - 1:29:06.

0:21:270:21:30

James May 1:... Really?

0:21:300:21:32

Yeah.

0:21:320:21:34

1:49:97. In the Datsun...

0:21:340:21:38

-Wait a minute, that's, that's 20 seconds slower?

-Yes, it is.

0:21:380:21:42

-That's an awful lot.

-Yes, I know.

0:21:420:21:44

In the Datsun - Damon Hill 1:30:05.

0:21:440:21:48

-Oh, right.

-James May - 1:47:81.

0:21:480:21:53

So if you, if you aggregate the whole thing,

0:21:530:21:56

you kind of take us as a cross section of the driving community.

0:21:560:21:58

Very well put, yes.

0:21:580:22:00

Then, erm, then which comes out on top?

0:22:000:22:02

Well, hang on a minute, if we add together...

0:22:020:22:04

No, it actually goes to the Datsun...

0:22:060:22:08

just.

0:22:080:22:09

The Datsun has just squeaked it by less than a second.

0:22:110:22:15

Actually, there's a third thing that this demonstrates other than that

0:22:150:22:18

the Datsun was a better sports car and you're a better racing driver than me,

0:22:180:22:21

Top Trumps is not real life and we believed that game -

0:22:210:22:25

that meant everything to us when I was 10, 11 years old.

0:22:250:22:28

The E-Type Jag was a great car for winning that game therefore

0:22:280:22:32

-it was a better car but that's not true.

-No.

0:22:320:22:34

-They sold us a lie but that's...

-You'll be all right.

0:22:340:22:37

-But that's something I'll have to come to terms with.

-It's only Top Trumps.

0:22:370:22:40

I spent years stuck with misconceptions about Japanese cars,

0:22:400:22:45

the greatness of Britain, commando war stories

0:22:450:22:48

and pictures, all sorts of things.

0:22:480:22:51

They promised us the world and they gave us tinsel.

0:22:510:22:55

The bastards, I knew there was something wrong with my life

0:22:550:22:58

and I've lost at that and I've lost at Top Trumps.

0:22:580:23:01

-Are you all right?

-No, I'm a loser, goodbye.

0:23:010:23:04

So the Japanese invasion had begun in earnest

0:23:060:23:10

and America had it even worse than the UK.

0:23:100:23:13

I suggest we don't be fuelish.

0:23:130:23:15

The world's great gift to the Japanese car industry was

0:23:150:23:19

the oil crisis of 1973.

0:23:190:23:21

Suddenly the USA's "bigger is better" philosophy

0:23:210:23:24

wasn't looking too big or clever.

0:23:240:23:27

The Mustang, you may remember from series one, was the gas-guzzling

0:23:270:23:31

powerhouse that democratised style and performance in the US.

0:23:310:23:35

But the market was changing,

0:23:350:23:37

economy and size were the buzz words,

0:23:370:23:40

so Ford came up...

0:23:400:23:43

with this.

0:23:430:23:44

The Mustang 2 was designed to meet boring everyday concerns,

0:23:470:23:50

gas mileage mainly, absolutely head on and it looked a bit rubbish.

0:23:500:23:55

And there was worse because the original Mustang was based

0:23:550:23:59

on an everyday family car, the Ford Falcon, this was also based on

0:23:590:24:03

an everyday family car but this time it was the rather unloved Ford Pinto.

0:24:030:24:07

Built to run and run and run.

0:24:070:24:09

Japan, on the other hand, had no oil of its own

0:24:090:24:13

and so small, efficient engines were their bread and butter.

0:24:130:24:17

Would Detroit and the US rise to the challenge?

0:24:170:24:20

Only one way to find out. Time for a real world test.

0:24:200:24:24

When the Mustang 2 was launched, it came with a V6 engine,

0:24:240:24:26

but after a year or so, they gave it the big five litre V8,

0:24:260:24:30

which is of course the one that the vast majority of Americans

0:24:300:24:33

bought because if you didn't have a V8,

0:24:330:24:35

you were fundamentally a goddamned Communist.

0:24:350:24:38

Now, I have one US gallon of gas with which to drive around Detroit

0:24:380:24:41

and whilst I'm doing that, these fine gentlemen are going to tell me

0:24:410:24:45

everything they know about the city, the motor industry,

0:24:450:24:47

the culture, all the rest of it.

0:24:470:24:49

They are Ralph, who used to work on the Ford production line,

0:24:490:24:52

Steve, who is a local historian with a particular

0:24:520:24:54

interest in the motor industry, and Jerome, who was a steel supplier

0:24:540:24:58

to the motor industry in that vital 1970s, 1980s period.

0:24:580:25:02

Happy, chaps?

0:25:020:25:04

Let's burn rubber.

0:25:040:25:06

While I'm doing that, I am also in Japan with this,

0:25:070:25:11

the original Toyota Celica GT 1600,

0:25:110:25:14

straight from the Top Trumps pack of lies, same colour and everything.

0:25:140:25:18

How about that? However, in the interest of fairness

0:25:180:25:21

and because we have the larger engine Mustang, I'm going

0:25:210:25:24

to be driving this version of the Celica, which is

0:25:240:25:26

the more popular and more powerful 2000 GT lift back.

