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The Hillman Imp and Linwood

    Scott Glover speaking about Imp history, May 2013 at Coventry
Scott Glover on the development of the Imp. Event: Go Imp 50, Fr. May 3, 2013 at Coventry
Driving Apex 10 at Dunlop: testing tyres. Photo supplied by Ken Sharpe

Chapter 1: A few recollections of Scott Glover


The start of my life with Rootes

I joined the Rootes Group in Coventry at the age of 18 to undertake 4 years work-based training and obtaining an Engineering degree at London University.

Pupils - the 1st month
The training I did with Rootes was as, what they called, a Pupil. At that time there was a mix of those who had come straight from school at 18/19 (as I did) and some who did their 2 years military service straight from school and then came to Rootes. Peoples' ambitions were completely varied, with some wanting to work in the sales, service, production or design departments of the Company, but many were the sons (I'm afraid there were no young ladies in the scheme at all then!!) of Dealers who then went back into their parents' business well trained and with strong loyalty to the Rootes products.
All pupils did the same basic 18 months training on the shop floor in the factories. The first month was in the training centre where first we had to cut out and file a perfectly flat and square one inch square out of approx 5 mil steel!! Having scrapped several before achieving a satisfactory standard we got there. Then a two inch square! Then a one inch hole in the two inch square into which the one inch square had to fit perfecty!!!
It was a long and frustrating month but you knew how to use a file at the end of it!

Pupils - the next 18 months
Then we went round each department in the factory for a month in each. Engine assembly, Gearbox assembly etc etc, Engine maching etc Foundry, Car assembly etc. So at the end of 18 months, we had a pretty good idea what was in a car and how it was made. Although the shop floor workers knew that at some time some of us might be their boss, they were very helpful and cheerful and we all had a good time too!
After that each pupil's training started to become more specialised to their chosen career and after a few more months in the appropriate shop floor areas, we then moved into various office departments for the balance of the three year training programme.

Pupils joined the programme with varying levels of academic achievement at school. As part of the training every pupil had to attend at least one day a week at the local Technical College and would be put on the appropriate course to their achievements and future needs. As there were many large companies in Coventry at that time running similar programmes there were enough students for a wide variety of courses.

Combined studying & working
I had achieved enough at school to enroll on the Mechanical Engineering degree course, which was set by London University for running in Technical colleges throughout the country. Unfortunately this course lasted four years and time at college was 1.5 days a week and 3 evenings  - so I missed some of the social life!! As a result I had an extra year's training, but it meant that I was able to spend time in departments that were not on the usual agenda  - for instance Research where the first vague work was starting on the small car project, although to be honest I can't remember much of that!

I had volunteered to do my military service in the Engineering branch of the navy, but they only had two entries a year, so I had a fairly ordinary job with Rootes in London for six months to fill in time. However I did catch up with my social life and had fun driving my Messerchmitt in London traffic! Yes, I could fit in - just!

The Rootes training programmes (Apprentices - 5 years; Pupil - 3 years; and Trainees - 1.5 years) were rated very highly in the industry, although trainees from Jaguar, Standard Triumph, Austin, Morris etc would have a different view! My father ran an industry supplier company and so saw quite a bit round the different car companies, and so he came up with the recommendation to me. After my two years in the navy I returned to Rootes in May 1959 as the Group Training manager had been in touch before I left to offer me the job without any interview!

My first job

Engineering Design
Following 2 years compulsory Military training, I returned to Rootes to become the Personal Assistant to Peter Ware, who was just taking up his position of Engineering Design Director for the Car Division. Apart from providing Mr Ware with a digest of the mountains of paper coming to his office, I was very fortunate that he involved me in many of the more important events, including sitting in on his regular meetings with his senior Management Team. As a result I was there when the key stages of the development of the Imp for production took place, namely

  1. the decision to move from the Villiers air cooled engine to the all aluminium engine based on the Coventry Climax design and
  2. the restyled and lengthened body.

Peter Ware was a very strong leader and advocate of these moves and was very strong on having a very ergonomic drivers layout, a philosophy that subsequently won much praise.

Approaching the starting line!

Production Engineering
1960 saw the likelihood of the car actually going into production, but with the knowledge that the car could not be built in Coventry because of the now well documented problems of Government Planning policy. The Company therefore seconded a small Production Engineering team under Tom Clay to work alongside the design team to start to plan how the car and all of its 'Mechanicals' would be produced and what investment would be involved.
But above all, clearly the issue at the top of the list and not part of Tom Clay's remit, was the issue of producing the aluminium castings that the whole Power Train was based on, particularly the Cylinder Block.

