BMC Leyland Motor Cars in Australia
The Australian readership is somewhat spasmodically served by a range of books and web sites for BMC/Leyland vehicles extending back over decades. Here below are presented my reviews of those I’ve looked at recently. These reviews are my personal opinion only and I accept that others might have a different view. - Tony Cripps
The Mini/BMC Experience Craig Watson
eightfifty.com Evan Williamson
elevenhundred.com Phil Rixon

The Mini/BMC Experience - Craig Watson (Reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: A good sustained effort. This magazine in its two guises ran from January 2005 until July 2017 - some 12 years, and probably 10 years longer than was originally expected by most pundits. I had not been a subscriber to this publication, but had come across the odd issue from time to time and found them worth a look. When my friend and colleague Peter J Davis became deceased in 2022, I inherited an entire collection and spent some time going through each one in turn. One might not appreciate the effort gone into producing such a publication when one receives an issue once every three months, but when seen en-masse, it becomes clear just what a good job Mr Watson did with it. Watson appealed to a wide range of readership, from those interested in the Company, readers cars, motor sport, related products, restorations, allied businesses, and of course his own range of memorabilia and publications. Each issue has a number of superficial editorial problems, and some of Watson’s technical explanations are somewhat fanciful, but his expertise as a photographer/journalist comes through via the quality of the photos and the page layouts. In the early days of motoring magazines, it was common, and somewhat frustrating, to find that an article would begin and be spread over a page or two, and then the remainder relegated to the boondocks whereupon as soon as one became interested in a story, one had to flip to the end of the magazine and search for the continuation. Perhaps this had something to do with the way things were printed back then, but what it did mean that the number of page turns was considerably increased, and with each page turn back and forth, the readers’ eyes were alighting on advertisement from a sponsor. Not so with Watson’s magazines. Each story is self contained, and nearly all of the advertising is lumped together. Whether this is deliberate or not I cannot say, but it certainly makes reading an article much more convenient. If anything, the ratio of editorial comment to advertising and fluff is probably too much given the effort and remuneration received. With his Wanderings column, Watson evidently travelled the country in search of a story and, while making for a fine accumulation of tax deductions, had the enviable job of living his passion for the Mini and Moke range of vehicles in Australia. Recommended.

The Australian Mini & Moke - John Sneddon 2nd Ed. (reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: A massive fail. Quotes from social media by Mr Sneddon: the original and only book, first published in 2016, covering the total production of the Mini range in Australia”. “I prepared and published my book “Australian Mini & Moke - 1961 to 1982 in 2016 with the aim of addressing much of the incorrect information then present, and still today, within the Mini world.” “Thus far, the published data has stood the test of time however I welcome any constructive criticism which contradicts any published data. “Yes I did write the book and yes I am right.”  With over 600 errors in a book of 258 pages, I’ve taken the distasteful step of writing a negative review because it is time someone called this book out for what it is. The problems begin on page 2 with the assignment of copyright to a fictitious publisher, and then continue from the tankers rounding “Cape Horn” on their way from the Middle East to UK on page 12 to the “brass” synchromesh and bushes in a Morris 850 transmission on page 248. If the book can’t get these simple things right, what then for the remainder? Not surprisingly, numerous errors of fact and other absurdities can be found throughout, from the listing of Deluxe features for the Morris 850 on page 44 to the deletion of valve cotters for all models in 1969. Wrong part numbers; historical inaccuracies; the list goes on and on. Mr Sneddon claims that the 2nd edition was published to correct “a printing error” (presumably made by the printer) in the first. One wonders what that error must have been to trigger a 2nd edition yet leave behind such a litany of problems. The authoritative tone used, and the lack of acknowledgements gives a certain air of arrogance which is all the more reinforced by the author’s puerile comments on social media that followed this review. In May 2023, Mr Sneddon promised a “correction sheet” but as of July 2024, none has been seen by the present reviewer. Apologies for the negativity, but this book is a massive fail.

www.eightfifty.com - Evan Williamson

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Delightful. Recommended As the owner of a Morris 850, and the past author of an enthusiast web site, I was intrigued and then somewhat delighted at the effort put into Mr Williamson’s presentation here. There are many enthusiasts web sites out there. I often get contacted to supply documents and information for them, the usual argument being that since in my own work, I promote the products of BMC/Leyland Australia, then, since that web site author has the same aim, I should supply everything I have of relevance to him or her as a matter of course. Naturally this makes no allowance for the time and effort gone into gathering, categorising and scanning the material in the first place - and then the web site author is the first to claim that they are helping everyone out by disseminating this information and what a wonderful person they are. Not so with Mr Williamson. Williamson has done his homework and deserves a sincere congratulations on a very fine job. Not only does he modestly refrain from mentioning his own name on the site, the obvious enthusiasm and care taken speaks for itself. Good information, reliable facts, and well referenced. Well worth a visit.

