'Thousands of parts for millions of cars. Unipart.’ If you’re of a certain age you may remember this advert and its catchy jingle, and many other surprisingly memorable TV ads from this car parts supplier.

It was born in the 1970s out of British Leyland, in an era when selling car parts the public was a bigger business than it is today.

Why? Because cars needed servicing far more often – every 3000 miles in some cases – because they went wrong more frequently and because millions of us serviced and repaired our own cars at home. They were easier to fix, and older cars were often worth more in real terms than they are today.

But last week came the news that Unipart Automotive had gone into receivership. If it doesn’t get rescued 1500 jobs will be lost, and 200 branches closed. The Unipart name won’t disappear, though, because there is also the Unipart Group, which grew out of the same business to become a big logistics, supply chain and manufacturing company.

Among others, it provides McLaren with 650S fuel rails and logistics services, has a rail manufacturing division and consults to the government. That side of the business became so dominant that the Group sold off Unipart Automotive in 2011.