Research in the U.S.A.
Bill Bryant, the Director and General Manager of Hills Precision - a wholly owned subsidiary - was therefore brought into the picture and he, Peter Ware and George Shrigley (the Group's Director of Forward Planning) went on a 2 week fact-finding visit to North America, to research the experience of industry there - primarily the manufacturers of 40 to 80 bhp outboard engines.

Whilst there was reasonable optimism from this visit, concerns still remained about the cylinder block. So discussions started with Alumasc, who held patents for low pressure die casting, although their main product was beer casks!

Go ahead
Late 1960 saw the decision to proceed being made, and Bill Bryant was appointed Director and General Manager (having quietly received significant assistance from AIC Consultants, who he had been using at Hills!). As I had always wanted a career in the Manufacturing side of the business, my application to join Bill Bryant was accepted and I joined as his Personal Assistant.

The very first report to the Board
An embryo Management Team was formed and within a few weeks the whole time and cost impact of the Project had to be co-ordinated into the very first report to the Board, which largely consisted of the family members. It was my responsibility to bring all of this report together and take the minutes of the meeting.
At this meeting the interlocking problems of Finance & Time came very quickly in the spotlight. Because of the need to generate income from the new car, production couldn't be soon enough and also the capital cost estimates were considerably higher than the Board had been led to expect previously! Heated discussions took place between the family members comparing these costs with their previous estimates of finance sources (largely government loans and grants). Urgent re-evaluations were demanded, but soon it was clear that the forecasts were sound.
Before too long an additional time pressure was added in the form of the Duke of Edinburgh's diary, as he was booked to formally open the new factory and launch the car in 1963. Somehow the family found a solution to the funding issue, but it was not detailed at any board meeting of the project.

Worth mentioning
During all this time Design Development as well as Production Planning work were moving on at increasing speed as has been well documented elsewhere. However it is worth saying, I believe, that the sizes of the Design and Manufacturing teams were minute by any standards. Couple that with the fact that the basic car design had only just been finalised and no work had started on the new factory or tooling before production was due to start in just two years time!

Forward thinking
Despite these daunting issues the growing project team were very enthusiastic and committed to success. By this time I had been appointed Production Control Manager and was working very closely with John Adams the Systems Manager to develop a new Computer Controlled System for controlling the production and material flow from Suppliers and within the Rootes plant. Mr Geoffrey Rootes, as Managing Director of the business, was an extremely positive leader and encouraged the team to be forward thinking and was quit 'hands on'.

By May 1962 the main Production buildings were up. The whole team was moved into such space as was available. The installation of machinery and assembly lines was undertaken at a great pace by numerous sub-contractors. At the same time sample components and initial supplies started to come in from suppliers. As ongoing development of the car was revealing problems, inevitably modifications were issued and had to be co-ordinated with suppliers and the manufacturing plans.

During this period, as has been well documented, the ongoing test programmes with the prototype and pre-production cars were revealing a steady, but not unusual, number of problems with less and less time to resolve them and to implement what action was needed.

Peter Ware's urge to delay
Without doubt this led to a somewhat political 'macho' battle between Peter Ware and Bill Bryant with the former urging launch delay and the less knowledgeable Bryant arguing 'all was well', even though work on his alleged strength - the Cylinder Block casting - was not going well. Remembering the Duke's diary and the vision of a great 'Launch' the family gratefully accepted Bryant's assurances! We can only dream as to what the final outcome for the Imp would have been, if caution had ruled!



Chapter 2: A few recollections (continued)

So this, perhaps, is the moment to take stock - with the wisdom of hindsight - of this crucial point in the life of the 'Imp'. The Group were, and had been for some time, under considerable financial pressure, so it inevitably impacted on all of the different factors looked at below:

1. Product design and development

By mid 1962 it was barely two years since the fundamental design of the car had been agreed and much detail was still to be undertaken. In addition the design team was very small, even by the standards of that era. As a result, not enough time had been spent on the design, testing and problem elimination.
First signs of the problems that would determine the reputation of the car were emerging, but not necessarily on all cars and units under test. With time being short, the biggest faults were given priority and many were metaphorically filed under the 'to be sorted later' heading. A six month delay to the launch would have enabled a much more thorough and complete introduction of a better proven design.