0:25:260:25:30

As before, I'll have exactly one US gallon of gas

0:25:300:25:34

and my passengers for this trip are

0:25:340:25:36

Mr Kuroyonami, who was one of the designers of the Celica,

0:25:360:25:40

Mr Furuichi, who maintained the Celica production line,

0:25:400:25:44

and Mr Sugisaki, who worked in prototyping for Toyota

0:25:440:25:48

for a massive 53 years.

0:25:480:25:50

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Shall we go?

0:25:500:25:53

Climb aboard.

0:25:550:25:57

Now, I'm not actually going to put just one gallon in each car

0:25:590:26:03

and then run them dry cos there could be all sorts of genuine '70s

0:26:030:26:06

rubbish in the bottom of the tank, like Boston's More Than A Feeling.

0:26:060:26:10

No, we did an earlier economy run, so I know when my gallon's gone.

0:26:100:26:13

We're making a right here and going to go onto these train tracks.

0:26:150:26:19

While in America, I'm getting a tour of Detroit.

0:26:230:26:26

Over in Japan, I'm driving around Detroit's sister city, Toyota.

0:26:260:26:32

Yes, Toyota City,

0:26:320:26:35

an entire city that was created just to manufacture Toyota cars.

0:26:350:26:40

Everything you can see here, from houses to fields to stadiums,

0:26:400:26:44

is designed to serve that one purpose alone.

0:26:440:26:47

Just to make everything absolutely clear,

0:26:500:26:52

I have an earpiece in on this side

0:26:520:26:55

and there is a translator in our film car, which is coming with us,

0:26:550:26:58

and he can also talk to my guests through an open radio down here

0:26:580:27:02

in the door, so my questions will be translated to them.

0:27:020:27:04

Their answers will be briefly translated to me.

0:27:040:27:07

So, translator man, could you please ask them

0:27:070:27:11

what it was like to work in Toyota in the 1970s?

0:27:110:27:15

TRANSLATES INTO JAPANESE

0:27:150:27:20

MUFFLED TRANSLATION

0:27:250:27:29

'What?!'

0:27:320:27:34

I can't really hear what Christian's saying, I'm afraid.

0:27:340:27:36

It sounds very muffled in this little Walkman earpiece.

0:27:360:27:39

Could you say to them, "I like the Celica very much.

0:27:390:27:43

"It's a very fine car." TRANSLATES INTO JAPANESE

0:27:430:27:48

'If you think this seems like a phenomenally overcomplicated

0:27:550:27:59

'set-up just to see how much fuel these cars burn, you're right.

0:27:590:28:03

'When I conceived this plan, I thought

0:28:030:28:06

'I'd neatly sidestep the problem of not being able to speak Japanese.

0:28:060:28:10

'I was wrong.'

0:28:100:28:11

SPEAKS JAPANESE

0:28:110:28:15

I worked at the Dearborn Assembly Plant

0:28:230:28:27

from 1977 to 1985, I think.

0:28:270:28:31

So, did you build this?

0:28:310:28:33

Chances are that I worked on the engine in this car.

0:28:330:28:37

Back in Japan, my translator is now speaking

0:28:370:28:40

Japanese into my earpiece, rather than out to the rest of the car.

0:28:400:28:44

JAPANESE IN JAMES' EARPIECE Wrong channel.

0:28:440:28:47

Wrong channel.

0:28:480:28:49

Wrong channel.

0:28:500:28:52

JAPANESE TRANSLATION CONTINUES Wrong...

0:28:520:28:56

No, you're doing that in my ear.

0:28:560:28:57

I don't understand any of it.

0:29:060:29:08

Let's just stick to America for a bit.

0:29:080:29:11

What went wrong with Detroit?

0:29:110:29:13

There were a combination of things that really came about to

0:29:130:29:16

bring a demise to Detroit.

0:29:160:29:18

One was the automotive industry had had 25 or 30 years of zero

0:29:180:29:23

competition. The cars had developed style and charisma

0:29:230:29:27

and had gotten away from reliable and durable and economical.

0:29:270:29:30

-And...

-So they weren't reliable?

-Oh, no. The cars were disposable.

0:29:300:29:34

In a lot of ways,

0:29:340:29:35

the cars were designed to make you buy one every...

0:29:350:29:38

as soon as you had it paid off.

0:29:380:29:41

So the oil crisis - what was the main immediate impact of that?

0:29:410:29:45

Fuel price, I suppose?

0:29:450:29:47

-You couldn't buy fuel on a Tuesday.

-Lines at gas stations...

-Yeah.

0:29:470:29:51

And all of a sudden, you had the rest of the world that had

0:29:510:29:54

been building reliable, practical, efficient vehicles...

0:29:540:29:58

So, you know, a 4,000 pound, 500 cubic inch Chevrolet Monte Carlo

0:29:580:30:03

became a completely undesirable car when you could...

0:30:030:30:06

It got five miles to the gallon.

0:30:060:30:08

Meanwhile, in Japan, we finally stopped getting lost in translation.

0:30:080:30:12

-TRANSLATION:

-I guess for people overseas having Japanese cars

0:30:120:30:16

imported to their countries must be, you know, a little

0:30:160:30:19

defeating for their national pride, but for us,

0:30:190:30:22

it was a sense of, you know, excitement and pride.

0:30:220:30:25

-TRANSLATION:

-I went to Detroit in the '70s

0:30:250:30:29

and the downtown was dangerous back then.