www.elevenhundred.com - Phil Rixon

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Authoritative. Recommended Here is another enthusiast web site whose author claims little or no personal credit, but presents a comprehensive and thorough examination of the Morris 1100 series (plus other related models) as sold in Australia. Mr Rixon is a well known authority on the subject and the scale and depth of this site is not to be underestimated. If you have an 1100, no need to go anywhere else.
bluestreaksix.com Eriks Skinkis

www.bluestreaksix.com - Eriks Skinkis

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Comprehensive. Recommended Along with Rixon’s elevenhundred web site, the blue streak six site is a classic stayer and has recently undergone quite an extensive refurbishment. The “Blue Streak Six” refers to the name of the 6 cylinder engine fitted to the Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80. No doubt BMC sought to capitalise on an association with the British Blue Streak missile which was tested in outback Australia in the late 1950s. Service staff actually refer to the engine as the “Blue Leak Six”! This engine was quite advanced for its time and these 6 cylinder offerings were to give BMC a foot in the door of the large car 6 cylinder market being dominated by GMH and  Ford. Skinkis’ web site has it all, from the history of the car and its place in the Company lineup, to technical documents, and even a owner’s forum. If you have such a car, this is not to be missed.
Building Cars in Australia Barry Anderson Ed.

Building Cars in Australia - BMC Leyland Australia Heritage Group Inc. Barry Anderson

Ed. 

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Worth having but could have been better. The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group received a substantial taxpayer-funded grant from the City of Sydney to write this book, as well as a substantial bequest from former employee Roy South. It was some years in the making, and has contributions from various former employees. As with any book written by a Committee, it represents a mishmash of topics which sometimes come together in harmony while at other times appear in conflict. When approaching this book for the first time, one is immediately impressed with the first three chapters. They are excellently researched and written. After that, things fall apart and the book comes to be more like an annotated photo album. For a book for past employees, it is excellent. As a book for interested persons, it is unsatisfying in it’s lack of depth. Some sections were written by people who had nothing to do with that Department. The book itself is well produced and professionally laid out in colour and in hard back, and for a very reasonable price. Worth having, but could have been better.
Tony Cripps has a Certificate in Automotive Engineering from Sydney Technical College and is a licenced motor mechanic. He also has a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Technology, Sydney, (UTS), and a PhD from the University of Sydney. He has worked as a technical officer at the ex-Leyland Australia vehicle emissions laboratory at Victoria Park Zetland; a technical officer and lecturer at UTS, and a visiting scientist at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington DC. He achieved the rank of Senior Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO Division of Applied Physics followed by 12 years conducting his own scientific instrumentation business. Tony is the author of several published books in the fields of materials science, physics, and engineering, and the author and co-author of thirteen books about BMC/Leyland Australia, the company and the vehicles it produced.
THE REVIEWER
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BMC Leyland Motor Cars in Australia
The Australian readership is somewhat spasmodically served by a range of books and web sites for BMC/Leyland vehicles extending back over decades. Here below are presented my reviews of those I’ve looked at recently. These reviews are my personal opinion only and I accept that others might have a different view. - Tony Cripps
The Mini/BMC Experience Craig Watson
eightfifty.com Evan Williamson
elevenhundred.com Phil Rixon

The Mini/BMC Experience - Craig Watson

(Reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: A good sustained effort. This magazine in its two guises ran from January 2005 until July 2017 - some 12 years, and probably 10 years longer than was originally expected by most pundits. I had not been a subscriber to this publication, but had come across the odd issue from time to time and found them worth a look. When my friend and colleague Peter J Davis became deceased in 2022, I inherited an entire collection and spent some time going through each one in turn. One might not appreciate the effort gone into producing such a publication when one receives an issue once every three months, but when seen en-masse, it becomes clear just what a good job Mr Watson did with it. Watson appealed to a wide range of readership, from those interested in the Company, readers cars, motor sport, related products, restorations, allied businesses, and of course his own range of memorabilia and publications. Each issue has a number of superficial editorial problems, and some of Watson’s technical explanations are somewhat fanciful, but his expertise as a photographer/journalist comes through via the quality of the photos and the page layouts. In the early days of motoring magazines, it was common, and somewhat frustrating, to find that an article would begin and be spread over a page or two, and then the remainder relegated to the boondocks whereupon as soon as one became interested in a story, one had to flip to the end of the magazine and search for the continuation. Perhaps this had something to do with the way things were printed back then, but what it did mean that the number of page turns was considerably increased, and with each page turn back and forth, the readers’ eyes were alighting on advertisement from a sponsor. Not so with Watson’s magazines. Each story is self contained, and nearly all of the advertising is lumped together. Whether this is deliberate or not I cannot say, but it certainly makes reading an article much more convenient. If anything, the ratio of editorial comment to advertising and fluff is probably too much given the effort and remuneration received. With his Wanderings column, Watson evidently travelled the country in search of a story and, while making for a fine accumulation of tax deductions, had the enviable job of living his passion for the Mini and Moke range of vehicles in Australia. Recommended.