2. Die Castings

In the main the installation of the High Pressure machines and the proving of their dies was going reasonably well. The Low Pressure casting of the cylinder blocks was, however, taking longer to refine and to produce consistent castings. Before too long another unexpected issue emerged, in that up to 20% of the castings suffered from a degree of porosity, so a new impregnation process had to be developed and installed at the Engine Plant in Coventry. Even this process was only partly successful and, if I remember correctly, only some 75% of these could be reclaimed.
Although other areas of the production process had plenty of problems (see below), the volume build up of initial production was completely controlled by the availability of cylinder blocks. As Production Control Manager it was my job to evaluate the Die Casting Plants forecasts and then track them through

  1. machining,
  2. impregnation,
  3. Engine build and then
  4. Car Assembly and
  5. finishing quantities.

No computers and spread sheets available for that task- all manual!
Needless to say these promises were not achieved and every week the forecast number of cars available for the launch was scaled back. Finally, whereas the original plan was to have 6000 cars available from production commencement in December 1962 to the launch in May 1963, only approximately 1300 were completed.

3. Machining and Assembly Equipment

As was the Industry norm at that time, the Company selected specialist suppliers from whom to purchase the equipment required very much with price in mind. For much of the equipment, such as Assembly lines and Machining Transfer lines Rootes production engineers gave a broad definition of their needs and the Supplier was then responsible for the detailed design. When the inevitable final negotiation on prices was undertaken, aimed at making reductions, many were often agreed. What only became clear later, as reliability and accuracy problems emerged, was that a fair number of Suppliers had done this by diminishing the detailed design of their equipment - which was not clear to Rootes engineers, because they did not specify the innards! In months and years to come this led to breakdown and quality problems.

4. Employees

History has tended to concentrate on Labour Relations problems and poor quality of workmanship. Whilst there is no doubt that, over time, these were very real factors, I believe that every employee who joined the Company wanted to contribute to its success. So what went wrong?

Minimising contact between employees
For the Rootes Group, the Imp/Linwood Project was a whole new experience and, although other Vehicle Manufacturers were undertaking similar projects at the same time (Halewood, Bathgate, etc.), there was no previous experience to draw on of setting up a whole new project in a new area.
Because the Rootes Board recognised there were many unsatisfactory working practices in their existing factories (high pay rates, Piece work incentive pay, demarcation working practices, etc.) they were anxious to minimise contact between lower level employees in the south with the new recruits in Scotland. In addition costs were always under scrutiny! As a consequence, apart from a few fairly senior staff, no employees were sent south for training either at Rootes plants or - much more importantly - at the suppliers of the plant and machinery. The training therefore of key skilled employees - maintenance trades and machine setters - had to rely on brief on the job training from the suppliers installation teams who, naturally, were anxious to depart as soon as possible!! As a long term consequence it was many years before those responsible really understood the equipment they were responsible for, with resultant problems in terms of quality of components and reliability of machinery. (Surprisingly Chrysler made exactly the same mistake when installing the new Power Train machinery for the Avenger in 1969!)

Piecework vs. hourly rate
For many years all of the production workers in the Rootes factories (and many other vehicle manufacturers and suppliers) were paid by piecework, where a large proportion of pay was directly related to output. Whilst seeming in pure theory to be a sound method, this led over the years to major conflicts, when new products were introduced and the new prices were negotiated so inflationary wages resulted. Consequently, the policy was established that, from the outset, all production workers at Linwood would be paid a flat hourly rate on measured day work. Under this method, Work Study engineers established the time required for each significant work element and, as a result, the number of operators required, or the output per hour etc. could be established. The senior management and supervision recruited in Scotland for the machining plant had had experience in this method and, therefore, it was installed fairly well in that area. The greatest problem was the lack of technical skills referred to in the previous paragraph.

Singer assembly supervisors
In the assembly plant there was a different scenario. At about the time the Linwood project was starting, the Group was in the final stages of integrating the Singer car business that they had acquired a few years before. As a result the last separate Singer factory was closed and two senior assembly supervisors became available and were assigned to manage the car assembly building. However their whole mature background was in piecework. Naturally, they were given training in measured day work, but when the pressure subsequently was on and volumes rose, they reverted to what they knew and, increasingly, relied on the workforce and supervision to assign the work between themselves resulting, inevitably, in willing workers doing more and less keen ones less!
Over time as volumes increased this resulted in friction and justifiable complaints, which were dismissed as troublemakers! This key area of mismanagement only was uncovered about a year after the launch and by then much damage had been done.