0:30:290:30:32

There were places where you couldn't park a Japanese car.

0:30:340:30:38

They wouldn't let you park it at Ford in the parking lot.

0:30:380:30:42

Especially like during the downturn,

0:30:420:30:44

when folks started getting laid off and...

0:30:440:30:48

You guys remember Vincent Chan?

0:30:500:30:52

Yeah, Vincent Chan was killed at a McDonald's. They thought he...

0:30:520:30:56

He was actually Korean.

0:30:560:30:58

I think he was Chinese and he was getting married the next day.

0:30:580:31:02

He was out at a bar

0:31:020:31:04

and some out-of-work autoworkers

0:31:040:31:08

assumed that he was Japanese

0:31:080:31:11

and part of the reason why they were laid off.

0:31:110:31:15

And they confronted him. I guess there was alcohol involved.

0:31:150:31:21

Bottom line is, they murdered Vincent Chan.

0:31:210:31:25

And they actually got away with it,

0:31:290:31:32

until the federal government prosecuted the people for, erm...

0:31:320:31:37

-Violating civil rights.

-Violating civil rights.

-Wow.

0:31:370:31:41

-So they thought he was Japanese...

-They assumed he was Japanese...

0:31:410:31:44

The entire Asian population was afraid to go out at night.

0:31:440:31:48

They had a parade on... The first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday...

0:31:480:31:53

What is it? Mardi Gras.

0:31:530:31:56

And they had a truck, flatbed truck with a Japanese car on the back

0:31:560:32:00

and a bunch of big strong guys beating it with a sledgehammer...

0:32:000:32:03

-I remember that.

-..you know, in the parade.

0:32:030:32:06

What started out as a simple fuel economy test has

0:32:090:32:13

turned into a genuinely eye-opening experience.

0:32:130:32:16

-TRANSLATION:

-Being just Japanese, we're hardworking people,

0:32:200:32:24

you know, we do what we're told to do.

0:32:240:32:27

We do more than we're told to do.

0:32:270:32:30

I guess that's in our blood, so to speak.

0:32:300:32:34

These racist things you're talking about,

0:32:340:32:37

this was all sparked by the Japanese car because that was...

0:32:370:32:40

Yes. A loss of lifestyle.

0:32:400:32:43

The Japanese imports, they were actually making the better product.

0:32:430:32:48

It was perceived to be inferior because it was smaller,

0:32:480:32:52

but the finish was better and it was more refined.

0:32:520:32:56

-TRANSLATION:

-I didn't feel any blue collar,

0:32:560:33:00

white collar difference when I worked at Toyota.

0:33:000:33:04

I felt like I was surrounded by experts.

0:33:040:33:07

Wherever I went, I felt like there were masters,

0:33:070:33:10

great masters around me, creating these things.

0:33:100:33:14

It was a joke when I was a kid, you know, "Where did that come from?"

0:33:140:33:18

"Made in Japan." I mean, no matter what it was.

0:33:180:33:21

The big three, they were just so arrogant, you know.

0:33:210:33:24

Too big to fail.

0:33:240:33:27

-Too big to fail.

-Yeah, yeah, exactly.

0:33:270:33:30

And less than a mile later...

0:33:320:33:34

That's 13.6 miles. That's one US gallon.

0:33:480:33:51

So, that's as far as I can take you, I'm afraid.

0:33:510:33:54

Sorry it couldn't have finished somewhere a bit more picturesque.

0:33:540:33:59

But...cheers.

0:33:590:34:01

Thanks, James.

0:34:010:34:03

-What up, do'.

-What up, do'.

-What up, do'.

0:34:030:34:06

Thanks for your help. It's been tremendous.

0:34:060:34:08

Well, that was tremendous.

0:34:080:34:10

I've learned a lot of interesting things about the American

0:34:100:34:13

motor industry, about Detroit, about the teenage lives of those guys.

0:34:130:34:16

I've learned to say, "What up, do'".

0:34:160:34:18

I wonder how I'm getting on in Toyota City.

0:34:180:34:19

Like a battery-powered rabbit, the Celica just keeps going

0:34:210:34:25

and going and going.

0:34:250:34:28

The Mustang lasted just 13.5 miles.

0:34:290:34:33

The Celica keeps going for almost 26.

0:34:330:34:37

Ford Mustang, mmm or hmm?

0:34:370:34:39

Yes? Down? Oh, OK.

0:34:420:34:44

Incredible when you realise that a Mustang 2 would have cost you

0:34:440:34:48

over a third more than a Celica.

0:34:480:34:51

'When you add it up, a Toyota really gives you your money's worth.'

0:34:510:34:54

Well, I think what we've learned from that is that the Japanese were

0:34:540:34:58

taking the whole business of conquering the world with

0:34:580:35:00

the motor car very seriously indeed, whilst the Americans believed they'd

0:35:000:35:04

already done that and they were just dipsticking about,

0:35:040:35:08

having a laugh and doing stuff on the backseat of the Mustang 2,

0:35:080:35:11

without realising that its engine was too big, the car was too big,

0:35:110:35:13

it was too heavy, the factory was too old and all the rest of it.

0:35:130:35:16

But really, that was a very convoluted way of saying

0:35:160:35:19

the taut, efficient Japanese engine was more economical

0:35:190:35:22

than the old American iron, but fuel economy is boring on the television.

