Blog: Dave LeggettHams Hall

Dave Leggett | 2 August 2004

Hams Hall last Friday was worth a visit. The BMW engine plant just outside Birmingham is a picture of modernity and cleanliness. Some of the landscaping has even met with the approval of well known UK botanist, broadcaster and academic, David Bellamy ('gwapple me gwape nuts'). Praise indeed. And there’s a machining metal-waste - swarf - treatment and recycling system that looked pretty impressive, along with the vast underground fluid management system. It’s still a bit of a white elephant though, even though BMW is undoubtedly making the best of things. Can it really make sense to produce castings in Germany, ship them to the UK for machining and then ship the finished engines back to Germany? And these shipments move by road rather than, say, dedicated high-speed rail.

But there was a 1 Series for us to have a look at. Opinion amongst the journalists present seemed divided on the external styling, although I thought it looked pretty okay in the flesh (mind you, Graeme Roberts drove it last week and was very nonplussed by its handling). I guess it ought to sell well in the premium hatch area, where it will compete with cars like the top of the range Golf and Audi A3. That, given 1 Series pricing indications, must place a question-mark on the future of the 3 Series Compact, although BMW is so far insisting that it will carry on and that the two compete in different market segments.


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