The significantly slower volume build up and repeated further delays caused by the problems with cylinder block supply, had major knock on effects with the recruitment and training of all production operators and support functions. Employees were recruited too soon and so were introduced to a slower work pace than would be required later, potential new recruits start dates were delayed etc. A scenario that did not paint a picture that Management knew what it was doing!

But enough of the wisdom in hindsight.

Whilst everyone was frustrated at the delays and repeated redrawing of plans, the whole place was still infused with a pioneering spirit and a determination to make the whole project a success. Very soon after assembly of finished cars had started on the assembly line, the Rootes family came to view progress and we had arranged that the cars on the line covered the various colour permutations. As was their usual inclination, the cars themselves, rather than the manufacturing facilities, were the centre of attention!
Before long they decided that two of the carpet colours (old gold and a certain shade of red) were not satisfactory and had to be discontinued forthwith! So new colours had to be chosen, supplies obtained and any existing cars or bodies reworked - not the happiest moment in the face of all the other problems! However, subsequently a significant number of the houses of Rootes and Pressed Steel employees were carpeted in said colours, when the significant quantity of redundant material was sold off cheap!

But cars were produced and stock gradually accumulated for the announcement.
At the same time trailers normally used for moving materials were being adapted into mini bus transporters to ferry the launch visitors around both plants and various employees trained as guides to ride on them.

The Duke in an Imp
The night before the formal opening, the Duke of Edinburgh stayed the night at the family's estate at Glenalmond in Perthshire. On the morning of the opening, Garth Vaughan, the Quality Manager drove one of the Imps to Glenalmond so that the Duke could drive it back himself to Linwood. The combination of the car and the man certainly attracted many double takes as they came through Glasgow and out to the Factory!! So the formalities progressed and the factory and the car were exposed to the visitors and an enthusiastic press.

The real journey had started!



Chapter 3 - Company Organisation Structure

   Rootes Ltd. organisation chart
 I cannot remember ever seeing a 'top level' organisation chart of Rootes Ltd. -even if there ever was one! The enclosed is however my best memory of it.
I'll follow with the Linwood chart.

This is roughly from 1960 to 1967. Lord Rootes died in 1965.

At the top: Lord Rootes- Chairman and Sir Reginald Rootes- Vice chairman
Reporting to them:

  • Rupert Hammond- Finance Director
  • Brian Rootes- Export Sales and Marketing Director
  • John Bullock- P.R. Director
  • Geoffrey Rootes- Managing Director

Then I'm not sure whether the next two reported to the Chairman or to the M.D., Geoffrey:

  • Timothy Rootes- Home Sales, Marketring and Service Director
  • Rex Watson Lee- Trucks (including Design, Manufacture, Sales, Marketing and Service)

Reporting to Geoffrey Rootes were:

  • Bill Garner- Director and General Manager Coventry Factories
  • Jack Britten Jones- Purchasing Director
  • Peter Ware- Engineering Design Director (Cars)
  • Pip Manning- Qualiy Director
  • George Shrigley- Forward Planning Director
  • Bill Bryant- Director and General Manager Linwood Factory/Apex Project

I think when I originally gave you the names of people at Linwood reporting to Bill Bryant and to Bill Carter you can see those parts of the organisation chart.

The other bits to remember are that Bill Bryant left the Company in 1964 and was replaced for a year by George Cattell (who then became Group Personnel Director) and in turn he was replaced by Bill Garner!! Bill Carter too left the Company in 1964. All part of moves to try to overcome some of the initial problems!!

Now to some of the points you have raised arising from what I have written so far:

At that time I think all the Senior Directors had a Personal Assistant. As I said earlier the job was a total mixture of

But it was all part of a plan to train those of us who were PAs for management in the future. And that was a very successful process.

Other PAs
At the time I was a PA, Geoffrey Rootes' PA was C.D.(Kit) Power (in later years he became the top man in Spencer Stuart- recruitment specialists). He was then followed by Tom Cotton whose next appointment was to assist the very first Chrysler man (Burke Hyde) with the long term manufacturing strategy fo Rootes post Chrysler. He then moved up the tree a bit before moving to other Companies. Timothy Rootes' PA at that time was Mike Rowe, who finished up in a senior sales role with Rootes/Chrysler but, sadly, died fairly recently. Our relationships were very good and in fact I am still in contact with Kit and Tom.