0:35:220:35:26

I hope that was useful.

0:35:260:35:28

So, bad news for the Mustang. But for the city of Detroit...

0:35:280:35:32

..it was devastating.

0:35:340:35:37

The post-war Mecca of US car making had fallen further

0:35:370:35:41

and further into ruin.

0:35:410:35:43

This is Detroit's once great Packard car factory, as it stands today.

0:35:450:35:50

# When the road gets dark

0:35:570:36:00

# And you can no longer see

0:36:030:36:06

# Just let my love grow a spark

0:36:090:36:13

# And have a little faith in me... #

0:36:140:36:18

It wasn't just Toyota and the Celica.

0:36:210:36:24

Datsun and Mazda and all the rest of them, they too were ready,

0:36:240:36:28

and then there was Honda, a name that Americans knew for having

0:36:280:36:32

changed the face of motorcycling with the all-conquering Super Cub.

0:36:320:36:37

We covered the phenomenal Super Cub in the last series.

0:36:370:36:41

Nothing can stop the noodles!

0:36:410:36:44

But in '72, Honda launched the Civic, and then, four years later,

0:36:440:36:48

the Accord.

0:36:480:36:49

Both were compact, economical, good to drive, cheap,

0:36:490:36:53

and could be used to stalk blonde female joggers.

0:36:530:36:56

What more could you ask for?

0:36:560:36:57

# Who built the road, who was the foolish one... #

0:37:000:37:05

And then something unthinkable to the older generation happened.

0:37:050:37:09

In 1982, Honda opened a factory in the US, in Marysville, Ohio,

0:37:090:37:14

to build the Accord in America's backyard.

0:37:140:37:18

By the time we arrive at this Accord, the fourth generation in 1990,

0:37:210:37:25

something truly remarkable has occurred.

0:37:250:37:28

The Accord, from a maker of cheap runabouts

0:37:280:37:31

and step-through scooters for preppy kids and moms,

0:37:310:37:34

has become the best-selling car in the United States.

0:37:340:37:37

Honda had taken over the American market, but in Britain,

0:37:410:37:44

we had a different problem altogether.

0:37:440:37:47

We were a small island with a small market.

0:37:470:37:50

To thrive as we had done before the war, we needed to export.

0:37:500:37:54

So, in 1973, Britain joined a free trade zone.

0:37:540:37:59

Two years later, a referendum confirmed it. We were in.

0:37:590:38:02

April 1975, we joined the Common Market,

0:38:020:38:06

and that meant we were free to sell our cars in places like Germany.

0:38:060:38:10

Germany were also free to sell their cars in places like England.

0:38:100:38:15

And theirs were better.

0:38:150:38:16

Nothing symbolises the might of the German car-making machine

0:38:200:38:24

quite like BMW's 3 Series.

0:38:240:38:27

This is the first of seven generations of the 3 Series.

0:38:270:38:33

The Germans launched this one on us in 1975,

0:38:330:38:37

literally three weeks after we'd voted to be part of Europe

0:38:370:38:41

to try to sell to them.

0:38:410:38:44

To be honest, the first 3 Series were a little bit po-faced

0:38:440:38:48

and not really that exciting to drive, but they did seem different.

0:38:480:38:52

The instrumentation and all the controls,

0:38:520:38:56

they're all very clear and logical and...German, yes,

0:38:560:39:00

of course.

0:39:000:39:02

This is industrial design. It's modern.

0:39:020:39:06

But UK car-makers weren't about to lie down without a fight.

0:39:060:39:10

We were ready. We had the Triumph Dolomite.

0:39:120:39:16

Especially this version, the Sprint.

0:39:160:39:19

I've always loved the Dolomite Sprint, ever since I was a kid.

0:39:230:39:27

And it was genuinely quick.

0:39:270:39:30

0-60, 8.7 seconds, top speed, 116 mph.

0:39:300:39:34

It was a little bit old school, but you got overdrive on third

0:39:400:39:43

and fourth.

0:39:430:39:46

So effectively, you've got six gears. This would give Hans a bloody nose!

0:39:460:39:51

Triumph should have had the upper hand.

0:39:530:39:56

The company had existed since before cars were even a thing,

0:39:560:39:59

having started off as an importer of bicycles and sewing machines.

0:39:590:40:03

They had a string of successful sports cars

0:40:030:40:06

and saloons to their name.

0:40:060:40:08

BMW, on the other hand, had their whole factory in Eissenach

0:40:080:40:12

nicked by the Russians after the war and had to start again.

0:40:120:40:15

BMW's first masterstroke in the '50s was a decision not to bother

0:40:170:40:21

with affordable runabouts or any of that rubbish.

0:40:210:40:23

They were going to make sports cars and nice, expensive,

0:40:230:40:27

well made saloons.

0:40:270:40:29

Big profit margins.

0:40:290:40:30

Clever.

0:40:300:40:32

Their second masterstroke came in 1960 when they decided

0:40:320:40:35

on the complete modernisation programme known as the Neue Klasse.

0:40:350:40:39

This demanded that all of their cars had unitary bodies,

0:40:390:40:43

new engines and modern independent suspension.

0:40:430:40:46

So, this looks like a pretty fair fight.

