Blog: Dave LeggettOctav Botnar

Dave Leggett | 21 February 2008

Just been speaking to a journalist at Which? magazine (a UK consumer publication) who is compiling a list of the most influential people who have influenced the British car market in recent decades. We went all around the shop - industrialists, regulators, car designers, safety innovators. Interesting chat to have. 

Arguably, we can get into the controversial realms of geopolitics when deciding on who is ultimately responsible for high petrol prices in the world today, but that's one for the pub I reckon... 

One industry name that sprung to my mind was that of Octav Botnar - distributor of Datsun (Nissan) cars in Britain in the early 1970s. He was an entrepreneurial pioneer and Datsun's rapid advance back then spearheaded the rise of the Japanese brands in the British market (mirrored by the steady decline of the British share of the market). He saw an opportunity and cars like the Datsun Cherry and Sunny were immediately popular at a time when local products were of lamentable quality. It paved the way for local manufacturing by the Japanese here - Nissan was first, then Toyota and Honda followed.

I remember hearing some strange stories from people who worked for him and didn't like it much or had left (he 'ruled by fear'; look at him the wrong way and you can collect your cards etc) but his life story is certainly a lot more interesting than most and commanded a bit of respect I feel.

Octav Botnar


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