From Villiers to Featherweight
I have been trying to remember how the engine change happened.
First, as Mowat Brown touches on, this was a period of great general economic change. At the end of 1956 UK and France and Israel invaded Egypt (abortively) to try to reclaim the Suez canal, oil prices rocketed, the UK economy was a mess and economic (in every way) products were the driving force in peoples' thinking. Hence 'Little Jim', the villiers engine etc.
But come 1959 a) the economy was up, b) the Mini arrived, c) Rootes tended towards the Premium product and so at the senior level and within the Research department, there was an evolving realisation that a much better design was needed.
To the best of my recollection in late '59/ early'60 Mike Parkes and his boss Craig Miller (who reported to Peter Ware) approached Peter Ware and asked if they could get a Coventry Climax 750cc engine to 'explore'. Very soon after Peter brought Geoffrey Rootes into the picture and it took off from there!
Putting in print like this makes me realise how amazingly informal it was, but that was rather the style of the Company at the time: small staff, authorative family ie a very short decision chain.

Peter Ware
What made Peter tick? Phew!!! Instinctively he was a creative designer and it had to be right! So whilst he could be critical if something did not meet his standards, he was NEVER overbearing or a bully. In fact he had a great sense of fun.
I remember one of his Senior Manager meetings where one of the items on the agenda was the issue of fresh air ventilation and how to build it into the design of our cars. This must have been 1959 when Mercedes had first introduced facia fresh air vents into their top range cars. This had immediately sparked a demand from Lord Rootes "Ware - we must have the same on the Humber Super Snipe at least - NOW!" So both Research under Craig Miller as well as Experimental under David Hodkin were put to work to come up with ideas and create healthy competition! They duly reported back with Craig, reporting what throughput of air his scheme achieved and David reported a similar figure. Craig then said "the only problem so far is that we get rolled up flies coming out of the vents!". "Oh," said David, "ours come out sliced!!"   Anyway they sorted it out and in less than 3 years fresh air vents were built into all Rootes cars including, in basic form, the Imp.

As I said earlier Peter was very very keen in achieving good driving positions and very ergonomic layouts of controls, with as much as possible being fingertip controlled. Equally he felt it essential that cars drove well, cornered well and safely and were comfortable and fun. So the design of the Imp was very much influenced by this, not that it was difficult because Mike Parkes and Tim Fry were of a similar view.




Chapter 4 - More answers

Production Engineering
I think the size of Tom Clay's Production Engineering team was about 20 to 25. Traditionally Rootes factories (like most UK manufacturers) bought in castings, forgings, electrical, trim etc etc and then, in-house, machined the various components in the engines, transmissions and axles, then assembled the power train units and cars. So these were the operations that Tom Clay's team had to plan.

Die Casting
So the Die Casting was a separate mini-business under Bill Collins. It was set up this way because it involved different skills and knowledge, and also it was hoped that, with time, it would start to supply other Companies. (I'm not really sure whether that ever happened).

Outboard Engine industry
The U.S.A visit concentrated on the outboard engine industry, because they were the largest producers of aluminium engines and the production of volume die casting components similar to those planned for the Imp. There were no volume aluminium engined cars in the USA industry at that time.

Die Casting process
The pressure in a beer keg is not the issue!! They (Alumasc) had evolved and patented a low pressure die casting process to produced thin walled and fairly large castings. I have limited Die Casting knowledge, but the injection pressure of the aluminium into the dies is vastly higher with high pressure injection machines and it was not considered feasable to cast in the cylinder liners by that process.   Yes, I know Alumasc still exists but I don't know if they make anything other than beer barrels - a very important industry !!!

Manufacturing Imps - management structure
Bill Bryant was appointed D & GM of the manufacturing project. So, he took over the existing Production Engineering team and then had to set up a Management structure to plan the whole manufacturing process and implement and run it. The family had a few key people identified from within the Company for the team: Barry Massey as Purchasing Manager and Ken Gannay as Finance Manager, so they joined the project at the earliest stages after Bryant was appointed. As far as I was concerned (as a more junior recruit!) Peter Ware knew that I always wanted to go into manufacturing, so I think he recommended me and the interview/recruitment process was informal and just 'happened'! I suppose my knowledge of the Company and 'who was who' helped and as Bryant had been rather on the 'fringes' it was useful to him.
On appointment he relinquished his role at Hills and someone else took over, there. I think Bryant was personally ambitious, but to be honest his 'car' knowledge was very limited and he had been somewhat catapulted into the job, assisted by Management Consultants from AIC. They gained by having 2 or 3 of their Consultants appointed to the project for about 18 months (Personnel & Production Management).
Bryant's objective was to get the project in on time. (Full Stop!). It was someone else's job to design and prove the car!