0:40:470:40:49

We have two companies, each with a sporting pedigree and an engineering

0:40:490:40:53

bent, and they're both making essentially posh mid-size cars.

0:40:530:40:58

Let's give these two some tap and see what's what.

0:40:580:41:02

ENGINES REV

0:41:020:41:03

Go!

0:41:080:41:10

Yes! That is a victory for Triumph and Great Britain!

0:41:490:41:53

But we all know how this really ends, don't we?

0:41:530:41:56

The Triumph might outperform the BMW when you're racing round a circuit,

0:42:000:42:04

but it was unreliable, it felt coarser,

0:42:040:42:07

the brakes were more wooden, and the wind noise was dreadful.

0:42:070:42:10

And it just got worse from there.

0:42:100:42:12

You see, this car was part of their Project Ajax range,

0:42:120:42:15

which began in 1965 with the 1300.

0:42:150:42:19

And then there was the 1500

0:42:190:42:21

and the Toledo and various versions of our car.

0:42:210:42:23

This range of supposedly related mid-sized cars came in two

0:42:230:42:28

different lengths and with front wheel drive and rear wheel drive.

0:42:280:42:31

It was completely baffling.

0:42:310:42:34

The 3 Series, meanwhile, slotted neatly into a growing range

0:42:360:42:39

of clearly related cars and that continues to this day, of course.

0:42:390:42:43

You have the 5 and the 3 Series, and also the 4 Series,

0:42:430:42:47

the 1 Series, the 2 Series, and so it goes on.

0:42:470:42:50

Even outside of the cars themselves,

0:42:580:43:00

the whole landscape of British car-marking was becoming apocalyptic.

0:43:000:43:04

'Right now, the five week old dispute at Triumph has robbed

0:43:040:43:07

'the firm of £20 million worth of turnover.'

0:43:070:43:10

We'd have preferred not to have gone on strike. We had no alternative.

0:43:100:43:14

The British Motor Corporation, who made Austins, Morris Minors,

0:43:140:43:18

and Jaguar E-Types, and the Leyland Motor Corporation,

0:43:180:43:21

who made buses and trucks, had merged and then gone bust

0:43:210:43:25

and ended up being bought by the British government.

0:43:250:43:28

The trade union strikes of the 1970s made everything even worse.

0:43:280:43:32

Successive models of the Triumph would be delayed by two years

0:43:320:43:36

because of industrial action.

0:43:360:43:37

Well, we all know how it ends. BMW triumph and Triumph faded away.

0:43:390:43:45

By 1984, it had gone, disappeared and gone.

0:43:450:43:48

And the next Triumph after the Dolomite was the Acclaim,

0:43:480:43:51

which was really just a licence-built Honda.

0:43:510:43:54

And that can be considered a bit of a defeat.

0:43:540:43:57

The UK just couldn't keep up.

0:43:570:44:00

The troubled British Leyland desperately flailed for a last

0:44:000:44:03

great hope. It would be a car of the future.

0:44:030:44:07

'A new concept in vehicle engineering.'

0:44:070:44:09

It would revitalise our expert business.

0:44:090:44:12

'The car will appeal to European tastes.'

0:44:120:44:14

It would show Germany and Japan what Britain was really made of.

0:44:140:44:18

'Five years' hard work, an enormous investment in money and skill.

0:44:180:44:21

'And throughout its development, nothing was left to chance.'

0:44:210:44:25

It's the Allegro.

0:44:250:44:27

The Allegro is one of the most reviled cars

0:44:300:44:34

in British automotive history.

0:44:340:44:36

The people who built it nicknamed it the Flying Pig because it was

0:44:360:44:40

supposed to be the car that saved British Leyland,

0:44:400:44:43

but I think that was just the British workers'

0:44:430:44:46

cruel Midlands humour cutting through the management's rousing rhetoric.

0:44:460:44:51

It's a car which we think will appeal not only to the sophisticated

0:44:510:44:55

British public, but to the sophisticated European public,

0:44:550:44:58

which, of course,

0:44:580:44:59

is very much greater now that we're in the Common Market.

0:44:590:45:02

It is not funky or modern. It is blobby, rounded and conservative.

0:45:020:45:07

It should very obviously have been a hatchback

0:45:070:45:09

because hatchbacks were all the rage in 1973 when this was launched,

0:45:090:45:13

but the management decided that the Allegro would have a boot,

0:45:130:45:17

like a proper car.

0:45:170:45:19

'From the essentially practical to the unashamedly glamorous.'

0:45:190:45:23

I sit in here, looking at this door fit and this bit of welding, this

0:45:260:45:29

bit of plastic, and I honestly think, "I could make it this well...

0:45:290:45:34

"in my shed."

0:45:340:45:35

Everything about the Allegro was wrong,

0:45:400:45:43

from the lack of a hatchback to the ghastly giant square steering wheel.

0:45:430:45:48

The German and Japanese cars felt like harbingers of a new

0:45:480:45:51

technical age. This car, like the Triumph before it,

0:45:510:45:54

felt like a shelf full of Grandma's knick-knacks.

0:45:540:45:57

The weird thing is the management at British Leyland at the time

0:45:570:46:01

must have actually believed that this car

0:46:010:46:03

was a winner, that this would save them, would save Britain effectively.

