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The British Motor Industry, 1945-1994A Case Study in Industrial Decline$
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Timothy Whisler

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198290742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198290742.001.0001

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Product Quality and Reliability: The Silver British Lemon

Product Quality and Reliability: The Silver British Lemon

(p.327) 9 Product Quality and Reliability: The Silver British Lemon
The British Motor Industry, 1945-1994

Timothy R. Whisler

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes post-war period product images which represented the quality and reliability of British cars. The West German Automobile Club awarded its ‘Silver Lemon’ award, which was presented annually to the car with the most faults, to more BLMC models than any other during the 1970s. Throughout the post-war period, management attributed the ‘quality problem’ primarily to poor workmanship. The causes of low British quality were consistent throughout the war period and related to the industry's wider problems. Assembly errors and sabotage were manifestations of a disaffected workforce. Quality levels also declined when management increased track speeds either to recoup output lost to strikes or to meet increased demand. Nonetheless, the accountability for the enduring quality problem therefore rested with management and engineering.

Keywords:   West German Automobile Club, Silver Lemon, quality, quality problem, reliability

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