Blog: Dave LeggettMD (Mad Dog) Rover

Dave Leggett | 10 June 2005

We should know pretty soon what the fate of MG Rover's old plant and its last remaining assets will be. I had quite a long chat on the phone yesterday with someone who was well connected with the senior management of the company until fairly recently. Like a number of his ex-colleagues, he saw the writing on the wall last year, found his parachute and got out well before the final crash. When SAIC got some serious players to conduct due dilligence, the game was effectively up. 

It's human nature though that some people go the other way completely - they were almost in denial and really desperate to believe that things were going to be all right. I remember seeing a gung-ho press release announcing the appointment of a new guy as the head of fleet sales at the back end of last year. He had come from a perfectly good job at another manufacturer to try his luck at MG Rover. Poor chap has apparently been complaining in some detail how he was let down in a British dealer/distributors publication. Sad. Not sure he's doing himself any favours there though - who wants to take on someone who sings like a canary to the press when it all goes belly up?

But when the chips are down and people want to believe, they will grasp at straws.

Anyway, what now? One sobering thing on the MGTF sports car that my source revealed: despite the company's understandable willingness to present the car as a product for enthusiasts, it sold very well to women buyers who basically liked the way it looked. But they didn't like its poor reliability, so that market may well have gone now. The car's ancient underpinnings don't exactly stack up well against the likes of the MX-5.

But who would be audacious/crazy enough to take it on now? Will someone really believe that there is a viable future for Longbridge beyond turning it into a Tesco superstore and have a business model that could actually work? How left-field could it be?

Here's a little known fact. In oil-rich Libya (home of ex-international bad boy - prior to 'axis of evil' and 9/11 - Colonel Gadaffi, otherwise known in the tabloid press as the 'Mad Dog' or 'Gadaffi Duck') the state-run health service runs a fleet of Rover 45s. And Libya has in the past had auto industry ambitions that have resulted in slightly bizarre locally-produced cars. Colonel G has a few bob spare, for sure.

Yes, I can just see the Colonel, surrounded by his coterie of pretty female bodyguards, being cheered through the gates of Longbridge, John Towers-style. He could even have his own bedouin tent on the green outside...

Seriously, I hope a sensible and workable solution emerges from the ashes and I would like to see the MG brand carry on somehow.


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