0:46:030:46:08

There must have come a point when it was all ready and they stood

0:46:080:46:12

back and looked at this shape in this baby poo colour and said, "Yeah!

0:46:120:46:17

"We've done it, chaps!"

0:46:170:46:20

'Lord Stokes has no doubt about its future.

0:46:200:46:23

'I'm absolutely convinced that they've got a car

0:46:230:46:25

'here which is quite outstanding in its class and its type.'

0:46:250:46:29

Something just doesn't make sense,

0:46:290:46:32

so I've agreed to meet the original designer of the Allegro, Harris Mann,

0:46:320:46:36

in a secret location, where no-one can throw things at him.

0:46:360:46:40

This had a rather unfortunate birth...

0:46:400:46:43

-Right.

-..in that it was supposed to be an 1100 replacement.

0:46:430:46:49

The Austin 1100.

0:46:490:46:50

The Austin 1100 replacement, but as it got developed,

0:46:500:46:54

it had various requests from engineering, in that...

0:46:540:46:57

Interfering is the word you're looking for, is it,

0:46:570:47:01

-possibly?

-Always. Always interfering.

-Yes, OK.

-Yes.

0:47:010:47:04

So they wanted to put a much more robust heater into the car

0:47:040:47:09

and they wanted to also accommodate a 1500cc engine in here.

0:47:090:47:12

By the time you stuffed the carburettors on the side,

0:47:130:47:16

it started to gain height.

0:47:160:47:18

It should have looked like this.

0:47:180:47:20

Ah!

0:47:200:47:22

It's much better!

0:47:250:47:26

Well, I think it was.

0:47:260:47:28

But it just went through so many engineering disasters.

0:47:280:47:31

Why couldn't they just design a new heater that allowed you

0:47:310:47:35

-to build your nice funky Allegro?

-Unfortunately, it cost millions.

0:47:350:47:39

So it had to come out of the parts bin.

0:47:390:47:41

So... This was the car that was supposed to save British Leyland.

0:47:410:47:46

That was its job.

0:47:460:47:48

Are you saying that the fortunes of this car

0:47:480:47:51

and therefore of a very large chunk of the British motor industry,

0:47:510:47:54

were all changed by the heater and a tall engine?

0:47:540:47:58

-I suppose you could say that, yes.

-Whose fault was it?

0:47:580:48:02

I think it was engineering management.

0:48:020:48:06

I was party to sitting in some meetings

0:48:060:48:09

and they couldn't talk to each other.

0:48:090:48:12

One party was...

0:48:120:48:14

Like the union side were talking union speak

0:48:140:48:16

and the managers were talking management speak and between them,

0:48:160:48:20

it was like, you know, two computers that couldn't talk to each other.

0:48:200:48:24

Right. Well, that's a very, very sad... It's a very sorry tale.

0:48:240:48:27

Well, it is, to me, anyway, as somebody who likes cars,

0:48:270:48:30

to think that your vision was never realised, that it was

0:48:300:48:33

spoilt by interference and that it slightly spoiled your life as well.

0:48:330:48:38

So I'm going to give you back your artwork, for that is what it is.

0:48:380:48:41

-Thank you.

-The best I can offer you, to be honest, is...

0:48:410:48:44

Well, would you like a lift?

0:48:440:48:46

No, thanks. I'd rather walk.

0:48:460:48:49

-Oh.

-Thank you.

-Fine, thanks very much for coming.

-Thank you.

0:48:490:48:53

Thank you.

0:48:530:48:54

Maybe he's in a hurry.

0:48:550:48:58

I thought as much.

0:49:020:49:04

It was the bloody class system, something which my Japanese friends

0:49:040:49:08

back in the Celica said they didn't have to deal with.

0:49:080:49:11

'£20 million went into the new Allegro,

0:49:110:49:13

'but production has never hit the target of 4,000 a week.'

0:49:130:49:16

'It's stoppages like these that forced

0:49:160:49:18

'Leyland into near bankruptcy.'

0:49:180:49:20

The communication breakdown between management

0:49:200:49:23

and workers meant that despite the protests of people

0:49:230:49:26

like Harris Mann, Germany gave us a thorough spanking.

0:49:260:49:29

And for proof that class mucked this up,

0:49:290:49:32

you only have to look at what happened to the Allegro next.

0:49:320:49:35

British Leyland decided that the secret weapon that would turn their

0:49:350:49:39

great hope around would not be the quality or aesthetics of German

0:49:390:49:43

cars or the clever features and dependability of Japanese cars.

0:49:430:49:47

Oh, no. What would, without question,

0:49:470:49:50

save the Allegro would be a posh radiator grille.

0:49:500:49:54

Ha!

0:49:540:49:55

This, yes, it's the Vanden Plas.

0:49:590:50:02

The Vanden Plas was just an Allegro

0:50:050:50:07

but with even more Victorian trimmings

0:50:070:50:09

and a whopping great radiator grille stuck on the front -

0:50:090:50:12

like it had come last in a Rolls-Royce fancy dress competition.

0:50:120:50:16

I'm not sure how it's possible for a car to actually look embarrassed,

0:50:160:50:20

but this somehow manages it.

0:50:200:50:22

Just imagine you're German, you've just seen the Neue Klasse BMW

0:50:220:50:25

and then you see this.