The very first report to the Board was late 1960/early 1961. Under guidance from the senior consultant from AIC (I don't think the family ever realised how much they were helping Bryant in the background!), it was a fairly imposing document divided into a number of different sections and presented in high quality spring-back folders. A similar format was used in each subsequent monthly report. (After the second report was presented the family said "Here you better have these folders back -less contents- so you don't have to spend this much money each month!!"). I can't remember exactly what sections there were but they covered:

  1. The overall estimated timing of the Project including
    • design,
    • development,
    • production engineering planning,
    • tooling manufacture,
    • design and erection of the buildings,
    • component procurement and
    • employee recruitment
  2. The current forecast manufacturing cost of the car
    with highlights of any particular problems
  3. The forecast capital costs of the project
    including internal and supplier tooling and machinery costs and the buildings. (It was the fact that these costs were significantly higher than previous 'guesstimates' that caused the biggest upset - more on this later)
  4. The forecast revenue costs ie. staffing and accomodation costs etc.
  5. The proposed organisation and manpower build-ups
  6. Operational issues such as payment rates, operating methods etc.
    Naturally some of these issues were pretty sketchy in the early reports, until the organisation grew and plans became more clear.

So the first report provided a broad overview of all the key issues to do with producing a new car. Then subsequent reports reported on progress on all these issues and drew attention to any significant changes/ problems. In all I think the report was about 40 to 50 pages long and the meetings lasted about 3 hours. They were usually held in Coventry and Lord Rootes and Sir Reginald did not attend them all. Geffrey Rootes, Bryant and Ware were always there, and Britten Jones and Shrigley sometimes. Others were seconded as when their input was of use, eg Massey, Clay, Gannay.
The reason for the increased capital costs was finally identified as largely being due to a greater use of automation in Tom Clay's plans, which reduced the manufacturing costs of some components and this was accepted. Geoffrey Rootes was a very 'hands on' MD and so there was plenty of day-to-day contacts between him and the other key Directors and Managers.

I can't remember when the Duke of Edinburgh was booked, as I was not Bryant's PA then, but I think it was late 1961.
I think it was about mid 1959 that the protoype car was codenamed 'Apex' and so from then on everything was the 'Apex Project'.

Design and development team
I can't remember whether Mowat Brown quoted precise figures, but I reckon the Rootes team was a maximum of 60 to 70 staff and that was what it was felt could do the job, and certainly the Company was in no position to have more than neccesary!! It was interesting at the 'Imp at 50' what was quoted by Bill Papworth. He joined Rootes from Fords at the end of 1962 as Product Planning Director/Manager(?). Although he was not involved in the Imp before its launch, he quoted the Imp engineering cost total as a bit over £0.5 million, whereas the new Ford Escort, which was using an existing engine, gearbox and axles had a total engineering cost of over £2.25 million!! However to the Rootes costs must be added the Pressed Steel Company's design costs as - whilst the body was styled externally and internally by Rootes - much of the detailed design and drafting was done by Pressed Steel under the supervision of Rootes. I have no idea what their costs were, but at a wild guess under £0.25 million. Generally, as a smaller player than Ford and BMC, they had to keep costs down, so small teams were the norm - and not necessarily worse!!

When I said 'basic car design had only been finalised', I was refering to the conclusion of the 'big' decisions, ie the longer and restyled body and the use of the all-aluminium engine. A good bit of the work had already been done at that stage on the design of the suspension and the transaxle.

I think I moved onto Production Control in the middle of 1961 and was replaced by a very good friend of mine, David Hutchinson, when he returned to the Company after his military service. He is coming to dinner tomorrow night when Garry Walker joins us from the USA!!

Computer use
John Adams and I worked together very well and deliberately we shared an office. (Emails, thank goodness, had not been invented - we just talked and exchanged concepts and ideas by word of mouth.)
This was the era of computers becoming available for everyday business use and we decided with guidance from Ken Gannay and encouragement from Geoffrey Rootes to use one for Factory programming and Supplier material scheduling. Our watchword was "The Computer can do anything, what do we want to do!?". John then hired intelligent people to bring it to fruition - there was barely an IT profession out there at all in those days!! His team were under a dozen and did all the system analysis and programing including steering the Design department as to how the specifications of the different model permutations should be written so they could then be inputted into the computer database. It was all punched cards in those days and we used an ICT 1301 machine.




