The combination of Google and a couple of spare hours is a deadly combination. Last night, in an attempt to find a copy of the Ryder report (a sort of post-nationalisation master plan for ailing British Leyland) I stumbled across a fascinating 1971 interview with a chap called Harry Webster.
Published in the Daily Express, Webster was national news because he had just replaced Alec Issigonis as the engineering boss of Austin Morris.
Issigonis had become a household name, media star and friend of the royals in the 1960s after the success of the Mini and Austin 1100/1300.
So his replacement, as the Express pointed out, would be a very influential man, responsible for ‘one in three of the new cars on our roads in the future’.
Webster (who started as a Standard Triumph apprentice in 1932 and led on projects such as the 200 saloon, Spitfire and Stag) talking the day before he took the reigns at Longbridge outlined his vision of a car of the future.
“Three main things concern us in the cars we are designing and building now for three to four years' time – reliability, economy, and a minimum of servicing.” Webster said that he wanted to see cars that needed “little or no” servicing in the first three or four years of the car’s life.