The Australian Mini & Moke - John Sneddon 2nd Ed.

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: A massive fail. Quotes from social media by Mr Sneddon: the original and only book, first published in 2016, covering the total production of the Mini range in Australia”. “I prepared and published my book “Australian Mini & Moke - 1961 to 1982 in 2016 with the aim of addressing much of the incorrect information then present, and still today, within the Mini world.” “Thus far, the published data has stood the test of time however I welcome any constructive criticism which contradicts any published data. “Yes I did write the book and yes I am right.”  With over 600 errors in a book of 258 pages, I’ve taken the distasteful step of writing a negative review because it is time someone called this book out for what it is. The problems begin on page 2 with the assignment of copyright to a fictitious publisher, and then continue from the tankers rounding “Cape Horn” on their way from the Middle East to UK on page 12 to the “brass” synchromesh and bushes in a Morris 850 transmission on page 248. If the book can’t get these simple things right, what then for the remainder? Not surprisingly, numerous errors of fact and other absurdities can be found throughout, from the listing of Deluxe features for the Morris 850 on page 44 to the deletion of valve cotters for all models in 1969. Wrong part numbers; historical inaccuracies; the list goes on and on. Mr Sneddon claims that the 2nd edition was published to correct “a printing error” (presumably made by the printer) in the first. One wonders what that error must have been to trigger a 2nd edition yet leave behind such a litany of problems. The authoritative tone used, and the lack of acknowledgements gives a certain air of arrogance which is all the more reinforced by the author’s puerile comments on social media that followed this review. In May 2023, Mr Sneddon promised a “correction sheet” but as of July 2024, none has been seen by the present reviewer. Apologies for the negativity, but this book is a massive fail.

www.eightfifty.com - Evan Williamson

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Delightful. Recommended As the owner of a Morris 850, and the past author of an enthusiast web site, I was intrigued and then somewhat delighted at the effort put into Mr Williamson’s presentation here. There are many enthusiasts web sites out there. I often get contacted to supply documents and information for them, the usual argument being that since in my own work, I promote the products of BMC/Leyland Australia, then, since that web site author has the same aim, I should supply everything I have of relevance to him or her as a matter of course. Naturally this makes no allowance for the time and effort gone into gathering, categorising and scanning the material in the first place - and then the web site author is the first to claim that they are helping everyone out by disseminating this information and what a wonderful person they are. Not so with Mr Williamson. Williamson has done his homework and deserves a sincere congratulations on a very fine job. Not only does he modestly refrain from mentioning his own name on the site, the obvious enthusiasm and care taken speaks for itself. Good information, reliable facts, and well referenced. Well worth a visit.

www.elevenhundred.com - Phil Rixon

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Authoritative. Recommended Here is another enthusiast web site whose author claims little or no personal credit, but presents a comprehensive and thorough examination of the Morris 1100 series (plus other related models) as sold in Australia. Mr Rixon is a well known authority on the subject and the scale and depth of this site is not to be underestimated. If you have an 1100, no need to go anywhere else.
bluestreaksix.com Eriks Skinkis

www.bluestreaksix.com - Eriks Skinkis

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Comprehensive. Recommended Along with Rixon’s elevenhundred web site, the blue streak six site is a classic stayer and has recently undergone quite an extensive refurbishment. The “Blue Streak Six” refers to the name of the 6 cylinder engine fitted to the Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80. No doubt BMC sought to capitalise on an association with the British Blue Streak missile which was tested in outback Australia in the late 1950s. Service staff actually refer to the engine as the “Blue Leak Six”! This engine was quite advanced for its time and these 6 cylinder offerings were to give BMC a foot in the door of the large car 6 cylinder market being dominated by GMH and  Ford. Skinkis’ web site has it all, from the history of the car and its place in the Company lineup, to technical documents, and even a owner’s forum. If you have such a car, this is not to be missed.
Building Cars in Australia Barry Anderson Ed.

Building Cars in Australia - BMC Leyland Australia

Heritage Group Inc. Barry Anderson Ed. 

(reviewed April 2023)

Overall opinion: Worth having but could have been better. The BMC-Leyland Australia Heritage Group received a substantial taxpayer-funded grant from the City of Sydney to write this book, as well as a substantial bequest from former employee Roy South. It was some years in the making, and has contributions from various former employees. As with any book written by a Committee, it represents a mishmash of topics which sometimes come together in harmony while at other times appear in conflict. When approaching this book for the first time, one is immediately impressed with the first three chapters. They are excellently researched and written. After that, things fall apart and the book comes to be more like an annotated photo album. For a book for past employees, it is excellent. As a book for interested persons, it is unsatisfying in it’s lack of depth. Some sections were written by people who had nothing to do with that Department. The book itself is well produced and professionally laid out in colour and in hard back, and for a very reasonable price. Worth having, but could have been better.
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