0:50:250:50:28

GERMAN ACCENT: Gott, vot are zese people doing?

0:50:280:50:31

There's also a really strange whirring sound going on in this car,

0:50:310:50:35

which I would like to be able to say

0:50:350:50:37

is probably the sound of Harris Mann

0:50:370:50:38

rotating rapidly in his grave -

0:50:380:50:40

except I've just met him and he's very much still alive.

0:50:400:50:44

I'm imagining a scene in sort of mid-1970s suburban Britain,

0:50:440:50:49

a Terry-and-June-type couple looking out of the window

0:50:490:50:51

and Terry, perhaps, saying,

0:50:510:50:53

"Oh, have you seen the neighbours have got a new car?

0:50:530:50:55

"Something dead posh and it's got a big radiator grille on the front,

0:50:550:50:58

"is it a Bentley?"

0:50:580:50:59

And June will say "Oh, I don't think so,

0:50:590:51:01

"it looks a bit like an Allegro to me."

0:51:010:51:03

"But it can't be an Allegro," says Terry,

0:51:030:51:05

"it's got a radiator grille on it, look at it.

0:51:050:51:08

"It must be a Rolls-Royce."

0:51:080:51:10

Nobody would have been fooled.

0:51:100:51:12

VAN HORN TOOTS

0:51:160:51:18

Yeah, I know, mate, it's ridiculous.

0:51:180:51:19

God, I hope he doesn't think it's my car.

0:51:220:51:24

What if he does a tweet that says,

0:51:270:51:28

"I saw James May today out in his Vanden Plas."

0:51:280:51:31

That's...

0:51:310:51:33

basically the end of me, isn't it?

0:51:330:51:35

Oh, no, he's taking a picture.

0:51:350:51:36

Somebody shoot him, he's taking a picture of me in it.

0:51:360:51:39

My life's over.

0:51:390:51:40

Production, shoot the man in the plumbing van.

0:51:450:51:47

I think the idea was to provide the social impact

0:51:490:51:53

and the on-the-road presence

0:51:530:51:54

of something like a Bentley,

0:51:540:51:56

but in a car for everyman -

0:51:560:51:58

but of course that doesn't really quite work,

0:51:580:52:00

because the body shape is too bulbous to appear truly imperious

0:52:000:52:04

and the radiator grille serves only to remind you, in fact,

0:52:040:52:07

of your relatively lowly status in life.

0:52:070:52:10

And more to the point, the Vanden Plas was around 26%

0:52:100:52:13

more expensive than a standard Allegro

0:52:130:52:16

with the same size engine -

0:52:160:52:17

an extra £534 to advertise to the world

0:52:170:52:22

exactly what was wrong with Britain.

0:52:220:52:24

In fact, the only good thing about the Vanden Plas

0:52:240:52:27

is that it makes the standard car look relatively good -

0:52:270:52:31

even in executive dysentery,

0:52:310:52:33

or whatever they called that.

0:52:330:52:34

But did it make Britain a player again in the export business?

0:52:370:52:40

Well, around 670,000 Allegros

0:52:400:52:43

were produced in total.

0:52:430:52:45

Only 25,000 or so ever left Britain.

0:52:450:52:49

More to the point of this film,

0:52:510:52:53

its direct Japanese rival

0:52:530:52:54

is a perfect example of a petrol phoenix

0:52:540:52:57

rising from the ashes of war.

0:52:570:52:59

It's the fourth generation Mazda 323, launched in 1980.

0:53:010:53:05

J-POP MUSIC PLAYS

0:53:050:53:07

Suddenly, the Mazda 323 was a modern front-drive hatchback.

0:53:090:53:14

Take that, Allegro.

0:53:140:53:16

You'll be amazed.

0:53:160:53:17

Mazda had been formed in 1920

0:53:170:53:19

as a cork-making company

0:53:190:53:21

and only turned to cars in the difficult post-war years.

0:53:210:53:24

That's amazing.

0:53:240:53:26

Do you remember what we were saying earlier on about Japanese engines

0:53:270:53:30

being small, revvy and efficient because they were forced to be?

0:53:300:53:34

It's still true in this car.

0:53:340:53:35

This is now 1980, but it's zippy,

0:53:350:53:37

it's quite refined,

0:53:370:53:39

it's got a bit of get-up-and-go

0:53:390:53:41

and it's got up and gone.

0:53:410:53:42

And the honest truth is,

0:53:450:53:46

the Mazda 323 is not really a particularly remarkable car.

0:53:460:53:50

It looks ordinary,

0:53:500:53:52

it's only 1.3 litres,

0:53:520:53:54

it's just a universal Japanese small hatchback,

0:53:540:53:57

but it's such a relief to be in,

0:53:570:53:59

compared with being in the dowdy, old Allegro -

0:53:590:54:02

even now, when it's 35 years old.

0:54:020:54:04

J-POP MUSIC PLAYS

0:54:040:54:06

It may be humble, but therein lies its strength.

0:54:100:54:13

The Japanese started out with a proper plan

0:54:130:54:16

and gradually improved and finessed it,

0:54:160:54:18

rather than trying to go bigger or better, like the US,

0:54:180:54:21

or just panicking and covering the thing in wood, like the UK.

0:54:210:54:24

This is taut and...

0:54:260:54:29

Well, it feels positively contemporary.