Chapter 5 - Momentum increasing and then stumbling

Received: October 14, 2013

Increasing problems

At the time of the announcement of the Imp in May 1963 the production rate of the assembled cars was I think about 400 a week - plus a much lower rate of CKD (Completely Knocked Down), which were kits of 12 cars at a time, packed for assembly overseas - the main markets being Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. But production rates were starting to rise fairly quickly as some of the initial problems were overcome. This in turn started to create other issues such as:

All rather messy and compounded by the lack of breadth of experience. However such scenarios happened in the established factories too, but to a lesser degree!

I think it was around the time of the launch that significant discussions started with the Union representatives of the manual employees. As I indicated in my earlier notes the plant started with a very simple flat hourly rate payment system with very few 'grades'. I seem to remember it was just 3 grades, ie skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled. All production operators were in the semi-skilled grade and 'Tradesmen' - ie maintenance trades and toolmakers were skilled. As employees had had several months experience of working by this time an increasing number of disagreements were emerging where different groups of workers were arguing that they should be better paid - needless to say no-one thought they were being paid too much!!
As a result it was agreed that a joint working party should be established to undertake a complete 'Job evaluation' of all jobs in the plant. A structure was created under which all groups of jobs were evaluated against a number of criteria, ie skill required, effort, importance to the quality of the product and other criteria - I think 10 in total which I can't remember. A review commitee was established of 'Management' and 'Employees'. Then job descriptions of all the main groups were written and then each Departmental head along with one of his employee representatives met with the Commitee in turn and the job descriptions and their 'scores' under the various headings were discussed. The members of the commitee then finalised the total points for each job.
As it was very much a joint exercise, it did gain considerable credibility and went a long way to overcome potential pay problems, even though it led to very little change in the pay rates and grades, it did give credibility to the relative pay structure. In future months and years the increasing issue then became 'equality with Coventry' where pay rates were about 50% higher!

In the 12 months following the launch my memory is rather a blur of so many things, as production increased, a night shift being started in Autumn 1963 and reports of problems with quality and reliability in customers' hands.
Looking back I don't think the extent of such problems was brought back anything like as strongly as it should have been to Middle Management and all employees. Overall though as time went on it was clear that the car and plant were not in 'good shape'.

 previouslythe change of June 1964
Director & General ManagerBill Bryant George Cattell
Group Personnel DirectorGeorge Cattell 
Works DirectorBill Carterfunction discontinued
Works Managernew function createdAlan Simpson
reporting to Mr Cattell
Assistant Works Managernew function createdScott Glover
Power train machining & Assembly ManagerAlan SimpsonEric Smith
Assembly ManagerGeorge MintonScott Glover
Deputy Assembly ManagerLen Lambertfunction discontinued
Production Control ManagerScott GloverGeorge Watt
All other positions unchanged

A big shake up

June 1964 saw the start of change. Suddenly Bill Bryant the Director and General Manager 'disappeared' over one weekend and was replaced by George Cattell, who had previously been Group Personnel Director. Then, after he had a short time to take stock, he initiated a number of changes in the manufacturing management. This was started by him inviting a number of people to his home one Sunday and advised that Bill Carter the Works Director had 'left' and then outlined his plans to each individual and what role he would like them to play. Alan Simpson, formerly the Power train machining and Assembly Manager would be Works Manager reporting to Mr Cattell, the Assembly Manager, George Minton, and his deputy had been suspended and I was invited to be Assembly Manager and Assistant Works Manager. Various other moves were made to 'fill in the gaps'!

The following day was a blur of communications and planning. By this time car assembly quality and productivity were seen as major issues along with increasing labour discord in the assembly line. After discussions with all of the functions and their leaders, we embarked on manning and running the assembly line how it should have been from the outset ie properly "man assigned'' as drawn up by the Work Study department under Michael Hancock (now resident in Holland for the last 30 plus years !).

This involved stopping the line for a couple of days - whilst every operator's job was outlined to him - and slowly restarting and building progressively up to the planned production rate. The work force were generally supportive, but by that time were getting more militant. And so the process took longer than planned, in order to try to foster joint involvement and participation. So many hours were spent in negotiations and discussions with trade union representatives.
Clearly this process was very costly with so much production being lost but Cattell was very supportive and involved us all far more than previously.

I would like to think that the next 12 months was a period during which the effectiveness of the factory and the design standard and quality of the Imp improved progressively, although the cooling problems went on!

