Category Archives: BMC / BLMC / BL

Haynes Memory Lane – Day Three – The Sporting Triumphs

From the Potato’s Sack

Today’s instalment concentrates on the sporting Triumphs.

I always thought Haynes were a bit lazy in how they grouped some of these cars together in one book, the relationship is undeniable, but I do think they could’ve split them… The Triumph Vitesse for instance is included with the GT6 book, so one would need both that and the Herald book to do any work on their car. Odd.

More to come. Enjoy

Haynes Memory Lane – Day Two – Morris Marina & Ital

From the Potato’s Sack

Perhaps the largest range of manuals were dedicated to the Marina & Ital with no less than SEVEN different covers.

The original A and B series engined books featured a Mark 1 Marina on their cover.

This was then replaced with 3 books covering the A, B and O series models. The A and O series featuring a rendition of the Marina 3, the B series book depicting the same coupe, with subtle differences to make it a Marina 2 (and of course the B series engine). Disappointingly they missed the steering wheel, which appears to be the later Marina 3/Ital one.

The Ital books followed the same lead, again split between 2 books; one for the A series and one for the O series.

Lovely stuff… more tomorrow

Haynes Memory Lane – Day One – Rover P6, SD1 & Minor

From the Potato’s Sack

We will make a start with the Rover P6, there were 2 versions, one covering the 2000/2200 and the other covering the V8 model.

Although the overall cover image was based on the same drawing, yet with the engine changed.

Similarly, the SD1 manuals were split between the 6 and 8 cylinder variants, the same cut-out used with engine changed, as in the P6 manual (also, note the V8 S alloys on the V8 book).

Finally, the Minor / 1000 one featured a late Traveller in splendid detail.

More to follow tomorrow!


Haynes Manuals – A childhood obsession

From the Potato’s Sack

For as long as I can remember, there’s always been something that stirs a pathetic excitement and almost giddiness within me when I see a stack of Haynes manuals.

Those multi-coloured bindings all in a neat row instantly draw me towards them, whether at an auto-jumble, car-boot sale, a charity shop or even at a motor factors, I cannot help myself but to thumb through them to see which models are there.

The fantastic Terry Davey cutaway drawings on the covers get things started in a masterful way, they truly are art and I have spent a good amount of time collecting and studying these over the years.

Upon opening the covers you’re then greeted with gorgeous black and white pictures of the models covered (usually official publicity photographs), before all the technical stuff is dealt with.

Now, I know these manuals aren’t the be-all and end-all, and, in some cases lead you up a blind alley, but, as a youngster they really engaged me into learning how things differed on particular cars and how things actually worked.

The generic bits in the middle showing you how to use filler on body panels (in full colour!) and the diagrams on different spark-plug faults were just as interesting, despite being the same in every manual, but really did, I’m sure, engage my young mind and get me interested in more than just driving cars.

I found it a bit disconcerting when the Haynes range had it’s update and the cutaways were partially coloured-in, but I’ll let that slide. Just.

I find it a bit sad that there are so many satirical manuals now out there, a haynes manual for marriage, one for the Starship-bastard-Enterprise and one for the London Underground, but I do get that people want that light-hearted reminder of a time-passed.

In reality, the modern car’s manual would say nothing more than.. ‘Go and have it plugged in‘.

Such a shame.

So, for June, a pictoral reminder of a large chunk of the firm’s Haynes manual covers will be presented here, live and exclusive on MacDroitwich, to give a gentle stir of emotion, if  nothing else. I hope you all enjoy seeing them.

The Firm in Rallying – Disappointing at Best

From the Potato’s Sack

I was having a chat with a colleague at work a few days ago when the subject of the World Rally Championships arose.  It prompted me to think about the firm’s involvement and success (or lack of) throughout the fore-runners of WRC and the WRC itself.

Because of the Mini’s 1965 success in the RAC and Monte Carlo rallies, 1965 & 1966 European rallies  and then the again in 1968 at Monte Carlo, we have this legendary halo in our minds of the firm being a big-hitter in the sport.

Prior to the Mini’s successes, there were 4 victories in the 1950s (2 for Jaguar XK120s, a Standard Ten and a Triumph TR2), however these were figuring in competitions where the fields were made up of predominantly firm-related cars anyway, so the chances were incredibly high that a winner would be from ‘our’ stable.

The London-Sydney Marathon of 1968 saw Paddy Hopkirk gain a very credible 2nd place to Andrew Cowan’s Hillman Hunter. Whether this performance spurred BL to enter a combination of Triumph 2.5PIs, Austin/Morris 1800s, Austin Maxis and a Mini Clubman into the 1970 World Cup Rally, it is unclear, however, again, 2nd place was the best the firm could manage, but once again it was a very credible results table which showed that in the top 11 finishers, there were 5 x Escort GTs, 1 Citroen DS and the rest were a combination of the Triumphs, Landcrabs and Maxis.


The 1974 event which followed saw a somewhat strange set of firm entrants, with a Range Rover, Rover P6 and Leyland P76 being utilised, unsurprisingly to many, finishes of 12th, 13th and 14th respectively did little to stir the senses.  One wonders what decisions led to these vehicles being selected over seemingly more competent cars such as the Marina TC, Maxi (again as in 1970) or even the Landcrab which had proved itself very useful in the previous two events.  Lets go even madder; why not the Mini?That said, the Range Rover went on to win 2 Dakar rallies in 1979 and 1981 and remains the last time a firm car took one of these major honours.  While Ford, Vauxhall and Rootes were creating the Escort RS1800, Chevette HS/HSR and Lotus Sunbeam where the hell was the firm? With such a diverse range to go at it’s a real joke no rival was brought from BL, was it a case of not being arsed, not knowing what to concentrate on, being on strike or simply being incompetent?

Then there’s the Metro 6R4. A weapon created for a short-lived class of rallying, finishing 3rd behind 2 Delta S4s in it’s debut season in 1985, a disappointing run in 1986 and the abolition of the class the same year due to the life-ending nature of the sport lead to Austin-Rover’s withdrawal from rallying at the end of the season. Even in private hands it was behind the rest.

Was the lack of development in 4×4 mainstream vehicle technology to blame this time for the firms absence from history after this point? I fear it has to be, amazing really when Land Rover was within group.

Then nothing….. until the MG ZR, which was over before it started.

I can’t help feeling this area could’ve done something along the way, I can’t help feeling the firm SHOULD’VE been more prominent, yet again, it’s another chapter of stupid missed chances in our favourite historical soap-opera.