0:54:290:54:32

This car is alive,

0:54:320:54:34

it's sprightly.

0:54:340:54:36

By 1982, two years into its life,

0:54:360:54:39

this generation of the Mazda 323

0:54:390:54:41

had sold one million units.

0:54:410:54:44

That actually made it the fastest car in history,

0:54:440:54:46

where fastest means first from 0 to one million.

0:54:460:54:50

1982 was also, coincidentally,

0:54:500:54:53

the last year that an Allegro

0:54:530:54:55

rolled off the production line.

0:54:550:54:56

It was also the beginnings of the global car

0:55:010:55:03

because the basis of this car

0:55:030:55:05

also formed the basis of two American Fords.

0:55:050:55:08

The Austin Allegro was just a local car for local people.

0:55:080:55:13

So, there you have it -

0:55:130:55:14

because of, not despite, their limited resources,

0:55:140:55:18

Japan's Mazda 323 was the sort of people's car

0:55:180:55:21

that we could only dream of exporting.

0:55:210:55:24

And I'm also guessing, but it is just a guess,

0:55:240:55:27

that the equivalent of Harris Mann at Mazda,

0:55:270:55:30

Harisum Manusan,

0:55:300:55:32

probably ended up with the car he drew in the first place.

0:55:320:55:35

By this point, it was all over.

0:55:370:55:39

Germany and Japan had cemented their lead

0:55:390:55:42

as the world's biggest car exporters

0:55:420:55:44

and the once-great British institutions

0:55:440:55:46

fell like dominoes.

0:55:460:55:48

Triumph and Rolls-Royce are now owned

0:55:500:55:52

by a different company altogether.

0:55:520:55:55

And that car company is...

0:55:550:55:57

..BMW.

0:55:590:56:00

Remember the giant Morris and Mini factory back in Oxford?

0:56:030:56:06

This is now owned by BMW.

0:56:060:56:08

And then there's Bentley,

0:56:150:56:16

now also owned by Germany - through VW.

0:56:160:56:19

Soon, everyone was feasting

0:56:200:56:22

on the carcass of what were the war victors.

0:56:220:56:25

MG and Austin, now owned by China.

0:56:260:56:29

Jaguar and Rover, owned by India.

0:56:290:56:32

Lotus, Malaysia.

0:56:320:56:35

The US might be just behind Japan and Germany in terms of production,

0:56:350:56:39

but its car factories have only survived

0:56:390:56:41

by adopting modern Japanese techniques.

0:56:410:56:44

They transformed the old Detroit methods.

0:56:440:56:47

We could blame the fuel crisis or poor management,

0:56:470:56:50

or even the class system for this,

0:56:500:56:52

but it's also worth considering that

0:56:520:56:54

while our brightest minds were occupied elsewhere

0:56:540:56:57

on things like defence,

0:56:570:57:00

Japan and Germany were barred - by treaty - from rearming.

0:57:000:57:04

So, what else could their brightest minds do

0:57:040:57:06

than move onto developing cars?

0:57:060:57:09

Indeed, we unwittingly sowed the seeds of our own downfall.

0:57:110:57:14

Remember when I said that Britain used to be

0:57:150:57:17

the world's biggest car exporter?

0:57:170:57:20

In Forbes' list of the largest auto manufacturers in the world for 2015,

0:57:200:57:25

Japan and Germany occupy every single one of the top five places.

0:57:250:57:30

From the devastation of war

0:57:320:57:34

had risen two automotive giants -

0:57:340:57:37

something even more incredible

0:57:370:57:39

when you consider where a car like the Mazda 323 had come from.

0:57:390:57:44

This is Mazda's home town, Hiroshima,

0:57:470:57:50

but it's more famous, of course,

0:57:500:57:52

for being the site of the world's first atomic attack.

0:57:520:57:55

Now, Mazda emerged from the rubble of the old city

0:57:550:57:57

and has now become a cornerstone of what is,

0:57:570:58:00

very obviously, a completely modern one.

0:58:000:58:03

Mazda, perhaps more than any other car-maker,

0:58:030:58:06

proves that to win at cars,

0:58:060:58:09

first you must lose...

0:58:090:58:12

..at war.

0:58:140:58:16

# Speeding along

0:58:240:58:25

# The rolling highway

0:58:250:58:27

# Singing a song

0:58:270:58:28

# To the rhythm of the road

0:58:280:58:30

# The sun's in the sky

0:58:300:58:32

# A heaven of blue

0:58:320:58:34

# The world flashes by

0:58:340:58:35

# You feel so happy

0:58:350:58:37

# When you're sweeping along

0:58:370:58:39

# A leafy byway

0:58:390:58:40

# Singing a song

0:58:400:58:42

# To the rhythm of the road

0:58:420:58:44

# You'll never be late

0:58:440:58:46

# If it's a V8

0:58:460:58:47

# When you're speeding along

0:58:470:58:48

# To the rhythm of the road

0:58:480:58:52

# The rhythm of the road! #

0:58:520:58:59

James reveals the cars that turned post-war Germany and Japan into motoring powerhouses at the expense of Britain and the US.

On his travels he encounters classic E-Types, Mustangs and the German and Japanese upstarts that were to conquer the world.

He also has an unfortunate encounter with an Austin Allegro - the car that helped destroy the British car industry.


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