During this period most of the quality problems with the transaxle were tackled and no longer were mountains of defective units being returned to the plant! But the combination of customer problems and a general downturn in the economy meant that production plans had to be cut and this in turn resulted in the need to make some of the workforce redundant in 1964. So the initial euphoria was now severely dented and in line with nearly all UK industry at that time, employee relations became increasingly strained and disputes grew.

Then in the middle of 1965 George Cattell was recalled to Head Office and replaced by Bill Garner who had been D & GM of the Coventry Factories. He was very much of the 'old manufacturing school', much more used to running factories with piecework payment systems.
Shortly after this, however, my path and Linwood & the Imp parted as I was offered promotion to Works Manager at the truck plants in Luton and Dunstable. Michael Hancock took over my job and Garner eventually 'destroyed' Alan Simpson, so he could bring in someone he knew from Coventry.



From: scott & Evi Glover
Sent: 06/06/13
Subject: The Imp and Linwood

[...] Anyway I will try today to finish off the answers to your questions of 10th May.

London University? The degree course was in Mechanical Engineering as there weren't any at that time in Manufacturing. The course and subjects very much followed on from the studies I had done at school and covered structures, fluids, stresses, mettalurgy, machinery etc. ie it was all the basic theoretical stuff with a fair amount of practical experiments and substantial coursework writing up the experimental work.Did it prepare me well? Certainly it gave me a good basic understanding of engineering so I felt able to contribute to or understand technical discussions and issues that affected vehicle design or manufacturing equipment. But it did little (as did most courses at that time) to understand manufacturing methods and management, however that did come from the training at Rootes. So, like any degree it was as much training of the mind and having to work pretty hard as anything else.

The move and living? Virtually all of the planning and embryo management team were in temporary office accomodatrion together at Ryton in Coventry just alongside the design team until May 1962 and then everyone except the design team moved at the same time to Linwood into temporary office facilities there. The Company paid staff's removal expenses and provided temporary loans until people were settled and/or temporary letting costs. As far as I personally was concerned I was one of a number of Rootes pupils/trainees in our twenties who moved up there with about 6 or 7 of us being batchelors! Three of us bought a flat in Glasgow (three others rented one) and we settled in well. Two years later five of us were married- three to girls we met locally!! Happily I was one of those three and our first daughter was born in 1964. So a very successful move although sadly my wife Evi died last year from Breast Cancer.

Qualiy Control received the sample components which were meant to be off the production tooling so would be representative of volume supplies. Q.C. then checked them for dimensional accuracy and material composition. Initially this was done in Coventry until the 1962 move using where neccessary the Coventry factory's facilities. If incorrect they were rejected and further samples obtained. In the main only one initial sample was received and accepted but then subsequent deliveries were subject to % checks. > Number of protoype and preproduction cars? I really can't remember. Certainly I don't think there were more than a dozen fully representative protoypes and about 30 preproduction cars. Yes I remember driving one of the protoypes at the Dunlop test track when I worked for Peter Ware- an indication of how he involved me in everything that was going on- I shall always be grateful to him.

Yes your comments about the battle between the project manager and design are very fair! In addition as I have said before all the other pressures on the Board (money, Duke of Edinburgh etc) meant that they were only too happy to accept Bryant's reassurances! But as always the ultimate judgement comes from history!! [...]


From: Scott & Evi Glover
Sent: 29 April 13
Subject: Re: The Imp and Linwood

[...] I will try to write a further chapter in the next few days. [...]
We are in 'count down' for this Friday's celebrations in Coventry - are you coming?
Regards, Scott

From: Scott & Evi Glover
Sent: 02 May 13; 05:06 PM
Subject: The Hillman "Imp" and Linwood

Dear Franka,
Another short chapter! Had to get it done before tomorrow!! Regards, Scott.

From: Scott & Evi Glover
Sent: 02 May 13; 05:15 PM
Subject: Re: The Imp and Linwood

Have just sent another 'chapter' which brings us up to the launch, so if you want to use any of i, this is not a bad point to do so. I will write some more but I am not sure when that will be. Garrett (Garry) is coming over to the UK from the States in two weeks time and will be staying with me. He is very sorry he couldn't time it to coincide withe the Imp at 50!   [...]   Scott


The Imp Site
   Imp History
      Who is who within Rootes Personnel
      Opening of the Linwood plant
      Scott Glover:
      1. Scott Glover's recollections (this file)
      2. The Creating of Chrysler UK - from the point of view of Manufacturing


© Franka
Sent to me: 19 April 2013
File started: 28 April 2013
File version: 13 April 2014